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Web3 — An Ideological Manifesto

Let’s take a look at web3 from a non-technical perspective

Illustration by me

One of the most common questions in the Web3 space is also one of its most fundamental: “what exactly is it?”

Is it is a type of technology? Is it a new protocol? Is it an idea?

Here, I will give my perspective on what web3 is, from a more conceptual and theoretical perspective. I will not be referring so much to the tools that encompass it, so much as I will be focusing on the ideological drivers behind it. The aim is to give people a genuine overview of what web3 means.

A New Wave of the Web

Beyond anything else, Web3 is a sociological concept. It is the idea that our online activity and behaviour should function in a way that involves no intermediaries or middlemen. It is the belief that humans deserve to congregate freely, and that they should have autonomy over all that they do digitally.

At the heart of this, is the notion of decentralization. This is because people who believe in web3 believe that centralized bodies cannot be trusted to have our best interests, and cannot be trusted to give us the autonomy we deserve. With this in mind, web3 is often viewed as the death of the platform. Projects like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft often exert their influence on the web through their centralized control of the online platforms that we use. The web3 community, however, consider this to be problematic as centralized controllers can never be trusted to care about us. This is prevalent through the consistent selling of our data, ethical scandals, and dark UX patterns.

As a result, this is why blockchain technology has become synonymous with web3– blockchains allow for decentralized online systems to exist; therefore, they are seen as the antidote to our platform overlords.

Trust and Trustlessness

The notion of trust plays a huge role in web3. The space is deeply aware of how fraught the idea of trust really is. Our current systems (digital, financial, and otherwise) are built on trust. When somebody trusts you, doors open for you. But trust can be a tricky thing to attain, especially when you are part of a marginalized group. It is no surprise that centralized loans are harder to get in the West for minorities than they are for white individuals.

Decentralized loans on the other hand…. Now, they’re much easier to get. That’s because with decentralization comes trustlessness. Blockchains do not (always) require trust, meaning that they do not judge with prejudice. This gives people a greater chance of getting a leg up in the space. As a result, this has (in some ways) created a more friendly atmosphere in the industry, where people involved in web3 are far more open to making connections and meeting new people than people in other industries are. I have seen this first hard myself– some of the best connections I made in this industry have been total strangers who I reached out to on a whim (and vice versa). With that in mind, community building is a huge factor. People in this industry believe the best way to congregate is to reach out to one another and form ecosystems without platforms, where hierarchies cannot exist as everybody has equal power.

Self-Sovereignty Above All

The core of web3 is that of self-sovereignty. People in the industry are disinterested in getting engulfed by platforms, or being judged by centralized institutions. They are focused on providing tools for freedom and flourishing. Web3 is all about allowing people to act without having to look over their shoulder at larger corporations who wish them to act in certain ways or give up certain controls. It is about making everybody an island, but building bridges between each island, so we can visit each other without losing a sense of self.

Final Words

The issue with understanding web3 is that many people begin by looking at the technology, but the technology is merely a vehicle. It is the ideological passion that is in the driver’s seat, making everything happen. To gain a greater insight into this, I recommend also checking out my article on Web2, 9/11, and digital feudalism, which goes into the history of the online world.

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