I've had a recent red-pill initiation process into web3 after reading Lenny Rachitsky's essay on how Product Managers can jump into the web3 bandwagon.
What I really liked the most about Lenny's web3 primer was the structure. To get into web3, you follow these three steps: Read, Use and Build.
You first read the crypto foundational papers, understand the language, use the wallets, participate in trading, and eventually hop into building products which help you get an end-to-end awareness of how things work.
Let me talk a bit on my own genesis story in the web3 space by following these three steps: reading, using and building.
Reading, Using and Building. Yes, that's right. That's the mantra.
Part one: Reading
My primary interest in reading my about web3 stemmed from this question—What are the smartest people in the room doing right now? As Chris Dixon neatly puts it,
What the smartest people do on the weekend is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years
Most of the tech-hobbies building momentum right now include: internet of things, 3D printing, human/computer interfaces, artisanal hardware etc.
However, none of them outpace the community, excitement and momentum found currently in the web3 space.
That's where the smartest people in the room are right now.
Information density in web3
Closely observing this momentum on Twitter, I started to gradually dip my feet into this. Initially, I found the reading material to be quite overwhelming.
There were 100s of Twitter bookmarks waiting to be read. It was as if I was drinking water from a gushing hosepipe.
Our information consumption has risen drastically, and it's not just our fault. There has been a categoric rise in the rate of change. The paradigm shifts that have happened in a year, feels almost as if it has happened for all the past five years combined.
Think of all those moments: the pandemic, wildfires, GPT-3, Elon musk acquiring Twitter, machine-gun drones, Taliban conquering Afghanistan, Russia invading Ukraine, etc. Ray Kurzweil calls this an acceleration shock. To put it in charts—
20 years from now, the rate of change will be 4x what is now. Said differently, for someone who is about 40 today, when they’re 60 in 2040, the rate of paradigm change will be 4x what it is now. They will experience a year of change (by today’s standards) in three months. For someone who is 10 today, when they’re 60, they’ll experience a year of change in 11 days.
Especially when we try to grasp what is happening in the web3 space, which is already in the bleeding edge of technology, we might be getting exposed to severe acceleration shock.
Rather than inhabiting a world of time wealth, we are inhabiting a world of time poverty in the web3 space.
Even if we are hanging out in those Discord servers 24 hours a day, it might be giving an illusion that we are running out of hours.
We're not able to keep up in pace with what's new here.
Read/write access for everyone
Amidst all this fuzzy mess, my major enthu towards this topic comes down to the nuances pertaining to ownership and accessibility.
If we look at most of the web2 companies, not all permissions were granted for all. APIs are limited by software companies and they keep changing now and then.
We don't have read/write access to the algorithms of Facebook or Google. They literally control our minds through their social feeds and search engines, but we dont have answers to how they work. As Naval Ravikantputs it—
The deepest secrets of the NSA21 and the CIA22 have leaked, repeatedly, but you can’t find a copy of Google’s search algorithm or Facebook’s feed algorithm on the dark web.
These are the fracture lines that are slowly penetrating our system. We are moving towards maximum sovereignty of the individual with minimum trust on organisations.
We will no longer trust in people, we will start trusting in code.
As I read more web3 articles, it just feels as if we are facing a Cambrian explosion of sorts when it comes to web3 innovation. And this can be attributed to its single greatest trait: composability.
Think of the era before us. In the Tim Ferris podcast, [[Chris Dixon]] talks about how grossly underestimated open-source software is.
Open source software went from a curiosity in the ’90s. I happen to be watching a thing about Microsoft in 1999 in the antitrust case. The word Linux doesn’t come up, it’s all Java. Of course, what actually happened is Linux is the thing that won.
99.9 percent of the code in the world is open source software that runs. Every server that we can talk to runs on Linux, every Android phone runs on Linux. And this can be attributed to the composability of the code. Anyone can have read/write access to the code, enabling the developers and artists to fork and make variants or even extensions of their own.
This would be composability on steroids. They could as building blocks similar to LEGO pieces which can combine and recombine in various ways and cook up various such decentralised apps (dApps). The opportunities would be endless especially when we take these two forces together: the rate of acceleration of innovation and composability. How different would the world look, 10 years from now?
Web2 companies centered mostly around zero sum games trying to push each other down when they were considered to be competitors or substitutes. However, in the web3 space, it seems to be more of a positive sum game best encapsulated by the NFT community by the term, wagmi
We are all going to make it
Wagmi, which stands for “we’re all gonna make it,” is an expression of capitalist communitarianism. If web2 was about minting a few billionaires, then web3 is supposed to be about everyone getting rich together, or at least, everyone who was smart enough to buy NFTs. In NFT parlance, “making it” generally means “make a lot of money.”
Since everyone can read-write codes, they could combine in various creative ways creating super-companies. Albert Einstein talks about how compound interest is probably the greatest mathematical discovery of all time; even calling it the eighth wonder of the world.
What compound interest is to finance, composability is to software.
Why reinvent the wheel when you can build on the shoulders of giants? This is what excites me about web3 the most.
Part Two: Using
I followed this framework and set up my wallet, purchased an ENS domain (shreyasprakash.eth) and also my first NFT from the Bulldroids collection.
When it comes to NFT projects, there are a lot of dynamics involved to understand the value of such an asset class ranging from strength of the founders, storytelling, roadmap and even the cultural/sentimental value. I ended up ditching all that and choosing the least ugliest bulldroid of them all.
Part three: Building
I'm a strong believer in learning by creating. The best possible learning is done in active mode and not passive mode. It doesn't matter what we build as long as we build and ship it.
Currently, as a part of the BuildonChain cohort, I'm exploring some web3 ideas especially in the personal messaging space enabled by microtransactions.
I'm evolving the idea gradually from flowcharts to wireframes, and eventually onto full-blown web3 dapps.
My latest product in the web3 space is for habit creation through smart contracts.