Digital Economy Glossary


Digital Glossary

In addition to the written description, click on each word below to view a short YouTube video describing the concept. Some definitions include links to other words defined in the glossary.

Any cryptocurrency other than Bitcoin.
Artificial Intelligence (“AI”)
Often considered a branch of computer science, AI encompasses the development of computer systems and processes that simulate human intelligence processes. Machine Learning and Deep Learning are subsets of AI.
Augmented Reality (“AR”)
A technology that creates a composite view for users by overlaying digital information on top of the real, physical world. Pokémon Go uses AR to overlay digital Pokémon and other items as though they were present in the user’s physical world.
A digital icon or figure that is used to represent an individual within an environment. Avatars are becoming increasingly customizable, and companies are working to making avatars usable across various virtual environments and technology platforms.
A digital coin created in 2009 to be a “peer-to-peer electronic cash system,” that many view as a store of value (like gold). It is based off blockchain making it decentralized, immutable, and open. The number of Bitcoin is hard capped such that there will never be more than 21 million Bitcoin. See the Bitcoin whitepaper for more detail.
A distributed digital ledger that consists of linked transactions stored on a network of computers. The transactions are decentralized, immutable, and fully transparent. The shared ledger allows for the recording and tracking of both tangible and intangible assets. Blockchain technology is commonly used to store data for cryptocurrency transactions but is not limited to this use.
A network of remote servers that are connected to work as a single ecosystem. The system can store or manage data, run applications, or deliver content (e.g., streaming videos). This system stores data online, allowing users to access the data from any internet-capable device as opposed to tethered to a personal computer.
A cryptocurrency that has its own blockchain, acts as money, and can be mined (e.g., Proof-of-Work or Proof-of-Stake). Popular coin examples include Bitcoin, Litecoin, and ETH – the coin built on the Ethereum blockchain.
Creator Economy
Economy facilitated by software and finance tools that allow independent content creators to monetize and profit from their creations. Examples of platforms that facilitate the Creator Economy include TikTok, YouTube, Roblox and Unity.
Cryptocurrency (“Crypto”)
A digital or virtual currency that is secured such that it is very difficult to counterfeit or double spend. It is a digital asset that can come in the form of coins or tokens that is housed on a disperse network of computers.
Decentralized Autonomous Organization (“DAO”)
An internet-native organization that is collectively owned and managed by its members. A defining characteristic of this governance system is that it has no central leadership, with decisions made from the bottom-up. The organization is governed by the community and may follow a specific set of rules that are enforced on a blockchain using smart contracts. Many have built-in treasures that can only be accessed under the approval of the organization’s members with fully transparent financial transactions.
A decentralized virtual reality platform powered by the Ethereum blockchain where users can create, experience, and monetize their content and applications. It contains a finite amount of 3D virtual space, which makes up non-fungible digital assets called LAND. LAND is maintained in an Ethereum smart contract and can be purchased with MANA, the official cryptocurrency token of Decentraland. See the Decentraland whitepaper for more detail.
Process by which activities of an organization are delegated away from a central authority. In blockchain, it refers to the transfer of control and decision-making away from a centralized entity to a distributed network. In this network, each member has a copy of the same data through the distributed ledger. This reduces reliance on trust and improves data reconciliation.
Decentralized Apps (“dApps”)
An application that is built on a decentralized peer-to-peer ("P2P") network or blockchain that combines a smart contract and frontend user interface (“UI”). Because the app is decentralized, it is free from the control of a single authority (e.g., a corporation). One example includes TRACEDonate, an identify management platform designed to allow for transparent and traceable cross-border remittances and charitable giving.
Decentralized Finance (“DeFi”)
A system through which financial products become available on a public and decentralized blockchain network. The system aims at removing intermediaries (e.g., banks or exchanges) from transacting parties. Utilizes blockchain based software systems that allow buyers, sellers, lenders, and borrowers to interact in a peer-to-peer ("P2P") network without the facilitation of a company or institution. Aimed at creating a more open, free, and fair financial market while also allowing individuals to say pseudonymous.
Digital Identity
An online identity that represents an entity (e.g., individual, organization, application, or electronic device). Any data that has been shared digitally and can be tied back to a specific entity is part of the digital identity. This can include social media images and posts, search engine histories, e-mail addresses, and usernames, amongst other data types.
