In several of the newsletters I read last week I kept coming across a link to a post from a guy by the name of Moxie Marlinspike the founder of Signal. Their Twitter account describes Signal as “a cross-platform message app. Privacy isn’t an optional mode—it’s just the way Signal works. Every Message, every call, every time”.
Many people referred to the post, “My first impressions of web3” as thoughtful and insightful. I sat down and read through the post today. He had some interesting points about NFTs and how they apply to art.
In particular the fact that while the blockchain is used to verify ownership of the digital art, the chain doesn’t store the art. Anyone can change the art by having a link to where it’s stored. For some NFTs that can be a feature, as part of the NFT contract is updating the art with future versions. For many others, changing the art can and would be an act of theft.
I found it troubling how focused Moxie was on Web3 being NFTs and even more so him defining the whole Web3 space based on Ethereum. He’s also made the assumption that the whole world has gone to mobile computing.
He defined Web 1 as being decentralized with people owning their own servers. That is the first time I’ve come across this definition of Web1. Maybe prior to providers like AOL making internet access accessible to the masses when the web was mostly developers and tech people.
The more common description I’ve ever seen of Web 1 is the read web with static page websites usually built on Internet providers space. Guestbooks were popular as slow connections couldn’t efficiently load pages of comments. A guestbook allowed a visitor to leave a comment. Those slow connections also limited what could be displayed on web pages. They were largely text based.
Moxie defined Web 2 as being centralized with everything on platforms. That’s kind of a basic simplification that leaves out the prominence of user-generated content presented in a far more dynamic manner due to improved technologies. He seemed to leave out the siloing of that content onto corporate controlled sites which then used that content and the data collected to amass huge profits.
He describes Web 3 as having the richness of Web 2 but decentralized. Web 3 is usually referred to more as Web 2 with the added feature of users taking ownership their data and creators of the products.
Moxie’s Reference Point
He foray into Web 3 was through writing an app to generate NFTs, thus likely the focus of his comments being there. Being ETH oriented, he used openseas to put his NFTs for sale. As mentioned above, his criticisms about NFT images not being stored on the chain were valid enough.
He went on to talk about blockchains being described as distributed trust with leaderless consensus that glosses over the network diagram being about servers as the trust model and not designed for mobile devices or browsers to be part of. Seems unless mobile devices can become nodes, decentralized models fail.
He then claims that all dapps use one of two companies to interact with the blockchain. Once again, his focus is totally on ETH and clearly is ignoring or unaware of the rest of the space. I’ve never heard of that happening on Hive. I stand to be corrected readers — don’t the dapps on Hive connect to the chain through their programming?
He goes on to say that this dependency on two companies is why blockchain has failed to scale beyond nascent engineering. He asserts decentralization wont be important to the masses. He may have a point the masses wont need to know what decentralization is, much like they don’t have to know how their car works to be able to drive. Doesn’t mean it isn’t important.
He also claims that cryptocurrency has a ‘surprising lack of cryptography’ and could be delivered on with a relatively centralized client/server relationship using cryptography.
Overall, I have difficulty finding his post being as thoughtful or well written as those who were passing it around did. I find that it presents a less than clear view of what Web 3 even is with a lot of misplaced assertions.
Web 3 is indeed a confusing topic to define as it does and will encompass so many aspects, including tokenized communities, play to earn gaming, metaverses, NFTs and the many ways they will be built and interact.
Writing about it from a point of ignorance is not helpful to anyone.
What’s your thoughts?**