Hello everyone, the topic I share today is “Change” and “Constant” in Web3.0: An Unfinished Business. This speech can be regarded as an introduction, because I am just a beginner of Web3.0, relying only on Based on my professional background, I would like to talk about my own thinking with several books I have read. It is not comprehensive. If there is any inappropriateness, please criticize and correct me.
At the EthShanghai Summit on May 20, Mr. Yao Xiang and several guests discussed “Human Situation: The Transformation and Transformation of Web3.0”. Then, combined with the four books I read in April, I think there are still some “constant” factors in Crypto and Web3.0, which are often overlooked. “Change” is a commonplace. For example, we often hear the expressions of “blockchain revolution” and “Web 3.0 revolution”. Of course, I also think that this is indeed a revolution.However, “revolution” often creates a sense of rupture or even opposition, which makes “revolution” unquestionable. We “disenchant”, understand the origin, motivation and process of “change”, re-enchant Web3.0 on the basis of understanding history, and better drive the development of Web3.0.
In view of this, I will first briefly introduce the “change” of Web3.0, then discuss the manifestation of the “unchanged” of Web3.0, and finally discuss Web3.0 as an unfinished business in conjunction with the slide from Web1.0 to Web2.0. cause.
1. ” Change ” of Web3.0 : Alternatives to the Tradition
What is ” revolution ” ?
Before that, let’s take a look at what is a revolution? Here, I introduce the connotation of “revolution” by citing the expression in “Revolutionary Army” by Zou Rong, a propagandist for the bourgeois revolution in the late Qing Dynasty, which was popular at home and abroad in 1903:
“Revolutionaries are the law of heaven; revolutionaries are the justice of the world; revolutionaries are the essence of the transitional era of struggle for survival and destruction; revolutionaries are those who obey the sky and respond to people; revolutionaries are those who eliminate corruption And there are those who are good; the revolutionaries are those who progress from barbarism to civilization; and the revolutionaries are those who get rid of slaves and become masters.”
——1903, Zou Rong, “Revolutionary Army”
In the article “Revolutionary Army”, Zou Rong stated that he had been familiar with Rousseau’s “The Social Contract”, Montesquieu’s “On the Spirit of Law”, John Stuart Mill’s “On Freedom”, Thomas Carlyle’s “France” History of the Great Revolution” and “American Declaration of Independence”, so its understanding of “revolution” is based on the British Glorious Revolution, the American Revolutionary War and the French Revolution.
In Zou Rong’s definition of “revolution”, it can be found that revolution is a social extension of the “evolutionary theory” (Tianyan) thought, which means overthrowing the old world, establishing a new world (the new one should replace the old), and fair To replace the corrupt, the civilized should replace the savage, and then look at how familiar the phrase “except slaves and masters” is, it has a kind of “sovereign individual” connotation, but the subject and object have changed. Therefore, in the context of enlightenment modernity, as Marx said, ” revolution is the locomotive of world history “ , it will be invincible, invincible, leading the times, and accelerating forever, the “change” brought about by “revolution” is fragmented As opposed to it, it must revolutionize the past, because the past was shaped as the antithesis of “revolution”.
As for Web3.0, as a recognized “revolution”, its “change” or “change” in the eyes of the public also shaped some opposites.for example,
(1) Bitcoin is in response to the inflation caused by the excessive issuance of currency by the central bank and the hegemony of the dollar established by the Bretton Woods system, thereby surpassing and dissolving the nation-state (Nation3), and it also solves the problem of modern society through the ECDSA algorithm ( Information Society/Stranger Society) trust issues;
(2) After Bitcoin, everyone realized that value can be flowed and transferred on the World Wide Web, and the concepts, protocols and products of DeFi, NFT and GameFi have accomplished what Web2.0 could not accomplish;
(3) The increasing maturity of cryptographic technologies such as zero-knowledge proof (ZK) also provides new experimental space for privacy and trust issues;
(4) PoS pledge mining, DeFi liquidity mining, and asymmetric encryption have further developed various X to earn models, which show how Web3.0 solves the pain point of Web2.0: returning data ownership to users, and empower users;
(5) The emergence of DAO challenges the traditional company system, realizes governance and collaboration on a global scale, and greatly improves the efficiency of human collaborative work. The DAO, ConsitutionDAO and other DAO social experiments continue to solve the existing governance dilemmas in modern society with new thinking ;
(6) Metaverse will give people the opportunity to achieve an unprecedented immersive experience in the cyberspace and the transformation of the human social paradigm, enjoying the convenience brought by Crypto’s underlying technology and governance…
In any case, Web 3.0 is indeed revolutionizing traditional finance, nation-state, corporate system, Web 2.0, and traditional production relations, and has proposed post-revolution alternatives. The “changes” brought about by technological progress and thinking paradigms are visible to the naked eye, which is also the charm of Crypto and Web3.0. I believe that everyone present understands the “change” of Web3.0 more thoroughly than I do, so I won’t waste time repeating it here.
