Moxie on Web3

An excellent article on Web3 has just appeared on Moxie Marlinspike’s website. Being Moxie1, he’s not just speculating and rambling about stuff. In an attempt to learn more about the so-called Web3 and the technologies around it, he went all-in and built a couple of dApps himself. Then, he produced an NFT and put it up for sale. What he found is, well, to put it mildly, fascinating.

Some of his insights on technology are also interesting. For example, on distributed vs. centralized systems:

A protocol moves much more slowly than a platform. After 30+ years, email is still unencrypted; meanwhile WhatsApp went from unencrypted to full e2ee in a year. People are still trying to standardize sharing a video reliably over IRC; meanwhile, Slack lets you create custom reaction emoji based on your face. This isn’t a funding issue. If something is truly decentralized, it becomes very difficult to change, and often remains stuck in time. That is a problem for technology, because the rest of the ecosystem is moving very quickly, and if you don’t keep up you will fail.

His point on the urgency to reduce the burden of building software is also poignant:

At this point, software projects require an enormous amount of human effort. Even relatively simple apps require a group of people to sit in front of a computer for eight hours a day, every day, forever. This wasn’t always the case, and there was a time when 50 people working on a software project wasn’t considered a “small team.” As long as software requires such concerted energy and so much highly specialized human focus, I think it will have the tendency to serve the interests of the people sitting in that room every day rather than what we may consider our broader goals.

My foray into cryptocurrencies and blockchain happened almost ten years ago when the craze started. After a few experiments, I tagged it all as a nerds game and moved away. Moxie’s article served me well in catching up on the whole scene. Can’t say I’m thrilled by what I see.

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  1. On Moxie himself, see the New Yorker article I featured a while ago. [return]