Notes on Web3 is a great article for those still pondering what this moment in history means. I tend to think blockchain and decentralization are great tools in search of a purpose (in addition to cryptocurrency), but I do think there’s something there. I also think, like this author, that web3 recaptures some of the same excitement, but also unsustainable dreams of web 2.0.
A large fraction of Web3’s magnetism comes from the value of the underlying cryptocurrencies. Therefore, a good diagnostic question to ask might be: would you still be curious about Web3 if those currencies were worthless, in dollar terms? For some people, the answer is “yes, absolutely”, because they find the foundational puzzles so compelling. For others, if they’re honest, the answer is “nnnot reallyyy”.
Mammals and birds have hearts with four chambers. Reptiles and turtles have hearts with three chambers. Fish have hearts with two chambers. Insects and mollusks have hearts with one chamber. Worms have hearts with one chamber, although they may have as many as eleven single-chambered hearts. Unicellular bacteria have no hearts at all; but even they have fluid eternally in motion, washing from one side of the cell to the other, swirling and whirling. No living being is without interior liquid motion. We all churn inside.
The first generation of internet services tried to help with filters and settings, but most normal people ignore the settings and don’t want to write filters, and so we very quickly went to systems that tried to help automatically. Gmail has its priority inbox, and social networks build recommendation engines and algorithmic feeds. Given that the average Facebook user is apparently eligible to see over a thousand items a day, it seems (or seemed) to make sense to try to show the video of your niece before the special offer from a restaurant you ate at five years ago. So your feed becomes a sample – an informed guess of the posts you might like most. This has always been a paradox of Facebook product – half the engineers work on adding stuff to your feed and the other half on taking stuff out.
In Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers’s “A Concerto Is a Conversation,” Bowers traces the process of breaking into new spaces through generations of sacrifice that came before him, focusing on the story of his grandfather Horace Bowers. As a young man, he left his home in the Jim Crow South, eventually ending up in Los Angeles. Encountering discrimination at every turn, he and his wife, Alice, nevertheless made a life as business owners.
So why do so many people think that pixels are little squares? The answer is simple: apps and displays have fooled us for decades with a cheap and dirty trick. To ‘zoom in’ by a factor of 20, say, they replace each pixel with a 20-by-20 square array of copies of that pixel, and display the result. It’s a picture of 400 (spread) pixels of the same colour arranged in a square. It looks like a little square – what a surprise. It’s definitely not a picture of the original pixel made 20 times larger.
Alvy Ray Smith
I’ve been using Photoshop and other graphic programs for decades, and I absolutely thought pixels were little squares. This is a fantastic and informative essay. Highly recommended.
“Loot is randomized adventurer gear generated and stored on chain. Stats, images, and other functionality are intentionally omitted for others to interpret. Feel free to use Loot in any way you want.”
I haven’t been drawn into the NFT craze, but I really do like the idea of something that can be an unalterable creative asset.
Kyle Russell explains how a community has already formed around this set of adventurer gear
In less than a week, a community has gone from lists of text to infinitely many illustrations of those items to worlds for those items to reside in and characters to wield them. All from taking simple primitives and generating context around them that gives them value.