W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-credentials@w3.org > January 2022

Re: Web3 First Impressions by Moxie Marlinspike (was: Re: Ideals meet Implementations - Blockchains, NFTs, Decentralization, Oh My!)

From: Juan Caballero <caballerojuan@pm.me>
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2022 00:07:37 +0000
To: public-credentials@w3.org
Message-ID: <2600516d-e0ee-faa6-fb9b-3ad2ff085447@pm.me>
Well-put, both of you.

I recently read a twitter thread by an academic who abandoned a book-length monograph on O'Reilly, with multiple chapters on the vicissitudes of what O'Reilly kept trying to make Web 2.0 "mean" and what it ended up meaning after billions of dollars of VC and a decade-long hype cycle's worth of marketing and spin had been applied to it. Web3 is likely to be an even bigger, uglier, stupid semantic tug-of-war for some time. I've already heard people start to distinguish between:
- "narrow" Web3 (EVM-centric, smart-contract-enabled, chain-centric web business and communities)
- "economic" Web3 (more libertarian and/or Georgist-oriented, currency-centric, BTC-centric)
- "social" Web3 (the non-monetary aspects of legal, political, and social organization via decentralized and/or crypto-enabled networks)
- "broad" Web3 (including crypto-powered P2P networks like secure scuttlebutt, PGP, DIDs and non-DID SCIDs, etc)

Throwing an adjective in front probably won't be enough clarification to have a meaningful and civil conversation for many years.

Anyways, I hope we can keep the CCG list a DMZ in this rapidly-escalating culture war, before "Web3" becomes the next "Critical Race Studies" or "Satanic Panic".

Thanks,
__juan

On 1/24/2022 1:16 PM, Drummond Reed wrote:

