Connectedness and NFTs
One of the more fascinating things about data, especially as you gather more and more of it together, is the extent to which information is connected. Some of this is due to the fact that we share geospatial envelopes (we’re in the same general range and time as the things that are described) but much of it has to do with the fact that we describe and define things as compositions of other things.
The Customer 360, etc., data environments make use of this fact – customers are connected to purchases (real or potential) via contracts and interactions to providers, to locations, to interest groups, and so forth, each of which in turn is connected to other things. This network of things and relationships exists in almost all databases except the most simplistic, forming graphs of information.
Such graphs typically depend upon the consistent identification of keys. A typical SQL database maintains local keys, such as integers that are tied to a given table. These keys by themselves are not unique, but can be made to be unique by qualifying these index values with the identity of the database and the associated table that the primary keys are associated with.
Specialized databases called triple stores work with globally unique keys, but even there, much of what restricts the semantic web from taking off is in identifying when two separate keys in different systems actually refer to the same entity. This becomes especially problematic as the entities being referred to become more abstract.
One area where this is becoming addressed is in the rise of non-fungible tokens or NFTs. An NFT is a piece of intellectual property with an interwoven encryption key that identifies that property uniquely – there is in essence only one such object, even digitally. This means that if you create a movie (as an example), then assign one copy of that movie to an NFT, that token serves to identify that resource absolutely. With that concrete example, you can talk about different representations of an object, but ultimately, for identification purposes, these abstractions and revisions still ultimately can be traced back to the NFT. In effect, NFTs become vehicles for establishing provenance.
This connectedness and the ability to uniquely identify virtual products likely will be at the center of the next stage of data – the move from enterprise data to global data. At this stage, the ability is coming for autoclassification of assets, for determination of key cognates (e.g., master data management), and the emergence of protocols for the safe sharing and protecting that data.
This is why we run Data Science Central, and why we are expanding its focus to consider the width and breadth of digital transformation in our society. Data Science Central is your community. It is a chance to learn from other practitioners, and a chance to communicate what you know to the data science community overall. I encourage you to submit original articles and to make your name known to the people that are going to be hiring in the coming year. As always let us know what you think.
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DSC is looking for editorial content specifically in these areas for May, with these topics likely having higher priority than other incoming articles.
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