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Farez For Me Podcast Ep 2: Web 3, Decentralization & 3D printed ears!
including a goof up from Coinbase and Alchemy's expansion to Solana.
Hello friends, welcome to episode 2 of the Farez For Me podcast aka newscast aka young man yells into the cloud.
I’m your host Farez Vadsaria, @farezv on the internet.
What the podcast is about
On this podcast I talk about daily news; in the tech, music, cryptocurrency, web3, gaming & general pop culture space in approximately 15 minutes
What today’s episode is about
We define Web 3 and decentralization and why they’re important for humanity. Coinbase makes some poor hiring choices, and there’s 3D printed ears made from human cells? Let’s get into it!
What is Web 3?
But first we need to understand Web 1 and 2.
Web 1: The first form of the internet, called Web 1.0 was mostly static pages. Content that was informational, and meant to be read. Only serious organizations like governments and universities had websites. Its early life coincides with mine, roughly from 1991 to 2004. People only READ Web 1.
Web 2 started around 2004-5 to well now(ish). People not only read but helped create Web 2.0 with social media networks and content creation platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and Twitch.tv for instance. People are now reading and WRITING to aka creating the internet in the Web2 space. But there’s a catch, they don’t own their content. The platforms do, if you read their terms and conditions carefully before you hastily register your account under some pseudonym you think is cool, you will realize they the website you’re posting your cat videos and ice bucket challenges on owns that content.
Let’s think real quick about how we own anything. We require a medium of exchange to trade for goods, usually the currency of the country or continent we reside in. But how do we own things on the internet? Using fiat currencies, such as dollars or rupees results in confusing exchange rate scenarios and these aren’t accepted worldwide. Granted there’s credit cards, but they’re incredibly inefficient. Why they’re inefficient requires a separate episode.
So we need more than just a read and write layer for the internet. We need an ownership layer. A financial layer.
Web 3: Enter the blockchain. This is the underlying infrastructure where you can cryptographically own things on the internet via monetary mediums like cryptocurrencies. Because ownership requires a secure barter system, the un-hackability of blockchains comes in handy via cryptography.
How are blockchains un-hackable?
There’s a lot more to it than we have time for in this episode, but think of a game of telephone. If you whisper something to person A, who then whispers the same to the person next to them, call them B and so on, all the way to the last person in the chain, you expect the last person to hear the same thing person A told person B in the first conversation.
In a real human game of telephone, people often mishear and mis-transcribe down the line.
In blockchains, cryptography ensures this message is always the same as it goes down the chain. This is because, in order for the last person to get the wrong message, the person before it has to, and the one before it and so on. This makes the data on the block-chain (the whispered message in this analogy) IMMUTABLE aka unchangeable.
We’ll go over how blockchains work later but regarding the un-hackability of blockchains, let us dispel myth about crypto scams.
You often hear about crypto scams. Crypto wallets being compromised are the same as bank account credentials or debit card PINs getting compromised. All your money is only as safe as your passwords/pins and in the world of crypto, your private keys. Your master phrase that protects your crypto wallet. More of wallet tech in a separate episode. But basically, don’t click on suspicious links and always be cautious of people trying to gain information when they have no business getting that information.
Most hacks aren’t sophisticated hackers from nation states, but people falling for simple social engineering techniques. Again, there’s a lot here so we’ll have to unpack later in a crypto security focused episode.
Why is Web 3 & decentralization so great?
Web 3.0 will change our world for the better by increasing decentralization, moving the power of computing and data from corporations to the people who own it & dare I say it, making the world a better place [barf] through the token economy.
In order to understand this, let’s clarify where Web2 fell short?
Web 2 helped the first wave of the Creator Economy where the average user was creating content on the internet.
Centralization of data, and network effects helped a handful of corporations such as Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon grow tremendously. To the point where space travel, an activity of nations, is now being done by a handful of bored billionaires. Some, with dick shaped rockets.
Monopolies around this creation of products, mechanisms and systems that collect your data is a huge reason why people distrust the current form of the web which is largely still in its 2.0 form.
By far the worst of it all though is the ad revenue driven business model, which naturally results in a user engagement at all costs approach to product development. I was guilty of this too. I started a couple of video gaming YouTube channels about a decade ago despite not having a deep interest in the process of YouTubing at the time just for the sake of making some ad dollars.
If you heard episode 1, you know my video gaming YouTube career never went anywhere.