2. The origin is the goal: the ” unchanged ” of Web3.0
The origin is the goal. —Karl Kraus (1874-1936)
What is a revolution? – another explanation
Let’s also start with “revolution”. As mentioned in the previous section, under the guidance of enlightenment modernity (progressive view of history), “revolution is the locomotive of world history” has become a general consensus. However, the author will introduce a new historical interpretation and thinking dimension about “revolution”, which is the German Marxist and modernity critic Walter Benjamin in “Theses on the Philosophy of History (Addendum)” Expression:
“A revolution is the attempt by the passengers on the train—that is, humans—to pull the emergency brakes.”
Benjamin argues that the time of modernity (the progressive conception of time that enlightens modernity) creates “a progressive conception of a homogeneous and empty time” through the expansion of mathematics and technology, and the modern world (nation-state, capitalism, industrial revolution, etc.) ) is progressing in this universal, homogeneous, and empty time, in which the past is constantly discarded and forgotten, making humanity farther and farther from its “origin.”The arrival of the “revolution” is a stop in the emergency brakes of human beings on the train, at which time history will expand from within itself (rather than linearly forward) into a kind of “messiah time”, the Messiah is Jesus Christ Another name for the Messiah, the arrival of the Messiah means the arrival of utopia, eternal redemption and liberation, and the end of history.
However, in Benjamin’s philosophical thought, Messianic time does not mean the end of history, only that history will be extended into prehistory and posthistory in Messianic time, and the tension between past and future is reduced to the “present” , they meet but do not coincide, and Messianic time, as a pause between the past and the future, pauses in the “now” and allows the past and the present to penetrate each other within this time, thereby “forging a new contract” relation”. In other words, we use memory to pull the past into the crisis of the present, because the past has fallen to pieces under the neglect of the “modern”, and the Messiah will repair the past, when the pause of “revolution” places the demands of the present on When above the “past”, it also means that the “present” releases the utopia of the “past”.
At this point, the tirade is actually expressing the core idea that the modern world is so bad that there will be revolutions, and revolutions by repairing “origin” fragments of memory as goals, ideals and utopias, and calling on the past and traditions. resources to deal with real-world crises. In other words, the revolution is closely linked to the past. For example, after the French Revolution, the 1911 Revolution, and the Communist Revolution, the construction of a modern nation-state urgently needs to establish its own national consciousness and its state subjectivity in international relations. One of the methods is to collect and protect cultural relics left over from its own history. For example, the instructions of the French Revolution:
Many of these objects, which must be used for education, belong to suppressed institutions and deserve the attention of the true friends of the motherland. They will be found in libraries, museums, cupboards, and collections in which the Republic holds rights; in workshops where the most necessary tools we need; in palaces and temples decorated with masterpieces of art; in all memorials where things are found; finally, in all places, the lessons of the past, the strong imprints, can be collected by our century, which will know how to pass them on to the memory of future generations with a new page […].
– 1794, “Instructions on the Inventory and Conservation of All Objects Usable in Art, Science and Education in All Areas of the Republic” (Provisional Commission for Art, Commission for Public Education of the National Convention, Second Year of the Republic).
Origin is Goal: The Ontology of Web 3.0
The same is true of the Web 3.0 revolution, and it should be. Think about the crises we encounter in the Web2.0 era: network totalitarianism, social death, privacy leaks… “Codebook: The War of Encoding and Decoding”, “Computers: A History”, “Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution” and Weaving the World Wide Web will take us back to the pre-Web 1.0 and then eras, showing us the early origins of the core values of Web 3.0, which are also the goals of Web 3.0.
As we all know, Bitcoin before the Taproot upgrade has pseudo-anonymity, it cannot fully protect privacy, because addresses and transactions are visible to the whole network, but this does not mean that Bitcoin core developers did not consider the importance of privacy. In the original design of the non-deterministic wallet, each transaction on the Bitcoin Core client had to be changed to a new address, and each address could only allow one transaction, thus preventing tracking and protecting privacy. Only later, considering the convenience of users, a hierarchical deterministic wallet was adopted. On November 14, 2021, a BIP-0341 (MAST, Schnorr signature, Taproot), which has been initially proposed by the community since 2012, was successfully activated, achieving the best privacy since the birth of Bitcoin. As A Jian said, Bitcoin is the real and purest “cryptocurrency” in history. In terms of privacy issues, we also see solutions such as Zero-Knowledge Proof (ZKP), Multi-Party Secure Computing (MPC), Trusted Execution Environment (TEE), Homomorphic Encryption (HE), etc. There are also Mina, PlatON, Oasis Network, Projects dedicated to privacy such as Phala Network, Mask Network, Nym, etc. It can be said that privacy is an extremely important value pursuit in the field of Crypto.
This constant pursuit is deeply rooted in the history of cryptography, computing, and the World Wide Web. In terms of cryptography, encryption of secrets has existed since ancient times, and here the author will focus on the application of cryptography after the birth of the computer (information age). In the 1970s, the commercial application of computers put forward requirements for encryption. IBM once designed the “Lucifer” encryption program. At this time, the sender and the receiver need to negotiate the encryption key in advance for the encryption and decryption of information. . But the key transmission problem is not solved. Subsequently, Whitfield Diffie, Martin Edward Hellman and Ralph Merkle, known as the first cypher punk, proposed to solve the key transmission problem In 1977, Ronald Rivest, Adi Shamir, Leonard Adleman jointly proposed the RSA encryption algorithm, which truly realized the private key (privacy) without revealing the private key. case, the two parties exchange information. However, because RSA encryption requires powerful computing power, by the 1980s, only governments, the military, and large corporations could effectively perform RSA with powerful computers. Public key encryption is not widespread, and the problem is that sending emails is the equivalent of streaking on the Internet, where everyone can intercept our messages. However, Philip Zimmermann points out the importance of cryptography for protecting privacy in modern society:
Cryptography has always been a hidden behind-the-scenes science that has little to do with everyday life. Historically, it has played a special role in military and diplomatic communications. But in the information age, cryptography involves political power, especially the power relationship between the government and the people. It concerns the right to privacy, freedom of speech, freedom of political association, freedom of the press, freedom from unreasonable searches and rounds, freedom from interference.
In the past, if the government wanted to invade the privacy of ordinary citizens, it had to go to great lengths to intercept, steam open, read paper letters, or eavesdrop and possibly transcribe phone conversations. It’s like fishing with a hook and line, one tail at a time. Fortunately for liberty and democracy, such labor-intensive surveillance laws cannot be implemented on a large scale. Today, e-mail is gradually replacing the traditional paper letter, it will soon become the standard mode of writing letters, no longer a novelty. Unlike paper letters, emails are easy to intercept and scan for keywords of interest. This kind of work is so simple that it can be turned into an automated and large-scale routine. It’s like fishing with gillnets—both qualitatively and quantitatively, more akin to the Orwellian surveillance that erodes democratic institutions.
Therefore, Zimaman believes that everyone has the right to enjoy the privacy provided by RSA, so he invented PGP (Pretty GoodPrivacy), which makes the asymmetric RSA encryption method and the traditional symmetric encryption method work together, and automatically realizes encryption and encryption through the PGP program. Decryption is extremely user-friendly and efficient.
When it comes to privacy in the Internet age, one cannot escape the 1993 A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto, which begins with the first sentence:
In the electronic age, privacy is necessary for an open society. Privacy is not a secret. Privacy is something one doesn’t want the whole world to know, but secret is something one doesn’t want anyone to know. Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world.
Cypherpunks aim to protect privacy through cryptography and computer programming, and require privacy to be part of the social contract. This pure value pursuit has influenced countless Crypto and Web3.0 practitioners, such as the one I know. There are Suji Yan, Yao Xiang and so on. After the birth of the World Wide Web, in 1994, Netscape launched a secure version of the HTTP protocol – HTTPS, which uses RSA to encrypt HTTP data to ensure the security of users when using Web pages. Berners-Lee, the father of the World Wide Web, also pays attention to the protection of individual privacy, such as the collection of user data by web cookies, he believes:
Since then, the W3C has pushed for privacy agreements between websites and users, although this is still a matter of trusting websites and third parties. Finally, I have to mention the Tor onion routing developed in 2002, which protects user privacy through network bridges and multi-layer encryption of transmitted information.
To sum up, from asymmetric encryption to cypherpunk manifesto, to Web1.0, we see that protecting privacy from cryptography and technology is a unique value pursuit in the Web era, and the birth of computers and the World Wide Web buried Web3. 0 Seeds for the pursuit of privacy.
(2) Decentralization: decentralization, storage and collaboration
Decentralization is the soul of Crypto and Web3.0, and it is a reaction of human beings to deal with various centralization drawbacks after entering the modern world. But in fact, the idea of decentralization has already permeated the minds of computer hackers and designers of the World Wide Web in the second half of the last century. Especially from the late 1960s to the 1970s, there was a huge social crisis in the European and American capitalist world. After the 1930s, European and American countries accepted Keynesianism and implemented state capitalism. After World War II, the welfare state became the main form of postwar capitalism. Behind the high welfare is the sovereign debt crisis and oligarchy, which triggered the civil rights movement, anti-mainstream movement, second-wave feminist movement, etc., which were popular in the 1960s, in order to fight against social injustice. At the same time, U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War contributed to the popularity of left-wing ideas and the anti-Vietnam War movement. In other words, in the 1960s and 1970s, young people in Western society doubted and challenged capitalism and democratic politics.
Computer hackers are no exception, while the first generation of MIT hackers (1950-60s) moved to Stanford University in California, the second generation of hardware hackers (1970s) began to incorporate their political ideas into computer technology. For example, Stanford’s hacker ethic had an important influence on the first generation of the Internet, the ARPANET. They believed that “the value of this network is that the system should be decentralized, and should encourage in-depth research and promote the free flow of information.” .
Worth mentioning is Lee Felsenstein, a member and pioneer of the Community Memory group in California, heavily influenced by Rebellion 2100, Stranger in a Strange Land, and involved in the 1968 Social movements before and after. He was disappointed with computers due to factors such as the Vietnam War, and hoped to use computers to do things that were beneficial to society, and then engaged in research on the combination of politics and technology. Since computers in the MIT period could only be controlled by universities and the government, and not accessible to the public, the circulation and sharing of information was limited to a small number of hackers. So, with the cooperation of Felsenstein and Lipkin, California’s first public terminal, Community Memory, was born. It is “a communication system that allows people to communicate with each other and express their interests without bowing to the judgment of a third party”, and aims to speed up the flow of information under a non-bureaucratic system of decentralized governance. Felsenstein put the terminal on the street, allowing people to connect freely and bringing the hacker ethic of hands-on operating systems to the streets. In his view, “not only must give people the power to control computers, but also give people the power to resist political oppression.” It also comes from the idea of ”connecting people with unheard of efficiency through computer terminals and ultimately changing the world”. They encouraged the use of modern methods whereby notices could be “pasted” into computers, and those who needed it most would have access to the information quickly and accurately. Isn’t this idea of decentralization and collaboration exactly the idea of today’s DAO?
It was Felsenstein, who met Marsh through Community Memory on the street, and the two began to envision the Tom Swift Terminal, a precursor to the first home computer, the Sol-20. In the design of this terminal, Felsenstein introduced a “memory” for storing characters. He hoped that instead of the microprocessor controlling the entire system, the terminal would also add a microprocessor to perform similar When the computer functions, this powerful chip is also connected to the memory. This is Felsenstein’s application of his political ideas of decentralization to computer technology.
As for the World Wide Web, let’s take a look at Berners-Lee’s account. Before the World Wide Web, his design ideas for hypertext and hyperlinks started from the Enquire program, which is also the origin of the Web. In his view, the high turnover of personnel at CERN and the constant loss of information relying on centralized databases was a microcosm of the rest of the world at the time. Therefore, designing a hypertext hyperlink system will be able to solve the problem of information loss. At the same time, “it has to be completely decentralized. That’s the only way a newcomer anywhere can start using it without having to ask anyone else to get in. And every network node is equal,” As long as I don’t introduce some kind of central link database, everything is properly weighted. There are no special stages, no special links. Any node can link to any other node.”
