Decentralization does not exist. We’re all just bored apes, congregating around whatever common idea burns hot and bright enough to lure us out of the cave. Sorry. Just figured we should let you know what sort of newsletter you’re in for up front. Permissionless transparency and what not.
Chad & El Prof
(Price changes reflect past 24 hours as of 3.10.22 @ 4:20 PM EST.)
- Yeah, it looks bad again. But on the bright side, day traders rode a brief wave yesterday as Biden executively o̶r̶d̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ politely asked federal regulators to work together to solve all the complex crypto problems we’ve spent the past six months trying to make sense of, which will definitely work, totally.
WalletConnect, a multi-chain solution for connecting crypto wallets to dapps and each other, made headlines recently for raising $11m in its latest round of VC. ‘You could imagine this today as if a Telegram user and a WhatsApp user could message each other’ is the official spiel the co-founders are giving, but considering it’s also billed as a product for ‘connecting Ethereum wallets’ only, it’s more like if a Facebook and Instagram user could message each other. Digression. I realize most of you probably don’t spend all day mucking through the brown note echo chamber that is web3 Twitter, and consequently have no idea what the literal shit I’m talking about.
Please let me elaborate, through the lens of my current existential crisis, per usual.
We talk a lot about the blockchain here, but really, it should be the blockchains. Like with credit cards, religions, or high grade Alaskan Thunderfuck, technologies / socio-cultural systems / recreational substances rarely converge on a single consumer option. Blame late-stage capitalist pigs, Jesus, or Seth Rogen. Point is, in the case of these new permissionless, immutable transaction logs — which it turns out aren’t actually new at all, but that’s a whole other thing — there can’t be only one. This is called the ‘multi-chain trend’ among degens, or, among the rest of us, Theology 101.
Currently, you’ve got the big dogs, Bitcoin and Ethereum, looming over the rest like Judaism and Christianity, respectively, while chains such as Solana and Tezos carve Taoist-style niches with their messages of efficiency and eco-friendliness. And new age usurpers like Polkadot and Avalanche have gained traction of late for being more easily digestible to newcomers and learning from the mistakes of their forebearers.
Then you’ve got sidechains, which are basically like sects and/or cults, springing up around an existing system with a slight tweak in functionality, like Polygon, a slightly more efficient take on Ethereum, or Quark, a Bitcoin sidechain most famous for hosting the Cthulu OFFerings. (Because what would this belabored metaphor without a stand-in for Scientology?) If that weren’t enough, existing blockchain protocols will occasionally make fork upgrades, a change in their governing rules that will validate transactions that were previously invalid — and, in the case of a hard fork, vice versa. Point being, there’s a reason why the ‘decentralized web’ has nevertheless turned into a SXSW-style pissing contest between dudes in pajama pants vying to attract the most degens to their centralized solution while looking like they care the least.
See Vitalik Buterin at ETHDenver, continuing to tease ETH2.0 — a long-hyped but highly theoretical hard fork to the more efficient proof-of-stake model — like Eminem hyping the latest Detox single. As with Zucc and Jobs and the rest of his unspiritual successors, Buterin is riding the high from a large market share toward a pipe dream of being the entire market. But the truth is, there will always be a need for different sets of systems to log different types of information for different purposes. And the real market winner won’t be a single database technology, like blockchains, that no average consumer will ever give a shit about anyway. It will be the user interfaces that utilize the technology in the consumer-friendliest ways.
Which brings us back to multi-chain wallets. These companies are basically doing the hard work of turning transfer of information across chains into a 1-click process instead of 10+. WalletConnect is getting the hype and VC, but aside from primarily being a tool for connecting different wallets on a single chain, it’s also built for developers first and foremost, so the antithesis of everything we’ve been saying here. Our money, then, is on Tidus Wallet, a genuine multi-chain and multi-layer custodial wallet, with an emphasis on, you guessed it, first-time user experience.
So, if the past five paragraphs have provided you, too, with a splitting migraine and newfound affinity for atheism, you can register for access to Tidus Wallet Beta here. Or just delete your Internet presence, sit crisscross applesauce, and thank Yog Sothoth you didn’t buy the OFF dip.
I’m a mile high currently. Not in typical el Prof fashion, mind you. (Although, also, yes. It’s kind of a thing here.) I’m reporting live from my artist buddy Aram’s couch in Denver, but still managing to find an excuse to dick ride an artist from the 313.