> Manu, I just wanted to say that this is a gem of a message, and I agree with your points 1000%.
>
> What I particularly appreciate is how carefully and artfully articulate how to separate the wheat from the chaff—and your lack of inhibition at calling the chaff just that.
>
> The irony is that the spat of all these "what's wrong with Web3" articles from prominent authors just end out reinforcing the public's perception that Web3 is in fact a big deal, and that they better pay attention to it (just like with "cloud" and "mobile" and — at one point in the not-terribly-distant past — "Web" ;-)
>
> To the extent that "Web3" in its most abstract sense is about how the democratization of cryptography will shift power and change the status quo across a number of markets/industries/products, there is indeed some real truth (and momentum) to it. And DIDs and VCs are indeed key building blocks for whatever lies on the other side of that shift.
>
> Best,
>
> =Drummond
>
> On Sun, Jan 23, 2022 at 8:56 AM Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com> wrote:
>
>> On 1/18/22 12:06 PM, John, Anil wrote:
>>> Given the continuous discussions around centralization/de-centralization in
>>> our community, I found this essay by Moxie Marlinspike …
>>>
>>> https://moxie.org/2022/01/07/web3-first-impressions.html
>>
>> Given that the original thread seems to have been re-directed to a discussion
>> about delegation, I'm re-titling the thread to focus on Moxie's article as it
>> relates to DIDs and VCs.
>>
>> For the record, I share much of Moxie's scepticism, but don't let it get in
>> the way of important nuance (which he does) or trying to fix the known and
>> emerging problems (which we've known about for years).
>>
>> Just a few thoughts off of the top of my head:
>>
>> NFTs are an Easy Target
>> -----------------------
>>
>> Picking something that has appeared in the last 2 years and then talking about
>> all the ways it is flawed might be a personally rewarding rant, but it's just
>> as easy as picking on "going to mars", "speech to text", and "air taxis" was
>> when those initiatives were in their infancy.
>>
>> For example, Moxie writes: "What surprised me about the standards was that
>> there’s no hash commitment for the data located at the URL."
>>
>> Yeah, that's clearly bad and has to be fixed... also, the industry has known
>> about this issue for over a decade and technical solutions exist to address it:
>>
>> https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/html/draft-sporny-hashlink-07
>>
>> https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/Security/Subresource_Integrity
>>
>> Expert Writes Scathing Review of Hello World Example
>> ----------------------------------------------------
>>
>> There seems to be a trend lately where it's popular for technologists that
>> built systems for Web 2.0 to criticize web3 (a term which I find just as
>> useful as "Web 2.0", which is to say: not very useful at all). Here's another
>> one about how terrible web3 is from Alex Russell:
>>
>> https://infrequently.org/2022/01/washed-up/
>>
>> Both of them have relevant opinions, but their commentary is very much from a:
>> "I read about/wrote a Hello World example, and based on that, here's where I
>> think that entire industry is going."
>>
>> In other words, I take those sorts of articles for what they are: the writings
>> of someone that's technically competent in their area of expertise commenting
>> on an area that they don't have much expertise in. Sure, they may have some
>> useful insights, and Moxie does, but they're not the folks working on the
>> day-to-day problems to improve the state of an emerging industry. Their
>> opinions tend to lack the sort of nuance that come from folks like Vitalik:
>>
>> https://www.reddit.com/r/ethereum/comments/ryk3it/my_first_impressions_of_web3/hrrz15r/
>>
>> In other words, their commentary on web3 is about as useful as my commentary
>> on browser engine architecture... which is: not very useful.
>>
>> How This Relates to DIDs and VCs
>> --------------------------------
>>
>> Ultimately, Moxie ends with two take-aways, only one of which applies to DIDs
>> and VCs:
>>
>> 1. We should accept the premise that people will not run their own servers by
>> designing systems that can distribute trust without having to distribute
>> infrastructure.
>>
>> This is why we're putting effort into things like data models that distribute
>> trust and the VC API, which can be used by making calls against a centralized
>> service provider, or against your own servers. That Moxie isn't aware that
>> there is "client-server interface work" going on is too bad, but that's the
>> reality; he's just not aware of it.
>>
>> DIDs are largely about using cryptography to distribute trust; they are a way
>> of publishing your public keys regardless of which network you're on (which
>> allows us to temporarily avoid the useless debate over which network is better
>> until the useful ones gain traction in the market).
>>
>> VCs are largely about using cryptography to distribute trust; they are a way
>> of consuming statements made by an issuer that you trust for the purposes of
>> the statements that they're making. You don't need a blockchain or web3 for
>> them to work. If web3 provides advantages to DIDs and VCs, they're additive
>> instead of either/or zero-sum benefits. You can run DIDs and VCs on
>> centralized and decentralized infrastructure, no need to run your own server
>> (unless you are in the small minority of people that want to).
>>
>> 2. We should try to reduce the burden of building software.
>>
>> *laughs in Software Engineering*
>>
>> Having started my "career" as a teenager crawling through buildings pulling
>> power and hand-terminating both power and network cabling for local area
>> networks while not brushing up against the asbestos in the ceiling, hand
>> building server clusters, designing battery backup systems, and then writing
>> software for said clusters all the way to helping to design, build, and then
>> manage the software infrastructure for multiple organizations... I feel safe
>> saying that the entire IT industry seems to be dedicated to this principle,
>> and things are way better than they were two decades ago, and better than they
>> were a decade ago.
>>
>> I find that Moxie felt the need to point it out just as amusing as if someone
>> were to point out that "As humans, we need to focus on breathing if we are to
>> survive."
>>
>> In any case, just my $0.02. This recent round of web3 bashing by "experts"
>> feels more like a platform that people are using to either virtue signal (at
>> worst), or make a general point they've been wanting to make for a while (at
>> best). I'm not sure that they're really helping to move any particular
>> industry forward.
>>
>> -- manu
>>
>> --
>> Manu Sporny - https://www.linkedin.com/in/manusporny/
>> Founder/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
>> News: Digital Bazaar Announces New Case Studies (2021)
>> https://www.digitalbazaar.com/
Received on Tuesday, 25 January 2022 11:20:39 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : Thursday, 24 March 2022 20:25:28 UTC