The foundations of Web3 are being built around creating a more inclusive internet. But the early days of blockchain, crypto, and NFTs are more reminiscent of the wild west times of the internet. Instead of looking for the next big thing in 2023, we should pay closer attention to how the space is evolving.
Bitcoin is credited with bringing the first decentralized cryptocurrency in open-source software to the mainstream in 2009. However, if you go back further in the Wayback machine, the first cryptocurrency was eCash, which was developed DigiCash in 1990. Although 2022 will be remembered as a tumultuous year in crypto, there is no denying the speed of growth in this space, with over 9,000 different coins currently in circulation.
Exploring the art of the possible
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have put digital collectibles and cryptocurrency into the spotlight while driving progress in the Web3 movement. Many projects are laying down the foundations for creators to connect seamlessly with their audience like never before. For example, anotherblock is a Swedish company making it easy for fans to own a share of their favorite song and earn royalties alongside the artist.
Another digital collectibles platform, RCRDSHP, has leveraged blockchain technology to help artists bypass existing music industry structures to engage directly with their fans. These examples feel much more authentic than the headlines about artists making a transparent NFT cash grab.
As the space evolves, we see more innovative examples of increasing adoption in Web3. For instance, DexiHunter is on a mission to become the "Pokemon Go" of cryptocurrency by enabling gamers to earn crypto by hunting and collecting bounties around their cities.
If you dare to scratch beneath the surface of the hype surrounding NFTs and web3, you will quickly find thousands of projects gaining momentum and shaping new communities via decentralized tech. The return to grassroots fan experiences driven by collaboration and continuously evolving creativity sends a clear warning to traditional industries that the time for third parties and so-called go-betweens is nearly up.
Diversity, inclusion, and accessibility are the foundations of Web3
It's no secret that the internet represents the best and worst of humanity. But Web3 offers an opportunity to rebuild online spaces from the ground up to ensure we do not replicate past mistakes. For these reasons alone, we mustn't fall into the trap of thinking that Web3 is all about crypto, blockchain, digital wallets, and the metaverse.
There is an opportunity to build a new online world where unconscious biases and historical prejudices are left behind. When fed up with historical gatekeeping and the erasure of marginalized voices, Antonia Forster and Thomas Terkildsen used Web3 technologies to create the LGBTQ+ VR Museum. The experience includes layers of interactive content that respond to visitors' emotions in real time as they explore the VR museum. By daring to explore the art of the possible, the creators won the New Voices Award at the Tribeca Festival.
Elsewhere, the communities such as the World of Women and the Unstoppable Women of Web3 are not just discussing the need for greater representation, inclusivity, and equal opportunities for all. Instead, they are building the change they want to see online.
The technology-based solutions and applications we use are created by people who will have conscious and unconscious beliefs that can spill into their creations. As our lives increasingly become impacted by AI and machine learning, there is an urgency to ensure greater transparency into algorithms so that we can learn to trust rather than fear the outcome. Ultimately, if black box AI is making life-changing decisions about everyone, we need to know how it derived its conclusion.
Decentralized social networks
Social media as we know it is broken. Endlessly doomscrolling in dopamine feedback loops and navigating toxic opinions is not a wise way for anyone to spend their spare time. From the moment Elon Musk hit the self-destruct button on Twitter and Meta announced losing billions of dollars, 2022 will arguably be rembered as the year we fell out of love with traditional social media platforms.
When a large corporation such as Meta owns Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram and the world's richest man acquired Twitter; it quickly became apparent that a handful of people can determine what can and cannot be discussed or shared online. Web3 is paving the way for a new wave of decentralized social networks that cannot be censored. But we need to remember that with great power comes great responsibility.
Within 12 days of Elon Musk acquiring Twitter, more than 322,000 users from U.S. app stores alone downloaded Mastodon. The decentralized microblogging platform seemed like a much friendlier and less toxic alternative for users. But in these early days of Web3, many found it to be needlessly confusing, slow, and buggy. Elsewhere Lens and Minds also began appearing on people's radars as a more diverse social media landscape began to take shape. This a trend that we can expect to continue in 2023.
Where do we go from here?
We live in an age of instant gratification, but real life is not like that. Projects take time to mature, and adoptions remain one of the biggest challenges as we move towards a Web3 future. Rather than jumping on the next big thing like Clubhouse only to dump it within six months like a small child bored with a new toy, the immediate future of Web3 is much more likely to be an evolution rather than a revolution.
The next-gen internet will not be built overnight, and we will not suddenly embrace a Ready Player One lifestyle 12 months from now. However, the good news is developers are building a better tomorrow. It is hoped that the removal of intermediaries will eventually result in the end of traditional business models that benefit the few rather than the many and encourage toxic behavior.
Imagine a future where you are not solely reliant on Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. Instead, blockchain technology challenges everyone to rethink and reimagine the fundamentals of building infrastructure. For Web3 to succeed in righting the wrongs of the last thirty years, we need to step back from the hype and patiently explore how we build an inclusive, autonomous, open internet that is fairer for all. But we need to collectively change our thinking before we can leverage the technology that will change the world.
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