Mapping the celebrity NFT complex

Max Read created a corkboard diagram mapping the relationship between celebrities—Ashton Kutcher, Paris Hilton, Reese Witherspoon—and NFT grifters. (Read Max)

One of the funny things that the world of web3 seems intent on revealing is the extent to which the boundaries between concepts like “Ponzi scam,” “pyramid scheme,” “multi-level marketing,” “conspiracy,” and “just regular old financial capitalism working as intended” are not really as clear as we might like or hope.

Tim O’Reilly grudgingly defends Web3

Tim O’Reilly: Why it’s too early to get excited about Web3

Web3 is definitely a bubble—but bubbles are often built on top of legitimate expansions of value—the industrial revolution, the internet, etc. It’s too early to tell, says O’Reilly, whether the bullshit of Web3 is built on a solid foundation, or it’s bullshit all the way down.

O’Reilly is more generous than I am. From what I’ve seen, Web3 is designed to exacerbate a fundamental societal problem, rather than mitigate that problem.

The problem is too much concentration of wealth and power in the hands of too few people, leaving a huge portion of the population struggling in poverty. Pharma executives get rich while diabetics ration their insulin so they can pay for food and rent. Real estate magnates get rich while millions struggle with homelessness. Jeff Bezos becomes a billionaire and rides his own private rocket into space, while his employees die in tornados. And so on.

The 1% gets its wealth, not from building anything useful, but by inherited privilege and by playing financial games that generate no value for anyone. And Web3 is just another financial game, played with crypto, blockchain, and NFTs.

Could Web3 result in something revolutionary and useful, like the industrial and internet revolutions did? Maybe. But so far I’ve seen zero sign of it, and plenty of evidence to the contrary.

On the other hand, Tim O’Reilly is smarter than I am so if he’s optimistic probably you should be too!