February 2019 - Blockchain

The Need for Naming Conventions on the Blockchain

Blockchains have not yet developed a unified naming convention, and it’s time they did, argues Christa Taylor from Minds + Machines.

The Need for Naming Conventions on the Blockchain

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Have you ever witnessed the "Coffee Cup Letdown" phenomenon? Where coffee lovers stand in line, meticulously ordering their coffee, happily checking their smart phone while the Barista creates and places the carefully crafted beverage on the counter. The caffeine-craving customer swoops over, picks up the much-anticipated creation, spins it around and upon discovering a puzzling version of their name, their facial expression suddenly changes to disappointment and confusion.

Utilizing a customer’s name humanizes the person, garners their attention, evokes importance, and helps demonstrate competence. Words are powerful; a magician can pull a rabbit out of a hat with one magical word, “Abracadabra”, which translates from the Aramaic phrase meaning “I will create as I speak” (Quinion, 2005).

The human creation of words and names helps us make sense of our universe. Words are often taken for granted, from street names to the most sophisticated systems; sometimes they are purely reference points while at other times they reflect successive generations, such as with software.

Prior to 1983, the Internet used IP addresses consisting of four octets using dot-decimal notation - 191.234.555.66 – until more memorable names like .com, .net, .org, etc. were implemented. Most Internet users have never had to use IP addresses, as human readable names were built in when the World Wide Web "opened" to the public.

In contrast, blockchains have not yet developed a unified naming convention, with many blockchains requiring users to endure lengthy alphanumeric strings. While many first-generation blockchain users enjoyed the anonymity such strings provided, there is a second generation of users who increasingly want the trust and ease-of-use benefits that naming conventions provide. As a result, we have seen rudimentary naming protocols emerge on the leading public blockchains, Ethereum, Bitcoin, and EOS. However, they remain fragmented with no linkage or standardization of naming protocols across blockchains. Most importantly, there is no interoperability between blockchains and the World Wide Web, where users have become comfortable and expect reliable, intelligent, scalable infrastructure with quick response times and user-friendly names that they have learned to trust.

For organizations, individuals, and app developers, meaningful names are even more important on the blockchain. Inexperienced users are inherently nervous of blockchain, particularly when characterized as the “Dark Web” and even more so when they hear of stories about people losing their crypto-assets. Irreversible transactions with no protection mechanisms increase a user's apprehension as the financial safety nets of the World Wide Web no longer apply. Consequently, without such protection mechanisms on the blockchain, compounded by the current slow transaction times on many blockchains, users are likely to become suspicious – causing them to rethink their purchase decisions midstream and leading to transactional abandonment.

The legal framework for naming conventions that help underpin the public’s trust in the World Wide Web have not yet evolved within the developing blockchain universe. As a result, issues such as trademark infringement, where a person purchases a trademarked name that is not the actual owner and can subsequently utilize those names to deceptively "trick" consumers into transferring funds for goods or services that are not with the intended company, is a real and present threat.

In response to these challenges, Minds + Machines (MMX) has developed .luxe, the first, top-level domain whose naming convention has been designed to work both on the World Wide Web AND multiple blockchains. Ethereum, currently the world’s fastest-growing blockchain, was the first to be integrated into .luxe and went live last year with other blockchains due to follow in 2019.

The integration of .luxe with the Ethereum Name Service (ENS), allows users to create a user-friendly .luxe name of their own choice and associate it with an Ethereum blockchain asset, such as their wallet, as well as use the identical name on the World Wide Web if they wish. Associating a 42-hexadecimal identifier, 0xC644E39C93B0D7C843c34… with firstname.luxe or businessname.luxe allows users to refer to their wallet, smart contract, Decentralized App (DApp), etc. with a relevant, user-friendly name. The World Wide Web connection is important as it means the allocation of names is underpinned by an established legal process (i.e. that of the World Wide Web), while the security and integrity of what that name is then associated with is protected by blockchain protocols. In short, the best of both worlds.

User-friendly .luxe names and other related naming conventions will help in developing a key critical component – trust. Garnering trust is complex but generally begins with a simple first step – you guessed it – a name. Allowing users to find you, your product or your service using existing search technology of the Web and seamlessly transferring to the blockchain provides users with security and transactional transparency.

Names also provide the added benefit of being convenient – let’s face it, verifying long, nonsensical identifiers on a large monitor is far from ideal and even less so on smaller mobile devices. This is especially true in today’s environment where mobile phones are commonly used to conduct blockchain transactions on the fly, and wallet providers require identifiers and verification. Users have become accustomed to using uncomplicated, relevant references when conducting transactions, whether it’s an existing friend or a company across the world. Names foster relationships and set expectations while providing peace of mind that a user is dealing with the intended party.

The necessity for naming conventions is set to continue growing as organizations and users desire increased confidence when conducting transactions through blockchain based systems. Naming conventions not only increase trust and consumer loyalty, they also provide users with easy-to-reference names, making transactions smoother. While the systems of the future develop, today’s needs based on tomorrow’s technology already exist and will undoubtedly assist blockchain to reach the tipping point of mainstream adoption. Public blockchain usage need not be hindered by the Letdown phenomena. More information on .luxe and its integration with blockchains can be found at www.join.luxe.

Christa Taylor is passionate about Internet technology and its impact on individuals and organizations.  Seasoned in balancing bold entrepreneurial initiatives with sound business management, she is adept in utilizing business intelligence to design strategic initiatives and create competitive advantages that positively impact the bottom line.

She is a designated Certified Public Accountant who also holds a Bachelor of Technology, a Masters in Business Administration, and a Masters of Predictive Analytics. 

Please note: The opinions expressed in Industry Insights published by dotmagazine are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of the publisher, eco – Association of the Internet Industry.