Why web3 distributed libraries will change the world

Pablo Moncada-Larrotiz
Pablo Moncada-Larrotiz
0x679d
October 5th, 2021

Mirror opened its doors to the public today and I’ve been really excited to try this out! I guess while I’m here I should briefly introduce myself before diving in…

Hi, I’m Pablo

I want to make the world a better place. I think technology (specifically web3 technology) is the biggest lever I can pull that will help everyday people.

So what am I working on?

I’m working on Junto: A web3 distributed library

Junto’s mission is to help shift our world’s economy from a scarcity model to an abundance model.

We’re tackling this problem by reviving the idea of a distributed library in the web3 era.

What is a distributed library?

A distributed library is like a normal (centralized) library, but instead the users still own the items. There’s no central storage, or central entity that manages the items. It’s all peer-to-peer. It’s not just for books, but for anything!

A library could be made for anything that sits around with little use: Spare rooms, extra cars, vacation homes, books, climbing gear, music equipment, rarely-used expensive kitchen ware… the list goes on

Why does web3 make this different?

We’ve always been able to lend our things out to people, but it rarely happens. It seems like a hassle. Things break. Logistics can be annoying. People are busy. People forget to return the items.

Yes, the world would be a better place if everyone shared their stuff, but you have to either really trust the other person you lend to, or set up a complicated legal agreement for collateral and insurance (like a time-share). Then what? Will I sue them if they break it?

Enter web3

For the first time ever with web3 we’re seeing powers that traditionally only a company or government could wield (with an army of expensive lawyers) that are now in the hands of the everyday person or community.

We can easily make self-enforced smart contracts. No legal fees (likely some gas, though). Just connect a wallet and get moving.

Web3 allows for people to easily make money on the internet through community network effects.

Web3 also lets you incorporate a DAO for each community that can allow people to trade using their own complementary currency, and then as more people join, the library’s value goes up.

You can tokenize your items and sell them on-chain, or just upload your items to Junto and let them make money for you while you sleep.

Ok… but you still have to trust people to not break your things? How is trust solved?

Smart contracts are a huge key here. Namely, incentive alignment between people using mutually assured destruction.

Let me introduce the Junto contract and explain how it works (I promise it won’t be painful, 3 minutes max of thinking). This really is the core technology that enables all of this to work.

So let’s imagine Lisa wants to lend Bob her $10 item.

What if Lisa could send Bob a smart contract that asks Bob to deposit $15 in the contract?

This means that Bob would never be incentivized to steal the item, because he would lose more than the item is worth.

Please pardon my crappy drawings
Please pardon my crappy drawings

Lisa doesn’t have to trust Bob at all, because she can always take the $15.

This solves a lot of issues already. Even this vanilla contract would be extremely helpful for making these transactions happen. If you look closely there’s a problem here though! Bob has to trust Lisa. Lisa could steal the $15 from Bob.

To protect Bob we can prevent Lisa from stealing the money in the contract herself.

Instead she can just “nuke” the contract and forward the value inside of it to an agreed upon address (e.g. a charity both Lisa and Bob support).

Lisa's got a nuke... (to the tune of Janie's got a gun)
Lisa's got a nuke... (to the tune of Janie's got a gun)

This is a little better. Now Lisa can’t steal the money in the contract herself. She’s not incentivized to destroy the contract, but if Bob were to steal the item, then she can nuke the contract.

There’s still a problem here though: Bob could be blackmailed by Lisa for the $5 (she’s very petty). So to balance the equation Lisa can put in what we call a “goodwill collateral.”

This is collateral that Lisa puts into the contract to say “Hey, I have something at stake inside of the contract too. I want to get my money out as well. I have no incentive to blackmail you.”

So, here we have the final contract state!

Both the lender and borrower are aligned through the incentives created by the contract
Both the lender and borrower are aligned through the incentives created by the contract

Both people in the contract can at any point “nuke” the contract and nullify it, but both are strongly incentivized to get their money out of the contract and work together.

It’s important to note as well that each of the fields in the contract are totally open for customization. You can make the “Agreed upon 3rd party” the lender. Or you can change the collateral amounts based on trust levels. If you feel like there’s an asymmetry of risk, you can up the collateral on either side of the contract before signing. It’s all in your hands.

Also: you can include a payment before or after the transaction ends.

So you can charge someone for using your surfboard, books, recreational equipment, spare room, car, etc., and sleep easy at night knowing that the contract protects you

(NB: I invite anyone to try to crack the game theory of this contract! Many have tried…)

Ok, so I just upload my items to an app and they make money for me? I don’t have to trust anyone?

Basically yes! Our app is trying to decentralize the core functionality (peer-to-peer transactions) and then become progressively decentralized over time so there is no middle man.

You’re still in control of your items. You own them, can remove them from the app whenever, or modify the contract for any of the items.

What would a world where people use this look like?

Right now we are incredibly dependent on global supply chains and huge companies. This is not only extremely fragile as a system, but also this centralization can lead to authoritarianism from large powerful organizations. Stick it to the man by sharing your items.

Our sense of community used to come from our economic relations -- tight knit communities where each would help bring something to the table. Strong local communities make people much more resilient to life's ups and downs.

An economy should be less about faceless transactions, and more about relationships developed and strengthened over time.

Imagine going to a new city and joining a Junto of people with similar interests (say, a music community) where people are willing to share their extra guitar pedals, synths, mics, mixers, etc., with new people. Or a climbing community where you can easily borrow a crash pad. Or a camping community, cooking community, etc.

The list goes on. This doesn’t only provide economic value, but it’s also a way to connect with new people with similar interests and to engage with others in a mutually beneficial way.

It’s simple:

Make money + connect with new people + fight authoritarianism

Win + win + win

So, when can I start using this?

We’re launching our MVP very soon here in the mission in San Francisco. If you’re in the mission and would like to try our app then DM me on Twitter @LarrotizPablo or you can send me an email at pablomoncada95@gmail.com

We’re also always looking for other web3 tinkerers that find this space exciting.

If you’re not in the mission but still interested, let me know! We’ll figure out what community we want to onboard next based on interest.

Thanks for reading!

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