There are almost definitely more ‘cryptokitty’ moments yet to come
Hidden truths of social facing web 3.0
Cryptokitties launched on the 28th of November 2017 and within under one month, their platform soon averaged just under 18,000 trades per day — where for a short while, the platform completely congested the Ethereum blockchain. Not long after, they are soon backed by a16z and Union Square Ventures, raising 12 million dollars. So, the million dollar question is:
Why did digital cat trading become one of the first major applications of Web 3.0?
Why did digital cats take off?
Did it ride the wave of hype around crypto at the time? Was it driven the community’s enthusiasm with unstoppable web3 technologies — where this was just one of the more engaging demos that had been produced? Or was this craze another absurdist expression of internet culture?
While I believe all such factors definitely played a large role behind the success of the Cryptokitties, through my own observations, I am inclined to believe that there is a more subtle truth to the cryptokitties craze.
What is the point of digital cats?
Crypokitties don’t solve a well defined hard problem or provide any specific value to people. It is a toy, open for interpreted use and play. There is no point to it really. And for that exact reason is why I think it is such a fascinating product to observe.
Yet despite that, people: Show off their cats to others to earn respect, trade it to earn money off the internal economy, send cats as a proof of affection —when I browse through the marketplace for cats to buy, I am on a bus with nothing else to do, scanning a filtered selection of the cheapest cats available. I look through the various attributes, colours, shapes, stylings and descriptions of the cats. And when I find an interesting looking cat which I kind of like, I buy it.
The self-explanatory nature of the Cryptokitties gives way to a personal expression of individualism and creativity. Driven by an amorphous spirit of the internet culture, Cryptokitties was able to act as a figurative blank canvas, teasing out the curiosities of human behaviours and motivations surrounding the mental model of digital collectables.
“I am PICKING this cat because I personally like it. I am CHOOSING to send this cat to you because I think it fits you”
The reasons why people buy and play with Cryptokitties are almost endless and dramatically unexpected at times. But I ultimately hypothesize that at the crux of it, it is a creative form of human expression. But was this new form of expression influenced by the underlying use of Web3 3.0 tech?
While on the surface you could probably call out how a typical database could of served the needs of the platform, but could you argue how our awareness of the underlying tech changed the mental model in which we perceive it as well as how we approached the use of the Cryptokitty collectible?
I think yes — but in an extremely subtle manner.
Such an example begs the question about what other web3 technologies, once framed in the right way, can lead to new ways in how we socially communicate with each other through a global distributed state machine.
How will Web 3.0 technology enable new interactions, value, behaviours?
I think at this point, especially with so much user experience infrastructure now made readily available, we can readily begin to further understand our digital culture in relation to web3. And this starts with experimentation of new web3 products and greater observation around our relationship with it. Besides Crypokitties, we have also seen many more hints surrounding what our relationship with Web3 technology will look like in the future:
ICOs — Broke the psychological ‘fourth wall’ of money and investing. People have never been this much control and intimacy with their own money.
FOAM — People like staking real life geo-location points on an interactive digital map! Remember how fun Google Earth was? While we are inherently fascinated with our real world (Pokemon Go) and the planet we live on, what fascinates each of us so much about it through Web3?
SuperRare — Why do artists like producing for the platform? Is it due to the fact that their artwork lives on forever? What draws people to want to create NFT art works as well as buy them?
While many of the products listed are used out of novelty and superficial reasons, I think the reason why they have captured some level of attention, if not fascination, are due to the rather hidden reasons for which we cannot yet comprehend.
Is a non-obvious truth simply staring us in the face all this time? Are we missing anything here?
Being a rather more paranoid product person, I beg others to also question the state of web3 interactions and also to dig deeper beyond the surface.
The truth is subtle and is yet to be properly understood but will come with time. Food for thought.
One of the amazing things about the internet economy is how different the list of top internet properties today looks…cdixon.org