Web3 Impact No. 2
Web3 Impact - a briefing on how Web3 technologies are creating social / environmental impact
Welcome to the second edition of Web3 Impact!
The animating question driving our (Kyle and Banks’s) curiosity in Web3 is, “Can Web3 create a more just and equitable world?” So much of the promise and enthusiasm pulsing through Web3 communities is premised on Web3’s ability to solve the problems created and exacerbated by the current internet. It is no secret that today’s internet doesn’t work for everyone: Major tech companies such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and Twitter wield power over everyday people through algorithms that hype misinformation, and accrue a disproportionate share of power and wealth. The fundamental question at the heart of Web3 is how do we ensure justice and fairness as we build this next generation of the web?
We don’t know yet. It’s still the early days, but this is why we set out to create this newsletter. We wanted to understand what the next generation of the web made possible and how it could be a force for good.
This edition explores the ethical framework for the future of the web, how decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) might be a new form of human organizing and an upgrade on the corporate structure, the diversity and representation challenges in the Web3 movement, and more.
If you want to explore these topics in more detail and meet the people building and thinking at the intersection of Web3 and impact, come to an event we are co-organizing in Austin, Texas on June 9th in partnership with Unfinished.
This in-person event will highlight how Web3 is disrupting philanthropy; rethinking public versus private goods; being used as a tool to tackle climate change; and exploring issues of equity, inclusion and representation.
We have an extraordinary lineup of speakers and panelists. Applications are open now, but space is limited as we are aiming to keep this first event intimate. If you’re interested, please apply here.
Now onto the briefing!
Did your brilliant friend forward this to you? Subscribe here.
Web3 Theory of Justice
What is a theory of justice for Web3? This is the question that Li Jin and Katie Parrott set out to answer in their essay (also republished in the Harvard Business Review). As the ethical basis for their analysis, they consider a Rawlsian approach to justice that defines a just society as one “that if you knew everything about it, you’d be willing to enter it in a random place.” The Web3 movement is a response to many problems with the current internet. But as the web3 movement takes shape, many of the inequities and problems that define Web2 are being reconstituted in Web3. Therefore, Jin and Parrott suggest that the Web3 movement should adopt three principles that advance justice and fairness: 1) promote self-determination and agency; 2) reward participation, not just capital; 3) incorporate initiatives that benefit the disadvantaged. Li Jin (11 minutes)
DAOs represent an internet-native governing model that reimagines how to mobilize and coordinate human behavior. They also present an alternative to the corporate structure that hasn’t changed since the 1600s, a structure that has focused on maximizing shareholder value as its primary purpose while concentrating power in the hands of a few. While DAOs are in their early days and still are full of challenges, they present an example for more participatory ownership, more decentralized decision-making, more transparent operations and less corruptible processes. World Economic Forum (6 minutes)
Representation in Web3
There is a diversity and representation imbalance (both racial and gender) in the Web3 movement, which is leading to disparities in those who have power and wealth. There are some promising signs: from an adoption perspective, the Global South is outpacing the west and crypto usage is booming in some communities in the U.S. Twenty-three percent of Black Americans and 17% of Hispanic Americans owned cryptocurrencies, compared with only 11% for white Americans. DAOs are being formed to build political power focused on dismantling systems of oppression (like the UnicornDAO founded by Pussy Riot member Nadya Tolokonnikova, which calls itself "a feminist movement aiming to tackle patriarchy in Web 3" and plans to solely invest in female, non-binary and LGBTQ+ artists in Web 3). But ultimately, there’s a big difference between those who are participating in the application layer (cryptocurrencies, specific DAOs, etc.) and those who are building the base, protocol-layer of Web3. While there is greater diversity at the application layer, the protocol-layer so far is predominantly made up of white men. CoinDesk (5 minutes)
Phoebe Tickell—aka Solarpunk Girl—is “a biologist and systems thinker developing methodologies and approaches suited for a better world.” As an Imagination Activist, Phoebe crosses the cultural boundaries of Web3 and regenerative ideologies. In this podcast, she has a great conversation with Kevin Owocki (who will be speaking at the Web3 Impact Summit). They explore the possible futures for our species if we can expand our awareness, remove the barriers for empathy and ideation, and re-establish our priorities as a society. Phoebe’s work is complementary to the regenerative cryptoeconomics movement, informing how we can build Impact DAOs with positive externalities. Green Pill Podcast (45 minutes)
Two of the biggest barriers to the large-scale adoption of cryptocurrencies as a means of payment are ease-of-use and purchasing-power volatility. So the founders of Celo are building a mobile application that streamlines payments between people, while also going a step further by creating a new cryptocurrency that is backed by carbon offsets, making it a carbon-negative digital currency. Celo serves as one example of a growing sector: ReFi or regenerative finance. Regenerative finance is upgrading the “technology” of fiat currency and programming digital currencies with climate- and social-positive characteristics (putting a price on externalities, charging those who create negative externalities, rewarding those who create positive externalities). Not Boring (18 minutes)
Web3 Impact is a briefing about leveraging Web3 for positive social and environmental impact by Banks Benitez and Kyle Westaway. Photo by mymind.
Did your brilliant friend forward this to you? Subscribe here.