I’m diving head first into Web3, here’s why
“You only need to know the direction, not the destination. The direction is enough to make the next choice.” James Clear
This is not a piece that will try to define Web3 (there are many people on Twitter who can do that far better than I can) or detail the change that is occurring, but rather one that shares why I identify with the future that Web3 offers us as humanity. It also touches on some of my learnings and journey so far.
The phase transition that is under way feels as though it is something that happens once every few generations. It is multi-dimensional and will change many facets of society. We are still early in the journey (despite the fomo-rometer being off the charts on many occasions with the speed that the space is moving at), but the foundations that are laid in these early stages will be extremely important for crafting the future together.
We are often faced with the question of where to next or what is our next step in life? It took me sometime to realise that we don’t have all the answers and that we need to trust ourselves to figure it out along the way. We will learn from the experiences we have and the people we meet, serendipitous interactions make magic.
It’s alright to not know exactly what the near future may hold as the journey is the destination and figuring it out in different contexts is all part of living life. I have been on history journey recently, looking back through time to see society how has dealt with forced change events and created physical spaces like cities. As the world came out of dealing with the Spanish Flu in the 1920s it was a prosperous decade. Reflecting on the last 24 months, I can’t help but think that as humans we had become too comfortable with what we once knew.
High levels of comfort can lead to lazy thinking which in turn exposes systems that have been constructed in silos and not with the broader ecosystem in mind. The challenges that Covid provided offered us a chance to look at things differently and imagine things differently.
Moral imagination, according to philosopher Mark Johnson, means envisioning the full range of possibilities in a particular situation in order to solve an ethical challenge. We need to envision a future that is more connected, open, accepting, sustainable, and embodies sharing. Continuing to live with and be influenced by models created to solve problems before our time will not help us build the future.
Humans are social beings and we have the ability to effectively cooperate when we are brought together through shared stories or challenges where we need to collectively problem solve in order to develop solutions. History is full of examples of where stories have created social movements and shaped the world that we know today.
We live in an age were we have an abundance of information at our finger tips. Stories are constantly being spun up and fly at us from many different directions, being mindful of how we interact with this information and giving ourselves time to process the points that are being raised rather than just endlessly consuming in abundance can help us make sense of the world around us.
Below are some of the stories, thinkers and points of reference that have influenced my decision to dive in head first. The list below is in no particular order and the are many other thinkers — Graeme, Patrick, Balaji, Gaby, Bhaumik, Bhoka, Dame, Chris Dixon — to name just a few and projects who have help me grow and challenged my thinking over the last eight months. I am deeply grateful to have found them in the wide open web.
Li Jin’s piece, A Labor Movement for the Platform Economy
Her Twitter thread, which exploded on twitter confirmed that people are very quick to judge a book by its cover and often don’t bother to turn the pages or engage with view that challenge their own ways of thinking. So, before you jump to conclusions while reading the piece, I encourage you to engage with the broader ecosystem… crypto is not just about trading tokens and Ponzi games.
Packy McCormick’s writing that he features through his Not Boring Newsletter is excellent and he has this ability to connect with the read regardless of their expertise on a selected subject. His piece titled “The Great Online Game”, published in May of 2021, shows how we are all currently engaged in one of the greatest games of our lives.
Jasmin Sun wrote an excellent piece “Take Back The Future — a progressive case for techno-optimism”… “To imagine a feasible future for progressive technology, we have to first recognize the gains of the past. The soaring optimism of the 2000s and early 2010s had some basis in reality. The internet presented us with radical new ways of connecting with each other, sharing resources, and creating knowledge outside of institutional and geographic bounds.”
Mario Laul’s writing in general, but particularly his piece “How Crypto is Shaping The Digital Revolution”. I was fortunate to read this piece before it was published and it provided a concise framing for how crypto is part of a much bigger revolution.
Rafa’s Twitter profile defines him as a community builder, but I would argue that he is much more than the definition these two words offer.
Sirsu, Culture in Progress: Building On-Chain Social Capital. “French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu articulated his framework of the three forms of capital — economic (money), social (networks of influence), and cultural (artifacts of value). In this formulation, Bourdieu was describing different ways in which power operates to shape society…”
Reggie, Expanding Our Cultural Reference Points — “How we choose to do what we need to do is the basis of culture”
You can get a snapshot overview of who I have interacted with on Twitter over the last year below.
