This document is meant to humanize some of the seemingly complex, sometimes downright intimidating concepts that have become buzzwords around the world in 2021, and help you realize that maybe you do get the bigger picture of web3 after all.
(If you need a quick refresher on terms like NFTs, web3, crypto, blockchain - check the bottom of this document)
There are a LOT of really incredible resources from people 10x smarter than me online, but my goal is not to get you to invest in crypto, or even spend a single dollar.
Most who know me know that my love of web3 (blockchain-enabled-internet) is palpable. Infectious even at times. And up until now, I’ve spent the majority of my time helping others dip their toes into the magical world of crypto through 1-1 conversations. And, I love them. But I’m working on scaling some of the learnings I may have taken for granted and begin to aggregate, share, and get feedback from a wider audience. In fact, I am testing a thesis that we’ve been onboarding wrong. I believe that non-crypto natives can bring an enormous amount of value to the future of this technology if they are given a chance to meaningfully engage, learn, and contribute.
When it comes to web3, the first two questions I typically get asked are:
What crypto/NFT should I buy? - Spoiler alert, this is the wrong question to ask!
Where do I go to learn more? - Now we’re talking.
I wanted to write this guide because a lot of the onboarding I see online right now follows a similar pattern:
What is crypto or NFTs
How to set up a wallet
How to buy crypto
How to buy NFTs
I always first start by prefacing that while I believe NFTs are a fantastic tool for understanding the promise and usability of crypto, that they are a small part of a much bigger future.
Stick with me now..
When we step back, web3, blockchain, NFTs… they’re all just part of a continued evolution of technology, which will accelerate trends (or solve problems) we’ve seen across every sector, region, and talk about using other words.
These should sound somewhat familiar..
Distrust in media and legacy organizations (education, big tech, government,etc)
Frustration with lack of transparency of government and disconnect between public and private entities
Increasing time spent online and facilitation of funds (crowdsourcing)
Creator Economy and the Great Resignation (a return to seeking autonomy and individual purpose over financial compensation)
So you see, when framed differently through the context of the world around us, web3 is about a few key themes:
The future of work and human capital coordination (DAOs, globalization, play to earn, bounties/gig economy 2.0, new monetization models)
The evolution of digital identity (pseudonyms, trust (validation), avatars and digital personalities, brands as club memberships, what reputation looks like online)
Decentralization of power (governance at scale, less need for trusted third parties for validation/coordination, elimination of middle men, cross-border governance)
The future of brands (creator-led brands, blending of for profit and not for profit, community-owned, supply chain agnostic)
Interoperability (deflationary impact of technology, abundance mindset, new monetization models, open-source supply chains, forking of best tech)
And so many more but I’ll save them for another time.
Point being, these are human issues, which require human coordination to form solutions. We need technologists, lawyers, teachers, doctors marketers and governments -- all of whom are just organizations of “qualified” individuals to start thinking about web3 not as a solution to all of the worlds problems, but a new tool in our toolbox to use in crafting human solutions.
So now the first question in web3 becomes: what do you care about?
From there, you can use the answer as a filter on what you need to learn to accomplish your goals. There is too much information for any one person to fully comprehend. And with a fresh mind and a clear goal, I believe you’re more likely to come up with a better answer than a purely technical solution anyway.
Let that free you to explore, play, ask questions, contribute, and chances are, you’ll end up following that typical setup guide because you want to - not because I (or anyone else) told you to.
Once you’ve done that - the world is your oyster.
NFT: “An NFT is "a unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectible"
key word here is "SUCH AS“ -- we are only starting to scratch the surface of what types of ownership can be represented and facilitated on the blockchain. Digital art and collectibles have been the first, and easiest use cases because they previously had no way to truly record and amass value like other physical (and certifiably scarce) assets.
cryptocurrencies: “a digital currency in which transactions are verified and records maintained by a decentralized system using cryptography, rather than by a centralized authority.”
cryptocurrencies enable us to easily, trustlessly, and reliably exchange value online without the need for trusted third parties to protect and facilitate said transactions.
DAO: “A decentralized autonomous organization, sometimes called a decentralized autonomous corporation, is an organization represented by rules encoded as a computer program that is transparent, controlled by the organization members and not influenced by a central government.”
see: the future of work. DAOs are built on the idea that networks are more valuable than organizations, and will enable us to amass both monetary and human capital in a way not previously possible. DAOs allow individuals to participate for ownership and receive outsized compensation for their contributions.
blockchain: “a system in which a record of transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are maintained across several computers that are linked in a peer-to-peer network.”
the backbone of web3, blockchains are public ledgers that allow for greater transparency and trust due to their decentralized nature. Important to note that not all transactions are appropriate for fully public blockchains. As we use them more, private, self-sovereign containers will need to exist that can hold personal information that can be validated without being publicly accessible.
web3: “Web3, also known as Web 3.0, is an idea for a version of the Internet that is decentralized and based on public blockchains.”
The version of the future I want to see. Centered around individual autonomy and ownership of their personal information, web3 believes in the concept of a truly open metaverse.