Web3 has a dork problem

The unbearable kookness of the blockchain. PLUS: A tank with JET ENGINES mounted on it.

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On Thursday night, a bunch of crypto kids tried to buy the constitution. Structuring themselves as a blockchain-based decentralized autonomous organization — if you need a primer on DAOs, I wrote about them for New York a few weeks back — the group, called ConstitutionDAO, launched with the intent of participating in a Sotheby’s auction for a rare first printing of the U.S. constitution. What was the point of buying the copy of the constitution? “We intend to put The Constitution in the hands of The People,” the group’s website says. “Decentralization and cryptocurrency (web3) have created structures that allow people to self-govern with unparalleled levels of autonomy and freedom. It’s fitting that we use this technology to honor and protect the greatest historical tool for human governance: the U.S. Constitution.” Ah.

In the week leading up to the auction, the effort became a focus of the web3 community. Here’s a representative sample of the kind of tweet that was going around:

Participants added “(📜,📜)” to their Twitter handles; word of the project spread across Discord chats and DM groups; long twitter threads lauded the project as “web3 at its best.”

(For the record, though privately owned, the document was already being preserved in a museum, where it was on display for the public.)

In the end, ConstitutionDAO raised a little more than $40 million in ethereum from 10,000 people. And then, when the gavel knocked on an auction watched by thousands on a live stream, the DAO lost:

Web3 enthusiasts remained unbowed: They may have lost, but in losing, they’d, somehow… won?

Sheesh. Look: I’m trying not to make any grand pronouncements these days about the future of the internet. Maybe web3 is really going to transform all human interaction forever! Maybe the era of the DAO is upon us! I am not prepared to say that it’s all a scam or a pyramid scheme.

What I am prepared to say is that the culture of web3 on Twitter is truly one of the wackest subcultures I’ve ever encountered in my entire life. These people organized what is basically a $40 million flash mob to buy the U.S. constitution in order to preserve it for future generations?? And got upset when they lost?? Venture capitalists making Nic Cage jokes is “web3 at its best”??

I keep encountering these 20something guys who tweet LinkedIn-type Success Win bromides in a voice I can only describe as the zoomer version of Elon Musk, and it feels like when you accidentally land on a Christian rock radio station and can sense that while all the elements of “rock music” are present, there’s just something ineffably off about the whole business. Again: The web3 types are probably going to be very rich, for a long time! This is not a judgment on the likelihood of their financial success! May they all someday be able to put @a16z in their Twitter bios along with the name of the cypherpunk avatar they bought!

I’m just saying, there are members of a cappella groups cooler than these people. Whatever else you might think about Bitcoin, those guys were at least authentic psychopaths. With web3, beneath all the money and the attention and the cartoon PFPs there’s just an unbearable stench of kookness, and I feel very bad for the journalists who for the sake of access need to pretend that any of this is cool.

In case you doubt the veracity of this viral tweet about “Big Wind,” here’s a YouTube video showing it in action, narrated by Rip Torn. Click through to watch it on YouTube so you can make your video recommendations awesome:

Legendary web designer and IRL Club affiliate Steph Davidson is Remembering Things:

Read Max, naturally, remembers when Limp Bizkit made a juicing diet blog. On January 2nd, 2012, Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst commenced a 60-day juice cleanse, launching a Tumblr and a Twitter account, @FredChallenge, to document his journey.

On January 11, the journey ended. Here is Fred’s final post:

Sadly, the Tumblr has gone defunct, but some of the posts are preserved on the internet archive, if you want to revisit Fred60. The juice fast was also documented by a Gawker journalist named Adrian Chen.

A theory has emerged that Thomas Pynchon is on Twitter, tweeting semi-addled gossip and memories of 1970s Hollywood in the guise of fictional producer-director Sam Harpoon, a character briefly seen in Paul Thomas Anderson’s new movie Licorice Pizza. From Reddit:

It’s fairly obvious this is a legit account – it’s followed by most of the cast/crew from the film, as well as other directors like Rian Johnson and the Safdie Brothers (one of which stars in the film). […] Besides these tweets all reading exactly like Pynchon – the account also has an odd number of references to his work, including an homage to the 50th anniversary of Gravity’s Rainbow in his Twitter bio. […] We know TP and PTA are friends, and him secretly tweeting a micro novel’s worth of fictional 70’s film history feels so Pynchonesque I can’t help but believe it’s him behind the keyboard.

Slate’s Gabriel Roth writes “‘reference to Pynchon’s work’ are evidence that the author of the account *isn’t* Pynchon.” But I saw the movie last weekend — benefits of a WGA membership 💪 UNION 👷‍♂️ STRONG ⚙️ — and the line in @SamHarpoon’s bio being taken as a Gravity’s Rainbow reference (“50th Anniversary of Rainbow coming up”) is a reference to Sam Harpoon’s one small scene in Licorice Pizza, in which a character auditions for a movie called Rainbow, starring a William Holden-like actor played by Sean Penn, and directed by Harpoon. Beyond that, I have no strong opinions about whether or not the Twitter account is Pynchon, but the account is very good, if you have any affection for 1970s Hollywood: