Orawan Limnalong is the founder of MUS Labs.
Ask any founder in Web3 how they would describe the industry, and you’ll probably get this answer: it’s fast. Whether they chasing the next blue chip on the investor side or figuring out the best coin strategy on the builder side, everyone is tired.
To me, this unsustainable pace is a symptom of a deeper problem, much like the growing Web3 wealth gap I wrote about in my previous article. My theory is that at the core of the always-on culture associated with non-fungible tokens is a diversity, equality and inclusiveness (DEI) issue.
It’s not uncommon for people to want more of their lives. Whether through competition or collaboration, many are always looking for that always elusive upward social mobility. Web2 enabled ordinary people to become creators, allowing many to climb a few steps up the social ladder. Ironically, the same platforms that built the Web2 creator ecosystem have consolidated power to the point that few can make the transition from middle class to elite. For example, YouTube takes 45% of creators’ ad revenue, according to Business Insider. For example, many have pinned their hopes on decentralization. There are so many opportunities to get it right with Web3.
But there are many things we are still doing wrong with Web3. And as a result, everyone is just squeezing it out.
The meritocracy paradox
in a article published by the Princeton University Press, the author states that we live in the illusion that hard work and dedication is all it takes to make it and we fail “the coincidental windfall of external events.” He continues, “a growing body of research in psychology and neuroscience suggests that believing in meritocracy makes people more selfish, less self-critical, and even more prone to discriminate.”
Yale Law School Professor Daniel Markovits argues that meritocracy has caused more inequality than it has eliminated.
So here we are, creating systems that reward hard work and talent (only), only to find they make things worse. No wonder so many in the Web3 space work double the time without seeing the desired results.
The anonymity paradox
In 2014, Harvard College was charged for allegedly discriminating against Asian-American candidates through its race-conscious admissions policy. The prosecutors wanted to “ban Harvard and other colleges from considering — or even knowing about — the race of its candidates.”
What does not seem to have been considered are the barriers facing disadvantaged minorities often making them do worse when only objective measures such as grade average and extracurricular classes are considered for admission. in a American Civil Liberties Union podcast, Jin Hee Lee, senior deputy director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, suggested that without affirmative action, the result would be a less diverse student population. In 2019, a district court ruled in favor of Harvard’s policy.
In Web3, where people can hide behind their public wallet address, this can be a barrier to inclusivity. We must be aware that we do not lose that human element and hide things that are an integral part of our identities.
If meritocracy and anonymity are not the answer to DEI problems, then what is?
Rethink how value is created
In the metaverse, the resources required to create digital assets are quite different. You need ideas, talent, relationships and time. A digital assets can live on and generate income after they are created. The pie gets bigger as long as you show up.
This is exactly what some creators need and why we need to rethink how value is created. Web3 empowers creators to build brands by bringing talented and passionate people together to make something impressive happen – and to create sustainable projects with engaged communities. One of the projects that strikes me as doing just this is the Shinsei Galverse project. Even after being sold out, it still goes on. In fact, the traction is even stronger now that the project is covered by multiple news outlets in Japan. The founders also have been in contact with other makers of iconic intellectual property outside the Web3 world. Most importantly, the community of the project is highly involved. In my opinion, sustainability is one of the best ways to measure value, but it all starts with having access to non-traditional resources.
Change the incentive scheme for web3 builders
In the book Why nations fail?, the authors discuss the importance of creating systems that reward hard work and talent. By providing incentives, we can harness people’s skills and efforts and generate innovation.
I think what’s happened in modern society is that we’ve focused on an extremely limited way of valuing the time we spend on work. As said at the top this Ezra Klein Show podcast, “Money is corrosive to other values. So the forms of appreciation and status that used to exist in many different dimensions are all consumed by how much someone has paid.”
In my opinion, Web3 needs equally elaborate fee structures. Rather than focusing on the capital-raising aspect on the creator side or the lucrative side of the collector, we should think about the non-monetary value we can derive from participating in an NFT project. I believe the deep relationships you build through a launch really matter. Since Web3 is touted as the property economics blur the boundaries between maker and collector. With the mindset of being a co-creator, you work toward a common goal and money becomes secondary. Vision comes first.
An NFT project that has caught my attention for successfully creating this type of ecosystem is: 9GAG’s Memeland Project. 9GAG’s expertise in creating community-sourced content, albeit with the onset of Web2, shines through, and it shows through its hyper-engaged community. People seem to be there not only for the NFT, tokens or products, but also for the creators. In fact, the project’s mission is to “empower creators by connecting Web2 and Web3 communities.” This vision helps 9GAG drive the adoption of new technology naturally, not only among the community, but also the world.
I will never tire of discussing the importance of diversity, equality and inclusion. Web3 is in an early stage, so the fundamentals are still very malleable. The infamous grind culture is something we shouldn’t just accept as part of NFT life. Now we’re in a bear market, I hope founders and investors take this time to reassess things and build better.