If you’ve been following developments in the NFT space recently, you may have heard people discussing the game-changing potential of encrypted variable tokens (EVTs).
Developed by the Newton Project, they’re a completely new way of tokenizing media. Whereas NFTs are limited in terms of format, unchangeable once they’re minted and unshieldable from the public eye, EVTs can be software, full movies or virtually any type of file you can imagine; the owner of one can make changes to the asset itself after minting; and their content can be kept private using decentralized encryption.
We talked with JZ, Newton’s pseudonymous co-founder and one of the main minds behind the EVT concept, to discover what inspired him and his team and how EVTs are going to change NFTs and media sharing forever.
How Newton got started
Newton’s founding has its origins in JZ’s first experiences of the internet in China in 1998. In his first forays online, he discovered what most people refer to as “open source” software. But to JZ, it was so much more than that: it symbolized digital freedom.
Helping to build digital freedom soon became the guiding ambition of his life’s work. His early role model was Richard Stallman, one of the key figures in the free software movement. Another major source of inspiration for JZ was the development of Android and its rapid rise to become the world’s most important free software.
The next big milestone on the way to JZ’s founding of Newton was the rise of blockchains. Like many others, JZ discovered the tech through Bitcoin back in 2011. At the time, he was working with the Free Software Foundation, which back then welcomed Bitcoin’s rise.
Over the 2010s, JZ’s work in the tech sector increasingly leaned toward blockchain technologies. This was partly because during this decade, while he was working for a web portal in China similar to Yahoo!, JZ was involved in its anti-spam systems, which operate on proof-of-work principles similar to those driving blockchains across the world today.
In 2018, he and a team of developers came together to found Newton, a layer-1 blockchain that will be the home of EVTs.
Early projects lay the groundwork for EVTs
NewPay, set up in 2019, is a cross-chain wallet between the Newton blockchain and Binance’s BNB blockchain. What made it novel is that, back then, cross-chain wallets were something of a rarity. Now, of course, they’re an essential part of life for crypto natives. For JZ, the project proved that an idea that people didn’t really understand initially could end up becoming something that people couldn’t live without.
Next, JZ and the Newton team turned their attention to file sharing, in what would turn out to be a vital step toward their development of EVTs. The problem they wanted to solve was the limitations of the IPFS file-sharing system, which can really struggle to handle large files.
The team set out to develop a decentralized storage and streaming system that delivered data transfer speeds similar to those offered by the leading non-blockchain cloud and streaming services. The outcome of this work was NewNet, which operates on Newton’s blockchain. To begin with, it was a clever technology that lacked a mainstream use case. Now, though, it’s set to unleash the potential of EVTs.
Another important area of Newton’s work has been developing a decentralized key management system for P2P communications and file sharing. The project has been hugely important to the development of the EVT protocol, because in allowing messages and media stored on a public ledger to be kept private, it gets around one of NFTs’ biggest limitations, namely the fact that every aspect of the token remains public.
EVTs most exciting features
When JZ first started paying close attention to NFTs back in 2019, he foresaw two things. First, he anticipated they’d initially become a massive trend, because they’d finally allow people to uniquely own digital creations, and creators would jump to cater to the demand they saw. Second, he sensed that there were problems with the concept that would start to hold it back once the novelty wore off.
One of the biggest problems with NFTs was that although people could say they “owned” an NFT artwork, they were forced to keep it – and the fact they owned it – on display. This severely limits people’s incentives to be an NFT owner. The other big problem he saw was that the media potential of NFTs was limited in terms of creativity and formats. The NFT infrastructure can only handle still images or short clips, and these can’t be changed by the NFT owner.
Observing NFT trends while he worked on Newton’s other projects, JZ saw that Newton had the infrastructure, tech and vision to take the NFT concept to a completely different level: private, encrypted and modifiable media of any size.
With all this in mind, Newton is minting an EVT that showcases what the tech is capable of relative to NFTs. It has obtained the copyright to the cult Chinese movie hit “Uncle Victory” and is issuing a limited run of the movie as EVTs. It’s a world-first in movie distribution and storage. Thanks to EVTs’ unique encryption and privacy features, owners of the EVT will be the only people who will be able to watch the movie, and their wallet IDs will be kept private.
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