Web3 Weekly #4
Hey, hey, welcome to the fourth issue of your weekly digest of Web3. Weekly Web3 rumours and tidbits are becoming longer stories as the weekly topics are getting more and more controversial and the author of this column – more involved and interested. By the way, if you are new to the topic – we’ve got you.
And yes, biggest news this week is that the Queen Elisabeth II of England has passed away, so God save the Queen, and check out the NFT tribute project by QueenE, an Ethereum-based NFT project – holding its final Gen1 artwork auction as a tribute.
The very last gen1 QueenE (#73) is auctioning at https://t.co/0JCiZ6dCd4
Mint is closed after that.
— QueenE DAO (@QueenEDAO) September 8, 2022
And now, let’s move to weekly updates of BTC, ETH, and our precious AR.
Market conditions and updates
Looks like the market is pretty stable at the moment. This week, on Friday morning, September 9, Bitcoin’s price is 21,490.60 USD – on the rise from the previous week, when it was $20,064.22 on the 2nd of September. Still, a year ago, it was 46,300.00 USD, so the fall is obvious.
Ethereum’s (ETH) price has even risen a bit to 1,731.69 USD (compared to $1,587.50 on the previous week). Well, of course, it has decreased from 3,419.00 USD last year, but nevertheless. At least, the prices are more stable than the previous month, when it was in a constant drop – although a slow one.
And our sweet, sweet AR is also on its way up, as it was 11.09 USD on Saturday morning, one dollar higher than a week ago – although much less than a year ago.
What’s happening in Web3
Snapchat Disbands Their Web3 Team
Let’s begin with social media news. Previous week we had Reddit in the spotlight, this week it’s Snapchat, but the news aren’t that great. As CoinDesk wrote on September 2, the social media company Snap has reported its lowest growth numbers in five years, so they have decided to restructure its staff, laying off 20% of its workforce and disbanding all its Web3 team with Jake Sheinman, co-founder of Snap’s Web3 team, in front. Here’s his tweet on September 1.
After ~4 years at @Snap, today is my last day. As a result of the company restructure, decisions were made to sunset our web3 team. The same team that I co-founded last year with other pirates who believed in digital ownership and the role that AR can play to support that.
— Jake Sheinman (@jakeryanshein) August 31, 2022
“The layoffs are expected to hit Snap’s augmented reality (AR) Spectacles team particularly hard,” writes CoinDesk. Maybe you remember, but the Snapchat’s Spectacles AR glasses launched in 2016, but, as you can tell, it’s not like it’s become a big thing now.
Also, Snapchat had plans for using NFTs as Snapchat AR filters, but for the moment, this path is unclear. As commented on Social Media Today, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Snap is heading away from Web3 at all, as they could still facilitate most of these projects via its existing AR tools and collaborations. This decision might just mean that they don’t need a special Web3 team for that. Another reason might be that it’s still not a very clear situation with NFT – as the article states, “what the sector needs is more regulation and more defined rules around the sale of digital artworks to offer more protection”.
Ethereum is ready for the merge while Vitalik is still immersed in finding ways to reform ENS pricing mechanism
On 9th September the last shadow fork before the merge was successfully implemented. It seems that there are no foreseeable technical difficulties for the actual merge. The single thing that could be expected will be just some plain old emotion-driven volatility, as Alexander Höptner, the CEO of BitMEX stated in an article for Cointelegraph. During all this time, Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, appeared more concerned about the fate of the five letter ENS domains. in the last five days, he tweeted twice about the merge, while the ENS-related tweets represented double the amount. It started with this poll:
What is a fair price that someone should have to pay to register and unconditionally guarantee ownership of a 5-letter .eth domain for 100 years?
— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) September 4, 2022
At this point, the reason for his inquiry was still uncertain. His next tweet made his intentions on the subject even more unclear. Probably the choice of weighing the price in “lambos” didn’t help.
OK wow, half of yall literally think that someone should be able to lock down every five-letter word in the Scrabble dictionary (which includes exotic stuff like "ZORIL") for a hundred years for less than the price of four lambos. https://t.co/2AWSR0qkQh
— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) September 5, 2022
Finally, he published a blog article that revealed what it was all about. Vitalik is trying to find a new mechanism that should curb the speculators’ will to squat until they squeeze a high price from an asset that is fairly cheap on the primary market and that will bring more revenue to the initial issuer, respectively ENS DAO. Why is this relevant? A debate about a name service that has fairly few use cases? Well, it has to do with trying to find better mechanics for basically any Web3 product in the long run. Right now, early adopters are reaping the most benefits, and crypto sceptics are trying to advocate that this represents the sign of a Ponzi scheme (to be honest, it seems that until now, early adopters have been rewarded in every medium…ask Apple’s early investors). So, in a sense, this debate is bigger than ENS, and while Vitalik stated his view, there is still a lot of space to further explore the idea.
Even in the land of the bear, unicorns are still spotted
Mysten Labs, the company behind Sei blockchain, was just evaluated at 2 billion $ and closed 300 million $ on its Series B. News like that could be considered odd if you are considering the success of Web3 only in relation to the price of Bitcoin. The truth is that with or without hype, public blockchains are here to stay and put their imprint on the fabric of society. Sei wants to become the first Layer 1 blockchain dedicated to DeFi, so the stakes are pretty high from the beginning.
The cherry on top of the frosting is that they will use Arweave storage through KYVE, as we already reported. Once again, it’s proven that one of the best ways to store historical blockchain data for fast Layer 1 solutions is Arweave.
