Dev Grant Spotlight: Geo Web
Mapping a world of digital content onto our analog planet
This is the first post in our series highlighting the builders and innovators creating new tools and services on the Filecoin network. Learn more about our Dev Grants program, including how to apply for grants, here. And read up on Wave 8 recipients.
The Geo Web project, a participant in Filecoin’s Developer Grants program, is a set of open protocols that creates novel property rights for augmented reality (AR) content. Geo Web allows publishers to place digital content, like art or music, at a physical location in the world and have users discover it based on their location — as if it’s a physical object. What makes Geo Web special is how its protocols encourage a shared experience of this new world, so that it is used efficiently and fairly, in perpetuity.
Geo Web is modeled after the earliest visions of the open web. It’s viewable through a spatial web browser, where IPFS content IDs are linked to digital land parcels. The browser retrieves unique content from the IPFS network using queries tied to the user’s geolocation. This virtual globe of digital content is backed up and archived on the Filecoin network.
As co-founder Graven Prest noted, AR landscapes are becoming increasingly prevalent, and it is imperative we facilitate a “public good” model for digital land ownership while still in early development. Comparing the licensing of digital land to the California Gold Rush, Prest stressed the value of a dynamic market that gives late adopters a fair opportunity to purchase land while acknowledging the risk early “settlers” took.
The partial common ownership model promotes a public good system by balancing principles of private and public ownership. Anyone can own a piece of land, but they have to set a self-assessed value and pay a licensing fee based on that value. To discourage owners from underpricing their own property, anyone in the system can purchase a land license at the owner’s assigned value. Using smart contracts, this system seeks to limit the politics of real estate negotiations and give all users a fair chance at land ownership in the Geo Web metaverse.
The licensing fees paid on the virtual parcels are pooled into a treasury and used for public purposes, like improving the protocol and creating content publishing tools. The Geo Web team is progressively decentralizing governance of the network and exploring on-chain and off-chain solutions for technical and financial decision making. “That’s the holy grail — to have a huge community that cares and is participating in governance,” Prest said. “We’re deliberately taking steps from the very beginning to show that we take the responsibility [of decentralization] very seriously.”
Prest is excited about the potential for the Geo Web as devices like smart glasses come to market: “Instead of building things with atoms, you build with electrons instead. [Imagine] the awe-inspiring experiences that we can build when [we] are not confined within the laws of physics.” But until digital architecture and special effects are a reality, the Geo Web will continue to facilitate many practical use cases, like checking out a restaurant’s menu, or finding details about a museum exhibit.
Co-founder Cody Hatfield stressed the benefits of being selected for the Filecoin Developer Grants program. “The Filecoin grant has given us the opportunity to provide persistent, long-term storage for content on the Geo Web, faster than we ever thought possible,” he said. “Without the grant, we would not have been able to prioritize this effort and our impending launch would lack the robust UX features we are now developing.”
The team’s next step is to launch the mainnet and improve UX to make purchasing a digital parcel seamless. The Geo Web’s more equitable and efficient gold rush might still be in our future, but you can interact with the project now by exploring the testnet and visiting their GitHub and Discord channels.
The Filecoin Dev Grants program helps advance projects and aims to award additional grants to boost development in the ecosystem. Check out other grant recipients and learn how you can apply for open grants and Microgrants. You can also submit a Filecoin x Hedera proposal utilizing both protocols’ technologies.