After four years at Hospitable.com, I recently stepped down as CTO to take a break and look to windward. It's taking a long time to perform a mental shift from the daily routine, but a few weeks in I feel like the "break" is finally starting.
I'm one of those people that can't switch off completely for too long. I must feed my curiosity, novelty, and creation impulses. Thus, I inevitably started a few small activities already. One of them is this blog, which I reconstructed from the Wayback Machine. I actually thought for a long time that I lost my domain name entirely after failing to renew it many years back. Turns out, I bought it for 10 years in advance and forgot both about that fact and which registrar it was with. Colour me pleasantly surprised; blog has now been restarted after nearly a decade.
The other thing that I did was jump head-first into The Next Wave. For the past five years, I've firmly believed that blockchain technology is both harbinger and enabler of the next major phase shift not just for online technologies, but finance, industry, and society as a whole. Although progress has of course been made, overall not much has changed for human civilization. The status quo from the last century or two is vestigial. If it persists, it is a depressing future indeed.
NFTs and web3 in general have been all the rage, particularly in the second half of 2021. While the profile pic (PFP) NFT tsunami is boring, it is also a necessary part of the process. Growing pains. If you look past the cash grabs, rug pulls, vague buzzword roadmap promises, and pixel ape clones, NFTs are fundamentally about identity, belonging, community, membership, and - eventually - ecosystem integration.
Web3 (not to be confused with Web 3.0 / Semantic Web) is a public blockchain-based internet. A vision of a future where control of identity, communication, information, and wealth is more decentralised, wrestled (at least partially) from the monopolistic embrace of corporate multinationals. OK, I tried a bit too hard with that last sentence. Web3 offers a technologically-connected society that is built on more mathematical proof, less "trust us, wink wink", more self-sovereignity, more micro-governance. And it is something that looks a bit more futuristic.
And so, I've been swimming in those waters for the past few months. Initially it was by writing a few smart contracts - the serverless app equivalents on a blockchain, and only recently cementing some of the fundamentals by reading up on web3 and token economy principles. The main challenge has been the fragmented tooling and documentation. The developer UX has so far been quite poor for anyone trying to start out in web3. This also confirms that it's early; it's not a well-trodden path.
Between the time that I started and the moment that I'm writing this blog, however, there have been so many documentation, tutorial, and course/project improvements, as well as value-added services maturing, that the barriers to entry aren't as unforgiving.
This is the future, though likely looking very different in 10 years time than it does now, just like the internet and our interaction with it transformed tremendously between the early 2000s and 2010s.
And then there's the lingo...
There are linguistic idiosyncrasies in most internet subcultures. Indeed, language/dialect/terminology customisation is part of cultural structure in general. A belonging-assertion vector?
Web3 is no different, and its three most popular acronyms are WAGMI, LFG, and GM:
- We're all gonna make it - positivity and inclusivity. But, statistically, some are NGMI.
- Let's effin go - hype and hope. Initially, I wondered why everyone's suddenly using a gaming acronym and looking for a group.
- Good morning - global greeting, wherever you are. It's morning somewhere.
GM is the hey, the universal call-out of the crypto scene and I've been giving it more thought over the last few days. There's more to unpack.
Saying "good morning" at random times of the day, with the implication that somewhere on Earth it is in fact morning right now, is the perfect greeting for the blockchain community.
It is welcoming and inclusive. My morning is your evening, your evening is my morning, and that's perfectly fine. I respect our differences.
It recognizes our interconnectedness and global society.
It is short and simple, but packed with meaning and intention.
Those are all facets of the kind of society that I hope we are heading toward.