He further expressed the importance of “decentralization” and “openness” to the World Wide Web: “The World Wide Web I designed should not have a central authority where people would have to go there to ‘register’ a new server or obtain access to Approval of its content. Anyone can set up a server and put anything of any content on it. Philosophically, if the World Wide Web is going to be a universal resource, it must grow in an unlimited way .Technically, if there is any central point of control, it will quickly become a kind of bottleneck limiting the growth of the World Wide Web, and the World Wide Web will not grow exponentially. Its ‘uncontrolled’ is very important .” In Berners-Lee’s vision, only a universal, decentralized, distributed, and egalitarian design essence can realize the globalization of the World Wide Web, which is also the true principle of the World Wide Web. This already contains the idea of distributed storage of information, and due to the distributed characteristics of nodes, and anyone can publish information on the World Wide Web, anyone can request hyperlinks to other nodes, and achieve a global scale. resource sharing and collaboration. As Berners-Lee puts it: “The essence of working together in a networked way is that we work in groups — groups of 2, 20, or 20 million people. We have to learn how to do it on the World Wide Web to this point.”
By the late 1990s, Berners-Lee pointed out, “The success of the World Wide Web was due to the ability of anyone to make links that allowed it to represent real-life information and relationships. Cryptography is not often used for The reason for embodying trust on the World Wide Web is that there is not yet a World Wide Web-style decentralized infrastructure.” If such a structure did not exist in the World Wide Web in the Web1.0 era, then the blockchain technology and consensus in the Web3.0 era Mechanisms create a new decentralized infrastructure.
All of this was already present in the early days of computer hacking and the World Wide Web.
(3) Open and share
The previous part has already touched on some examples of openness and sharing, especially the Web. Here, this article supplements the part about openness and sharing in hacker ethics:
“Access to computers (and anything that might help you make sense of our world) should be unrestricted and complete. Anyone can try it!”
From the computer hacker’s point of view, “the best version of the program should be open to everyone, and everyone is free to dig into the code and improve it.” At the same time, all information should be freely available, and this freedom of information should be promoted The best way to communicate is to have an open system that doesn’t set any boundaries between hackers and information or equipment.
Of course, in addition to the above points, the origin of Web1.0 also includes universality and versatility (inclusiveness and diversity), consensus, bottom-up, peer-to-peer networking, etc. These goals are all continued by Web3.0 .
However, this is not the end, this article will further investigate the “unchanged” of Web3.0 with a long-term perspective.In fact, the demands for “decentralization” and “privacy” reflect the eternal yearning of human beings for freedom, equality and democracy, which stems from the fact that the real world is too bad. Although Crypto and Web3.0 continue the origins and goals of the era of computers and the World Wide Web, this “revolution” not only repairs the utopian ideals of the Web1.0 era eroded by Web2.0, but also repairs the Enlightenment’s influence on freedom , Equality and Democracy. In the long Middle Ages, people gradually awakened from ignorance, experienced the Renaissance and the Reformation, and the Enlightenment finally envisioned a kingdom of reason, but with the development of the first and second industrial revolutions and capitalism, corruption, tyranny and war broke the Despite people’s fantasies, the world is not as good as the Enlightenment thinkers envisioned.
This is the antinomy of modernity. People hope to make life better and achieve human liberation through science and technology, but in the end, as Max Weber said, the successor of Protestant ethics and religious asceticism – the Enlightenment , ” The rosy flush on the face also seems to be fading irrevocably . “
Every technological change seems to always be entrusted with a new mission of enlightenment, but under the influence of capital and totalitarianism, technology will always become a new cage and shackles that bind human beings. Facing the social crisis in the European and American worlds in the 1960s and 1970s, computer hackers regarded the computer world as a controllable world, a utopia, a space where freedom, democracy and equality could be realized, and a tool that could be used to transform society; in the Soviet Union Under the disintegration, the end of the Cold War and the shaping of neoliberal ideas, Web 1.0 practitioners and participants alike have high hopes for the World Wide Web, believing that it is an “uncontrolled”, free, democratic, and equal field. Faced with various problems such as Web2.0 and traditional nation-states, Web3.0 once again sounded the horn of freedom, equality and democracy by relying on blockchain technology.This is the “unchanged” of Web3.0, which is consistent with the past “reaction” and “attribution” to the current crisis. TheWeb3.0 revolution is not only a criticism of modernity, but also a redemption of modernity!
