A New Promised Land?
Greg Sherwin, Alexia Maddox, and Will Fan on decentralization, adoption, and necessary conditions for the beautiful Web3
We heard three distinct voices during this third week of our journey into the land of Web3: Greg Sherwin, human-centered technology leader, Alexia Maddox, social scientist and RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub researcher, and Will Fan, co-founder and CEO of challenger university NewCampus. The three of them, coming from distinct backgrounds and areas of expertise, shared views on power, adoption challenges and strategies, and the learning possibilities in Web3.
Web3 runs the risk of adopting Web2’s inherent problematic of economical and financial underpinning of business-as-usual. Due to the absence of regulation, Web3 doesn’t automatically create more inclusive ways of engagement, but often does the contrary. Moreover, it isn’t clear if we’re actually ready for decentralization to happen — and if we realize how to set this shift of power in motion.
To help us reflect on it, Greg Sherwin walked us through the history of the internet. From the very early examples of networks initially designed to be decentralized, to the advent of social media in Web2, and the desire to “make decentralization great again” with Web3, Greg voiced some underlying questions of humanity accompanying the evolution of the internet:
Is Web3 in service of us as people, or are we allowing capitalism to actually have us be in service of it? It seems, these factors co-exist in Web3n terms of rethinking the way that people are valued, rewarded, and have power, relative to the more historical structures we’ve seen (ex. oligarchy), Vitalik Buterin talks about Ethereum being a plutocracy. Who are going to be the winners, and the losers?
Alexia Maddox, social scientist and RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub researcher, talked about the barriers on the way to exploring Web3, the social engineering of human behavior and incentivization in Web3.
What are the consequences of engineering models of behavior in Web3, like the incentives to engage, or the financialization of participation? Are they actually leading towards a positive decision making process, a collective participation, the ability to translate the values we intend to bring to the actual projects that are run through these platforms? Is it possible to hack these engineered models, and how can they be protected from it?
Will Fan, co-founder and CEO of challenger university NewCampus, shared his thoughts on the relevance of Web3 for leaders and the ways they can navigate the challenge of learning and getting into this space.
The young generation taking on leadership in Web3, particularly in the NFT space, sometimes lacks business skills and the experience to respond to the growing challenges. There’s a lot of talent on Web3’s doorstep; the question is, how to onboard them?
In a joint conversation on Thursday Greg, Alexia, and Will further discussed the need to create an interconnected web of memory, to assist people to come up to speed and learn about Web3. “The blockchain space is a commons,” said Alexia. In order to raise awareness, we need an “archivist” who captures the historical record of the ecosystem and makes it available to the community. Greg stressed the importance of the “wise elders,” especially in response to the young leaders of Web3.
•Listen to a micro-podcast from Greg Sherwin: A Brief History of the Internet
•Monika Jiang in conversation with Alexia Maddox
•Monika Jiang in conversation with Will Fan
•And the closing discussion with all three.
Check this out:
Alexia Maddox suggested reading Scott Meyer’s study on Web3 pedagogy:
“He focuses more on teaching using web3 examples, but has lots of innovative ideas on hands on experience for students in Web3. ”
Want to learn more and join our 20-week-long learning journey?
Katia Zoritch, writer at the House of Beautiful Business