No. 10 - Why Web 3.0 is Fundamentally Different From the Web We Know Today
Literature NFTs, writers' DAO, a dive into Web 3.0, and more
Here’s my weekly round-up of Web3 findings and insights for creators and artists.
As I dig deeper into Web3, it’s inevitable that the discussion will involve cryptocurrency and I want to make sure to include this disclaimer. I have no background or expertise in finances or economics. This newsletter explores these new technologies and the potential uses for artists and creators. This is not financial advice and is intended for informational purposes only.
Curated findings and resources
Creatokia - A platform for NFT books. They are exploring ways to create unique book experiences for authors, readers, and publishers through NFTs. Some ideas they are working on are making unique first edition book covers, allowing readers to access special downloadable content like images, audio files, or ebooks that would be unlocked by an NFT purchase. They claim to be the first NFT platform for books and literature. Currently, the only supports the MetaMask wallet and Ethereum blockchain, but plans to expand.
Mirror - A publishing platform for writers that uses blockchain technologies that launched in 2020 on the Ethereum network. Their mission is to help writers connect with their audience in new ways. On the surface it seems like Medium on the blockchain by allowing writers to earn cryptocurrency instead of cash from their work. However, there are other interesting use cases like authors crowdfunding their creative projects through releasing NFTs. Also, unlike Medium, authors apply to join. They participate in something called a write race and are voted in by members. Ten writers are chosen out of each write race. Once you’re accepted, you become a co-owner of the platform and are granted a $WRITE coin. Mirror is more than just a platform, it’s a DAO for writers.
Royal - A platform for music NFTs with a unique proposition - fans can buy ownership to songs from their favorite artists and earn royalties along with them. Not fully live yet, but offers early access on their website.
DappRadar - Web 3 is run on decentralized applications also known as dApps. Essentially, dApps are applications that run on the blockchain. This website tracks and ranks the most popular dApps on 20 blockchain networks. It’s a great place to find out about popular Web 3 projects.
“All of our days are numbered; we cannot afford to be idle. To act on a bad idea is better than to not act at all because the worth of the idea never becomes apparent until you do it. Sometimes this idea can be the smallest thing in the world, a little flame that you hunch over and cup with your hand and pray will not be extinguished by all the storm that howls about it. If you can hold on to that flame great things can be constructed around it that are massive and powerful and world changing – all held up by the tiniest of ideas.”
― Nick Cave
Why Web 3.0 is Fundamentally Different From the Web We Know Today
Brief History of the Web
What is Web 3.0?
Well, let’s start with a little history. For us to understand Web 3.0, we must understand its predecessors Web 1.0 and 2.0. Web 1.0 is usually seen as the era of the World Wide Web until the early 2000s. This is when websites were mostly static HMTL pages with little styling capabilities. In this era, website style and structure were applied on the same layer. An important quality of Web 1.0 is that most internet services were built on open protocols and controlled by the internet community. I remember in the late 90s making websites on GeoCities and downloading pirated Adobe products to attempt making graphics. Back then, we would view the source code of websites to learn HMTL and all the styling was also found there. There were no separate CSS files.
Web 1.0 began as a de-central and community driven entity and all the advances and innovations that came in the Web 2.0 phase lead to centralized platforms.
Why Web 3.0 is a Game Changer
The next phase, what is becoming known as Web 3.0, is a phase of the internet where ownership is distributed to its users and builders. As Chris Dixon points out, the technology enabling this are Cryptonetworks (public blockchains) that embody the best of both worlds: they are community-governed decentralized networks and have an incentive structure to outpace the growth of centralized services.
Web 2.0 saw the rise of internet titans. They offered amazing services, and most of them were seemingly free. But while offering these free services, they were extracting and gathering data on our behavior and in some cases selling them off to the highest bidder. Beyond exploiting our data, companies like Twitter get to make decisions on the algorithms and determine what’s best for us and them. As does Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, and the rest of these centralized platforms. These companies own the Intellectual Property on their software and therefore profit from its market value.
Well, that’s where Web 3.0 comes in. In Web 3.0, all software lives openly and on the blockchain. Anyone can copy and fork the code and start a whole new project. Anyone that’s been involved or kept up with blockchain projects knows how frequently projects are forked off of the Bitcoin and Ethereum networks.
Cryptocurrency is Essential to Web 3.0
This is where the cryptocurrency aspect of blockchain starts to matter. The tokens or coins exchanged on the network have value and that incentivizes its builders and users to contribute to the success of the platform. The community owns the value of the platform.
When I first started analyzing and observing this dynamic, I assumed that we would see the same rise in a few central platforms in Web 3.0 just as we saw in Web 2.0 because it all comes down to the network effect, the phenomenon where increasing the number of participants improves the value of a service. My evidence for this is that Bitcoin and Ethereum still dominate in the space. But after listening to a TwitterSpace conversation with Chris Dixon and Naval, I started to understand that Web 3.0 is truly unprecedented.
Web 3.0 is fundamentally different from the previous iteration for two primary reasons: it’s completely open (no intellectual property protections), and two it is completely community owned. In other words, the code itself has no intrinsic value, the community’s agreement gives it value. If the community stops believing, the value dissipates.
Imagine a Web 3.0 based Facebook that was owned by its users and makers, how many code forks would’ve happened by now? Many of us are on Facebook because our friends are on there or it's the only way to keep in touch with some people, but very few of us are actually happy and satisfied with the services. That wouldn’t really fly in Web 3.0. A group of developers and community leaders would’ve banded together, forked the code, and started something new. Users would choose where they go.
Of course there is still a network effect on Web 3.0 where the value of a platform is increased by the number of participants, but the ownership structure makes it more dynamic and flexible.