How To Understand Web3
When you have mastered Economics, Sociology and Computing
Bitcoin is Everything you don’t know about money, combined with Everything you don’t know about computing. John Oliver.
What is Bitcoin?
We’ve all had this conversation over the years.
The topic tends to bounce around a broad area, from the theory of money, to the nuances of database design and crazy conspiracy theories.
The claims are broad too ;-
💰 it will make us rich
🙋♀️ it removes the need for governments
🏦 it will bank the unbanked
I’ve attended too many blockchain meet-ups in the back-rooms of London pubs — but this is another story. What I learned is that ‘Crypto concepts’ are broad enough to project the pet theories of anarchists, technologists, libertarians, investors, marxists, and altruists.
The truth is crypto can be anything you want it to be.
WTF is Web3?
What is Web3 anyway?
I have been trying to explain Web3 concepts for about five years now — long before we were using this terminology.
The terminology has changed, but the concepts haven’t.
We are slowly moving to a new generation of technology where we have better control over our personal data. This transition has some similarities to the transition to the internet in the 1990s and 2000s. It will impact everything to do with how data is handled, it will change business models and how we work, it will eventually change economies, society and education.
This post is not intended to provide definitions, but we are moving slowly from :-
web1 — like reading a magazine in the 1990s (read) AOL was the most popular website in 1996
web2 — like writing a blog in the 2000s (read and write) Hasn’t YouTube done well.
web3 — like writing a blog, monetising it and sharing equity with others. (read/write/own) Check out Mirror for example.
Is It Possible to Understand Web3?
“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.”
There was a long silence…
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”
My personal Web3 learning journey has taken me down some intellectual rabbit 🐰holes. From having speeches censored in Shanghai to shaking the hand of Satoshi (one of them 😉). I have written papers with the BRI, developed popular eLearning courses and worked with start-ups and industry consortiums.
Sometimes these ideas appear conflicting.
We get lots of cognitive dissonance (in my DMs at least).
“Is banking the unbanked worth it if Bitcoin uses the same energy as Spain?”
“How can we have decentralised CVs if blockchain is immutable?”
“How can I use the same currency as the mafia!?”
I will not attempt to unpick these difficult conundrums now!
Like the development of the internet in 1995 — we don’t know how Web3 will play out. Web3 is a swirling and complex set of undeveloped ideas touching on technology, economics, sociology.
The truth is
Nobody understands the impact of Web3.
Here are some pointers to understanding Web3, for now.
1. Bitcoin is just one use of blockchain — there are many others, in the world of work, this might include verifying degree certificates or employment history on decentralised databases.
2. Try and ignore the noise — from the coin shillers and various platform cults, “I have left Web2 forever!” Some of the start-ups mentioned in my research from 5 years ago have gone on to build some of the foundation blocks of Web3 and created new business models e.g. Dock, ChronoTech, Zinc. These pioneers don’t get involved in Web2 vs Web3 debates — they are quietly building new businesses and technology.
3. Skip the courses on advanced database design and cryptography — in 1995, it wasn’t particularly helpful to learn to code HTML to understand the impact of internet business models. You used AI today to recommend a video or call a cab, you get it — without ‘understanding’ advanced statistics.
4. Focus on an industry you know well and how it uses data. What will happen when users control their data, and can monitise it? Where are the intermediaries in your industry, what happens when users have a direct relationship with producers.
You can read the rest of this article here
· On Blockchain and the Future of Work
· The Ownership Economy
· The Web3 Talent Gap
· And “Blockchain and the Distributed Workforce” publication here on Medium (contact me if you want to contribute an article here)
Make sure you subscribe to Workforce Futurist Newsletter to get articles on the future of work, web3, the metaverse, demographics, and other randomness every 2 weeks.
Andrew Spence is an independent workforce strategist.