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The Week in Pieces #21 - Web3, And The Risk Of Bear Attack

Conversations and observations about cryptocurrency, NFTs and the enigmatically titled ‘Web3’ are moving steadily into the mainstream. A new paradigm for the public internet should provide opportunity for all of us, regardless of what we work on or how we work. But that doesn’t look to be the direction we’re moving in…
“Everybody loves unregulated markets until their imaginary wallet full of monkey jpegs gets stolen.”
Definitions of what Web3 is tend to be along the lines of:
Web3 is a decentralized version of the internet where platforms and apps are built and owned by users. Unlike web2 (the current web), which is dominated by centralized platforms such as Google, Apple, and Facebook, web3 will use blockchain, crypto, and NFTs to transfer power back to the internet community.
Blockchain, the technology that underpins this, has been a solution looking for a problem for some years. There are numerous potential uses for a distributed digital ledger of transactions - in my own work, I can see the value of using tokens for certification, or for personal records of volunteering work. But this isn’t the use for the technology that is capturing the collective imagination currently.
The buzzword around Web3 is decentralisation - how can we democratise the internet by removing control from large tech companies with more power than they can handle? As the articles below indicate, there aren’t many good faith actors working toward that goal currently. Instead, we see a small group of people effectively trying to replace the existing tech monopolies and become incredibly wealthy very quickly. Cryptocurrencies bear the hallmarks of a traditional pyramid scheme, and NFTs are sold for huge sums with no security or protection for the buyer.
The adoption of crypto by libertarians is falling foul of the same issues that tend to happen whenever libertarian concepts bump into real life - things fall apart. As things stand, my impression is that the main function of Web3 is to perpetuate inequality at a huge environmental cost. If there are future benefits to be seen from the concept of decentralisation, they’re not being widely discussed. More detail, more eloquently discussed, here:
The Third Web
The Onion’s Guide To Web3
That’s it! Have a good week and I’ll see you back here next Monday.
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Piers Campbell

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