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Why Web3 matters for human flourishing


The Internet is being flipped upside down.

Instead of giving our time, creativity, and money to centralized organizations in exchange for meaningless status signals (or worse), we - the exponentially growing Web3 community - are now selling our time and creativity in direct exchange for money, asset ownership, and governance rights of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs).

In my opinion, the positive social and economic consequences of this shift are hard to overstate.

In general, the best sources of information about Web3 are deep within “Crypto Twitter” and Discord servers, but most of these communities are full of insider lingo and memes. In addition, many corners of Web3 are easily susceptible to scams, ponzi schemes, “pump and dump” campaigns, and other nefarious activities that make learning about the nuances of this space relatively difficult at the moment.

As my own small way to help, in this article I explain:

About the author

I’m just one of thousands (if not millions) of people who understand - in part - what’s going on here and are trying to tell the world about it.

You can connect with me on Web2 sites (like Linkedin here, Twitter here, etc..), or look me up in your favorite Ethereum explorer in Web3 (i.e. I recently acquired wclittle.eth and bought some NFTs for that address). I’d recommend https://rainbow.me/ as an easy way to explore and participate in the Ethereum community.

In fact, you have probably never heard of this site (i.e. Satchel) before. It’s in private alpha and prepping to be a Web3 publishing platform. I built Satchel as the lead developer - in collaboration with my partners at Prota Ventures - because I/we didn’t want to give our data over to Web 2 platforms (and I wanted an easy way to publish from gDocs to both the web and to private newsletters).

We’re not alone in knowing that Web3 is coming fast, and we’re getting ready for it.

Anyway, I started and sold some Web 2 companies in the 2000s and began building and investing in startups in the 2010s. Fundamentally, what I’ve enjoyed most about this process is the people. I love working with entrepreneurs. In fact, what emerged in the mid-2010s is my professional life purpose…i.e.: “Invest in entrepreneurs.”

Shortly after honing in on this purpose, I co-founded Prota Ventures, which is dedicated “to promoting human flourishing by investing holistically in entrepreneurs”. We do this by investing a lot more than just money.

Thus, the entire lens by which I look at Web3 is via entrepreneurship, specifically how Web3 will help remove barriers to social and economic freedom for billions worldwide.

What is Web3?

If you ask 100 people in Web3 to define Web3, you will get 100 different answers. This is part of the beauty (and frustration/confusion) of the space and community right now. 😊

Overall, from what I can tell, “Web3” is about building a better Internet and bringing “power to the people.”

Thematically, the main topics that you’ll hear in most people’s definitions tend to include one or more of the following:

  1. Distributed Ledger Technology (DLTs, notably: Blockchains, but there are others)
  2. Tokens (fungible and non-fungible)
  3. Self-Sovereign Identity & Data Ownership (the Internet flipped upside down)
  4. DeFi (Decentralized Finance)
  5. DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations)
  6. The Semantic Web (structured data for machines to do useful things for humans)
  7. Metaverses (most notably the decentralized or “open” ones)
  8. The Self-Hosted Movement (DIY hardware, software, and networks)

One of the most often-cited (or copied, or blatantly ripped off) articles when defining Web3 is “Web3: in a nutshell” by Eshita.

  • Web1: Read-Only
  • Web2: Read-Write
  • Web3: Read-Write-Own

This is succinct, spot on, and enormously powerful to think about and practice.

Also, if you are more technically inclined, check out Nader Dabit’s recent article: Defining the web3 stack.

Yes, Web3 can be built and enacted upon today. This isn’t just futuristic, utopian thinking. You can now buy, create, and sell things entirely outside of centralized Web 2 platforms.

Of course, we have a long way to go from a user-experience standpoint and we’re still at the beginning, but enough “signal” is in place to be confident about Web3’s future.

For further reading to get up to speed on Web3, I’d highly recommend https://messari.io/pdf/messari-report-crypto-theses-for-2022.pdf by Ryan Selkis.

Web3’s promise of social and economic impact

Because my partners and I are focused on human flourishing, our creating/investing in Web3 the past 5+ years has been more about the people and less about pumping particular chains/tokens/ideas. We’ve invested in the proverbial “picks and shovels” of Web3, i.e. those teams who are creating real value (e.g. underlying protocols & tooling) for real people (e.g. dApp developers) to create even more value (e.g. Web3 products) for even more real people (e.g. Web3 artists/designers/creators).

Personally, I’ve been advising entrepreneurs for well over a decade about how to create value for the world via products/services. Importantly, this also requires that entrepreneurs put company structures in place (HR, legal, finance, etc…) to support scaling and to comply with local laws/regulations.

With Web3, we now have the ability to rapidly teach people skills to add value for themselves - and for DAOs - and get paid for their efforts in BOTH “cash and equity”.

What’s different about Web3 vs. traditional approaches, however, is the transparency, inclusivity, and accessibility. In Web3, the barriers to entry have been torn down. Anyone can invest their time and money in pretty much whatever projects they want. With DAOs, governance and treasury management are public and in plain sight. If any particular member of a DAO wants to leave and take their fair share of money with them, they can.  

This DEIA-friendly environment (i.e. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility) is ripe for entrepreneurs and “investors” globally to get in the game, build, add value, invest resources, and stop asking for “permission” to get ahead in life. The doors have been busted wide open. The open protocols that are being built to power Web3 will allow anyone to create a DAO, build products/services, organize themselves smartly with DEIA principles baked in, and create a better Internet for us all.

I’m especially interested in helping people in Web3 who have been traditionally under-represented in venture building/investing. This is the promise I see of Web3; real economic and social impact in societies that are currently hindered by centralized, “permissioned” forces that intentionally (or unintentionally) oppress people and prevent them from flourishing.

If you are reading this and want to get in the game, join me in Red Pill DAO (https://www.redpilldao.xyz/), a new DAO dedicated to helping each other learn Web3, practice "on-chain" governance, and create/join other DAOs to build a better Internet together. Feel free to also email me directly at will@protaventures.com or will@wclittle.com and I’d love to help point you in the right direction to learn and build with us - the broader Web3 community - together.