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How I approach learning about Web3+ All the Web3 news you missed this week
Before I get to this week’s news - I wanted to share my thoughts on how I approach learning about Web3 since a few people have recently asked. I’m both optimistic and extremely skeptical about Web3, which keeps me level headed. Taking a religiously optimistic view of Web3 makes it easy to miss the big issues that need to be resolved for a decentralized world to scale. Conversely, the reflexively dismissive view of Web3 makes you miss the incredible innovation in technology that underlies some of the eye-rolling implementation of the technology.
I’m not an advocate of Web3, I’m an explorer.
This is how I learn about Web3:
Explore with an intention to learn vs. trying to validate an initial reaction. Pretend you’re an explorer discovering a new world, documenting things you see, making sense of a new world you don’t know much about. The things you see are neither good nor bad, they just are. Many people’s first introduction to Web3 concepts are through sensationalized headlines that lead to snap judgements about the broader industry. People often seek to validate those first impressions or dismiss it altogether, instead of trying to understand the underlying fundamentals (classic confirmation bias). When I learn about a new Web3 concept, I document arguments both for and against it - that helps me stay in explorer mode and not advocate mode.
Separate the theoretical vs. practical. Web3 is dominated by beautiful theoretical concepts that are practically difficult to implement. An ecosystem operating with completely decentralized systems is wonderful in theory, so there are few arguments against it. However, the reality of a fully decentralized world is not actually practical. We’re still in the earliest stage of innovation where companies are trying to find a balance between the theoretical and practical and there’s no clear answer. It’s ok to be excited about the theoretical while challenging the practicality.
Learn from the people working on the problems. With the enormous amount of attention and funding in Web3, there are now thousands of people spending thousands of hours working hard to experiment with decentralized, token-based products and business models. Most of these experiments (companies and products) will fail and as they do, people will iterate and continue to experiment. I try to spend as much time with these people as possible and extract out the few nuggets of insights that took them thousands of hours to obtain. These are the people who are figuring out how to build this new ecosystem and solving the problems that come up when the theoretical doesn’t match the practical. One of the reasons I created this newsletter is to share the insights from the people working on these problems.
Learn from using the products. You can read about playing basketball, watch every game and debate what are the best defensive schemes - but if you never play basketball, you can never really understand the game. Fortunately, Web3 is built to be extremely accessible - so I try to use as many products as possible. As I try these products, I try to use them through the lens of their intended user and not view myself as a focus group of one. There’s no faster way to learn than having hands-on experience onboarding to a DAO, buying an NFT or walking around Decentraland.
I hope this helps you on your journey, share your suggestions in the comments below.
Here’s the Web3 news from the past week
Google Trends is showing a steep decline in the volume of searches for NFTs and metaverse, which peaked, respectively, in January and October. Lest anyone be tempted to write off search interest in the space entirely, terms like crypto, blockchain, Ethereum, and Bitcoin are all holding steady.
Crypto Balks At Bored Apes’ KYC Requirement (The Defiant)
The NFT collection Bored Ape Yacht Club was met with a wave of disapproval when it asked users for personal information, including identification documents, birth dates, and home addresses. “Know Your Customer” requirements are rare in the crypto space, and the negative reaction to their use was compounded by the fact that BAYC hadn’t shared details of the project. As one analyst said: “It’s got to be something special if you’ve got to give up your privacy for this.”
At a South by Southwest panel, Mark Zuckerberg said that over the next few months, Meta will be adding the ability to bring NFTs to Instagram, and that on a longer horizon, users may be able to mint NFTs on the photo-sharing platform. (What minting NFTs on Instagram would look like remains to be seen.)
John Naughton argues that DAOs are similar to utopian communities of the 1960s and ’70s in their attempt to replace hierarchical power structures with more democratic systems. But in the same way that many of those experiments ultimately failed, Naughton sees several emerging challenges in the DAO space, from SEC regulation to the struggle for true egalitarianism.
Wyoming is an increasingly DAO-friendly place, thanks to laws that make it relatively easy for such groups to incorporate there. This week, state lawmakers passed updates to existing rules in order to better account for how DAO participants can join, leave, and vote.
Where Do Women Fit Into the Metaverse? (Glamour)
In a conversation with Glamour’s editors, Nicola Mendelsohn, V.P. of the global business group for Meta, laid out a vision of the metaverse that is welcoming toward women. Mendelsohn said that Meta is prioritizing diversity in the design of avatars and putting funds toward researching matters of safety in the metaverse.
Metaverse: The Next Frontier in Healthcare? (Information Week)
Use of the metaverse in healthcare may be years off, but possible applications include surgical simulations, the treatment of phobias and stress, and training for students, from anatomy to clinical practice.
One of the biggest open questions about the metaverse is whether it will be completely open — enabling people to move their assets freely between ecosystems — or if tech players will make their services completely or partially closed, as they have traditionally done. A truly open metaverse, where users control their own data, would upend the data-focused tech business as we know it.
Bob Iger Getting Into the Metaverse Business (The Hollywood Reporter)
Former Disney CEO Bob Iger has joined the board of Genies, an avatar creation platform “trying to position itself as the future of online identity.” VCs Mary Meeker and Rick Yang also sit on the board of the company, which has partnerships with Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group.
Adi Robertson sees the Magic Leap 2, an augmented reality headset launching this year, as a step forward in AR experiences. “The headset seems to deliver its most exciting promised feature: a more natural-feeling field of view,” writes Robertson after demoing the second generation device.
Why Ethereum is switching to proof of stake and how it will work (MIT Technology Review)
In the world of cryptocurrency, proof of work mining requires an immense amount of energy, with Ethereum reportedly using as much power in a year as the Netherlands. This year, Ethereum is slated to make the long-awaited transition to proof of stake, a mechanism “which it promises will use 99% less energy, allow the network to scale, and potentially help it reach 100,000 transactions per second.”
Investors are funneling money into Web3, with the blockchain startup ConsenSys raising $450 million at a valuation of over $7 billion and Aptos, another blockchain player, closing $200 million at a $1 billion valuation.
Off-topic stories I found interesting
According to Google’s annual employee survey, the vast majority of staffers are on board with the company’s mission and values — but not so much when it comes to pay. Just 46% of respondents felt that their compensation was competitive with what they could earn elsewhere, a 12% drop from the year before.
In case you missed it - this was the most opened article from last week’s news roundup
DeFi projects promise huge returns but carry the risk of “rug pull” scams, where bad actors take capital from investors, then disappear. Investors want protection, prompting the rise of watchdog groups like RugDocs, a 30-plus person team that tracks and rates the risk level of crypto projects.
NYC Web3 Meetups
I’ve been hosting a regular series of Web3 in person get togethers in NYC. They range from small table breakfasts to larger happy hours. If you’re interested in attending or sponsoring one of these events sign up here:
Hi, I’m Andrew Chang - I created the Web3 Roundup to share what I’m learning in this space. I’ve spent my career at the forefront of the technology industry in areas such as crypto/blockchain (Former COO @ Paxos, co-founding partner of Liberty City Ventures), video and adtech. I learn by meeting with founders, investors and other thought leaders and approach Web3 with the same enthusiasm – and skepticism – I had about crypto/blockchain technologies 10 years ago.