Yesterday Moxie, the founder of the popular Signal App (the open source and much more secure alternative to WhatsApp), wrote this interesting take on the current problems with web3:
Tldr: the web started decentralized but quickly recentralized for practical reasons and the same is happening with web3.
To which Vitalik, the founder of Ethereum, responded:
While all those points are valid and definitely things to improve on, I’d argue that it doesn’t matter that much. At the end of the day, most people have no idea what database you are using and, let’s face it, they couldn’t care less.
Then why does web3 matter?
Because by using an open and decentralized database (a blockchain), web3 enables a new generation of platforms that cannot be shutdown by any Nation State. Sure they could shutdown OpenSea (or at least ask them to unlist some NFTs), in the same way that they forced Uniswap to unlist some tokens, but because it is open source and decentralized, the community can always provide alternatives to work around those limitations.
The more governments will try to intervene (beyond reason), the more incentives there will be for the community to provide alternative routes. Increasingly web3 platforms will not incorporate or will dissolve their existing legal entity to stay outside of any jurisdiction.
All this creates a civilization level disruption: we don’t have to create hierarchical organizations anymore.
Until web3, the only way to receive and disburse funds to do something together was to incorporate in a given jurisdiction. It forced us to put in place a hierarchy with a president, a CEO, etc because our institutions cannot work with networks. They need to know who to contact, who is responsible, who can be sued if needed to be.
This worked great in a world of competition where all nations competed for GDP. But it doesn’t work for a world of collaboration where we need to work together to solve global crisis.
With web3, we have a way to create organizations outside of Nation States, outside of the old framework of hierarchies. We can create Internet native organizations that will usher us into the world after capital, the way LLCs ushered us into the Industrial Revolution.
So what matters today is not how decentralized the entire web3 stack is, what matters is that all the pieces can be replaced when needed to be. It’s not perfect and that’s where Moxie has excellent points that should be taken into account, but it’s already good enough while better solutions are being developed. It’s just prioritization of development resources.
Julien from Unlock Protocol has also an excellent thread on this:
With all its current imperfections, web3 is already today -like the first web- creating a new permissionless environment. That’s why tens of thousands of developers are so excited about it. It opens the door to a Cambrian explosion of creativity.
At a time where our society is collapsing, unable to coordinate at scale to properly address the pandemic and climate change, discovering such a new way to create organizations to coordinate our efforts is not only exciting but also gives a lot of hope.
After years of gloom and doom, waiting for our existing leaders to take action, asking for “system change not climate change”, a new pathway to bring about change is opening right in front of us.
Maybe there is a way to address the mass extinction, loss of biodiversity and runaway climate change without having to wait for legacy institutions to get their act together. The COP26 was the nail in the coffin. Yearly international conference between representatives of Nation States won’t cut it. Web3 is giving us citizens a new way to coordinate our efforts. It’s up to us to seize it and coordinate our way out of this crisis. It’s up to us to use this opportunity to start building the future that we want.
Let’s do this 💪