The Original Sin Revisited
How Web3 might change things if we don’t f*ck up again
My first assignment as a College student was writing an essay about The Garden of Eden.
I can still picture it. After I finished my elaborate routine of procrastination- I still hadn’t a clue what to write about. My professor, Ned Taylor, grinned in delight as I knocked at his door in desperation. His tatty navy blue cardigan sweater meshed with the unruly assortment of books that littered his shelves. While a delight to philosophize as he rolled tobacco cigarettes — he was far from helpful.
I wondered if Adam and Eve would have eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil were it not for the sneaky suggestion of that slithering serpent. What was God expecting to happen when he put the tree in the Garden (wasn’t this transgression his design all along)? I had the typical thoughts, none of which would change the fact that the original sin was necessary for our capacity to suffer and thrive.
Chowing down on the forbidden fruit afforded us free will and conscious choice. But a quick survey of our world today and the scales are tipped towards wickedness over benevolence.
Our watershed moment is now if we’re to have any chance of repairing the world.
Respinning the Web
In late 1960, the Advanced Research Project Agency Network (ARPANET) was well underway. This building block for the Internet came after two decades marked by prosperity, rising wages, and advertising. Corporate behemoths began employing only the parts of people that were useful to them, discarding the rest. This, explained sociologist Alvin Gouldner, began an anti-human agenda in the service of, “Technological triumph, of personal confusion in the midst of detailed organizational blueprints.”
We can’t return to the Garden and have another go but we can remedy something else: the world wide web. The pioneers of the web intended for it to be open and decentralized.
A crucial point for the internet was that it remain an open standard for all. Translation:
Nobody should lock it up into a proprietary system.
The web however got hoovered up by the industrial complex and spat out in pokes, likes, bots, trolls, algorithmic ads, and other toxins.
Web 1.0 was a one-way street. The masses consumed content that became widely available. Web 2.0 (where most of us hang out) affords user-generated content. Indeed, kitschy TikTok videos, silly cat memes, murder-themed podcasts, and homemade pornography still reign supreme.
Web3 is an altogether different kettle of fish. The key distinction is that data is not owned by a company but shared by ‘users’. Think of Facebook with Zuck just a member of the community and everyone who has a profile is an ‘owner.’
Another way to see it is that Web3 can establish information, contribution, and execution in a much fairer way than ever before.
Web3 is our opportunity to honor the spirit of an open web. We can leave behind an outdated winner-takes-all system and supplant it with one that is more equitable, inclusive, and exhilarating. The new paradigm is an everyone-can-win operating model.
If you’re already convinced of the promise of Web3 then come join a learning community purpose-built for this new era right here
But How on Earth?
For Web3 to ‘work’, it will require your commitment to engage honestly and openly, from the get-go. And herein lies the problem: we’ve gotten off to a rocky start. Veteran tricksters have been having a field day taking advantage of newbies in the Web3 space. But over time self-regulating systems will ostracize these fraudsters. Hopefully, when this happens it won’t be too late.
For Web3 to ‘work’, it will require your commitment to engage honestly and openly. Over time, self-regulating systems will ostracize the fraudsters. This is the only way to drown out the noise and live up to the hype.
Kernel, a web3 education community, provokes the type of thinking we need now:
Is ownership shifting from an ability to demonstrate control or possession to the ability to make collective meaning? If so, the change in signification is a radical one, because ownership is traditionally about exclusive rights, whereas meaning is made valuable by how widely it is shared.
Web3 is not about the productization of any and everything. It requires a willingness to model a new model for mass collaboration. If the Flower Power and Occupy movements were betas for an alternative way of operating, then Web3 is the official launch. A modernized hippie utopian dream now has the legs to become a sustainable reality.
While it’s misfits, artists, and entrepreneurs hustling to make Web3 work there are no membership fees; everyone can play, learn, and earn. Web3 is for those who are brave enough to experiment and build a preferable future.
Sara Klaben Avrahami, founder of The Order of Ink digital NFT tattoo collective remarks: “In Web3 you own your data. You are proof of your work. We now have tools that can help us undo the toxicity perpetuated by Web2. The question is how do we fork Web3 out to a place that doesn’t work in parallel but actually in an entirely new way? How do we abandon our Web2 “best practices” and bad habits? If we figure this out, we might just be able to leave today’s main players behind to shape a better, more intentional future.”
A New Beginning
Genesis comes from the Hebrew word Rasheet which means beginning. Web3 is our chance for a clean slate — a fresh start. They are no shortage of skeptics out there that Web3 is a bunch of hoopla and that it must be destroyed. I think they’re wrong and here’s why:
The philosophy of self-management is fundamentally human. And Web3 is the best mechanism to afford these the priniciples to proliferate.
Growth for growth’s sake can no longer continue. Software ate the world and we can no longer extract more value than we create. I need to take a shower just writing this paragraph. The new (and yes, experimental) way forward is to let emergent strategies flourish.
Noah grabbed the animals and headed out on his ark. Our ark today is the blockchain. The different species of animals are the decentralized apps that are built upon this digital ledger. Smart contacts, trustless organizations, and software that governs hardware are the wind that helps us sail to a better place.
The decisions we make, and the actions we take, will determine our collective future. We can fess up to our sins, redeem ourselves, and take responsibility. We must plant and tend to a new garden now.
Our destiny depends on it.
Join a crack-pot crew of misfits and experiment in this exciting space. What are you looking at? Let’s Go.
Jonas Altman is a creative entrepreneur on a mission to make the world of work more human. He’s the founder of design practice Social Fabric, a business coach, and the author of the best-seller Shapers.
Sara Klaben Avrahami (aka Ms. Nowhere) is on a mission to help people choose alternative careers that allow them to lead their most extraordinary lives. She is an organizational consultant, supermom, and Web3 founder of The Order of Ink.