Many digital inventions and innovations that were ridiculed at first eventually became platforms, utilities, and inextricably embedded into the fabric and infrastructure of our society. Internet in its initial incarnation (web 1.0) transformed how the information flows from one node on the computer network to another. Shift to Web 2.0 transformed the flat web pages into rich and multi-dimensional experiences. It gave birth to platforms, connected networks and devices, and made a lot of people rich. Twitter became the "public square" where debates happen in 140-280 characters at a time; AirBnB connected people and places in whole new ways and unlocking value for property owners and travelers alike; self-driving technology is starting to move humanity from point A to B, increasingly autonomously.
Web 3.0 at the moment is considered a collection of technologies that frequently are criticized as Ponzi scheme, speculation, gambling, house of cards, full of shady characters who take advantage of digital artists and naive gamers. These characters are blamed for interest in unseating more traditional intermediaries such as central banks, stock exchanges, art dealers, in disrupting business models of web 2.0 players, in avoiding paying taxes, bypassing rules and regulations to pad their own pockets.
What's missing across the critical voices is the appreciation of deep fundamental changes of the world order given the principles underpinning the functioning of Web 3.0. Let's examine this through the example of distributed autonomous organizations (DAOs).
Value: Decentralized nature of DAOs disrupts the traditional assumptions that corporations are the only way to create value and orchestrate the interests of stakeholders. DAOs governance is simple, democratic and transparent where tokens are displacing accounting systems, board of directors, hierarchies, and ego-driven power distribution.
Trust: in DAOs the centrally-regulated distribution of resources, information and authority is replaced with diffused decision-making with the core belief that collective decisions have built-in fairness, self-censoring, bias-minimizing, and trust-building. This is accomplished by open-sourcing everything, providing public visibility to all transactions and records, and ensuring immutability of the records through smart contracts, blockchain and other Web 3.0 technology.
Reputation: Even though pseudo-identities of DAO members are designed to create some degree of privacy and anonymity, the radical transparency of actions, conversations, transactions drive a better self-regulation than corporate policies or employee guidebooks ever could. The reputation of DAO members' digital identity is treasured, nurtured, curated as it influences their access to projects, the stand in the community, and ultimately income.
Global Access and Control: Anyone can join a DAO and the barriers or entry are low to none. There is plenty of how-to documentation in pretty understandable language that is collectively translated into multiple languages, with free (Discord) access to an inclusive and supportive community that is willing to help, and with fluidity in joining, leaving or otherwise engaging with any and all DAOs. This is in contrast to traditional approaches that create multiple barriers (background checks, unrealistic job descriptions, credential and experience requirements, recruitment processes, employment contracts etc.) to either filter out those who are not worthy to be employed by the organization, or to keep them in, by making the relationship exclusive and therefore giving the employers the illusion of total control over the talent.
Impact and adaptability: While some projects are called "stunts" (like Constitution DAO, Sätra Brunn DAO) or done purely for the purpose of entertainment or gaming, there is a natural tendency of most DAO projects to focus on solving big hairy problems by tapping into the collective intelligence of the network. The focus is on the impact vs the effort exerted or number of widgets created. Projects are by nature time-bound and outcome-focused which, once attained, render the projects "done" so people can move onto the next problem vs creating structures and systems that will reinforce self-preservation at any costs.
Arts and crafts: DAOs are an attractive environment for people who prefer autonomy, who have unique talents and expertise, are quick learners, and not afraid to fail in pursuit of refining their craft and maximizing their impact. They deeply care about the problem they are set to solve, tend to be self-starters, and are successful at coordinating work and engaging with others. These individuals are forming social collectives that bond people with common interests and goals in a modern version of guilds that then uses DAOs as a mechanism to govern and fund projects to attain those goals.
While DAOs vary widely and the points above are not universal, as the Web 3.0 moves into toddlerhood we can expect growing pains, but the underlying changes in how the work gets done will be difficult to suppress or reverse.
The biggest question traditional organizations will have to grapple with - what's the downside to building some of the Web 3.0 principles into their existing ways of operating?