3. Web 3.0 : an unfinished business
Continuing the above discussion, this article has revealed that Web 3.0 carries too many missions, whether it is the original intention of cryptography, computers, hackers, and Web 1.0, or the human yearning for freedom, equality and democracy since the Enlightenment. That is the goal, Web3.0 is carrying on an unfinished business.
This unfinished business makes us have to do some reflection, that is, why does Web1.0 have a decline in Web2.0 in 20 years? What lessons can Web 3.0 draw from it? Do we have a chance to avoid it? Or will it fall into the trap of modernity and history repeats itself?
Quanjiquan : the sustainable development of Web3.0
No matter in the era of Web1.0 or Web2.0, the principle of no-threshold access to open systems has encountered the impact of the borderless and “uncontrolled” of power, so how does Web3.0 reconcile the confrontation between the two?As early as when Zimaman made the public-key encryption system RSA available to ordinary people for releasing PGP for free, the FBI filed a lawsuit against Zimaman on the grounds that RSA provided privacy guarantees for hostile states and terrorists, but ultimately because the U.S. Constitution first The amendment’s free speech and “code is speech” verdict failed. Berners-Lee in “Weaving the World Wide Web” has already proposed the dilemma that the Web’s native value faces in reality.
Due to the decentralization of the World Wide Web and the principle of no-threshold access, “some harmful and infringing things” such as pornography and violence appear on the World Wide Web, causing opposition from religious people and parents, and the government often acts of coercion and coercion Intervention and prohibition. Entering the era of Web 2.0, the government uses technology to monitor individuals on a large scale and in an all-round way. The Prism Project, the deletion of posts, interviews, bans, bans, and social deaths in Jianzhong District are all related to individual privacy and freedom. out of bounds. The response plan they came up with was “if you don’t do bad things, what are you afraid of surveillance”, which is essentially taking advantage of the potential threat of techno-liberalism to implement techno-totalitarianism and surveillance capitalism. Undoubtedly, the unbounded and “uncontrolled” government power is an important factor for Web1.0→Web2.0.
Although civil rights activists opposed arbitrary government interference and advocated extreme techno-liberalism, they still ignored that freedom should have boundaries. The “Crypto Anarchist Manifesto” also clearly recognized that cryptography will provide space for the “evil” of society such as assassination, extortion market, criminals, etc., but it does not provide a solution, but firmly believes that “this does not will stop the spread of crypto-anarchy.” However, if the two sides continue to be at the two extremes, consensus will never be reached. Web 3.0 will and has already encountered the same predicament. When everything can be accessed and opened without barriers, the evils of human nature will often cross the “border”. For example, in 2020, Justin Sun’s “bribery attack” after the acquisition of Steemit.
Mill’s “On Liberty” put forward the principle of “do no harm”, that is, “if a man intends to interfere with the freedom of action of any individual in a group, whether the interference is individual or collective, the only legitimate purpose is to protect the self from harm. On the other hand, the only purpose of the power that goes against their will to any member of a civilized society is to prevent them from harming others.” Expressed in Yan Fu’s translation, “liberty” is “the group’s own right” Under the principle of “do no harm”, individual freedom cannot harm the interests of others or society as a whole, and the society as a whole cannot interfere with behaviors that do not harm the interests of others and society as a whole. So can we build a “common bottom line”, a minimal consensus among governments, the Web, and individuals? In other words, whether the bottom line and boundary of Internet freedom can be agreed upon by the Web community, and whether the government can guarantee the most basic privacy rights of individuals, and even whether government activities are willing to be disclosed on the chain, and citizens can use quadratic voting and other on-chain The governance style empowers the government to act.
In fact, in the independent space of Web3.0, the common bottom line of “private domain freedom and public domain democracy” has been achieved through asymmetric encryption, consensus mechanism and on-chain governance, etc., but the problem is that the unfinished business of Web3.0 is Make life better, not just stay in a utopia that once again only serves as escapism. From the perspective of civil disobedience, unified and radical action is a reasonable resistance to power and unjust government; however, violations of social obligations are often the source of moral rationality for the wanton spread of public power. Then, while maintaining the will of civil disobedience, how can Web 3.0 achieve a kind of community supervision and individual self-discipline through “Code is law”, DID, SBT, etc.?
