On Crypto Rebranding

Feedback and iteration are two of the most important components of any new technology or product. Build something for someone to use, listen to them, improve the product, repeat ad infinitum. The crypto ecosystem has gone through many of these feedback loops (more efficiently than anything in the past, a feature of open source) to reach where we are today. More recently, the narrative and rebranding has been the iteration of choice as we’ve seen cryptocurrencies shift to digital assets, BTC to store of value, ETH to a modular blockchain focus, and the most recent and important (imo) of crypto to Web3. Practical or not, the story and narrative behind some underlying asset is just as, if not more, important as the utility. The next narrative change or rebranding focus I think we’ll see is a focus on a shift of “wallets” to one of a “Web3 profile/identity/bio/digital data/browser/etc.”. Before diving into the future rebranding of wallets, as what they can enable is massively increasing and can benefit from the positive labeling of Web3, I’ll touch on (and provide many influential tweets regarding the subject) the importance of rebranding crypto to Web3, which reached escape velocity when five influential executives (and Stellar???) testified before Congress on the future of the industry all while solidifying the Web3 branding.

I’ve noted multiple times over the past few weeks on my twitter (@tolks1189) that there was an observable, positive narrative building around the crypto industry when referenced as Web3. Originally I noted in a thread recapping the week of November 14–19 saying that, “Web3 rebranding is insanely positive and increasingly gaining traction…what Web3 enables is important in the traditional zeitgeist.” Chris Dixon and Packy McCormick were two of the spearheads of this movement (Gavin Wood originated the term while helping to develop the Ethereum white paper) as the former posts thoughtful threads (Chris Dixon) and the latter’s Not Boring newsletter (Packy McCormick) have continued to push the education and broad application Web3 entails. I think this is a key part of the acceptance of Web3 compared to that of crypto. It’s easy to imagine what a new version of the web would look like as there is a corollary to the previous expansion, world building, and wealth creation that Web2.0 allowed which was inconceivable before it happened. Comparison and imagination are two of the most powerful mental models we rely on and Web3 easily encompasses them both while “crypto” has been a term resulting in pushback and controversy for years.

The framing of Web3 instead of crypto reached a point of no return in the past couple of weeks, specifically during the testifying of crypto executives before the House Financial Services Committee on December 8th. Below are some tweets I gathered during the testimony which highlight the transformation and acceptance of phrasing crypto to Web3 in real time.

After the hearing, there were many tweets reinforcing what was established that day with one of the best being from Sara Mauskopf. Web3 is not only here to stay, but enlarges the surface area of possibilities through comparison to familiar web2 concepts for those outside of crypto.

The engagement metrics tell the story, we’re beyond skepticism regarding crypto and now look forward to the broad impact web3 can make. I think the same rebranding and conversion will eventually be necessary and can happen with wallets through their transformation to Web3 Profiles (identities, browsers, app stores, etc.). It’s easy to imagine the tweet that would say “it went from wallets and opaque private keys” to “profiles and a consistent login across Web3 to manage/safeguard digital assets” (obviously this is dependent upon future wallet developments around security, ZK-tech, social recovery, key management, etc.).

Decentralized app stores, profiles, browsers, identities — something will stick — to be a jumping off point for the next wave of adoption and imagination. Once you realize the vast potential that crypto and NFTs have, the framing of wallets should be obsolete. Also, the concept of wallets is overtly financial and the Web3 profile branding could help alleviate potential backlash as the financialization of most things in today’s climate receive. The great loomdart made this point on a recent The Block podcast. Paraphrasing, he said that we’ve reached a point were the conception of anything involving money is bad and is liable to be framed as the 99% vs. the 1%. Unfortunately, I think this plays a major role in the current backlash against NFTs (of course mixed with insane environmental FUD). Mewny, CL, and plenty of others on CT (crypto twitter) have mentioned that it’s not hard to rationalize the hate for NFTs when there’s constant sales bots of 6 and 7 figure sales populating people’s timelines on a daily basis. It’s easy to stumble across a quote tweet of a sale on that magnitude and think that none of this makes sense and blindly have animosity towards everything NFTs encompass. Unfortunately, the backlash and engagement companies receive when embracing NFTs may have potentially crossed the chasm into unrepairable. What could possibly alleviate some of that hostility is highlighting the broad application NFTs can have (again, similar to what Web3 did for crypto) in empowering creators, athletes, musicians, companies, and individuals through a Web3 profile that signals support, protects your data and information from Big Tech, and fosters communities through NFTs and social tokens.

The rebranding of wallets to profiles (identities, app stores, browsers, etc.) could further highlight and reinforce the power of crypto (sorry web3) realized through tokens, both fungible and non-fungible. The same imagination and comparison factors that pushed the Web3 narrative can easily support the transformation of wallets to profiles. Thinking back to a Facebook (Meta) profile is the easiest comparison. Interests and likes are transformed to NFTs that represent your support for art, songs, and DAOs. Best friends are now social tokens that show your belief in people. Farmville and gaming assets/experience in web2 once attached to your profile of old are now ownable, portable, and transferable represented through NFTs and in-game economy tokens. Accomplishments, schools attended, and certifications are now verifiable through on-chain NFTs and tokens, provable through the meritocracy of the blockchain compared to rent-extracting, debt inducing nature of the old guard. Communities and groups you belonged to are now accessible through NFTs and tokens that immediately transport you to a social media of sorts, gated to only those holding specific tokens to limit spam and increase the skin-in-the-game aspect. The framing of a wallet is disingenuous to the broad utilization your profile will enable Web3.

Parallel, popular NFT, introducing communication between holders

As more applications are built out, infrastructure is improved, and there are more ways to capture the value and data that was previously siphoned by the behemoths of web2, it will become necessary to broaden the value and scope “wallets” provide. TwoBitIdiot (Ryan Selkis) mentioned this in his invaluable yearly crypto thesis saying that, “the backbone of the Web3 economy and wild world of DAOs are your personal wallets, which are sort of like your personal data vaults…in five years, people might look at the current wallet landscape and sneer at how primitive we were, but some solutions show how we’re getting closer to a time when our wallets can double as universal identifiers and data managers…and the crypto wallets getting built today, will be as integral to your life’s operating system as your cell phone.”

We’re at the beginning of this new transformation and building blocks are starting to assemble, so let’s not limit the imagination of what a wallet can do and focus on what a web3 profile can enable. Create the applications that empower users against the incumbents through tokens and NFTs and shift the narrative of what your Web3 profile can enable. In a blog post titled New Internet Logic, John Palmer wrote, “the Internet is now a place where everyone has an inventory. The existence of programmable, interoperable digital objects will fundamentally change the logic of the Internet.” Fundamentally changing the logic of the Internet is not properly represented by “wallets”, and instead we should highlight the broad application and utility of what a digital profile will come to represent and enable.




curios. https://tolks.me

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Erik Toelke

Erik Toelke

curios. https://tolks.me

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