New Web, Same Humans

David Mattin on status, value, and collaboration as fundamental needs in Web3

Where to begin? With Maslow, duh!

We kicked off our asynchronous conference, Beautiful Business in Web3, with three voice notes on “the dream that is Web3” by trendwatcher David Mattin, founder of the weekly newsletter New World, Same Humans, and a live Twitter Space, hosted by our head of curation and community, Monika Jiang.

If we want to understand the impact of Web3 on our collective and individual lives, we must see emerging technologies through the lens of fundamental human needs.

Web3 taps into the deep truths about our nature as humans and unlocks new ways to serve fundamental human needs, stable over time: collaboration, value, and status. And that’s how new trends and behaviors emerge.

The unique ability of our species to collaborate and adapt our strategies in large numbers. But collaboration has always required leadership, while traditional corporations are highly centralized. “Modernity can be seen as a pact via which we sacrifice a part of our personal autonomy in return for greater security, convenience, affluence, and more,” David says.

But if Web3’s slogan is “power to the people,” and its desire is to radically decentralize power through blockchain, and transform the internet, society, and democracy, how will it deal with the need for leadership?

DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations) are an experiment in the wisdom of the crowd. Can they revolutionize the way we run business, and democratize leadership?

Question from a participant on Discord

Exchanging value among each other is fundamental for us. Today it is money. It’s a shame that Bitcoin today is the most known innovation of Web3, because it’s still money.

Can blockchain create a revolution in the way we create, store and exchange value? And what other kinds of things can we build on top of blockchain?

Status, or being recognized by fellow humans, is another fundamental need. Web3 replaces traditional status signals with virtual status symbols (ex. NFTs).

Will the intersection of Web3 and the metaverse create an increase in various virtual status symbols?

The tough questions for now (and the rest of the conference):

Not all people can be trusted with power. We may have good reasons for leaders and gatekeepers and centers of power. We have to make sure Web3 innovation isn’t used to exploit others and hurt more people than it can help. The recent crypto downturn has shown how unstable it is.

How can we avoid a power struggle between those who want a decentralized future and conventional elites that are happy with how things are?

And what if, instead of ridding us of elites, Web3 only creates a new cultural and financial elite, comprised mainly of people from the old elite?

Conversation thread on Discord

And, finally, what if Web3’s promise of “power to the people” undergoes a dark inversion that leads to a world even more divided, even more unfair?

After all, early pioneers of the internet also dreamed of decentralization. How do we know history won’t repeat itself?

How to continue from here

Seeing these technologies through the lens of our eternal human nature, of people and their lives is the key. Because it’s up to us. We need to build the future we want to live in, with a delicate balance of regulation, oversight, innovation, and democratized technology.

Listen to David Mattin’s voice notes:

Check this out:

Want to learn more and join our 20-week-long learning journey?

This week we’re discussing our changing relationship to technology and the key possibilities for an internet based on decentralized value, token-based economics, and the blockchain.

For a first taste, listen to a micro-podcast on the brief history of the internet with Greg Sherwin, a human-centered technologist, and join to hear from social scientist Alexia Maddox on blockchain innovations in the real world, and NewCampus co-founder and CEO Will Fan on what all of this means for future leaders skills.

Sign up for free here!

Katia Zoritch, writer at the House of Beautiful Business

Beautiful Business in Web3 is the first community-run, asynchronous conference on the future of humanity, technology, and business in a decentralized world. It is run by the House of Beautiful Business in partnership with Hotwire, a global PR and communications consultancy.

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Journal of Beautiful Business

Journal of Beautiful Business

The House of Beautiful Business is a global platform and community for making humans more human and business more beautiful. www.houseofbeautifulbusiness.com.