Lead Author of ERC-721: Enterprise Use Will Be The Future Of Blockchain


"I am always happy to work together and learn from others to make a protocol -- this is smarter than inventing something by myself and doing it wrong. Some people look at protocols as an opportunity to publish something or to be a leader or first mover, but I see them as an opportunity to learn and to ask profound questions about use cases." 

----William Entriken

As CryptoKitties went popular last year, people started to notice Non-fungible token (NFT), the cryptographic token format behind it. With blockchain, novel ideas have been created continuously, and the concept of NFT finally enables digital scarcity.

We can’t imagine what will be without backroom boys who laid the foundation of NFT then made the fantastic idea possible. To find out the value of techs and stories behind it, CoinTime interviewed with William Entriken, the lead author of ERC-721 which open up the door of NFTs. 

Set Out When Crypto Boom

The story started in January 2018, and this is the time when the Ethereum reached 1,400 USD. At that time, Williams had never used blockchain, and don't own any Bitcoin. As the market was already hot, William decided to seize this opportunity to make and sell his blockchain product just like everyone else.

After a few weeks, William and his wife Su released Su Squares, an advertising platform by which people can buy square image pixels inside easily. It’s a product with the concept of looking for the most straightforward design that can build and ship immediately. However, they hit a problem that led Will the way to NFT.

“My customers can only buy these Su Squares on my website, and I quickly found CryptoKitties and their developer Dieter Shirley. Deiter had begun working on NFT and published an early draft on GitHub. This standard enables all compliant token creators and all token marketplaces or wallets to interoperate. ” Williams recalled.

“How convenient! That means that the Su squares I created can be sold on other people's marketplace websites,” William stopped worrying about developing their own auction website.

Efforts on Standardizing NFTs

However, when William planned to connect Su Square’s platform to the outside world, He realized that many people were interested in standardizing non-fungibles, but they won't agree on how to do it. Meanwhile, Deiter's company took off, so there are other things for him to focus on.

Williams set his mind to lead the change.  Soon he went to GitHub and volunteered,

“I might not be the smartest person, but I work hardest. I promised to listen to everyone's opinions, write this standard and meet Ethereum's acceptance criteria.” 

While costing his sleep time took phone calls from interested people in various countries, Williams then understood the use cases—NFTs don't just enable digital collectibles, but they can also track physical assets.

Hard work paid off.  Gradually, the blockchain community came to support, Dieter also agrees to help and finally be a co-author of the Protocol. Eventually, ERC-721 was published in its final form and accepted on June 21st, Su’s birthday.

Protocols Empower Dapps’ True Value

“To put it bluntly, writing standards and making tokens is way less important than having awesome gameplay!” William said, and his purpose of writing protocol is also to empower to achieve the real value of Dapps.

With ERC-721, Applications on digital collectible and virtual properties emerge. The broader ERC-721 application is in-game tokens as well as officially licensed products. These applications will be much larger in scale and require private chains or shards of some form.

William said ERC-721 is not only about NFTs. It is with more standards:

“The base standard is non-fungibles tokens, developers can also add metadata (ERC721Metadata) that connects each token to a URL. Secondly, Most Dapps use this extension. Last is enumerability. This allows you to see all assets anybody owns. ”

He continued to search for other ways of scaling Dapps.“Modern Dapps don't scale, every action in the game requires spending Ether. I have worked on applications that create tokens in batch, which saves money. ” 

William keeps looking for other paths to reach scalability, he went through the article ERC-1155 and left comments and keeps an eye on tokens which can own other tokens.

Blockchain Is Not About Complexity

Meanwhile, to gain popularization of NFTs, William decided continuously to contribute to NIFTY, a conference in which CryptoKitties, Etheremon, Etherbots, Codex, and Decentraland present on stage exploring possibilities on NFTs, blockchain gaming, and collectibles. 

“Too many developers are thinking about how to use more complex smart contracts as the basis for their games; however, from the game's point of view, blockchain is just infrastructure.” With a value of simplicity and practicality, William shows his view on building applications, “The best games in history are fun from start to finish. CryptoKitties is not winning because of the blockchain, it is winning because it is fun! The best user experience includes beautiful graphics, responsive gameplay, and multiplayer gameplay.”

The biggest problem in the industry is user onboarding, and simplicity will help to attract more users.

Exploring On Enterprise Use

People have an impression that William specialize in the game and public chain, but actually, it is not the whole world of him. William found the new opportunity of blockchain, it’s on enterprise use, which drove him to start Chain 76, a Philadelphia conference and hands-on workshop focused on pharmaceuticals, supply chain, and blockchain. 

He considers Chain 76 as his "pivot"," I think the future for blockchain is enterprise solutions or at least solutions for companies that already exist."

Last year Ernst & Young participated in Chain 76 and helped to make a successful Blockchain event on enterprise use. More and more traditional big names started to learn about the experience from public chains. Last October, Ernst & Young released a press release to introduce their Ops Chain, mentioning that this application would be similar to ERC-721, it will support encrypted transactions.

Fifteen years ago, so many companies wanted to create an intranet. It is the same thing as the Internet except nobody else can connect to it. Fast forward to today, no one uses intranets; we all use the Internet. This is the difference between a private chain and a public chain.

William was inspired by this saying above on Chain 76 last year, believing that one day the barriers between the public chain and private chain will be removed one day, he believes that public chain will be wildly used in the future by administrations and intellectual right protect, and the ERC 721 can also be used in many enterprise scenarios.

    Adapted from: Executive editor: Red
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