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Book part
Publication date: 1 July 2024

Quinn DuPont

This paper critically evaluates the political economy of Web3 and offers a neo-institutional model to explain qualitative observations of contemporary digital social movements. By…

Abstract

This paper critically evaluates the political economy of Web3 and offers a neo-institutional model to explain qualitative observations of contemporary digital social movements. By starting to develop a sociological model of Web3 rooted in micro-organizational practices, including trust mediation and social coproduction, this paper re-evaluates assumptions of scarcity, economic value, and social belonging. It concludes by introducing a novel research program to study digital polycentric governance that focuses on community self-governance of digital common pool resources (DCPRs) and looks forward to empirical research using on-chain datasets from decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).

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Defining Web3: A Guide to the New Cultural Economy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83549-600-8

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Defining Web3: A Guide to the New Cultural Economy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83549-600-8

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Book part
Publication date: 1 July 2024

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Defining Web3: A Guide to the New Cultural Economy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83549-600-8

Book part
Publication date: 1 July 2024

Bill Maurer

Drawing on anthropological perspectives, this paper argues that the fungibility of objects and the ability to exchange them for money is a defining characteristic of capitalist…

Abstract

Drawing on anthropological perspectives, this paper argues that the fungibility of objects and the ability to exchange them for money is a defining characteristic of capitalist markets. In contrast, other systems of reckoning value emphasize the unique relationships within which objects are embedded and their inability to stand for just any other thing. This paper further highlights the role of slavery in the origins and continued dominance of capitalism and the existence of alternative systems such as cooperativism and sharing that are often overlooked. This paper then examines the Saussurean and Peircean semiotics underlying the concept of money as an abstract sign and argues that non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in blockchain technology contradict these theories by emphasizing pure uniqueness and rendering objects non-transformable or inconvertible. This paper concludes by warning against the dangers of a future where fungibility is absent, as it is necessary for life and the generation of new and different possibilities.

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Defining Web3: A Guide to the New Cultural Economy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83549-600-8

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Book part
Publication date: 1 July 2024

Paul Dylan-Ennis

A Web3 lifeworld consists of an imaginary and a shared commons. A Web3 imaginary is shown to include most, if not all, of the following: (i) the stated goal or purpose of the…

Abstract

A Web3 lifeworld consists of an imaginary and a shared commons. A Web3 imaginary is shown to include most, if not all, of the following: (i) the stated goal or purpose of the community, (ii) the behavioral norms, (iii) the lore or history, and (iv) what is opposed. A typical Web3 commons is shown to involve three elements: hash (technical), bash (social) and cash (finance). When changes come in Web3, the response is enacted using an available lever from the hash, bash, cash model of decentralized organization, but the response must not be in friction with the community’s imaginary, or it will most likely grind to a halt. Effective response to change becomes part of the Web3 lifeworld’s toolkit.

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Defining Web3: A Guide to the New Cultural Economy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83549-600-8

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Book part
Publication date: 1 July 2024

J. P. Vergne

Web3’s raison d’être is decentralization. Quite problematically, however, few industry analysts can articulate what “decentralization” really entails; whether it differs at all…

Abstract

Web3’s raison d’être is decentralization. Quite problematically, however, few industry analysts can articulate what “decentralization” really entails; whether it differs at all from the notion of “distribution,” and how either construct can be measured with observable data to enable a meaningful analysis of the industry’s core promise. Instead, Web3 is akin to a decentralization theater in which archetypical characters, who resonate with the likes of Hamlet and Godot, enact decentralization based on fictitious narratives. After critically reassessing these narratives about decentralization, this paper offers a fresh perspective to evaluate, less theatrically and hopefully more rigorously, future claims about “being decentralized.” I argue that the crucial issue lurking behind the decentralization narrative is the dispersion of authority within blockchain platforms, which consists of two fundamental dimensions, namely the dispersion of information and of decision-making. The value proposition of Web3 will not be taken seriously until the industry can provide reliable indicators of authority dispersion and demonstrate that the latter affects strategic outcomes for blockchain platforms, including innovation, growth, and value creation.

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Defining Web3: A Guide to the New Cultural Economy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83549-600-8

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Book part
Publication date: 1 July 2024

Donncha Kavanagh

Web3 reflects and instantiates the “ludic turn” of the last few decades, where identity is increasingly forged through play and games rather than through work. The ludic is…

Abstract

Web3 reflects and instantiates the “ludic turn” of the last few decades, where identity is increasingly forged through play and games rather than through work. The ludic is especially evident in the Bitcoin ecosystem, where the elements of the carnivalesque – play, anarchy, dissimulation, vulgar language, and excessive consumption – are pervasive. These elements may also be divined in Web3, though they are less ubiquitous, which suggests that Web3 is perhaps best seen as a gentrified carnival.

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Defining Web3: A Guide to the New Cultural Economy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83549-600-8

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Book part
Publication date: 1 July 2024

Tara Merk and Rolf Hoefer

Like an online carnival, Web3 aims to turn the internet’s social order upside down. Unlike a carnival, Web3 wants to be more than a weeklong party and morph into a legitimate…

Abstract

Like an online carnival, Web3 aims to turn the internet’s social order upside down. Unlike a carnival, Web3 wants to be more than a weeklong party and morph into a legitimate substitute for the internet’s status quo. Web3’s secret sauce for upheaval is decentralized, permissionless technologies, in particular blockchain technologies. In this exploratory paper, we draw on the concept of institutional isomorphism to muse about Web3’s future and to highlight the inherent tension between striving to be different from Web2 yet wanting to become more legitimate. We argue that technical merits are hardly enough to realize Web3’s high aspirations. Regulatory pressures, rampant uncertainty, and the professional norms of Web3 participants drive the space to adopt many of the organizational structures and practices that it aims to displace. To maintain divergence from Web2, despite isomorphic pressures, we suggest that it is important to increase the overall diversity of people in Web3, to double down on the value of decentralization, and to reaffirm Web3’s commitment to creatively re-imagine various institutional arrangements.

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Defining Web3: A Guide to the New Cultural Economy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83549-600-8

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Book part
Publication date: 1 July 2024

Eric Alston

This paper argues that a coordinated network of independent producers is crucial in creating an immersive metaverse. A digital asset layer that is beyond the control of any single…

Abstract

This paper argues that a coordinated network of independent producers is crucial in creating an immersive metaverse. A digital asset layer that is beyond the control of any single counterparty, along with reliable definition and exchange of fungible and non-fungible digital objects, is important for individual digital creative expression to flourish. Non-fungible digital objects are essential in creating an asset layer for a metaverse that approximates the full range of independent human creative expression. The development of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) alongside cryptocurrencies, governed by distributed and transparent control, can create an intermediation layer that is separate from the control of a platform intermediary.

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Defining Web3: A Guide to the New Cultural Economy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83549-600-8

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 1 July 2024

Geert Lovink

This paper explores the rise of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and their impact on the art world. By examining the esthetics and political economy of crypto art and its relationship…

Abstract

This paper explores the rise of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and their impact on the art world. By examining the esthetics and political economy of crypto art and its relationship to online pop culture, it questions the value of NFTs and whether they truly represent a source of income for artists or simply contribute to the speculative nature of crypto investments. This paper concludes by asserting that the world of crypto art is dominated by right-wing libertarians and black box algorithms, and that a radical redistribution of wealth is necessary to address the issues of power, race, and gender within the industry.

Details

Defining Web3: A Guide to the New Cultural Economy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83549-600-8

Keywords

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