I've been very critical of "web3" over on 🐦 recently: twitter.com/ilikebeans.

On @matt@write.as, I wrote about how the , if anything, seems like the closest thing we have to a true "web3" (without blockchaining all the things): write.as/matt/what-would-a-rea

The way VCs are using the "web3" term is kind of silly. It's branding that sounds incredible, but basically comes down to "financialize the entire Web." Which sucks.


So now I'm thinking, why don't we just co-opt the term for the fediverse?

I've already been calling some of my things "web3", just to be cheeky. But hey, it sounds cool too, and doesn't come with all the terrible aspects of "web3" that its proponents are pushing now. Could be fun.


I feel like this could be done in a self-aware way -- something sorely lacking in the web3 space -- while also shaping the whole "future of the web" story that *someone* is going to tell, whether they're the right person to or not.

Why shouldn't it be us telling that story?

At the ActivityPub conference in 2019, @maloki actually started this exact conversation, that ActivityPub pointed to a more community-oriented and human-centric "Web 3.0". I agree, and I think many people here can recognize it too. We just haven't really tooted that horn.

If we ever wanted to, it seems like this would be a good moment for it.

There's probably too much $$$ and labor going into web3 for Fedi to pull off the highjack. Web3.1 would be a safer play

@yaaps Do you think so? I only first heard about web3... maybe at the very end of October? I don't feel like it's all that entrenched.

From what I've seen, there's plenty of money and hype to go with it, but also a lot of level-headed critique against it. It seems very up in the air to me, like everyone is largely still figuring out what to make of it.

That's not even to mention the general public, who hasn't really been touched by this yet.

I haven't seen much level headed critique, mostly rote repetition of polity generating more heat than light. Europe, Japan, and the Anglosphere have a lot invested in the current markets, but the incentives are too strong for the current players to damper and spin the hype machines much longer - especially since some are also trying to jump aboard. The VC money's coming from the usual suspects, but the consumer spending is coming from Asia. You'll see the in app purchase top tier in mobile and console games go from 99 to 129 USD/EUR in the next 18 months, but it won't be enough. There are mobile game whales spending over $10k USD/mo and game companies are having trouble supplying perks packages (and PvP chattel) to meet demand when a game hits. Selling big ticket cosmetic items with low game impact is important to maintaining the business model created by in app purchases, but the existing markets aren't conducive to that, both because of the controls on transactions and the 30% fee

@matt i have a feeling folks on here would have thoughts on this, for sure

personally, i'm slightly skeptical just because (as @yaaps mentioned) there's already a lot of money involved, but otoh, no time like the present, not to mention: why not? i mean, seriously.

@poiseunderchaos @yaaps Right. I mean nothing is written in stone. This is the general sentiment I'd echo:

RT @SilvermanJacob@twitter.com:
No technology is inevitable, nor is a particular techno-political order a fait accompli, even if it's underwritten by billionaire anarcho-capitalists.


@matt @yaaps Agreed. Also, pushing back on them calling themselves anarchists (or libertarians, for that matter) is sort of a good footnote to add into all of this, at least. (Because they're neither, even though they do very much map to being "anarcho-capitalists").

@matt @yaaps Which may sound pedantic, until you look at, say, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Emma Goldman, etc. None of whom remotely resemble them.

Even their self-referencing is as fake as their hollow promises of a brighter future.

"Billionaire capitalists" definitely works, though.

@matt @maloki We could try to coopt the term "web3". My title of decentralization engineer is deliberately provocative in that regard. But the blockchainers probably have a lot more capital than we do, and so can do all sorts of marketing and branding.

@matt I actually always thought of #fediverse as an implementation of #web3. You can imagine my surprise upon hearing blockchain mentioned in the same context.

So yeah, I think we can use terms like web3 & decentralization when describing fediverse. Also terms like self-hosting & smol/small web, for example stuff that @aral is wotking on.

It might be a bit verbose, listing all that, but throwing a few of those "safe words" might change people's perception.

@matt I feel like that's kind of why I brought it up during the activity pub conf.

@maloki Yes, can't believe I forgot this was the exact thing you brought up! I'm re-watching your talk now.

@matt I mean the talk wasn't necessarily very good. 😊 Just opening a conversation.

@maloki No it was a good conversation starter! And you hit on the high points I think we need to keep pointing to: the focus on community, human connection, less so on profit (contrary to today's "web3").

Just want to be able to credit you for bringing it all up. I know it went into my brain and simmered in the time since then 🙂

@matt They're coopting Web3.0 (Semantic Web), so why not? ActivityPub at least is closer to that definition!

@alcinnz Exactly! And I think the fediverse is much more "Web"-oriented -- culturally, technically, etc.


Why not just call it "web4" and describe it as "web3 except not bullshit"

@matt web3 is basically being used as a drop-in replacement for “blockchain-based”. It would be better if it was used for “decentralized technology” instead, but there’s too much momentum behind its use for blockchain — I don’t think the fediverse is influential enough to co-opt it beyond folks in the fediverse itself.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t do it anyway.

@mike Very true that it doesn't stand for what we want today. But I think just throwing another definition out there, and backing it up with a "web3" that people can actually experience today, can help. I think it's still early enough for that.

(Also needs to be done in the right place -- where all the web3 people hang out)

@matt the problem with this is that a lot of sensible people currently interpret "web3" as "you can immediately stop listening to anything else I have to say because the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of me being full of shit" and overcoming that reaction may be difficult

@technomancy True, but I think we could overcome that by doing it in a less serious, more self-aware way. Joking about how the idea of "web3" is bad (as it's presented today) while also showing "this is the real web3".

Some ways I've been doing it without long explanations:

Calling it "Web³"
Web³ = WWW
Web³ = Web Web Web
Web³ = World Wide Web


@matt this is a very interesting idea. There is nothing novel about the Metaverse, and seemingly nothing new about 'Web3' either. Yet the Fediverse is novel, and is exciting...

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Writing Exchange

A small, intentional community for poets, authors, and every kind of writer.