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I think there's a meaningful 45° axis in the grid you present that's something like "will web3 technologies ever move past self-reference". Right now all the crypto/DAO/NFT projects feel like dumb proof-of-concept casinos because interfacing with the real world requires giving up all the "security" and "guarantees" the underlying technology is supposed to provide. Maybe that changes eventually but the technical hurdles are at least as high as the initial decentralization problem.

But of course, things that are myopically self-referential can still be massively culturally and economically important! (MLMs, the MCU, etc.)

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Ya, totally, and this is a good way of framing it. When you explore web3 world you see people getting really excited about how it can all fit together (around your crypto wallet), but, like, who cares about that if there's no easy way for it to fit into the rest of the world? And I think this is where lots of the most compelling tech criticism comes in, too...

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I guess my thing is that everyone I know who's into crypto is doing it so they can make a lot of profit and convert it to... dollars.

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"skepticism not necessarily of the likelihood of a web3 future, but of the culture, values, and especially the backers of the web3 world"

Indeed. As a new and uncertain small-time crypto investor, I've had the experience of following thought leaders in the crypto space only to find, nearly to a one, that they espouse or at least seem to sympathize with political and other views I find abhorrent. Maybe those are just the loudest voices, but it does make me wonder whether this stuff might not be for me after all.

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Web3 is total bullshit

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also "metaverse"

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also "Anon"

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Funny...sounds a lot like Web 1.0/Dot-com days. There was a lot of trash/bullshit ideas back then that people threw a lot of money at thinking that it was going to completely redefine "X" problem and "democratize everything". Standards (aside from the core TCP/HTTP protocols and HTML) were lacking and the giants were rushing in to capitalize (VBScript anyone?). There were a lot of losers coming out the ensuing Dot-bomb...but there were some winners, certain frameworks/solutions/standards evolved, and much of what the naysayers were saying proved to be fantastically wrong (sorry Clifford Stoll).

So the question I would be asking, is this similar to Web 1.0 dot-com crazy days? Inevitably, there will be a day of reckoning, consolidation around the most successful (or at least best funded) projects will take hold. The connection to the outside world will be solved (many projects already working on the Oracle problem), but probably not to the purists' satisfaction. Dog-memed shitcoins will die by the dozen. Those that made the early money will be tomorrow's VCs or will have moved on to the next thing (or building dick shaped rockets or hiding out somewhere avoiding extradition for drug, tax evasion and/or murder charges).

Blockchain is narrow - it is a distributed linked list that uses cryptography to make it computationally impractical (today) to try to alter, so its application as an immutable, digital ledger does have value. Using a reward mechanism to help keep the integrity intact is a clever way to ensure participation (ideally by a large number of people to promote further decentralization). Being able to transact w/o an intermediary is a very attractive feature for the right use cases. NFT hype is ridiculous, but is having an immutable digital record for purposes of provenance to ensure authenticity (and therefore value via scarcity) a horrible idea?

Like Web 1.0 (which promised democratization/decentralization) was supplanted by Web 2.0 (rich, dynamic content creation, but ultimately centralized to a handful of tech giant platforms and creating a dystopian social media nightmare), Web3 is going to have similar challenges - already is in fact. These "decentralized" blockchain projects are...largely centralized, w/most of the nodes run by the project creators themselves and/or running on a centralized tech giant's IaaS. Regulations will evolve and not necessarily favor "the little guy" in this equation. The BIS, SEC, FAFT, etc all pushing for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and more regulation in an effort to "protect the consumer" (i.e. take out the competition - stablecoins - and wrest control from the crypto market), so really only the strongest projects will survive through evolution...and maybe, just *maybe* these projects will scale enough (and have enough money behind them) that Web 4.0 is a bit more decentralized/user-centric/democratized than Web 2.0...but again, probably not to the level or exactly in the way Web3 true believers will want. Quantum computing will probably disrupt everything anyhow (and probably lead to the destruction of mankind, but...meh).

In the meantime, make hay while the sun shines you crazy web3 innovators and carpetbaggers. If some of can make a little coin (and sell for fiat) or maybe at least have some fun playing with the tech...cool beans.

Except for the "metaverse". F**k that. Get outside people!

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We need to go back to Web 1.0

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people who claim to be working on web3 and crypto desperately try to fit their technology to user problems. none of them seems to be working on the fundamental issues or the foundation needed to solve the existing problems.

Most of them are half baked product/ marketing guys

pretty much they create glittering websites and post tweets threads like "here is why web3 is a big thing" and nothing else they do

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Good piece, thank you. Could you please restyle your links to something other than dark-red-on-black? I am 60+ but with decent eyes for my age, and I found this very difficult to read, enlarging the font a bit made it possible but still unpleasant. A lighter red might work, and after all black & pink are the colors of rock & roll.

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Thanks for this, Max! I'm a little lost on crypto & blockchain, but I guess I see value in better (more efficient, cheaper) record-keeping systems. Buying a house is the example I keep thinking about. There's a lot of waste in the escrow / closing process, not to mention that fact that you actually have to buy title insurance just in case one of those middlemen made a mistake. Along similar lines, I could see using a blockchain ledger for evidentiary chain of custody in police and legal matters. But most of the Web3 stuff I see out there is about weird art and get-rich-quick schemes. Would love to read a post about some practical blockchain applications that are either ready for primetime or almost there.

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Yeah, this is something I'm interested in, too — I know for example some people are excited about using the blockchain to track and swap carbon offsets. (See here: https://thebrick.house/to-electrify-everything-blockchain-projects-dial-up-green-energy/) I'll definitely include what I come across in this hypothetical future web3 guide I seem to have promised readers above...

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