The first M&A marketplace for Web3
Merger and Acquisition marketplace – maybe it sounds a little bit pretentious for Web3 standards, but it represented something that Web3 needed nevertheless. As you can find in this article, Aquire.Fi identified a gap and quickly filled it up. Remember the acquisition of Larva Labs by Yuga Labs? Yeah, that moment when the creators of BAYC (Bored Ape Yacht Club) bought the entire IP of Larva Labs, represented by the iconic Crypto Punks and Meebits. It was a deal done behind closed doors with nobody outside a very exclusive circle knowing about it. This was the gap that Aquire.Fi identified: that acquisitions and mergers were quite opaque in a space that is proud of its openness and inclusion. The newly created marketplace aims to change that:
So far, there has not been a retail marketplace or ecosystem where:
Investors can grow their wealth by acquiring crypto companies or IPs,
Investors of all sizes can have access to the same opportunities,
DeFi investors can diversify into traditional investments using crypto
On top of those new opportunities for small and big investors alike, the venture will come with the perk of helping everybody navigate the perilous sea of boredom that has only one name: regulation. As Web3 expands, more products like this will appear that will ease the life of both already established crypto investors and traditional investors that are now somehow afraid to enter the space without a proper guide. Let’s just say that the days of DYOR (do your own research) will gradually fade into oblivion.
This week in NFT news is laced with some controversial topics, from terrorism to modern world slavery. How NFTs can be used in bad ways? Let’s look closer at the news, starting with alerting ones.
Daesh could look to NFTs to spread propaganda, experts warn
Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. When NFTs started to be advertised as some kind of uncensorable tickets that could be sold in an unregulated market, having a file attached to them, let’s say that the genie was already out of the bottle. Long story short, according to NFT Now, some ISIS propaganda, like the terrorist organization, not the goddess, was minted as NFTs. The content was found on Rarible and Opensea – two of the biggest NFT marketplaces, and has been delisted.
There are two different sides of the same coin here, according to the above-mentioned article: some experts are afraid that NFTs could be used as a way to fund terror, while others are afraid that NFTs can be used by those organizations “as a way to make content indestructible”. Theoretically, it can do both, but there are some catches:
- There are almost zero chances for a person that will buy a terrorist-affiliated NFT to remain anonymous for the counter-terror institutions, given the nature of the blockchain transactions. To put it simply: there is a huge chance that an individual that’s dealing with crypto interacted at some point with a centralised exchange or another entity that requires KYC (know your customer) while transferring funds from/to their custodial wallet. So yeah, crypto is not at all that anonymous avenue where everybody is conducting shady business without any repercussions.
- There is a single solution that has the ability to make large chunks of content indestructible, you know it, we’re talking about Arweave. The majority of the NFTs nowadays are using a plethora of storage providers for their files, with many using IPFS or even Web2 cloud solutions, solutions that are by no means immutable or permanent. Ok, but what if they were trying to use Arweave itself? Well, everybody has to understand that making a file indestructible is not at all the same thing as making a file permanently accessible. Even if it could find its way on the blockweave, content like this can be made unretrievable at the gateway level, a measure even more efficient than delisting an NFT.
To summarise, terrorists can try to launch a go fund me campaign, it is almost the same as trying to sell NFTs when it comes to anonymity, and can try to make their content indestructible, it will be there 100 years after they are gone for future scholars to study it, but it probably won’t be available next week as a mean of propaganda.
Concerns About Exploitive Future Of NPCs
On September 7, Decrypt published an article on the statement by Mikhail Kossar, a member of WolvesDAO, who said, as quoted in Rest of World, “With the cheap labour of a developing country, you could use people in the Philippines as NPCs (“non-playable characters”), real-life NPCs in your game.”
He continues further that “They could “just populate the world, maybe do a random job or just walk back and forth, fishing, telling stories, a shopkeeper, anything is really possible.”
As the author of Decrypt article stated, this fantasy is comparable to WestWorld but less fun. At least for those described as “cheap labour”. The idea itself of making real-life people across the globe roleplay as automaton-like NPCs is dehumanising. One thing is participating in roleplay servers, where some servers have waitlists of hopefuls wanting to get in – for free. “When it comes to paid metaverse employment, there’s also a whole world of virtual jobs in games like ‘Roblox’,” Decrypt writes. “But some argue that ‘Roblox’’s underage creators are being exploited and don’t take home the wages they deserve,” it adds.
The context of all this was the main story on how Minecraft-based NFT game called Critterz, which enjoyed enough success in its early days that some players began hiring others to help build their in-game ownings in exchange for a cut of the profits, for example, so-called Big Chief, who had “his team” made up mainly of kids in the Philippines to collect building materials for a casino. It sounds nice and cool, and legit enough, but, as PC gamer article comments, it wasn’t just a play, as the underaged team members were working full working days to recover the costs of NFT purchases. Big Chief doesn’t see this as exploitation of the disadvantaged but as an opportunity for poor people of Philippines. The story continued with already quoted ideas from Kossar, who sees the future where rich westerners will be able to use Third world citizens to their own good.
PC Gamer’s article ends with this: “As long as real money is involved, there will always be people willing to pursue it, and there will always be others eager to take advantage of them.” Make your own conclusions, OK?
Malaysian POS Issues Official NFT Stamp
Meanwhile, Malaysia, neighbours of mentioned Philippines, launches country’s first NFT stamp. Which other countries have issued official crypto stamps? Well, all United Nations, that have their own cryptostamp collection, as well as Croatia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, Marshall Islands, Netherlands (Coming 2022), Switzerland and Thailand. Crypto-philatelists, Malaysian stamp might be another gem for your collection!