Note — Jan 23, 2022

A Map in Search of Territory

Haven’t linked to Evgeny Morozov recently, here he’s looking at the rhetoric around Web3, by way of obsessing a bit too much on Tim O’Reilly and Web 2.0. Beyond that though, his two central points are worth a read and keeping in mind going forward.

First, as the title implies, that Web3 right now is a map searching for a territory. A set of technologies and dreams that exists largely with no real problem to solve or need to fill, other than making money. Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration but it’s one difference with 2.0, the latter was a name slapped on to something happening, while Web3 seems to be a set of tools looking to make something happen.

Second, for all the dissing of 2.0 by the 3 folks, a lot of the VCs are the same and it’s important to keep in mind that they helped the hijacking of 2.0 ideals and turned it into surveillance capitalism. The current speachifying and investing is to keep software eating the world and pooping out cash for them.

This is why all the true Web3 believers have forgotten how to use present and past tenses, let alone modal verbs: every statement that they make about Web3 is not about what it is or what it might be. No, their every statement is – almost invariably so – about what it will be. The transition is inevitable; better stock up on the right tokens – or the fear of missing out will eat your soul. […]

If you ever listened to those inside the a16z universe sing praises to Web3, you would never know that Marc L. Andreessen sits on the board of Facebook (since 2008!) and he has coached its founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. If there are people to blame for how Web 2.0 has turned out, many of the a16z employees are surely high on the list. […]

Most of their paeans are deeply ahistorical; they just accept a very twisted definition of Web 2.0 and move on to make some points about the inevitability of DAOs or NFTs. They lack any engagement with the political economy of global capitalism or even a cursory analysis of the many social movements that are still contesting it.