Parsons DT 2022 Show


Jessica Jabr

Manifestation Of A Possibility

Creating a better technology ecosystem starts with creating safer mediums that respect user privacy and data. And further, safer mediums that break out of the current business models and allow users power and return over their own data. 

What if our real-life, physical actions could be mirrored into our online existence? The goal here is to maximize everyday data to demonstrate the possibilities of enhanced experiences in the multiverse, where the users’ own behavioral data is actually owned by them. ethRill is a tool that lives on web3 in the form of a decentralized interface. It translates offline actions to online value within digital platforms by allowing users to form digital assets out of their offline activities, which get stored on their crypto wallet.

dApps & trust

My thesis belongs within the context of the web3 movement which largely exists as decentralized applications (dApps), that run on peer-to-peer networks and blockchains instead of central servers. Most of these are built on the Ethereum network, enabling digital agreements between parties to self-execute based on meeting certain conditions (smart contracts). dApps are popular because of their ability to integrate with decentralized finance and bring services previously only accessible to affluent investors to the masses. ethRill will be on ethereum chain precisely for the efforts, movement, and philosophy guiding this work; in addition, this network seeks to appeal to end users regardless of their technical prowess, and my web3 dApp shares a similar goal. ethRill aims to be used by early adopters of blockchain so that they can start to think about value translation from the offline world (which are actions and behaviors they are already used to and can easily understand).

In Web3.0 decentralized applications, also known as ‘dApps’, a user’s digital assets and data are stored in their crypto wallet, also called, Web3 wallet which is essentially a digital wallet that stores digital assets, including fungible & non-fungible (NFTs) tokens. By logging into a dApp through a Web3 wallet it allows users to access and interact with these dApps on various blockchains. The force that is driving the web3 economy is simple, and decades old: trust. In the current climate of data and business models, there is an erosion of trust – algorithms are black boxes and our data is often used without our knowledge or consent to deliver information to us that is not necessarily what we need. And a select few are benefiting from the value of our collective data. But it does not have to be that way. 


It’s also worth mentioning here that technologies of Web 3.0 and the metaverse co-exist yet aren’t the same; where Web 3.0 is a decentralized web and the metaverse is a digital space which could live in or have Web3.0 as the basis for its connectivity. 

The future of tech-human exchange and communication will depend on the interaction within these digital and virtual worlds. My research revolves around human interaction with technology, between the offline and the online world. I’m interested in exploring the interchangeable embodiment of self between the offline and the online in a way that gives agency and power to the user. In Web3.0 we interact online, so what if our real-life, physical, ‘non-networked’ interactions could be mirrored into our online existence?

One of the places that ethRill could be applied is within the multiverse, the collection of metaverses. The metaverse can be considered a virtual world where people can interact with other players and various in-game objects. This “online universe” allows participants to meet, interact, explore places, partake in activities and share experiences together. The online and offline worlds are becoming interchangeable, in a sense that they both have real impact on each other. And the future for the multiverse is to have an interoperable digital twin, that can navigate all the metaverses as one, in many ways a mirror of our offline selves, where we are in the same body traveling from place to place. ethRill will seek to be interoperable so that offline behaviors and their potential online reaction can move with the digital self from one dApp to the next through this data being written on one’s crypto wallet.

Financial crisis case

The context that brings me to decentralization is multifold. Over the past few years, Lebanon underwent an economic and political collapse causing the devaluation of the currency. The most tragic outcome of the economic fall was that banks were able to hold people’s money hostage. What that meant was that regardless of how much money a person had in the bank, they no longer had access to it – and to top that, if the money was in Lebanese Liras, then it lost all value. Overnight, generations lost access to their life’s savings, their security net, their emergency savings, their children’s university money and all that they worked very hard towards for years. This crisis was the product of a centralized economic structure where banks ultimately had the power to withhold people’s access to their own wealth. Millions of Lebanese people have money in banks that they have no access to. I have often sought possibilities of decentralized economic systems and structures: how can they make possible what centralization made absolutely impossible? This project and research is a manifestation of that possibility: what if, in the example of Lebanon, people could generate value from their offline activity and hold the power over that value? Through blockchain, people are no longer beholden to banking systems – where banks could in trying times make certain unfair decisions regarding your hard earned assets – and can now hold power and immutable ownership over their own assets. 

Reclamation of power

In many ways ethRill is a vision for the reclamation of power over one’s own behavioral data.  The advancement of technologies like machine learning, AI, VR&AR, web monetization and cryptocurrency has led to creating virtual worlds that act as mirrors to life offline, mirrors which are stored and administered on the blockchain. For example, buying non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that live on the blockchain has real value in the offline world –  these assets are worth hard currency, often in such high amounts that the people who own them can buy a physical house offline. Consumers and builders of the virtual world have adopted the blockchain as a secure and trustworthy place for their assets to live, outside of brokers and the banking system. Web 3.0 as we see it today will continue to evolve and amass digital goods and currencies that will drive not only the multiverse but also life off the chain. And if these goods are verifiable and immutable, then ownership (therefore trust) will not be at risk. This presents an opportunity for the decentralized ownership and operation of wealth.

Jessica Jabr

Creative Tech, Interaction & Experience, Product
I'm a creative technologist and experience designer. My work revolves around human-computer interaction. I love to play with physical computing, machine learning, and interactive experiences. I'm a serial idea-generator, who speaks product, and is obsessed with web3 technologies. Prior to pursuing my MFA in Design & Technology, I worked in programs and product management.