Web3 is a world-changing opportunity to make a better version of the internet and wrest it away from the capitalist monopolies who control it today.
Or, it’s a purely speculative enterprise where some people will make a big chunk of change but most others will just lose.
Is it the future, a scam, or both? asks an article at Vox written by the aptly named Peter Kafka.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki recently declared that Web3 represented a “previously unimaginable opportunity to grow the connection between creators and their fans.”
A flurry of tech workers who are already very well compensated are leaving their current jobs at what we might call established web 2.0 companies — including YouTube — for something in Web3, as The New York Times reports.
The less hyperbolic Li Jin, one of the few prominent women talking about this technology, says Web3 “is intrinsically tied with financial value; “Anytime you introduce financial success, that’s what really incites strong emotion.”
Even when tech bubbles deflate, notes Kafka, you can still find value in the aftermath.
“At its core, 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,” he writes.
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.
Another component is NFTs, either a groundbreaking means of transacting goods and services that breaks the bond of wage slaves to capitalist masters, or a fad that will die as soon as you invest in it.
“It’s entirely possible that this is all Web3 will be: an interesting way for people to collect and/or speculate on digital artifacts,” Kafka says. “That’s potentially meaningful for people who create art and people who like to buy art.. But if it stops there, it’s not world-changing.”
But with Web3, the argument goes, you take control back from the Facebooks of the world.
While this is largely theoretical, Kafka explains that this is by using blockchain, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and digital tokens.
“Blockchain lets people create their own money, without permission from any country or bank. It could also, Web 3 boosters say, 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. And crucially, the new services could be owned, in part, by the people who built and use them.”
DAOs (“essentially internet collectives”) could enable digital entrepreneurs to start up and make their companies a success outside of the traps and restrictions of having to do so via big tech platforms.
DAOs are supposed “to help people organize themselves online and create organizations that could rival or replace existing companies like Facebook or Google. Automated blockchain tech is supposed to make it easy to divvy up ownership and decision-making power among members. You can get into a DAO by buying into it, or you can get equity based on work you’ve done for the group, or whatever.”
Jonathan Glick, an entrepreneur and investor is quoted as saying of DAOs: “It is a quantum leap improvement in the way to organize people around projects.”
Kafka doesn’t seem convinced. For a start, he points out the eco-damage of mining crypto currency: “It’s an irresponsible waste of energy in a world facing a dire climate crisis; some estimates peg yearly bitcoin electrical usage as the equivalent of a country the size of Sweden.”
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:
- Magnificent Obsession: Why Are We in Love With Web3?
- Web3 and the Battle For the Soul of the Internet
- Web 2.5 Is Just… Awkward
- Avatar to Web3: An A-Z Compendium of the Metaverse
- Brave New World? Sure, Just Click Here
An article in The Guardian reports on a Norwegian bitcoin mining company aiming to reverse fightback against those criticisms.
READ MORE: Can bitcoin be sustainable? Inside the Norwegian mine that also dries wood (The Guardian)
Another challenge is that Web3, at least in its current form, “is not even remotely user-friendly” in terms of the ease of downloading wallets, buying crypto and transacting with NFTs.
And because the very concept of Web3 rejects centralized control or management — right now, there’s very little in the way of consumer protection.
“Web 3 fans argue that you don’t need government agencies or megaplatforms protecting you and your assets because their system of linked computers creates a ‘trustless’ economy,” says Kafka. “Since every transaction is recorded in public and verified by the blockchain, you’re not supposed to need the oversight of Big Government or Big Companies. In reality, Web3 has plenty of ineptitude, costly bugs, and outright scams, like intriguing projects that disappear as soon as the organizers collect your money.”
In the charming crypto lingo, situations like this mean you’ve been “rugged” — you’ve had the rug pulled out from under you.
Kafka wisely suggests that Web3’s current appeal is because it is so new and vague — the possibilities are endless, to be shaped, and mostly theoretical.
The utopian outcome of a metaverse which can be shaped to be noticeable different to the societal ills of the real world also get short shrift. Won’t we simply port the toxicity of human relationships wherever we go?
“Many Web3 folks are completely anonymous — its early user base and supporters certainly seem to skew as male as traditional tech does today,” he observes.
Meanwhile, what’s so good about owning your digital assets on the internet anyway?
“I don’t want to have to engage in a transaction every time I do something on the internet. And I don’t necessarily want to own the platforms and services I use on the internet. In the Web3 world, the power of the platforms to de-platform is something to fear. In my world, it’s the difference between trusting your security at a club to a bouncer versus a mosh pit.”
Kafka ends, “I’m convinced that a lot of people who are piling into NFTs and lots of other get-rich-quick pitches are going to get burned because that’s what happens to most people who go for get-rich-quick pitches.”