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I think we've all heard the news already. Web3 is an improvement over Web2. I won't belabor all the same points. Rather, I have a different approach in mind with this topic. My question is whether writing in the Web3 ecosystem is any different than writing as a part of Web2. Let's get down to brass tacks.
The 5 Fundamental Purposes for All Writing
I guess the best place to start is with the purpose of Web writing in general. The purpose for any type of writing is to communicate. That said, let's discuss whether Web3 writing is any different than Web2 writing, or writing in general.
All writing must do some combination of these 5 basic things:
Inform - Writing must inform its audience of some important or key facts. News writing, for instance, allows journalists to inform citizens of cultural goings on, political events, and other information necessary for living within a specific culture, geographical region, or community. Other types of writing also rely on the dissemination of information, the nature of which depends on the disseminator and its audience.
Educate - Good writing may also educate. Whether a non-fiction book teaching readers how to approach a specific task or a recipe instructs amateur cooks how to prepare a particular meal, writing is an intrinsically educational activity.
Entertain - Good writing also entertains. The entertainment may be the main point behind the writing, such as is the case with comics or comedic movie scripts, or it may be included alongside the "inform" or "educate" dimension of writing. Either way, writers must be entertainers.
Persuade - Persuasive writing is writing that attempts to change other people's points of view on a particular topic. It may do so by informing, educating, and/or entertaining, but the primary task of this type of writing is to move hearts and minds.
Express - Writing may also be used to express how one feels or one's thoughts on a particular subject. The idea may be to use forms of expression to persuade, entertain, educate, and inform, or it may simply—as with many poems and musical compositions—be to express some particular emotion. At any rate, good writing is often expressive.
These are the 5 pillars of great writing. All writing falls into at least one of these categories while some writing will fall into more than one of these categories. This is true whether we're discussing Web1, Web2, or Web3 writing, or pre-Web writing for that matter. Beyond the basics of writing, Web writing is different from non-Web writing in two important ways:
Web writers generally employ specific search engine optimization tactics to make their content easier to be discovered, and
Web writers try to write in such a way that it encourages their content to be shared through reader social networks.
These two elements of Web writing make it different from previous forms of writing. Search engines and social media platforms, as we know them today, didn't exist prior to 1990. Other than these two differences, Web writing, including Web3 writing, is just like any other type of writing.
How Technology Changes Writing
Now that I've laid the basic framework for writing, there are some ways that Web3 writing differs from Web2 writing. Those ways, however, have nothing to do with the writing itself. Rather, they have more to do with the technology and tools that writers use to deliver their creations, and accept payment for them.
For instance, in the beginning days of the World Wide Web, writers could take something they had written on paper and put it on a web page. In doing so, they could format that writing in a different kind of way, using fonts of different sizes and colors, changing the background of the web page, and including various graphic elements. What was written wasn't changed; however, how it was presented could change based on the creativity of the writer.
Sidebar: While personal computing prior to the Web allowed for some creative graphic presentation that, before, required professional expertise with specialized tools, the Web opened up a new medium for writers to take that graphic presentation to a new level. For instance, in print, inclusion of videos and hyperlinks weren't an option whereas on a web page they are part and parcel of the writer's toolbox.
Web3 offers writers a different set of tools that are not available to them in Web2. Here are three ways Web3 changes how writers can present their creations and be compensated for them.
Literary NFTs - Literary NFTs, or writing NFTs, offer a new way of presenting the written word so that the writing itself becomes a collectible or a tool of utility. A poet, for instance, may take a poem she wrote in the past and overlay it onto an image, then offer it for sale as an NFT. The image itself may be a photo the poet took, a graphic image created by someone else, or artificial intelligence-generated artwork. The NFT would be the poem plus the image published to a blockchain so that NFT collectors could purchase the NFT from the poet in cryptocurrency, or it could simply be the image representing the poem. A forward-thinking poet could turn that poem into a token allowing access to a broader group of poems, thereby giving the poem itself utility. Objkt is an NFT platform on the Tezos blockchain with a ton of poetry NFTs.
Payments - Web3 changes how writers can be paid for their creations. Those changes fall into three categories. First, flexibility in payment structure. For instance, writers can be paid in a variety of different cryptocurrencies depending on preference, blockchain, and an buyer-seller agreement. This also effectively allows writers to accept micropayments. Second, writers can split payments by using certain tools like Decent, which allows them to collaborate with other writers, artists, and creators while ensuring that each party is able to collect payment for their contribution to a project without needing to trust the other parties to honor the contract. Third, payment can be divorced from identity. With Web3, a writer can be anonymous or pseudonymous and collect payments for their work without fear of retribution, censorship, or platform de-monetization.
Ownership - Another way Web3 changes things for writers is through monetary rewards on platforms like Hive. On Hive, creators and curators are compensated for their activity on the blockchain, but that is just the beginning of the benefits. Writers are also able to resist censorship since the technology is immutable. They have more control over their intellectual property and can protect their IP from theft by publishing it to a permanent archive, or record, that preserves their rights with a timestamp proving the date of publication. With Web3 protocols like Hive, and a few others, writers can establish their own platforms, ones they control rather than rent from Big Tech.
For more on the differences between Web3 monetization models, check out this discussion between @UnkleBonehead and me on the Defluenced podcast.
While Web3 doesn't change anything in the way of composition for writers, it does change how writers can present their work and be compensated for it.
These are big changes that make life better for writers and readers, turning a symbiotic relationship into a collaboration. In Web3, the best writers are those that can build a community around their writing and deliver value to readers, collaborators, authors, and publishers in ways that have not been done in the past.
Web3 Writing Must Center Itself Around Community
Web3 writing is intrinsically about community. Successful writers of the future will be those who can build a community around their writing. Whether it be books, a newsletter, a movie, streaming Netflix content, a podcast, poetry, or another type of writing, Web3 writers must be able to turn their writing into a community enterprise. There are a variety of ways to accomplish that mission.
Write3 leader Greg Younger runs a gated Discord community for Web3 writers.
Cryptoversal Books is leading the NFT book publishing charge with tokenized classic literature.
Adimverse is turning creativity into a community endeavor with a unique take on character creation and collaborative storytelling.
PubDAO is decentralizing the publishing process by pairing writers and publications centered around a community-based Discord channel and a Web3-based submissions process.
The Quest of Evolution is a collaborative writing platform that allows creators to tell stories embedded within NFTs. New York Times bestselling author Joseph Nassise spearheaded a "crypto-novel" titled "An Unexpected Withdrawal" where writers take turns telling subsequent parts of the same story after purchasing the NFT of the previous version of that story. These kinds of collaborations build community into the storytelling process itself.
This is just the tip of the iceberg where Web3 writing is concerned. There are plenty more writers, publishers, and organizations using Web3 tools to disseminate information, educate and entertain readers, persuade others in one fashion or another, and express what needs to be expressed. From high-impact journalism to poetry NFTs, Web3 writers are doing what writers have always done using innovative approaches and new, decentralized tools. While the purpose and execution of writing hasn't changed much, distribution of, and compensation for, that writing is changing tremendously and continues to evolve.
Web3 Writings is a decentralized newsletter published Wednesdays and Fridays by award-winning journalist and best-selling author Allen Taylor.
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