Distributed Ledger Technology ("DLT")
A digital database that is a consensus of replicated and synchronized data that is shared and across multiple location or institutions that can be accessed by multiple people. There is no central authority, and the technology is often used to process, validate, or authenticate transactions and other types of exchanges of data. One of the most popular types of distributed ledger is blockchain.
Dogecoin ("DOGE")
An open-source peer-to-peer ("P2P") digital currency originally developed in 2013 as a joke aimed at poking fun at the wild speculation of cryptocurrency. Created by software engineers Bully Markus and Jackson Palmer, it is the first “Meme Coin.” Its technology is based off of Litecoin and its loyal fanbase helped drive Dogecoin to one of the largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization. Notably, Elon Musk and AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc have openly supported DOGE.
A form of competitive videogaming that often takes the form of organized video game competitions played by professional players at an individual or team level. The competitions have been broadcast on major media networks including ESPN, TBS, SyFy, and Telemundo.
A platform founded in 2013 that is powered by a decentralized and open-source blockchain with smart contract functionality. Ether (“ETH”) is the official coin of the Ethereum blockchain. It has been described as “the world’s programable blockchain,” and many dApps are powered off the Ethereum platform. See the Ethereum whitepaper for more detail.
Ethereum Naming Service (“ENS”)
A naming and lookup service built on the Ethereum network that allows users to create a human readable username for their public addresses and decentralized websites that is portable across various blockchains and dApps. It is decentralized and is based off two Ethereum smart contracts. Native naming structure ends in “.ETH”.
An online videogame originally released by Epic Games in 2017.  The videogame is available on consoles, PCs, and mobile and currently has four modes: Battle Royale, Party Royale, Creative, and Save the World. The Party Royale mode was used to host rapper Travis Scott and singer Ariana Grande for virtual concerts.
In cryptography, it represents a mathematical algorithm that maps data of an arbitrary size to a fixed length.  It helps met the demands to solve for blockchain computation and is a one-way function that takes input and generates the fixed length output. Hash values help identify transactions on blockchain.
Initial Coin Offering (“ICO”)
A funding event for cryptocurrencies. Like an initial public offering (IPO) for equities, the ICO represents the first time a cryptocurrency is sold to investors in exchange for fiat (e.g., U.S. dollar) or other digital currencies (e.g., Bitcoin or Ether). Investors receive digital coins or tokens in exchange for their financial contribution to the issuer. Unlike IPOs, there is little to no government regulation of ICOs.
Keys (Public vs. Private)
User identification associated with cryptocurrency trading and ownership. A public key is open and can be shared with other individuals to facilitate the buying and selling of digital assets. A private key is a unique set of characters and numbers that should not be shared with anyone else and effectively is the password unlocking access to a user’s digital assets.
A peer-to-peer ("P2P") digital coin that enables instant, near-zero cost payments to anyone in the world. Founded in 2011, it is one of the early altcoins that represents an open source, global payment network that is fully decentralized. It was based off Bitcoin's open-source code and modified to include faster block generation and use of Scrypt as a proof-of-work scheme.
“The Metaverse is a massively scaled and interoperable network of real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds which can be experienced synchronously and persistently by an effectively unlimited number of users with an individual sense of presence, and with continuity of data, such as identity, history, entitlements, objects, communications, and payments” – Matthew Ball, Managing Partner of EpyllionCo
Process used to secure and validate cryptocurrency transactions on a blockchain as well as to create new coins. Miners, harnessing significant processing power, solve complex math problems to add new transactions to the ledger of a blockchain. Proof-of-Work (“POW”) methods utilize miners.
Mixed Reality
The blending of physical (i.e., real) and virtual worlds that allows physical and digital objects to interact in the same space. Requires a combination of three essential elements: computer processing, advanced human input methods, and environmental perceptions.
Neural Network
A computer system modeled after the human brain and nervous system that is used for solving artificial intelligence (“AI”) problems. A type of machine learning approach that uses flexible computational models to process information that can be used to identify non-linear relationships.
Non-Fungible Token (“NFT”)
A token is a record of ownership of an asset (digital or physical) and can be fungible or non-fungible. NFT’s are unique and are non-interchangeable units that exist on top of a blockchain (e.g., Ethereum). Each NFT has a unique identification code and metadata that distinguish it from other NFTs such that no two NFTs are identical.
