Notes on Web3

A thoughtful take on Web3 from Robin Sloan, who usefully approaches it neither from the perspective of cantankerous get-off-my-lawn cynicism nor credulous this-will-fix-everything naïvety.

Sloan has interesting technical objections:

“I feel like this simple premise is often lost in the haze: the Ethereum Virtual Machine, humming heart of Web3, is a computer that charges you many dollars to execute a very small program very slowly. It does so in an environment with special properties, and in some cases, those properties are worth the expense. In others… it’s like running your website on a TRS-80 with a coin slot.”

But his most powerful points are social:

“A key characteristic – really, a key aesthetic – of most (all?) blockchains is immutability. They are ledgers, after all. But, these days, where the internet is concerned, I find myself more interested in the opposite; in mutability and ephemerality. I like things that can change and grow, then vanish.

“I am a BIG fan of deletion, an operation basically antithetical to Web3.

“What do we lose when we lose deletion?”

Bonus points for the reference to Marx’s excellent Power of Money.