It’s now been just over a year since NFTs entered my daily life and, while I personally wouldn’t miss them if they disappeared forever, it seems they are here to stay. The cryptoverse—that is, the blockchain-based universe that includes digital currencies, smart contracts and tokens (like NFTs)—is growing.
Instagram is itself trying to get into the NFT game. “[We have] nothing to announce yet but we are definitely actively exploring NFTs and how we can make them more accessible to a broader audience,” said Adam Mosseri, the platform’s chief executive officer, in an Instagram Q&A in December.
Meanwhile, the US billionaire Mark Cuban, one of the entrepreneurs on the TV show Shark Tank (the US version of the UK’s Dragon’s Den), says he is on the lookout for an Instagram-like crypto app to invest in. “We haven’t got that first viral, mainstream, crypto-based application,” Cuban said last month in an interview with the YouTube channel Crypto Banter. “We will. That’s what I’m looking for in terms of investments.”
Last month, the writer and artist Kenny Schachter told me: “I am so fed up with [Instagram], I’m thrilled the NFT community holds it in no regard.” When I asked if he would therefore delete his Instagram account, he replied: “I would, but I rely on it to reach an art audience; sadly, there’s as yet no alternative as effective—algorithms, censorship and all.” So, is there a need for a social media platform for the artistically inclined crypto community?
Schachter says—and fellow arts writer and self-described “connoisseur of crypto”, Dorian Batycka agrees—that the most popular social media platform for crypto creatives is Discord, followed by Twitter. But neither are visual spaces; Twitter is for short text snippets (or trolling) while Discord is like an even less user-friendly version of Reddit. “But that still leaves a large audience dangling,” Schachter admits.
As with all things crypto, a simple question leads to a sticky web of ever more confusing queries. Asking Batycka about whether he thinks a new image-led social media platform for the cryptoverse could soon emerge began with the response “the walls of the digital apartheid are crumbling” and led to a deep discussion about Web 3.0.
What is Web 3.0, you ask? Well, it’s meant to be the next—and third—version of the internet. Currently, Web 2.0 is a social version of the internet that has led to the mass creation of content and data mostly on closed platforms owned by a few powerful corporations—such as Google or Facebook/Instagram—which are subject to the limited control of centralised government regulators. Web 3.0, also known as the decentralised web, is being built on blockchain technology and should be more secure and allow users to control and own their personal data. “I think a lot of people want to see Web 3.0 function as a utility; social media without the social engineering,” Batycka says.
In summary: if a mainstream crypto social media platform is going to exist, then it will probably be on Web 3.0. But then, Batycka concludes, the arrival of Web 3.0 is a bit like waiting for Godot…
Do you ever wish you hadn’t asked?