Today, that lucky recipient is Jason Revok — Revok if you read tags — whose filmed defacement of his own artwork caught the eyes of Aram as he laid in bed doom scrolling before work this morning. In the video, Revok buffs over some stellar mandala-style spiral art, the respectable artist and/or adult version of stomping out the sandcastle you spent an entire beach day perfecting. You know. Oddly satisfying in the ASMR pimple-popping-video sort of way, like you are manifesting the power of God by controlling which of your creations gets to see the light of the first day.
In other words, Revok is the Banksy of the latest viral TikTok phenomenon: Piss Off Porn videos. Basically, someone films themselves doing some mundane thing in a terribly wrong way — cutting a slice of pizza from the center of the pie, etc. Believe it or not, the average Internet go-er turns out to be somewhat humorless, reactionary, and short on critical thoughts, which means these videos are factory farms for negative reactions. A masochistic exercise in self effacement? Maybe. But more likely, these savvy creators realize the algorithms do not have the same pre-existing mental conditions as most of the extremely online crowd, and interpret all reactions, negative or otherwise, as engagement, driving up the creator’s reach and ad dollars.
TL;DR — piss off your followers and get paid. I guess it’s healthier than the tried-and-true, mainstream-media-favored tactic of fear mongering for profit. Jason’s artisanally half-assed buff left me feeling that there’s a larger comment being made here, but unfortunately, it’s obscured by a thin layer of millennial pink paint, so I can’t quite find the words for it. The IRL nature of his immersive exhibits and his proven mastery of Internet virality means NFT cash grabs are likely not a game he needs. Regardless, web3 could use a little more irreverent self-awareness, at the very least.
When web3 arrives you won't know it
If multi-chain theory wasn’t nebulous enough for you, just wait. They might not have Alaskan Thunderfuck up here in the Mile High City, but they do have Girl Scout Cookies shilled on every corner, and they’re just kicking in. So, allow me to high-splain why the inevitable need for wallet/profile managers to help users navigate fakakta technological hurdles between different blockchain environments empirically supports my own personal theory of the blockchain.
In short: web3 is not worth the hype. Not because I don’t buy into the promise of the core technology, which, given the hours of my life I’ve dedicated to hyperbolizing it in this little thing of ours, like… obviously. But web3 in and of itself is nothing special. It’s merely a symptom of a pattern in technological advancement I’ve observed time and again.
When mass adoption of cryptographic technology finally comes, it’ll be because intermediary companies will have taken on the risk of navigating these chains on behalf of their users and are paid to assume the financial risk for doing so. HTTP will likely still be the front door to the Internet. The only way that users will recognize the shift from web2 to web3 will be in the financial rewards they all of a sudden stand to receive for their online activity — and, in an ideal world, the single profile and password they need to log into anything. DAOs and rugpulls and Solana Sluts aside, these marginal life improvements for average Internet users are the real innovation offered by web3, and when it arrives, they might not even know it.
In essence, web3 is simply a new database technology — one that combines various technology innovations into a novel concept for a common data infrastructure that is both highly secure and censorship-resistant simultaneously. But if you try to explain to an everyday user of the Internet the databases that run their favorite websites, apps, and social media platforms, you’ll just get turned into a meme.
Sure, self-custody and personal management will absolutely exist. But the users who possess the technical knowledge and shits to give about actual blockchain technology have likely adopted it already. And, when the web3 system is one in which you stand to lose thousands of dollars with a simple typo, the perennial web2 assumption — ‘all users are stupid’ — will likely prove true in the end.
Which is why I believe web3 will not be some paradigm shift or evergreen replacement for Silicon Valley, as so many evangelists hype it up to be. It’s just the latest iteration in the cycle of technology, pendulum swinging from centralization to decentralization, indirectly proving out the 2nd law of thermodynamics. The early Internet was glorious, unusable chaos. Tech monopolies arrived to force it into vaguely manageable order and/or propagate fascism, whichever came first. But we got sick of it, so now we’re back to romanticizing the Wild West, boats beating on against the current, borne ceaselessly into the Metaverse.
New authorities will soon emerge to try to wrangle it back into a controllable form, until they, too, are unbundled, as is the way of the world. And so it will continue, on and on, even like our heartbeats, which, damn, mine’s going pretty fast now, so it’s probably time to log off. Come @3lPr0f on Twitter if you disagree, but I will die on this highdea, considering I am justifying the building of our company on it entirely.