So far, I’ve resisted Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). Not that I’m a Luddite. Blockchain, I get you; I’ve heard enough media companies talk about using the decentralized ledger technology for security and transparency in media workflows to understand what the fuss is about. However, I’ve yet to be convinced by cryptocurrency given the current environmental impact of Bitcoin mining, though advocates say traditional banking practices are far from carbon-neutral.
READ MORE: Greenpeace: Bitcoin energy problem speaks to wider challenge for internet’s future (Bitcoin Insider)
These disruptive trends are being assembled under the collective banner of “Web3” and Peter Kafka has been on a journey of discovery around this new world. Writing for the Recode section of Vox, he sees and hears “Web3 pitches, debates, and dunks daily.”
NAB Show Launches Web3 National Advisory Council
Web3 is the next iteration of the World Wide Web, reflecting an evolving infrastructure with advanced capabilities powered by blockchain technology and enhanced through artificial intelligence.
NAB Show has formed a new Advisory Council for Web3, with the mission of providing guidance and expertise on developing relevant education content around the implications of new technologies, content models, and consumer behaviors driven by the next generation of the Internet.
The 12-member group — comprising media and entertainment professionals, technology executives and platform providers from across the media landscape — will be led by two-time Emmy winner and longtime media advisor Seth Shapiro, managing partner of D[a]2: Digital Asset Advisors, who will serve as the Council’s chair; NAB director of strategic partnerships and programming, Meghan Nodell; and StoryTech CEO Lori H. Schwartz, a longtime industry strategist and leading NAB Show program curator who will serve as the Council’s engagement officer.
The Council will advise NAB Show’s executive team on a broad range of business-critical topics for media companies and their partners as they navigate new content platforms, the evolution of television, new IP-based assets, live events, audio, publishing, and physical and digital gaming experiences. Learn more about the National Advisory Council and see the full list of members HERE.
At its core, says Kafka, Web3 is “a rebranding of crypto and blockchain, the technology based around a worldwide network of computers that talk to each other and validate and record transactions without human intervention or centralized oversight.
“The blockchain [mostly] is still about buying and selling stuff — except now instead of digital currency, you can also buy and sell digital art, or plots of digital land or other items you can earn in a handful of video games,” he adds.
READ MORE: People in the Philippines are earning cryptocurrency during the pandemic by playing a video game
“NFTs barely existed two years ago,” he continues. “Last year, people spent a reported $25 billion on them.”
READ MORE: NFT sales hit $25 billion in 2021, but growth shows signs of slowing (Reuters)
“But Web3’s most fervent evangelists think it goes much further,” he adds. “They believe it will bring about a remaking of the entire internet. Hence the name.
YOUR ROADMAP TO Web3:
Does Web3 offer the promise of a truly decentralized internet, or is it just another way for Big Tech to maintain its stranglehold on our personal data? Hand-picked from the NAB Amplify archives, here are the expert insights you need to understand Web3’s potential and stay ahead of the curve on the information superhighway:
- Web3 and the Battle For the Soul of the Internet
- Where the Metaverse Is Moving: 5G, AI, NFTs and Social Audio
- Web 2.5 Is Just… Awkward
- Avatar to Web3: An A-Z Compendium of the Metaverse
- Brave New World? Sure, Just Click Here
“Web3 boosters say [it could] let them build anything on the internet they want, without having to rely on existing platforms like Google or Facebook, or tools like Amazon’s AWS cloud computing services,” Kafka continues. “Crucially, the new services could be owned, in part, by the people who built and use them.”
Key to this approach are DAOs, or decentralized autonomous organizations. These are “essentially internet collectives, where automated blockchain tech is supposed to make it easy to divvy up ownership and decision-making power among members.” They’ve gotten a bit of a bad rep, as The New York Times and NSS Magazine both note.
READ MORE: Ken Griffin, head of Citadel, bid highest for a copy of the Constitution. (The New York Times)
READ MORE: A DAO is looking to buy an NBA franchise (NSS Magazine)
However, DAOs could be transformative for startups that want to quickly get off the ground. One such is Station, which Kafka suggests could be the Web3 version of LinkedIn, connecting workers anywhere in the world. “Station will use tech to provide comprehensive, verified evidence of your actual work so people can evaluate you based on your output, not your job title or credentials.”
Then there is the Mirror toolkit, described as a Web3 version of the online publishing platform Medium. “It offers the ability to sell “editions” of your work to fans and super-fans — like this article, by journalist Adam Davidson,” Kafka writes. “His work can keep generating income for him even after he’s sold it. For a certain kind of creator — likely one who’s very online and willing to continually market themselves and their work — this could be very intriguing.”
READ MORE: From contemptuous to indifferent to curious to pretty damn excited: my journey to Web3 (Mirror)
“Pick Your Ape”
But Kafka is unmoved by a lot of the hype. “I find myself squinting and trying to figure out how I’m going to use [Web3] beyond buying and selling digital collectibles.”
READ MORE: Beeple sold an NFT for $69 million (The Verge)
“This seems as bubble-y as a bubble can get,” he adds, pointing out a bizarre conversation about digital ape NFTs between Paris Hilton and Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show.
Deeply strange pic.twitter.com/ycilbi1iNL— James Kelleher (@etienneshrdlu) January 25, 2022
Kafka thinks the primary appeal of Web3 is novelty and “sounds great to people longing for something new, young techies who’ve only known a world where a handful of giant tech companies dominate the internet.”
He points out that YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki recently stated that Web3 represented a “previously unimaginable opportunity to grow the connection between creators and their fans,” just before two YouTube executives took her advice and jumped ship to Web3 companies.
READ MORE: YouTube Loses Pair of Executives to Web 3 (CoinDesk)
Strong emotions about crypto and blockchain are rife. The key foundations of Web3 have caused squabbles on Twitter, such as when Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey took on Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen and Web3 evangelist Chris Dixon.
You don’t own “web3.”— jack⚡️ (@jack) December 21, 2021
The VCs and their LPs do. It will never escape their incentives. It’s ultimately a centralized entity with a different label.
Know what you’re getting into…
“These men have a lot to gain and lose, depending on the way this shakes out,” says Kafka.
READ MORE: Marc Andreessen blocks Jack Dorsey after Web3 spat with Elon Musk (Fortune)
So, is Web3 “a world-changing opportunity to make a better version of the internet and wrest it away from the behemoths”, or a scam?
“Web3 will make some people a lot of money,” Kafka is sure. “But many other people will lose their shirts on it.”