A Survival Guide for Web3 Immigrants

A Survival Guide for Web3 Immigrants (part 1)

written by ping from RSS3 revised from the ChainIDE webinar session,

"Survival Guide for WEB3 Immigrants" (2022/06/18)

Know where we are, and where we are heading.

It's obvious the macro market of crypto isn't doing too well right now, with Bitcoin near 20K and Ether around a thousand. What I suggest here is to realize the entire crypto and IT tech progress in a historical way. Expanding your time frame of seeing things and you will do fine through the up and down. It's important to know where we are, and where we are heading.

What is Web3?

To define a survival guide for web3 immigrants. I think it's important to define what web3 is. We are inclined to frame the web3 revolution, as an innovative stage of human information distribution technology. We envision Web3 as An open and decentralized web to create, disseminate and distribute information freely.

It has been decades-long progress of innovating information distribution technology over the past 30 years, long before Satoshi's Bitcoin, and it will not stop unless humans no longer communicate, or stop dreaming about a better world.

The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto (1988)

"Just as the technology of printing altered and reduced the power of medieval guilds and the social power structure, so too will cryptologic methods fundamentally alter the nature of corporations and of government interference in economic transactions. Combined with emerging information markets, crypto anarchy will create a liquid market for any and all material which can be put into words and pictures."

This passage was written by Timothy C. May in 1988, and many of his vision has been fulfilled. However, we have gone quite far yet not far enough, mainly because the economic fruit of the information revolution had primarily fallen into the hand of Web2 platform corporations. These platforms undeniably brought the globe to the internet. Nonetheless, they no longer share the common belief of free-flow and self-sustain information distribution. Instead, Web2 platforms hoard profits by deciding who gets heard. And that will change in Web3.

A brief history from Web1 to Web3

The Web1 Era

What actually happened is back in the Web1 era, people have limited connection and interaction while having complete ownership and freedom. Almost everyone owns their own servers and sites. However, the economic and tech barriers of that made the internet hard to scale. Nevertheless, it's still a huge breakthrough for information distribution. Users started to receive a variety of decentralized sources of information from the web, instead of totally relying on centralized traditional media.

The Web2 Era

When people were still seeking a balanced solution between internet scale and ownership like Web syndication in the late 1990s, Web2 platforms quietly took over the internet in the next decade. They provide seemingly charge-free and easy-to-use internet service for everyone. It scales better with significantly more users, while the user experience kept improving to attract even more users. Users also get to create their own content and interact with others much more effortlessly than Web1.

However, we lose all ownership and autonomy to platforms. The platform defines how you create, defines how you connect and interact with people, and defines who gets heard. In most cases, the centralized platform decides those who can generate the most profits for them get heard.

These Web2 platforms had to squeeze the original users harder in recent years since there are no longer enough new users worldwide to sustain profit growth. This goes even more extreme when these platforms bring in many for-profits AI algorithms. They are not designed only to improve the user experience or provide helpful information but to sell you as many ad. as possible. Users either adapt that is how things work now and play the game or get excluded into oblivion from the platform-dominant internet. The freedom for an individual to choose what they want does not exist on Web2 platforms. Users only choose between platforms, and the options aren't that different these days.

The Web3 Era

Unlike Web2's corporation nature, tries to exclude others and dominate the market. Web3 is a community based on open ideas, collaborating, and sharing. It's not only an ideal thing but a different material infrastructure from a centralized Web2, which is a decentralized blockchain. It is another ongoing war between "The Cathedral and the Bazaar", yet this time, the Bazaar has the economic infrastructure and power to defy the hegemonic cathedrals.

Web3 is visioned to be an open internet that can scale like web2 with a low tech barrier, and the user is free from centralized control. All information is distributed in a decentralized way. The user can also train an opensource feed AI algorithms based on user's personal taste instead of the platform's best interests.

The inherit economics tools like tokens and ownership proof, lessen the need for middle-man centralized governance to secure payment. Users can monetize their content with much less friction.

Web3 is about building a better way to connect with others

We should frame the Web3 era as an innovative stage of information distribution technology that aims to connect people better by decentralization instead of speculating financial games. Cryptocurrencies are just economic tools to link and transit value and meaning better than traditional currencies; they are not the essence of Web3. From this perspective, we can determine what is meaningful in the long term.

How can information distribution work without platforms?

The Forgotten Alternative: Web Syndication and RSS

People nowadays can hardly imagine how to connect on the internet with people without these web2 platforms. But this is not what people from 1999 expected. "Web Syndication" was deemed to be the future of the internet. From Internet tech reviewer Kevin Werbach's 1999 analysis "The Web Goes Into Syndication", he predicts that,

"Syndication will evolve into the core model for the Internet economy, allowing businesses and individuals to retain control over their online personae while enjoying the benefits of massive scale and scope. "

It was not an overstatement. RSS was the top web syndication technology that could retain user ownership while connecting with other people. RSS generates and distributes news feeds from all kinds of websites automatically based on personal selection without charge or platform, but simple lines of codes. RSS actually functioned as the standard for internet information distribution for a while. Until Social Media kicked in in the mid-2000, these social media platforms purposefully denied RSS access.

If RSS is so great why don't people use it anymore?

People wanted more than reading RSS feeds passively. People wanted to interact with the feed and create their own popular content without owning a popular webpage. Social media platforms allow that to happen. In comparison, RSS's original features and functions became outdated, and the RSS developer community didn't have enough incentive or manpower to update new features or better developing environment in response to the rising social media. In the meantime, the built-in RSS subscription function gets excluded from multiple Web2 platforms, eventually killing the RSS and the syndication web.

An improved Web Syndication on Web3: RSS3

Web syndication is not inherently flawed as a method of information distribution. Instead, it provides internet scale and autonomy without centralized governance. It's just ahead of time when the social and technological infrastructure is yet mature.

General ownership is the key to healthy and scalable web syndication. With blockchain technology, we have decentralized storage like Arweave or Filecoin, so we don't need a personal server or site to have ownership like web1. Thus the tech and economic barriers to owning your web content became much lower. Open source developer communities also received better funding from the crypto market. That makes Web3 the perfect time to bring back the web syndication. This is why we have RSS3.

RSS3 functions like RSS, indexing and summarizing web activities and content from different places automatically into a platformless feed for users based on users' choice, while providing social interactive features that lacks in RSS. (RSS3 Github)

RSS3's goal is to rebuild a user-friendly syndication web. As quoted from Kevin Werbach's term, enables "businesses and individuals to retain control over their online personae while enjoying the benefits of massive scale and scope" on web3 along with the web3 ecosystem.

Practical information technology and development will survive

As I mentioned, tokenomics and speculations are merely parts of the web3, their market performance does not define the real progress or goal of web3, which is a better way to connect and interact with people on the internet.

The market price had indeed fueled the web3 hype. Still, the web3 developers and development that aim for the practical daily needs of internet users are going nowhere in the bear market. Web2 platforms' flaws remain and will not change because of any crypto crash. We should also recognize that web3 developers build together like a huge community instead of excluding each other. The collective power of collaborating and sharing will make a massive difference in the long term.

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