July 7, 2021 NFTs, the Value in Uniqueness, and Skills Based Identity Wallets with Chris DeLaurentis

The Uprisor podcast brings you great conversations with Future of Work thought leaders and innovators. Today’s episode features returning guest Chris DeLaurentis, a.k.a Lazy Baer. Chris is the Global Director of Innovation at Topcoder and leads efforts to bring cooler, newer edge technology to our customers and community. 

The last time Chris joined us, he talked about his project Subter and digital identity. Today’s conversation focuses on NFTs. What are they? Why are they interesting? Chris breaks it down for us, and also shares how Topcoder is using them for things like community trading cards and self-sovereign identity wallets. 

Check out the highlights and listen to the full episode below.

The basics of NFTs

An NFT is a Non-Fungible Token that strives to create a digital version of uniqueness. Fungible is the key word because fungible means you can interchange one thing for another thing of the same value. Non-fungible means you can’t actually exchange it for something else because of its unique characteristics. 

NFTs are given value the same way cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are—through smart contracts on a blockchain. That means there’s a contract that runs through the distributed computer that says Person A owns this particular thing, and it’s written down on the ledger and it’s immutable. As Chris puts it, “Think of it less about the ownership of the digital item and more about the ownership of a certificate of ownership.”

“You could NFT anything. I could see this in the not too distant future becoming a real legal battleground for a lot of people.” —Chris DeLaurentis

Keeping the value in uniqueness

The neat thing about NFT smart contracts is that you can craft different ones, and there’s a standard depending on which blockchain you use. The standard dictates ‘this is how we’re going to interchange NFTs’. From there, you can create all sorts of rules. For example, ‘there are only going to be 10 of these things issued.’ So you can actually distribute or issue limited edition things.

Player cards are a great example: they’ll issue only a hundred cards of X player and people can then transfer value. Another great example is what NFTs are doing for content creators of all stripes, from art, digital art, to the written word, to audio. There are a number of bands that are issuing their albums out via NFTs.

Topcoder Trading Cards

Inspired by the craze around NBA Top Shots, Chris worked with Jessie Ford and our community team to create Topcoder NFT trading cards. Here are a few examples of Topcoder trading cards featuring rockstar members of our community:

As Chris put it, “we have all these amazing people, we can put their stats, we can make them animated, we can do all sorts of cool stuff.” While the team is still working out specifics, the idea is to have limited edition cards during TCO. Topcoder Open, or TCO, is our yearly mega-event that’s like the World Cup of coding.

We used the Topcoder design community to actually design this first foray into a first set of these Topcoder trading cards. Designers created an NFT card inspired by Adam Moorhead, Topcoder’s VP of Digital, using a movie theme and three colors: blue, yellow and green. Here are some of the awesome results:

Skills-based identity wallets

Chris is currently developing a Topcoder self-sovereign identity wallet. The goal is to take the data (ratings and stats) we generate about community members through their work on the platform, and issue those as verifiable credentials they can put in a wallet app on any mobile device. Long-term, Chris would like to put in the cryptocurrency NFT trading cards alongside the wallet, so members can have everything in one really nicely branded Topcoder wallet.

A ton of opportunity opens up from there. You could give access to customer environments or access to platforms based on those credentials. While Topcoder is doing this for ourselves to start, Chris hopes we’ll be able to grow partnerships with other platforms to interoperate with us. Identity wallets have the potential to be really impactful for our community and other skills-based freelancers.

Thanks, Chris, for joining us once again and sharing your knowledge of NFTs and the exciting ways we’re creating value with them in the Topcoder community.  For more Future of Work conversations, check out the Uprisor podcast.

“You have a contract that says, ‘this thing is this and we all agree to it’, that you can go out there and run around and do whatever with it. It’s decentralized but organized at the same time.” —Chris DeLaurentis

Annika Nagy


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