metaMe empowers people to gain full control of their digital self and make them feel free to explore how their data can enrich their lives.
(Interview with Founder of metaMe, Dele Atanda)
The data management operating system that metaMe offers is an outstanding framework. It gives people control over their information and at the same time ensures they are able to exercise all their most important rights: rights to privacy, property, agency, freedom and human rights - effectively - using new, best-in-class technologies.
metaMe’s view is that the human rights that we know need reapplying within the context of the digital world. And with the acceleration of digital - worldwide - due to the pandemic this has become more acute than ever before. To metaMe founder Dele Atanda, digital rights mean three fundamental things. One is privacy. And that’s becoming a well-developed conversation with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) currently leading the world on that topic. The second is the principle of property. This centers around recognizing our data as our property and the very significant value of our data as the driver of the global economy. „When people say that data is the new oil,” according to Atanda, „it is true in the sense that oil was the driver of the industrial economy, now data is the driver of the digital economy.“ The third aspect, which is where metaMe’s pioneering Crypto Comic series overlaps more poignantly, is the idea of agency. This essentially means freedom. Whether it’s freedom of speech, freedom of movement or freedom of assembly. “Security and freedom go hand in hand. Though they can appear to be opposites they do in fact rely on each other. Greater data security creates more information and personal freedom. These together form the underpinnings of digital rights,” says Atanda. To paint them in a more human and relatable context, our comic story proposes that we all have three selves. We have our physical self, our mental self and we also now have our digital self. Our digital self has become an extension of our physical self. That’s what the “meta” concept is, it means beyond physical, beyond mental. Our “meta-self” is really what our digital self is about.
metaMe believes these rights and principles should be applied across a four layered framework for organizing society called the “social stack”. Each layer represents a different type of code that needs to be developed and deployed in concert with the other layers in the stack for society to function sustainably. The first layer is ethics and morality. This essentially defines “what we as a society accept as being right and wrong”. These ideas are often codified in standards such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the Ethical Data Standard, developed by metaMe’s sister NGO the Internet Foundation in partnership with the British Standards Institute.
Underpinning this top layer in Atanda’s social stack then is the second layer - policy and regulation. “In simple terms this defines what is legal and allowed. Regulation should effectively enforce our ethical principles. If we look at property law, for example the principles that underpin it go all the way back to the ideas of fairness proposed by the Magna Carta.” The third layer in this stack is economic code and how we create incentive frameworks that can support ethical, moral and legal outcomes, i.e., what is rewarded and incentivized. Then finally comes the enabler, technology. I.e., what is possible given what is right and legal and what we want to incentivize. We use technology to complete this stack and to design an operating model which we believe will eventually facilitate better social outcomes at scale. This is the framework upon which metaMe builds go-to-market applications that move its vision of a new data economy and self-sovereignty for the masses forward. “All this, however, is very technical, intellectual and logical.” says Atanda. “It’s all very logos. The question however, is how can we get people, particularly young people to connect with and care about this in a deeper and more personal way? We realized that we need to find ways to connect people with this stack in an emotionally intellectual manner, as opposed to in an academic or more traditionally abstract intellectual manner. So we created a story, a comic saga and graphic novel series that creates a fictional framework through which we approach these issues in a more emotional and mythos driven manner. Metaiye Knights is an epic, cultural tale, using storytelling, science-fiction, Afro-futurism, and other contemporary tools to create a compelling and immersive experience. We use storytelling, graphics, gaming, gamification and other creative tools to drive the awareness and behavior that we are looking to inspire.”
