Credentials least of all teach people about the power of incentives:
Graduating from a university means that you spent X amounts of money––to solve Y number of problems––for 1 credential. School is there to prove that:
Those are two ideal traits employers look for in new graduates, yet those incentives no longer apply:
“According to Richard Rothstein at The Economic Policy Institute, wages for college-educated workers outside of the inflated finance industry have stagnated or diminished. Unemployment has hit recent graduates especially hard, nearly doubling in the post-2007 recession. The result is that the most indebted generation in history is without the dependable jobs it needs to escape debt.” ––Status as a Service (StaaS)
This essay will attempt to explain how credentialing will work in the future. Most of all, it demonstrates new ways of proving competency (without sitting in a lecture room for 4+ years).
The explanations will break down as follows:
As you can probably tell from my previous essays, I’ve fallen down the crypto rabbit hole. This essay is no exception.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in possession of little fortune, must be in want of more social capital.” –– Taylor Lorenz
Let’s get one main thing out the way: we live online lives. Real-life is amazing, but there’s a part of us that have internet identities. Especially with online schools, remote work, and social media. The internet today is outdated and incentivizes us to assume reputation rather than justify it. We’ll get to that part later but for now, we need to understand that reputation is capital:
“Social capital is, in many ways, a leading indicator of financial capital, and so its nature bears greater scrutiny. Not only is it good investment or business practice, but analyzing social capital dynamics can help to explain all sorts of online behavior that would otherwise seem irrational.” — Status as a Service (StaaS)
Social capital is internet reputation. By building an online audience, you become more reputable to people. Social capital is the online reputation that you can leverage into your real-life like:
(check my pals out)
To define it simply:
With that in mind, let’s attempt to explain how social capital would work on future versions of the web:
“Web3 is a more intelligent version of the internet, built on the principle of decentralization. If you’re not familiar with decentralization, try thinking of it simply as the ability of a group to function without reliance on a central authority. Banks, governments, and businesses are all examples of centralized entities. At the core of decentralization is a push toward individual freedom. Not freedom to, but freedom from. The distinction is important.”––NFTs Are Worth Understanding
If you think today’s internet is perfect with no need for an upgrade, this is what you sound like:
Internet versions so far:
The up-and-coming Internet:
To summarize the web 3 experiment: today’s internet is reinventing the wheel into something better:
Two forces that affect how the central web 2 model works:
With the use of peer-to-peer networks, open-source code, blockchains, hash signatures, and merkle trees––web 2 problems become solvable:
“This means that data cannot be corrupted or modified by faulty service providers or malicious parties. Permanent storage means that you don’t need to rely on [internet platforms] to ensure the longevity or integrity of your content. Most importantly, cryptographically secure and permanent data ensures users can credibly exit a platform if it no longer serves their needs or becomes misaligned.”––Publishing on Mirror is Now Open to All
Any media connected to a merkle tree can be mathematically proven to display the media’s authenticity.
Bitcoin is an example of this. We’ve never before seen a financial system worth billions — without any centralized governance or authority to support it. No one argues the amount of BTC in rotation because it’s proven by merkle trees and immutably displayed on-chain. This will apply to social capital on the web. Let’s explore how:
“When we hired our last intern, I asked him to send me his wallet address in advance of the interview. By reviewing what he had done on-chain, I knew that we were probably going to hire him before the interview even started.” —The Future of Work
First and foremost, the new internet is built upon a crypto layer. Online data becomes on-chain data — meaning all web 3 content is encrypted and stored on a blockchain. Why is this special?
In the essay "Why Web 3 Matters", main man Chris Dixon describes blockchains as "special computers that anyone can access but no one owns". That means all web 3 content published would be owned and operated by users rather than platforms. It changes the incentives to create by letting users earn royalties rather than money. Not only can users earn equity, but they can logically prove social capital through their content:
A wallet has a public and private key that gives access to use blockchain applications. Public and private keys are credentials to your on-chain resumes. For example, this is what keys to your Ethereum wallet would look like:
Public Key (username): 0x63FaC9201494f0bd17B9892B9fae4d52fe3BD377 Private Key (password): 8da4ef21b864d2cc526dbdb2a120bd2874c36c9d0a1fb7f8c63d7f7a8b41de8f
Once you conduct any transaction on Ethereum, your public key is captured and displayed on its blockchain. This is what “on-chain” refers to:
Anyone who has your public key can do things like:
On-chain transactions get triggered every time users interact with the network. Since the activities are public, you can reveal evidence of what you’ve done, and when. That’s what employers look for when hiring potential candidates. Judgment, skills, and participation are all demonstrated through your crypto wallets. It’s like a dynamic resume that upgrades based on how well you use the internet.
