Are we able to explain the blockchain in a way the broader public can understand? When Bitcoin first came to the financial scene in 2009, it found fertile ground in a post-financial crash society. Blockchain, the technology that supports bitcoin, started as an alternative to the financial sector but has slowly been coopted by it.
The Institute of Network Cultures aims to study how cryptocurrency wallets can be designed to facilitate a broader understanding of the influence of blockchain technology, and define what good or bad wallet design is.
The blockchain is a very complex and ever-changing technology that can be hard to grasp for the broader public. Because of its global influence, it is important to find ways to explain and make accessible for discussion the workings of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain.
In order to get started using crypto-currencies you need to deal with many options for currencies, wallets and service suppliers.
Potential users need to have a founded knowledge of what they are doing because there is no margin for error. In addition, mining for bitcoins might no longer be lucrative, or as some would argue, relevant.
By creating the research tool for the Institute of Network Cultures we facilitate a study on how cryptocurrency wallets can be designed to facilitate a broader understanding of the influence of blockchain technology and define what good or bad wallet design is.
Those with crypto-currency can use so-called wallets to access their money. Wallets are applications that make buying digital currencies easy to do, but they can hide the working of blockchain technology.
Who makes these wallets, and with what purpose?
The research tool can be set up to be played from 2-5 participants in a 15-60 minute session. All the actions the user performs during a session are monitored. Actions could be trading strategies, wallet upgrades or usage of miners.
All of the collected data will give the researchers of the Institute of Network Cultures valuable information on good and bad wallet designs.
Livestock is a real-time competitive multiplayer research tool designed to exploit the human brains' ability to (subconsciously) learn new, abstract and/or complex concepts during play. It looks like yet-another Farmville game but is entirely based on concepts of the blockchain, the supporting technology behind cryptocurrencies.
Abstract concepts of the blockchain are added as game layers within the research tool. How? The game is a real-time multiplayer game where the farm itself simulates the blockchain market.
Livestock relies heavily on symbolism to explain core concepts of the blockchain; Bitcoin, Etherium and Dogecoin are replaced by wool, milk and bacon. Hardware mining rigs by sheep, cow and pig.
Gold represents the fiat currency needed to get started in the crypto world. Farm animals, such as sheep, cows and pigs, are representing mine power on the blockchain while currencies appear as their products in the form of wool, milk and bacon respectively.
LiveStock will introduce more and more complex blockchain concepts as the session progresses; Proof-of-Work algorithm, cryptocurrencies with different elasticities, soft- and hardware ledgers. Users can explore and experience these concepts. Choices the user makes will have an impact on the outcome of the session.
By adding in a bit of healthy competition we humans tend to get creative and approach things from another angle. You are able to store your products in your barn (an open wallet) or in the more secure vault (offline wallet). Your vault will be password protected and can not be plundered by thieves (hacks on the blockchain).
Each session LiveStock generates a completely new market in order to make the tool more unpredictable.
The data will be based on the elasticity of a commodity; Wool will be a fairly cheap and stable commodity, in contrast, bacon will be an expensive and unstable commodity. Who doesn't want that sweet ol' bacon right?
Users will be able to trade commodities or trade the animals to produce the commodity themselves. We are interested in the overall better strategy for good and bad wallet design.