Thoughts, reflections, and ideas

Exploring a world of opportunities with Web3

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Up until very recently, I was very skeptical about the whole blockchain movement. I understood what it meant, embraced the idea of Bitcoin and Ethereum being just another coin like the Dollar and the Euro. Still, the skepticism around speculation and scams didn't allow me to see beyond that.

My perception of the technology changed when I came across the term Web3. I had seen it being used a lot, so I decided to read further. Something clicked in my head. As I read through the ideas and saw the apps developers were building, the spirit of being part of this movement emerged.

In the following paragraphs, I'll refrain from using complicated terminology or "decentralization" to help readers look at this content without skepticism lenses. I'm not a huge advocate of looking at decentralization as the solution to all our problems. There are areas where decentralization makes sense, and others where a centralized approach is more suitable. It's beautiful to see both dancing together to overcome the challenges we've seen in our traditional systems.

What excites me about Web3? First and foremost, being the owner of my data and navigating the Internet with my wallet. If you are not familiar with the wallet idea, every person has one or more wallets that serve mainly two purposes: carry your digital currency and authenticate you in apps. If you have used the "Login with Facebook", it's the same concept, but you are not giving any platform your data. You are an anonymous entity that wanders the internet, consumes services through apps, and pays for them using digital currency. Any data/state you generate by using the service is stored in the blockchain and belongs to you.

Some people might prefer if a service is free at the cost of owning the value generated by their data. I'm not part of that group. We've seen all the harm this has caused to our society. People gave away attention to Facebook to build the most sophisticated marketing engine, a weapon against democracy, and a virus for mental health. Do you remember Medium? They built a beautiful blogging platform and convinced many of us to publish our content there. When they realized a business can't sustain itself by hosting people's writings for free, they set up a payment gateway without us having much voice on whether we wanted that for our content. It's a pattern across Web2 apps. I anticipate the next one following Medium's strategy is Notion.

Moreover, you can develop fair value exchange in the contracts you deploy to the blockchain, and incentivize people to vote on how to evolve the contract. Note that deploying a contract to the blockchain is like deploying a web app to a cloud infrastructure. If we take open source, it's well-known the value exchange is not fair. Because of that, doing open source is either a philanthropic activity or a means to create a CV. You, developer, invest your time into building a tool like Babel. Companies like Microsoft's run huge businesses without giving back a part proportional to the value they get from the tool. Microsoft is well aware of the concentration of value that open-source contributions produce, and that might explain their acquisition of GitHub ago. The value and the opportunity to monetize it concentrates. Web3 changes the game rules. If you generate value, it belongs to you. If you create art (e.g. NFT), you don't need galleries to exhibit it and access potential buyers. Buyers can find you, value your art, and pay for it. And if your art ends up being re-sold, you can get a commission for those sales.

SoundCloud is an example of a great idea but developed at the wrong time. Many artists that produce and share music found on SoundCloud the community and the tools they need to share their creations. The problem is that it's an industry mainly controlled by record labels, and changing the game rules is an impossible task. SoundCloud built as a Web3 app, would make their game obsolete. Artists create music that people pay for with digital currency. The money is fairly distributed back. Artists also get tokens (e.g. $SOUND) to vote on how the community and the platform evolve. They ended up succumbing to advertising as many other Web2 apps did.

There are other traits of blockchain, but these are the ones that excite me the most. Many of the apps we use these days can be mapped to their counterpart following the Web3 paradigm. It's surprising seeing many of them have already been built. For example, I came across a Mirror.xyz, which is a Web3 version of Medium. Or Status, which is a Signal-like communication tool. The opportunities Web3 opens up are endless.

One thing worth calling out is that there's still too much complexity surfaced to the users, making apps barely accessible for people who are not into the blockchain space. Moreover, many blockchain implementations are racing to become the standard, which feels very overwhelming. Every day, I discover a new blockchain platform that feels like the Javascript ecosystem, where a new web framework is created. I think the success of those apps will come down to companies like Apple, Google, or Microsoft contributing to conceptually compress the intricacies of the technology through their browsers, apps, and operative systems. However, those businesses rely on the concentration of value, so I doubt they'll contribute to that until they figure out how to get a significant stake in the technology.

I'd love to be part of making it accessible through simplification and building useful apps.