Eyeing the Emergence of Web3
Trailblazing Author Allen Taylor’s New Book and Deeper Look
On April 30, 1993, four years after his proposed idea for “linked information systems,” computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee released the source code ushering in the world’s first web browser and editor.
My personal orientation to Web 1 began two years later at 2460 Wisconsin Avenue in Downers Grove, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago) where my office was housed. While working at my desk one afternoon, I heard a fellow business owner yell out “hey everyone, come look at this.” Like ants scurrying to a sweet delectable on a kitchen counter, we all hurriedly made our way to his office.
With a group of us now huddled around him in his dark expanse, we took sight of a fuzzy screen with a vague piece of artwork emanating from it. Turning away from the screen with a blue raw glow illuminating his silhouette, he says to all of us, “welcome everyone to the World Wide Web.”
Fast forward to 2023 and the emergence of Web3. In light of this groundbreaking development, I have asked fellow journalist, writer, and friend Allen Taylor to take us down the rabbit hole of what to expect from this nascent innovation.
Allen is the author of Web3 Social: How Creators Are Changing the World Wide Web (And You Can Too!). A full-time freelance writer since 2006 who has specialized in financial technology since 2013, his most recent book explores the rapidly evolving social media marketplace, how creators can fight back against censorship on legacy platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, and how blockchains and cryptocurrencies are helping creators regain their content freedom through decentralized social media platforms and protocols. Allen explains in his the key concepts behind blockchain technology in a simple, easy-to-understand way that helps creators learn how to seize the technology for their own benefit.
On the heels of his book’s recent release, Allen was kind enough to respond to a few questions about the implications of Web3 for today’s rapidly evolving digital economy.
Why is Web3 garnering so much media attention these days?
AT: There is growing concern over data security and censorship issues. Facebook and Twitter users are faced with the threat of deplatforming or content censorship every day. YouTube users are threatened with deplatforming, content censorship, and demonetization. The platforms claim ownership of the user-generated content and don’t share revenues with the users who create the content. YouTube is the exception to that rule, but a user can spend years building up their followers only to be deplatformed or demonetized at the drop of a hat simply for expressing views contrary to advertiser interests. And there’s no way to port your fans to another platform if you want to switch. Users on other Web2 social media platforms face similar issues.
So how will Web3 begin to address these issues?
AT: Web3’s promise is to fix these issues for creators. These new platforms come in various shapes and sizes, but at the heart of it all is decentralization, a feature that gives users greater control over their content, more data security, and better monetization options.
What differentiates Web3 from Web2? What are its future promises?
AT: Currently in the Web2 social media world, users show up, create an account, and create loads of content for which they are not compensated and of which the platform claims ownership. What’s problematic here is that creator personal data (and the personal data of their fans and followers) are not secure.
Several huge data breaches in recent years have proven that platforms can’t keep that information secure. With Web3, many platforms don’t even collect personal information on users. The sign-up process is different: you’re allowed to use a pseudonym if you wish, and you are assigned encrypted keys, seed phrases, and other security mechanisms that are not retained by the platform but provide greater security against threats. Decentralization ensures there is not just one point of attack for potential hackers. Plus, users can monetize their content without fear of censorship.
In what ways do you envision creators utilizing Web3 to seize more freedom, boost the monetization of their digital content, and better protect their digital identities and assets?
AT: Right now, we are in the infancy stages of this new development. That means the platforms are not perfect. In some cases, the platforms don’t deliver on the promise of decentralization, the ability to self-monetize one’s content is laborious and overstated, and some of them have opted to use a Know Your Customer (KYC) process for onboarding new users, which makes it difficult to use pseudonyms. However, there are platforms that are doing a bang-up job of achieving the desired results.
In the future, I expect to see an open social graph where content creators can monetize across platforms, port their fans and followers from one platform to another, and be confident that their own personal information as well as that of their followers is secure against potential data breaches.
There are also emerging opportunities for Web3 social media users to earn while playing games, driving, working out, and conducting other everyday activities.
How do you see crypto and emerging blockchain advancements unlocking new possibilities for ambitious creators?
AT: Blockchain technology is taking the World Wide Web back to its decentralized roots meaning that the walled gardens we currently see will fade away. Or, at a minimum, the power of those walled gardens will diminish against the growth of the decentralized technology layer and the human layer that brings it to life.
Decentralized autonomous organizations are creating new paths to work, charitable giving, and non-hierarchical ways of doing business and managing collective actions. There has never been a better time to be a creator than now (except for in the future when all these benefits will be fully in place and optimized).
Censorship of content and other barriers to our free speech rights is a growing issue faced by many citizens worldwide. How will Web3 allow creators to fight back, regaining their liberties and freedoms?
AT: Web3 empowers users to take ownership of their digital assets, that includes the content they produce. Several emerging Web3 social media platforms do not have the ability to deplatform or demonetize users because they are decentralized. No one owns them and no one controls them.
If you live in a part of the world where your government wants to censor your speech, they can’t do it on these platforms. That says nothing about your personal safety in those parts of the world, but freedom of speech is on the rise in ways never before seen.
When you live in a part of the world where free speech is already a political right, such as in the U.S. where it is embedded into the very nature of the republic, platforms have the right and the ability to shadowban you, deplatform you, or demonetize you simply for violating a term of service that might not have been in place when you joined the platform (because they retain the right to change their terms of service at any time without notice).
While I believe platforms have the right to manage their businesses in the way they see fit, it’s important for creators to realize that they are the product being delivered to these platforms’ real customers—advertisers. If freedom of speech is important to you, you’ve got to choose your platform carefully. Better yet, become the platform. It’s here where emerging protocols will allow creators to engage with followers and fans directly without a mediator. That alone is a big step toward content freedom.
Blockchain technology is giving creators the tools to speak their minds freely using technology that makes it impossible for others to inhibit that speech.
In what ways can creators begin to prepare now for the surge of new innovative approaches that Web3 will usher in?
AT: I believe now is the time to begin experimenting with these new tools. I don’t advocate dumping Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube and setting up camp in Web3 in one fell swoop, especially if you’ve built a loyal following after years of effort. That could be cutting off your nose to spite your face. Rather, I do advocate for creators to pick a few Web3 social platforms that look promising and establish a presence.
In that effort, creators should do some research into the platforms and determine for themselves which ones have the most promise. Web3 Social: How Creators Are Changing the World Wide Web (And You Can Too!) was written to be an introduction. It’s not so much a “how-to” as a “why-to,” offering creators a glimpse into these new platforms and the direction that social media is headed.
That said, I do provide a free download for anyone interested in exploring Web3 that offers a quick and painless way to experiment with Web3. It’s a Quick Action Guide that will help creators with no experience in Web3 get started on the three platforms I consider to be the best ones for newbies. That guide is available by clicking the link HERE
Describe your greatest hope in terms of what readers of your book will walk away with as a result of reading it.
AT: I hope readers will gain a better understanding of what Web3 is and the benefits that blockchain technology promises to creators of all types. The central message is that the Internet started out as a decentralized asset that anyone can use without fear of censorship. Since then, it has turned into a paradise for venture capitalists to fund the platforms they deem have the most promise. The result is a collage of walled gardens where advertisers are promised access to thousands of potential customers.
The downsides are you must give up your personal data, which isn’t kept secure; you don’t own your content; and you can be deplatformed or demonetized at any time on a whim. Web3 Social explains why that is a broken system and how Web3 promises to fix it.
What I hope to impress upon creators is that the Web has migrated from the vision of its creator by veering away from its primary benefit. Web3 developers are working to take it back to that initial concept.
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