Jul 18 2022
Here’s a Breakdown of the Decentraland White Paper
The following is a digest of all the notable points within the Decentraland white paper. If you read the full paper you’ll get a little more detail on the technical aspects of Decentraland, as well as a few extra details on its history, use cases, etc. For context, please note that the white paper was published in 2017.
The Decentraland white paper is ultimately a proposition for how an immersive 3D world can be the future of the internet by creating virtual, physical communities, and improve on the 2D world that we already engage with. The white paper starts by answering the simple question…..
What is Decentraland?
Based on the Ethereum blockchain, Decentraland offers users the chance to create and interact with content and applications in a virtual reality environment. We’ll cover this in more detail later on but a key point to note is that Decentraland is decentralized.
This means it’s not owned or controlled by any one body. Instead, the content and experiences are fully owned and controlled by the users that create it, allowing for monetization of what they create. Even the virtual land in Decentraland is technically owned by a user and recorded on a blockchain.
Why does Decentraland exist?
Decentraland wants to give control back to content creators. Right now, content created on centralized Web 2.0 platforms like Facebook is controlled by the platform. These Web 2.0 platforms have full, top-down control over the network’s rules and content, with minimal reward to the content creators that these platforms depend on.
How did it start?
The idea first appeared in 2015. Back then, crypto was far from being the household conversation that it is today. The initial proof of concept — the Decentraland Stone Age — was designed to allocate ownership of digital real estate on a blockchain. The Bronze Age followed this, dividing sections of a virtual world into 3D land parcels. Finally, the Iron Age allowed developers to create applications within Decentraland, allowing for monetization and P2P transactions.
The crypto market that we have today and the improved payment networks are what allow Decentraland to be the more advanced alternative to Web 2.0 solutions.
What makes Decentraland special?
Unlike web domains, virtual space in Decentraland is created adjacently. A plot of land can only sit next to a set amount of plots — as opposed to web domains that can feel adjacent to an unlimited number of domains through the use of hyperlinks.
This means communities and high traffic areas can develop around certain points or themes, as they would in real life. Plus, the land can be explored in a somewhat linear fashion. This land is limited, again mirroring the real world and allowing for more sought after areas to develop.
It’s all about the in-world economy
As mentioned, experiences in Decentraland can be monetized by any developer or content creator who chooses to create one. This is facilitated by instant P2P payments. Here’s a little more information on what these “experiences” might look like.
What can you do in Decentraland?
This could easily change over time as the platform develops and users find new ways they can use Decentraland to create. However, several things stand out as being top of the ‘things to make and do in Decentraland’ list.
Content creation and curation: like a subreddit or a Facebook group, virtual neighborhoods can form around a shared interest. Here participants can share content that interests them or create the content within the Decentraland platform.
Applications: everything from games to dynamic 3D scenes can be scripted in Decentraland.
Advertising: where there are people, there will always be adverts. Decentraland can offer eyeballs and ad space in high traffic areas.
Digital collectibles: an extension of the NFT phenomenon, users can create, publish, share, etc. unique digital assets.
Socialising: just like the social networks that we’re familiar with, groups can form, interact and share information. Only they’re doing it in 3D virtual space.
For all you technophiles, here’s how Decentraland is built
There are three layers to the Decentraland protocol.
The consensus layer: tracks land ownership and its content.
Using an Ethereum smart contract, a ledger of ownership records who owns what land parcel in the virtual world.
The land content layer: this allows you to download assets using a decentralized distribution system.
To render the world, this system describes each land parcel’s content for the decentralized system to render. As long as there are users distributing content, the decentralized system can feed it to the users.
The real-time layer: this lets users connect and interact with each other.
By establishing P2P connections, supported by landowner and third-party servers, clients can communicate with each other.
Payment channels are needed to facilitate in-world purchases and incentivize quality of service for content and P2P servers. The ultimate goal is to conduct payments using networks like the Lightning Network. This allows for fast, low-cost transactions. Although Lightning is still not quite with us yet for Decentraland. For now, simply connect your wallet and use Decentraland’s token system to conduct P2P transactions.
Two tokens make Decentraland work. One is to determine ownership of the virtual land, the other is a currency that facilitates in-world spending.
The tokens that make Decentraland work
MANA is an ERC-20 token. This is Decentraland’s in-world currency. It’s used to buy LAND (see below) and make in-world purchases.
LAND is a non-fungible parcel that corresponds to an area of Decentraland. It is purchased using MANA. For initial purchases, 1000 MANA = 1 LAND. Prices will of course vary on any resale market. LAND parcels are unique and describe what a piece of land sits next to, who owns it, etc.
There's also a third token: WEAR. But that's not outlined in the white paper. WEAR is for in world wearables; various types of clothing, accessories, and body features used to customise the look of your avatar.
Learn more about WEAR here.
If you’ve ever asked “what is Decentraland” and were after a comprehensive answer, hopefully, this blog has done the trick. As mentioned earlier,
the white paperhas the full story. But we like to think that this blog is close enough to the source that you gain a clear picture of what Decentraland is.
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