Think the obsession with branded web3 crypto domains is an overhyped fad? Unless your email address is something like email@example.com, you’ve already bought into the branded address movement, just like everyone else finally did 30 years ago.
In the early days of personal computing, network enthusiasts were assigned a string of numbers to communicate with each other on CompuServe. Randomly assigned and formatted as 7 octal digits, this growing community was ported to the public internet in 1989. Almost overnight, they became reachable from outside their network through an email address linked to their numerical ID such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
CompuServe effectively led America’s internet march forward until a rival, America Online, posed a threat. Offering users the option to select a memorable branded name and email address as early as 1992, the AOL branded name concept became ubiquitously known as a “Screen Name.”
CompuServe ignored it, partially because its aging technological infrastructure wasn’t designed to escape the numerical name system. But also because Americans and people the world over still weren’t sure what it was they liked about access to the Information Superhighway. Many critics compared the two on price. But as AOL began to crush CompuServe, CompuServe finally had no choice but to try and make its service more appealing to the public. It began with screen names.
“Finally it has happened!,” an announcement said. “CompuServe users can now forget about hard to remember email addresses with numbers (such as 72223.10@CompuServe.com) and start using ‘normal looking’ email addresses like the rest of the world! … If you’re a CompuServe user, just GO REGISTER to choose your new email address (actually, this is an alias to your current CompuServer email address, so you can use both addresses if you like)… If you’re not a CompuServe user, but frequently send email to CompuServe accounts, you might want to find out what their ‘easy to remember email alias’ is.”
Twenty million American adults had access to the internet that year. America Online would go on to register 35 million subscribers alone by the year 2002, impressing upon an entire generation the value of one’s “screen name.”
Today, almost nobody would ever think to use a string of random digits to identify themselves, yet that is exactly what crypto addresses have accomplished. In the case of ethereum, for example, a randomly assigned string of 42-chars is a hark back to the pre-1996 CompuServe era on steroids.
Perhaps if they were still around, they’d publish a more modern version.
“Finally it has happened! Web3 users can now forget about hard to remember crypto addresss (such as 0x8018asdfdssd809128320912428dfakd998) and start using ‘normal looking’ addresses like the rest of the world! … If you’re a Web3 user, just GO REGISTER to choose your new web3 address (actually, this is an alias to your current crypto address, so you can use both addresses if you like).”