In Codice aperto speramus
The Metaiye Knights story itself is framed around the notion that there is a real physical world - Terra and a digital world - Digiterra. The digital world is overrun by warring clans of Fang and Bat cyber vampires who suck people’s data there so they can enslave them in the physical world. They live in both realms, and both seek to control Terra through technology and data. They know that all people have powerful digital twins in the digital world. But they keep people blind to this and have them think that their digital selves are weak and valueless, so they are able to exploit and subjugate them. “Think of The Matrix meets Mr. Robot on the road to Wakanda” muses Atanda. “But what we also do is use blockchain technology and crypto assets to deliver the story. There’s a popular technology in the crypto space called “Non-Fungible Tokens” (NFTs). NFTs allow us to create digital media in a way that can make it collectable and valuable. It is the same technology we use at metaMe to protect people’s data, but we’re using it here to protect digital media. We use this technology to first deliver episodes in the form of a new type of NFT driven Crypto Media, but then also use it to put the key tools of identity and data-sovereignty into people’s hands. We distribute the series through a digital or crypto wallet, which enables people to have their own sovereign identity, and to store crypto currency and other digital assets within it. They can and eventually will also store personal data assets within this wallet. So, we’re telling people a story, we’re educating them in that story as to why data ownership is important and then we’re also teaching them how, through the story and how it is delivered, to use tools of sovereignty in their own lives. When we pull all this together, we believe we’ll find the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. “I think metaMe and its Metaiye Knights comic series are unique in this sense. We are the world’s first Crypto Comic, the first Cryptographic Novel and the world’s first Cryptographic Novel driven metaverse video game. We are still at early stages with it, but the project has already made huge headway including winning awards for blockchain innovation and education at this year’s CES show for example. For the comic series and video game we are working with production companies in Nigeria and Kenya as well as others in the US and UK. Diversity is also a key part of Metaiye Knights. So far, we have produced 8 episodes of the series, and have published two of them and in parallel are pioneering a lot of unique, world-first things. We are doing a new type of motion comic for example in a unique way where we combine motion comics along with gaming media. We’re also bringing the Metaiye Knights project to the art world.”
Three exciting updates on metaKnights in 3/2021:
#1 Metaiye Knights Wins Big at CES. Metaiye Knights won 1st place Gold Award for Blockchain Innovations at CES and the 2nd place Silver Award for Education Innovations at the prestigious Village Francophone 2021 Phygital World competition held as part of this year’s 2021 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Metaiye Media was selected from over 4,000 startups from 19 countries and 85 regions and territories, covering 46 technological sector collectives aligned with leading global trends that were vetted and qualified for the event. The Phygital World competition was watched by over 350,000 online participants and decision-makers.
#2 Partnership with Unanimous Games. Metaiye Media announced a partnership with leading Urban eSports company Unanimous Games (UG) to distribute its pioneering Crypto Video Novels on UG’s media platform, and to develop a Metaiye Knights video game.
#3 Over $1 mn raised from our incredible community. Metaiye Media opened the company up to investment from its community through an equity crowdfunding campaign on Start Engine. The campaign has gone incredibly well and the company has raised over $800K from over 3,000 investors. Metaiye Media takes pride in being highly inclusive and keeping its minimum investment at $100 to enable as many people as possible to own shares in the company.
“There is so much going on with our project, whether it's launching our app, the pilot series, the motion comics or NFTs of collectible artwork, there’s always something to talk about. We’re very excited to work on this with Musee magazine, too, especially on the concept of collectible digital art”, Atanda continued. The use of NFTs to create rare digital pieces in the art world is creating a bit of a revolution. The thing about crypto media is that it allows artists to create digital assets that cannot be replicated.” Like a copyright? “Exactly. Like a proof of authenticity. And you can think of money or crypto currency from the perspective, as its first use case. When you spend one Bitcoin you can’t still have it, which really was the critical thing to prove. But what has come with that capability is that we now have the ability to create digital assets that cannot be replicated. We can limit them and create digital scarcity. This is unique and is a real transformation in the digital world. It is also completely revolutionary in the world of digital art. Artists can now create digital art that can be scarce or unique. They can decide to create one, a hundred or a thousand pieces of their work and prevent replication and forgeries. This is transforming art sales. There are digital works that are now selling for millions of dollars. Beeple’s 5000 Days for example fetched $69.3m, the third highest sale by a living artist trailing only David Hockney and Jeff Koons. “I do not think there has ever been a technology in history that has been led by the art industry in the way that NFTs are currently. Not sculpture, not photography, not even paint. I think this is important as it talks to the cultural value of this technology. It also gives a whole new context to the term the state-of-the art.” claimed Atanda.
“And that’s what we’re doing with the comic series, we’re releasing limited edition collectible versions of episodes and artwork from them which will become collectible, crypto media. We believe Metaiye Knights will be at the forefront of a new wave of tech driven popular culture. An interesting context which we should also continue discussing in the GLAM framework,” Atanda says. The story will continue.