I Admit It: I Don't Understand Web 3.0 Basics

I like to think I’m pretty smart. I follow the news, educate myself constantly, ask annoying questions and generally try to keep up. But there is one area that I am not getting. And that's Web 3.0 “stuff.”

Before I confess my ignorance, I’ll note that of course I’ve done some homework. I have read countless articles and watched a ton of videos. I specifically looked for anything that had “for beginners” or “for dummies” in the title. It hasn’t given me the answers. So here we go:

Number one: I wish I understood the very basics of blockchain and crypto.

I understand blockchain is a technology that allows for tracking in the virtual world. But what makes a blockchain a blockchain? What does it describe and what is it that is new and helpful versus what we had before? What does it do, and how, and what makes it better?

I understand crypto is a currency, but why does it require a decentralized ledger and mining? I get that a ledger keeps track of payments, but why is a decentralized ledger positioned as a safety guarantee? To me, a decentralized ledger sounds like a messy way of bookkeeping where, because everybody is in charge, nobody is in charge. Plus: the more decentralization, the higher the chances of bad behavior? This seems to be proven as there now have been a number of hacks where bitcoin was stolen.



Also, I don't think a currency/technology linked with organized crime stands a good chance to become something broadly accepted in general. Every time we hear about hackers and ransomware from places like North Korea, China, Iran and Russia, we hear about cryptocurrency as the payment platform.

Then again, most every established financial institution in the world has been nabbed for money laundering, tax evasion or even pyramid schemes. So perhaps the argument should be that BECAUSE crypto is linked with organized crime, it will become a success. After all, online payments only became a success after the sex industry built it out.

And regarding mining: Why? We are not mining for bonds, dollars or hedge funds, so why mine bitcoin? I understand it requires computation time, but why does it require so much of it? More apparently than Amazon requires to track its packages, or NASA to land a Rover on Mars. Why?

Finally, NFTs. Again, I understand (I think) what it is. Essentially, and perhaps unfairly, and perhaps wrongly, I think it is a digital work that you can buy and own. But why make it so mysterious and difficult to buy them? When a music or book download is so easy and low threshold, why does an NFT even have to be called that, and why make the purchase so murky? Why not just buy it on Amazon?

Perhaps... and this is a big PERHAPS because it is uttered by a Luddite who admits to not understanding this whole thing at all... but perhaps it is made mysterious and murky to throw sand in your eyes and obscure the fact that some (all? a very small part?) of it is snake oil?

So that’s my rant. Maybe it’s time to gracefully bow out and become that person trapped in whatever current reality I can still kind of keep up with. Like my father-in-law with his flip phone. Unless you can help me?

5 comments about "I Admit It: I Don't Understand Web 3.0 Basics".
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  1. Nina Lentini from MediaPost Communications, April 18, 2022 at 8:52 a.m.

    Thank you, Maarten. I'm right there with you! Let's hope all your questions are answered.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 18, 2022 at 10:09 a.m.

    Maarten, if you think what you have described is bad wait until they start talking about BLT---no it's not bacon, lettuce and tomato. The folks who came up with that one don't even know what it means---but they are touting it as better than peanut butter and jelly.

  3. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment, April 18, 2022 at 11:42 a.m.

    It's understandable that, at this point in time, there is a lot of confusion for brand marketers and agencies. You have some very briliiant people creating these new opportunities and channels and like new technologies in the past, look to gaming and young adults to take the reigns and bring it mainstream.  These same people, by and large, are not very good at explaining the opportunity to the mainstream.

    I remember when I was working at the Weather Channel and the company decided to charge people to advertise on the website in the late 90s - everyone was scratching their head saying it would never work.  Email, HD, 4k, streaming, AR - many of these technologies were laughed off or created confusion.

    Unfortunately, many leaders in technology bringing Blockchain, the metaverse and NFTs to the marketplace have not done a great job so far in communicating the benefits and opportunities, but they are vast and wide and fortunately, they will become mainstream more quickly than some preceding technologies.


  4. John Grono from GAP Research, April 18, 2022 at 6:21 p.m.

    Plus one Maarten.   [I'm still struggling with Second Life (indeed, itself is struggling).]

  5. Erin Warady from Discovery Cube: Science Museums SoCal, April 20, 2022 at 3:42 p.m.

    Ditto. All of it. Why are they making mass consumer adoption so hard to understand? Hum Bug 

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