Blockchain technology has come a long way. It wasn’t so long ago that cryptocurrencies stood on the sidelines, being preached by a noisy minority. The narrative changed once the COVID-19 pandemic drove people home with plenty of time to immerse themselves in new interests. Cryptocurrencies benefited from increased attention, entering everyday conversations among friends, family, and colleagues.
Even so, it is still early days for cryptocurrencies. Widespread adoption remains difficult and traditional guardians of technology maintain their grip on the digital economy. To loosen that control Those of us who are building the decentralized Internet, or Web 3.0, have to do a better job defining the narrative on what is at stake if we continue with the status quo..
We have an especially compelling opportunity to seize the narrative after sentiment against centralized Web 2.0 controllers turned especially unpleasant last month. The stakes are becoming clearer as we see how the structural inequalities of Web 2.0 affect us all.
First, Facebook testified before Congress when a former employee submitted suppressed research showing that the platform put “benefits above safety” for its users. The testimony added to a major disruption to Facebook’s services, affecting all of its products around the world.. Finally, an anonymous hacker posted a piece of data from Amazon.com Inc’s Twitch video game streaming platform. which included source code and payments to creators in an attempt to “encourage more disruption and competition in the online video streaming space.”
Although I do not condone unauthorized access to company proprietary information, I certainly understood the emotions involved. As a Web 3.0 entrepreneur focused on building an open infrastructure for streaming video, the size and reach of Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook can stifle innovation. There is not much room for new services to make their way into a territory dominated by the economies of scale (and access to the number of people) that these companies enjoy..
Then, How can we redirect the web towards its original vision of being an open platform and a global utility in which anyone can contribute and build? We need to harness the narrative to accommodate more builders and users at the core of a thriving Web 3.0 ecosystem.
The open source nature of Web 3.0 means that instead of hacking and leaking proprietary code, participants can collaborate on technology and features from day one. This is in contrast to the walled gardens built and protected by the guardians of great technology. Once locked up, there are few resources or possibilities to get out. Individuals, businesses, and developers are simply beholden to the whims of centralized authority, forced to adapt to changes in product or conditions.
I have witnessed the enormous influence these Guardians have on developers. After our first company was bought by Groupon, my co-founder and I built a company that relied on the application programming interfaces (APIs) of the top gatekeepers of technology: Facebook, Google, Pinterest, and Twitter At first, these platforms were more open and allowed us to connect our service to them. Suddenly, our access was cut off when these platforms decided to close access to third parties. Our service ended up failing because those platforms didn’t stay open, which was a vivid lesson in the risks of building on top of someone else’s tech stack.
This experience led us to our next adventure: building the open video infrastructure for live streaming. By building in an open and decentralized way, we can attract developers, nurture a community, and realign incentives to protect all stakeholders.. It is an approach that requires moving from a mentality of protectionism to one of abundance. The cake is limited in size. Therefore, you have to stifle and prevent competition at all costs or the sum is greater than its parts, and a community can build more value together than it could on its own.
In its purest form, The Web 3.0 economy is transparent and permissionless, giving stakeholders confidence that entrenched interests are not secretly pulling the strings and controlling outcomes in their favor. This form of creative sponsorship is becoming more popular by the day, as it is much more creator-friendly than current options.
This transparent economy is what creators lack in the current dynamics of Web 2.0. As creators build within walled gardens, they get caught up in the economy that each platform chooses. And if the platform changes that economy, the creator has little recourse: With few alternatives, the option to quit is often economically unfeasible.
The creators of Web 3.0 should also highlight how eliminating tax guardians allows creators to keep more of the money they have earned from their communities. “Keep more of what you earn” and “Support more of what you love” are big drivers of the narrative when Web 3.0 seeks to displace Web 2.0. With this message, It’s not just about empowering creators, but also fans to give more of their money to their favorite creators.
The last pillar of Web 3.0 is the alignment of incentives between creators, users and the platform itself. These incentives influence the accountability and governance of a platform, which in turn affects toxicity, inclusiveness, and control.
Accountability and governance are important issues when aligning incentives. The gatekeepers of Web 2.0 have little incentive to “do good” to creators and users. Why should they? As there is little competition, users are trapped in the walled garden. And, as privately owned entities with little external regulation, they can do whatever they want. It’s an attitude of “we make the rules, so take it or leave it” and an “us versus them” mentality.
With Web 3.0, governance is often decentralized through a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO (for its acronym in English), or other entrenched community feedback mechanisms. By decentralizing community management away from centralized authorities, there is a tendency towards self-moderation. Communities built around shared passions enjoy natural restraint and when community members step out of line, the community takes action. AND If a community member does not like something, they can submit proposals for the community to vote and change the address of the platform.
Definitely, creators want a more direct relationship with their fans and influence the governance of the platforms they use. The Web 3.0 paradigm tries to address this issue by enabling creator-driven platforms that also allow users to own the platforms, often coordinated through tokens.. As they directly benefit from the growth of the platforms, users have the incentive to provide key services like moderation to avoid things like hate forays.
Of course, nothing is perfect. Web 3.0 will continue to grapple with some of the moderation issues that other major platforms face. Critics of decentralized platforms say the lack of a centralized authority will make moderation even more difficult.
But, As more platforms emerge to serve niche communities (rather than a single entity capturing everyone within a walled garden), these smaller communities are less attractive targets for the toxicity that plagues larger platforms with global reach. It’s harder to spread misinformation and trolling when there are dozens, or hundreds, of platforms.
The future of Web 3.0
The builders of Web 3.0 must reclaim this narrative and move from “winner takes all” to “community above all”. It will not be easy. And there is still a long way to go until Web 3.0 generates more creator wealth than the Internet ever did.
As Web 3.0 expands, we also need to guard against a regression to the mean. It would be a shame to repeat the current guardian model. That is why we must continue to skillfully convey the Web 3.0 narrative to help both developers and ordinary users understand the value of Web 3.0, and the dangers of continuing with the current dynamics of Web 2.0.
After seeing the recent stumbling blocks of Web 2.0, it is clear that we will continue to receive shocking examples of how far we have strayed, and what we need to do to restore the original vision of the internet as an open place that is additive and creative to society..
We are in this for the long term. It is up to us to preach, listen to users and build with a community mindset above all else..
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. All investing and trading involves risk, and readers should do their own research when making a decision.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Doug petkanics is a co-founder of Livepeer, where the team is building a decentralized live video streaming platform to enable the next generation of video streaming. Before Livepeer, Doug was the co-founder and CEO of Wildcard, a mobile browser. He also co-founded Hyperpublic, which was acquired by Groupon. He was vice president of engineering for both.