Success is also capital, failure is also capital
In the early hacker culture, “intellectual property” was the most despised ideal of computer hackers, a pure ideal that was shattered by Paul Allen and Bill Gates, who co-wrote Altair BASIC software designed for commercial purposes. “Software is business”, this is the expression of the former hacker Ken Williams after his transformation. In fact, the entry of capital means the beginning of computer secularization, and the almost religious ideal of hacking makes way for reality. Yes, capitalism’s need for “experts” in computer programming has put hackers out of the way, and commercial use can’t wait for companies to release “less-than-perfect” programs “on time.” Due to the competitive mechanism of capitalism and the market, the solution to “less perfect” is to continuously release “more perfect” programs. In the era of Web 1.0, such competition will bring about benign results. However, the capital of the acceleration era also shapes and utilizes people’s pursuit of efficiency, and urgently putting “imperfect” programs into the market is manifested in the Web 2.0 era by forcing everyone to use centralized platforms and cloud servers. It makes us succumb to the capital and tyranny behind it, and the basic requirements of Web 1.0 about decentralization and privacy give way to capitalism. Capital drives the popularization and all-round development of the World Wide Web, but driven by capital, Web 2.0’s “involution” performance is to compete for users and traffic, and the technical ideals of decentralization and privacy are also cast in the dust of the times.
So, how does Web3.0 deal with the problem of capital? We must first affirm that in the era of knowledge explosion, Web 3.0 has changed the limitations of Web 2.0 reading and writing, empowering users with personal sovereignty, and various Fis can monetize user behavior and contributions, giving unprecedented All created a procedurally fair opportunity to get rich. At the same time, it is the power of capital that promotes the expansion of Crypto and Web3.0. Many traditional VCs have made great strides to enter Web3.0. Market competition will undoubtedly promote the development of the industry in depth. However, the other side of it is that capital is dominant, and capital is finally everywhere, and everything can be NFTized, which means that everything can be capitalized. Might as well stop and think about the impact of capital in the slide from Web1.0 to Web2.0. For large-scale commercial application, for efficiency, and for “fastness”, do we have to give up the value pursuit of Web1.0 and Web3.0 again? Will the often-criticized Solana centralization problem really come to an end? Can Ethereum’s PoS transformation maintain Buterin’s pursuit of security and decentralization?
Furthermore, since the Enlightenment, capitalism has ruthlessly deprived human beings of their subjective value. How can Web 3.0 seek a balance between capital and human beings? For example, how does the design philosophy of X to earn emphasize the value of X more than to earn, and how is the economic model sustainable and people-oriented? Capital has a strong utility, so how should this utility be limited? Or, is it necessary for any human action to be X? Looking back, it was originally just a revolution in the distribution of benefits for Web 2.0, using a decentralized method to return the rights originally belonging to users to users.
Defending Origins and Purposes: Decentralization and Privacy
Continuing the above thinking, we know that for large-scale commercialization, some public chain projects give up decentralization for scalability and efficiency; while the current blockchain privacy projects are also tepid, and users do not seem to be particularly concerned about privacy. It can be said that practitioners of the privacy track are fighting against capital and traffic. However, privacy will definitely be one of the ultimate goals of Web3.0, because “privacy is the power to selectively show oneself to the world”, and its essence is also the recognition of personal data sovereignty. Capital and the market often favor those hot money surging tracks, but without the deep cultivators and adherents of these core technologies and values, how can there be today’s fascinating narrative of Web 3.0?
As an unfinished business, no one knows where Web3.0 will go. However, some problems in the Web2.0 era are always justified by the existence of the Web3.0 revolution. The so-called rulers of history, in view of the past, are good at ruling the Tao. I hope that some critical questions extracted in this article can give Web3.0 practitioners some inspiration and thinking in BUIDL. In any case, this is the era of accelerationism. The development of the World Wide Web is only 30 years old. Although Web2.0 has slipped and caused many impacts, Crypto and Web3.0 are wrapped in the ideals and pursuits of Web1.0 and the Enlightenment. It swept like a frenzy. No matter how bad the real world is, history has given the answer: there will always be people who keep going. Although the reality will make us tired of these ultimate goals, I would still like to quote Rabbi Tarfon, a Jewish scholar, two thousand years ago: “It is not your duty to perfect the whole world, but you Nor can this mission be ignored.”
- A Jian: “Taproot is wider than you think”, Orange Book, October 2021.
- (US) Eric Hughes: The Cypherpunk Manifesto, March 9, 1993.
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