The internet is a weird and wonderful place. There are a lot of bad things and actions that happen on the net, but there is also loads of good that comes from the space. It has opened some remarkable doors for me and introduced me to special people.
A defining moment that started my Web3 journey was finding Crypto Culture and Society (CCS) a learning DAO (Decentralised Autonomous Organisation) late one night in September 2021. Reminder to self — when you lean into something that you are looking to learn more about, you are often able to find others who are also thinking in the space. The decision to back and join Crypto Culture and Society pushed me directly into the ecosystem. I have always been an advocate for learning by doing and this was the spark that is a big reason why I am here today.
More recently, I have actively sought to start contributing to DAOs (Mirror DAO and CCS) and learning from the emergence of the interactions. A snap shot of my biggest lessons thus far:
•Become comfortable feeling uncomfortable.
•Employ a rigorous thinking practice early.
•Build the smallest possible experiments (minimal viable experiments) first and gather feedback to refine hypotheses rather than build elaborately from the very beginning.
•Give yourself time to think before you react — don’t confuse action for actions sake with valuable contributions
•Seek new wells and reference points (full credit to Reggie James for the influence you had on my thinking in this regard)
•Build in public and share your learnings openly (encourage open and honest feedback/commentary)
Leaning into learning with no expectations is a wonderful thing to do. The community that the learning DAO introduced me to accelerated my understanding of the ecosystem. Throwing many new concepts my way and quite literally throwing me into the deep-end. I chose to figure out how to swim and to absorb as much of the information that was crossing my path, here are some of the resources I have collected along the way.
Exposing myself in this way to a new space led me to explore the agency that we have as individuals to shape our future and to contribute in a small way to the collective with the decisions that we take. The way we interact with our surroundings and pursue the opportunities that cross our paths’ is solely up to us to seek out the connections. Thus when I was presented with the opportunity to apply for a data learning cohort with OurNetwork and Dune Analytics, I jumped at it. The 30 days of focused learning provided me with an introduction to blockchain data and the fundamentals for being able to understand actions that take place on chain. I still need to share my learnings from this experience and my hope is that it will give back to the broader community, let me commit to doing this in the next two months. If you wish to learn about blockchain data, here are the public recordings and resources. Massive thanks to Andrew for the gift of his time, patience and teaching.
Along with the agency we have as individuals, we are also carry the responsible for helping to shape the future and leaving the world a little better off than we first found it. This quote from the excellent Dr Seuss seems fitting for the point that I am seeking to convey.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
Who knows where the future will lead, but as I wrote a few week’s back in the pieceInto the future, the keys you hold and the power of harnessing individuality
Right, so that’s a little bit about my journey so far and some of the experiences that I have been exposed to. So what is it that attracted me to the potential that Web3 offers? I have been thinking deeply about this over the last six weeks since making the decision to dive in head first and I have settled on four areas that have captured my curiosity. As I write this, I am almost certain that I will look back on this in a few months and need to update some of the thinking shared as the experiences that lie on the horizon will refine the views that I have currently.
Composability — evolving and growing off the work of others. It encourages shared collaboration and means that more that one person benefits from solving a problem or crafting a solution.
Emergence — we are navigating the changing environment together, seeking to ask better questions and looking to build in a way that is deeply connected to the entire ecosystem not just a silo.
Ownership — in owning a part of the space we are creating we changing our relationship to it. There is a fundamental difference between using and owning.
Responsibility — we have a shared responsibility to create the future. Cynics don’t build the future. Think bigger and to engage with people around ideas that we can enact to help make the world a better place.
Individually we don’t have all the answers but collectively humans are incredibly resilient. We need to be more willing to engage with diversity and views that differ from the ones we hold. Encouraging ourselves to unlearn concepts that we may have held which are no longer relevant to the current environment in which we find ourselves today.
I have not doubt that there will be challenging times, life is not all sun shine and roses. Nothing worth doing is ever easy, but it’s up to us to make it fun. Life’s too short to not be having fun in what we are creating.
As Bill Gates say “most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years”. Let’s remember to zoom out when the going gets tough and remind ourselves why we are leaning into the emergence.
With that, it is time to bring this piece to a close. I wanted to challenge myself to share my decision to dive head first into Web3 in a public forum, to hold myself accountable and to make it known that I am ready to contribute to the road ahead.
As we enter the first month of Twenty Twenty Two I am grateful to have the opportunity to lean into the year ahead. It’s time to…
It’s time to build, see you on the internet.