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How can we reclaim what was and is the promise of Web3 – a decentralized form of organization, granting autonomy to actors outside the control of established power structures? How can we look critically at Web2, characterized by platforms like Facebook and giants like Google, corporate and commodified, and attempt to build in new directions, using technologies like blockchain outside the logic of digital capitalism? How can we use cryptocurrencies to create different market structures and possibly even deliver on the (as-yet unfulfilled) ideals of Web1?
Seed Phrase is a series of conversations about Web3, hosted by the artist Simon Denny and presented by THE NEW INSTITUTE, where Simon is a fellow. In this prequel to the conversation series, Simon talks to Georg Diez, Editor-in-Chief at THE NEW INSTITUTE, about the utopian origins of Web3, which reach back to the beginning of the internet as we know it today, dating back to the 1960s. Could it be that the boom-and-bust cycle of potential and pitfalls, all too familiar today, began at the internet’s genesis?
In this conversation, Georg and Simon take a step back from current heated debates in the face of Bitcoin’s meltdown and ongoing concerns about the energy use of proof of work to ask: Is history repeating itself? With Web3, will we see counterculture and cyberculture merge once again, and then transfigure towards commodification and homogenization?
Debates around the future of emerging technology cannot be left to the profit-chasers and pessimists. As blockchain technology cements its place in the mainstream – and its human consequences come into view – critical enquiries like these are central to ensuring a more hopeful, open, and equal future.