“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth.”
It seems Web 2.0 exacerbated humanity's core problems. Lack of trust is rampant.
Power of Decentralization and the Token Economy
With leaking data swaying elections (through targeted ad campaigns), misinformation around public health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the general lack of trust that comes with the advertising and user engagement at all costs model of the internet's current affairs, it's safe to say decentralization was a long time coming.
In fact, the term Decentralization "entered written English in the first third of the 1800s" according to Wikipedia.
In the context of the internet, Decentralization refers to moving control and power of informational and commercial systems away from central entities like governments and corporations, to people. People in the sense of computing entities, like personal phones and computers which may be sitting around doing nothing when not being used.
Imagine hailing a cab from Lyft or Uber these days, where the ride pricing for that specific day, month, year, city and neighborhood is decided by a machine learning model. This ML model and code is run on a centralized (albeit distributed) computing entity owned and operated by a corporation when in reality most of the work is done by the driver who's driving you, and their vehicle which is incurring some wear and tear.
In exchange for their services, the driver gets a fee but the centralized computing entity also gets their cut. In some cases, it's a large cut. In most cases, they're exploitative central entities.
Uber and Lyft drivers strike over pay, gig-work conditions
Ethereum is a decentralized, open-source blockchain with smart contract functionality. Ether is the native cryptocurrency of the platform. Amongst cryptocurrencies, Ether is second only to Bitcoin in market capitalization.
Decentralization, open-source, smart contracts? That's a lot of words, we'll unpack these slowly in separate episodes. For now, just know that smart contract is just a fancy name for code that runs on the Ethereum blockchain.
I like to think of ETH and most cryptocurrency tokens as @CroissantEth on Twitter:
Imagine the same ride sharing transaction where you hail a ride from your decentralized application, that's hosted on a bunch of blockchain servers run by ordinary people like you and me lending their computing power on chain. Here's what happens:
You open crypto ride sharing app
You hail or Limo or a Toyota Prius (because Climate Change is real yo!)
Ride share driver arrives to your pickup location
Ride share driver drops you to your destination
A small amount of Ethereum automatically goes to the application** based on the parameters of the smart contract, in this case perhaps the distance travelled and how long you used the ride share application for
A slightly larger amount of Ethereum goes to the ride share driver, no middle man central entity exploits anyone
Application in this case is really the ordinary people's wallets, for serving you with computing power for steps 1 and 2, **through whatever spare computing means they might have. Whether it's a spare desktop laptop computer, cell phone, tablet, TV, Roomba or smart fridge.
Now imagine if every application ran this way in a decentralized manner. No middle entities, just the internet. For the people, by the people. Powered by blockchains.
In Tech News
Coinbase, you know our most favorite blue app that only shows the color red these days, has announced a hiring freeze and will rescind certain accepted job offers. This seems to be on par with a lot of hiring slowdowns across various industries, especially the tech sector. Turns out all that crazy growth during the pandemic (thanks to a rise in stay at home Netflix and chill mandates) just isn’t sustainable forever.
Rescinding existing job offers is pretty shitty though, you already budgeted for these roles. Just keep the people! They probably already quit their jobs and some of them are on work visas!
In a first clinical trial of this technology, a woman receives a 3D printed ear made from her own cells according to The Verge. Say what?
Yup, a company called 3DBio Therapeutics has successfully transplanted a 3D-printed ear made from human cells onto a woman born with an ear deformity. The process involves taking a biopsy from the patient's ear and pulling out cartilage cells, which are then grown and 3D printed into the shape of an ear.
Damn science; first the COVID vaccines in a few short months, now 3D printed body parts? Always showing off! We’re all thinking about what other parts could be 3D printed right?
Your knees of course!
Alchemy, the popular Web3 SaaS company expands into the Solana ecosystem. That’s great, for when Solana works. Alchemy is a serious powerhouse of a company with a $200 million raise round in February at a $10 billion valuation. For those who don’t know, Alchemy provides a bunch of software to help blockchain developers work faster. Kinda like the AWS of Web3.
The beta version of Alchemy is live on Solana blockchain now with a broader release coming soon.
In Music News
Kendrick Lamar’s new album called Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers is out and I’ve listened to the N95 track but I still need to listen to the rest.
As with all of K-Dot’s music, it’s usually worth a few listens before you really get what’s going on.
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Follow me on Twitter @farezv. Stay tuned & I’ll see you in the next episode.