Play-to-Earn ("P2E")
The ability to earn real-world value by playing games built on blockchain. Players are rewarded with tokens (e.g., cryptocurrency or NFTs) for participating in the gameplay. See the Axie Infinity whitepaper for an example of a P2E game environment.
Proof-of-Stake (“POS”)
A popular consensus mechanism to verify cryptocurrency transactions and mining of tokens on a blockchain. POS is newer than POW and requires less energy. A single validator is chosen to process a transaction on the blockchain in part based on the number of coins a validator stakes. Solana uses the POS system and Ethereum is transitioning from POW to POS for ETH2.
Proof-of-Work (“POW”)
The original consensus mechanism used to verify cryptocurrency transactions and mining of tokens on a blockchain. The method requires a large amount of processing power to secure and verify additions to the blockchain as miners compete to solve complex math problems. Bitcoin notably uses the POW method.
An online game platform and storefront as well as game creation system. Participants can program their own games and experiences as well as play those created by others on the system.
Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI)
A movement that believes an individual’s digital identity should be in the control of the individual and not be controlled by third party providers (e.g., Google, Facebook, or Apple). Relies on technology such as decentralized identifiers and verifiable credentials that allows individuals to have more control over how their personal data is shared.
Smart Contract
A self-executing contract written in code via a computer program or transaction protocol that outlines the terms of agreement between a buyer and a seller. These contracts are stored on blockchain and automatically execute when certain predetermined conditions are met. These contracts cannot be deleted and are irreversible.
Spatial Computing
“Human interaction with a machine in which the machine retains and manipulates referents to real objects and spaces” – Simon Greenworld. Virtualization of activities and interactions between entities including machines, people, objects, and environments (i.e., locations). The virtualization enables and optimizes actions and interactions between the entities. Like Augmented Reality (“AR”) and Virtual Reality (“VR”) with the addition of spatial mapping that enables a computer to track and control movements and interactions of objects as a person moves through a physical or virtual world.
A cryptocurrency where the value of the digital asset is derived from an underlying asset. The underlying asset may be another cryptocurrency, fiat currency (e.g., U.S. Dollar) or other exchange-traded assets. These are designed to provide a value that does not fluctuate, contrasting the high volatility of many traditional cryptocurrencies (e.g., Bitcoin). Examples include tether and USD coin (“USDC”).
Similar to mining in Proof-of-Work (“POW”) consensus methods. Used in Proof-of-Stake (“POS”) methods and represents active participation in transaction validation on a blockchain. It involves locking up cryptocurrency holdings to obtain rewards or earn interest on the holdings, like depositing cash into a savings account and is a form of passive investing.
The Sandbox
A virtual world where participants can build, own, and monetize their own games, digital assets, and experiences. The world is built off the Ethereum blockchain and is available on mobile phones and Windows operating system.
Similar to a cryptocurrency coin, except that it does not have its own blockchain. Instead, the token is built off a coin’s blockchain and typically rely on smart contracts. For example, Ether (“ETH”) is the native coin on the Ethereum blockchain, while BAT, tether, and USDC are tokens that operate on Ethereum. While coins represent virtual money, tokens can also represent assets or deeds.
Virtual Reality (“VR”)
Interaction with immersive digital 3D or other sensory environments that have been created by computer modeling and simulation. Typically accessed through a headset and other wearable technology.
A system to securely store cryptocurrency and private keys. Owners can send, receive, and use cryptocurrencies through the wallet. Wallets can be centralized or decentralized. Centralized wallets are owned and operated by a third-party (e.g., Coinbase) whereas decentralized wallets have no central authority, and the individual owner of the wallet holds full responsibility. Wallets can also have hot or cold storage. Hot wallets (AKA software wallets) are digital storage connected to the internet that can be accessed by any internet-connected device. Cold wallets (AKA hardware wallet) is a physical device that keeps your cryptocurrency completely offline, making it less vulnerable to hacks and online attacks.
Web 3.0
Internet built off peer-to-peer (“P2P”) computer networks with the aim of removing reliance on third parties (e.g., Google, Amazon, Facebook). Often these networks use blockchain technology and have a focus on decentralized, community-governed environments.
Yield Farming
An individual lends cryptocurrency in exchange for interest, fees, or additional units of another new cryptocurrency. Also called yield harvesting or liquidity harvesting.


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Kelsey Syvrud, PhD