“wallets are the next social networks.”— 𝚍𝚊𝚛𝚔𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚛.𝚎𝚝𝚑
Crypto-wallets are a passport to web 3 applications. Every time you participate on a platform, your public key gets stamped on a blockchain and tracked by merkle trees. This proves how actively you produce online. Whether it’s through internet consumption, curation, publication, or investing — your web 3 passport will prove your online travels:
As web 3 incrementally improves, we’ll be able to filter on-chain activity into personalized dashboards like LinkedIn. The information would serve as a dynamic resume based on what you consume or produce on the internet. The crazier part? Web 3 is one big internet platform split into web communities that anyone can connect to using their crypto wallets:
There’s no need for multiple accounts to use any web 3 application. Every user on any platform can have one account that controls their data through their crypto wallet. Your content, data, and audience are fluid between any application you’re connected to. All data encrypted by your public and private keys:
Let’s say you sign-up for LinkedIn to showcase your online social capital:
Rabbithole is like a web 3 equivalent to LinkedIn, but crypto:
“RabbitHole is on a mission to be the University of the Metaverse. This mission includes onboarding new people into crypto, teaching them how to be crypto-native, credentialing crypto users for their on-chain tasks”
Rather than you *yourself* adding skills on a profile, you’d actually have to earn them by performing on-chain quests. Here are some examples of skills you can gain on Rabbithole:
Since every transaction on Ethereum is recorded on-chain, Rabbithole tracks the wallet of users who complete the tasks. Those people are then kept in a verified list and paid through a joint multi-sig wallet. Every transaction is mathematically proven and taken care of by merkle trees and smart contracts.
This is what showcasing your on-chain reputation on Rabbithole is like:
A difference between reputation on web 2 and web 3: Social capital on-chain would be justified, not assumed.
"I am not saying NFTs are the next big thing. I am saying that consumer experiences built on a crypto stack are the next big thing. I am saying that NFT experiences are showing the way. They are the left tackle that you can run behind into the opening. Where enormous opportunity exists."––Fred Wilson
A Non-Fungible Token (NFT) uniquely identifies online content through blockchains and merkle trees. Any media can be NFTs if they have a token ID embedded into the file. The IDs get stored on a blockchain to verifiably prove who the file’s creators and owners are.
Pictures speak a thousand words, so here’s a JPEG explaining NFTs:
NFTs in a nutshell:
The jpegs are worth that much because someone is willing to pay for them. The point is: NFTs offer a way to prove who owns online content. Public keys from the owner’s crypto wallet are stored on a blockchain as proof of ownership. There are no disputes on who owns what NFT because it’s logically proven by merkle trees.
In the crypto world, media can be rewarded as a form of social capital. NFTs can be encrypted as a qualification like degrees, diplomas, certificates, or badges to participants. As more applications scale to use NFTs, people may earn a reputation like online bounty hunters, based on their on-chain activities:
The best part? NFTs are traced by merkle trees to move between platforms based on their token address. Content can be transferrable unlike web 2 applications like LinkedIn. Rather than a single entity verifying your qualifications, you’d have built-in logic through crypto credentials. Web 3 communities that are already doing this:
I understand the pressures that come with building social and financial capital. University graduates are the ones who have it the hardest. After spending 4+ years to prove competency in a field of study, they’re barely able to find meaningful work to pay the bills.
This essay's purpose was to demonstrate up-and-coming ways to earn and showcase your skills. With the scaling of blockchains, merkle trees, NFTs, and on-chain analytics, we now know that:
When I wrote my first web 3 essay about the creator economy, I said:
“The functionality for crypto is still too early, inconvenient, and difficult to use — just like the internet once was. As progress is made, we’ll have no choice but to adapt. So it wouldn’t hurt to start learning about it now.”––The Creator Economy: Today Vs. 2025
It’s still way too early and nothing has fully developed to a point of mainstream adoption. If you’ve read up to this point, consider this as an optimistic fortune: build social capital as quickly as you can. A good way to start is by learning about blockchains, Bitcoin, Ethereum, web3, NFTs, DAOs, defi, and the creator economy.
Other essays to get you started:
Interesting web 3 projects to look into: