The Metanet Blog: How domain naming and locating enable data ownership

In his latest blog post on the Metanet blog series, nChain researcher Jack Davies looked at the establishment of domain-like on-chain structures and how to assign real-world identity to them. Picking up from his last post which focused on the facilitation of a P2P value network on the Bitcoin SV network, Davies also discussed how, in combination with identity management platforms, the Metanet can enable ownership of data.

In previous blog post, Davies explained that nodes are transactions and edges are created by signatures, two of the concepts that allow a rich domain structure to emerge from Metanet graphs.

Davies also noted that it’s possible for a transaction to be Bitcoin-valid, but not Metanet-valid. Metanet validity requires a transaction to have the correct input signature, that is, a child node must have its input signed by the parent node.

However, should a bad actor intervene and attempt to create a child without the permission of the parent node, both the child node and the edge created will be deemed Metanet-invalid, despite being Bitcoin-valid.

This validity process is how the Metanet’s permissioning structure, which was covered in the previous blog post, manifests itself. Applying this simple rule set to each transaction enables us to “interpret and enforce the desired write-access controls for any node in a Metanet tree.”

Davies noted, “Herein lies the key innovation of the Metanet protocol. That the ability to create a Metanet-valid child of a node rests with the burden of being able to produce a signature on that child is precisely how the Metanet protocol achieves its permissioning hierarchy and, indeed, domain structure.”

It is important to note that the Metanet protocol doesn’t solve the identity problem. Its primary function is to merely allow structure and permissioning for on-chain data and utility. Combining this structured on-chain data with proper identity management is one of the fundamental pillars required “to realize the aims of users reclaiming sovereignty over their data.”

Already, a number of solutions have sprung up to solve the identity problem and more will launch in the near future. Some include Legally Chained and Money Button’s Paymail.

Having established domain-like on-chain structures and mapped real-world identity to them, we can then assign names to the Metanet nodes. A MetanetURL (MURL), though purely conceptual, can be used as a resource locator to find Metanet nodes. MURL is closely related to how the uniform resource locator (URL) is used to ‘traverse content resources on the existing web.’ And just like the URL, the MURL is made up of a protocol identifier, a domain, a path and a name. Davies concludes:

The key concept to take away from here is that we can construct resource locators for the Metanet that allow us to leverage the intrinsically efficient searchability of traversing DAG structures.

The Metanet protocol further allows a user to delegate write access to a particular branch or sub-tree which is part of the user’s Metanet graph structure. Simple as it sounds, its uses are many, including affording a user the ability to run a website where each page is outsourced to a particular content creator. This delegation also makes it possible to implement a social media Metanet graph for blockchain-based applications such as Twetch.