From looking up to looking straight, how I became disenchanted with Web3, the personal experience of an ordinary Web3 pa

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Original author: @LiamWang 88 Web3 independent researcher

I first heard about and participated in blockchain in late 2017 and early 2018. At that time, I was working in a large Internet company. Thanks to the inherent advantages of Internet companies in trying new technologies first in their business and the relatively strong programmer atmosphere, I had the opportunity to get in touch with blockchain relatively early. At that time, I often hung out with a group of programmer friends, and the topics they talked about most were: Bitcoin, mining, ICO, air coins, etc.

I don’t come from a technical background, so what they said was completely confusing to me. But because I come from a content background, my intuition tells me that blockchain is a very different technology.

So, I started to read the Bitcoin white paper and the Ethereum white paper. I remember very clearly that one night I read the English version of the Bitcoin white paper 10 times and didn’t understand it. I only remembered the title: Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. This title was deeply engraved in my mind, and my intuitive feeling was three words: Awesome!

This is how it all began. Or, to use a popular phrase on the Internet: the gears of fate began to turn.

What’s interesting is that although I started to understand blockchain from Bitcoin, I followed my friend’s advice and started playing with air coins. The result is predictable, and I couldn’t escape the fate of being a leeks.

So at that time, my attitude towards blockchain was very contradictory. On the one hand, like many people, I thought it was a new scam to make money – in fact, at that time, it was indeed such a situation; on the other hand, I felt that at least the concept of Bitcoin was very new and foreshadowed some possibilities in the future.

From 2019 to 2020, I did not participate much in this industry. I just understood the development of this industry as a learner and observer. Until now, I still think that learner and observer are the most suitable labels for me.

2021: Immerse yourself in the beauty of Web3

If 2017-2018 was a skimpy experience of blockchain, then 2021 can be said to be a year of in-depth personal experience.

That year, I worked at a US dollar fund. Thanks to the platform advantages of VC work, I had more opportunities to learn about the development of cutting-edge technologies and emerging fields. Coincidentally, it was also this year that the crypto market ushered in a bull market, and Web3 replaced blockchain and began to become a new narrative.

If I recall that bull market, what comes to my mind immediately? There are several things that stand out to me:

  • In early 2021, Bitcoin reached a market cap of $1 trillion for the first time.

  • Large companies like Tesla have disclosed that they hold Bitcoin.

  • An NFT work by artist Beeple, Everydays: The first 5000 days, was sold for $69 million.

  • Basketball superstar Stephen Curry paid $180,000 for a BAYC NFT. Yes, you read that right, $180,000.

  • El Salvador has passed a bill making Bitcoin legal tender.

  • DAO — a new social organization model for Web3 is beginning to emerge.

Looking back now, the overall mood of the Web3 industry that I have personally experienced in 2021 was very high. This high mood is reflected in:

1. Investment and entrepreneurship are booming

Because I am in the VC industry, I have many opportunities to communicate with investors and entrepreneur friends. Throughout the process, Web3 is always a topic that will not be absent. At that time, I saw many investors start to leave the traditional investment field and transform into Web3.

It’s not just investors, it’s the same for entrepreneurs. In traditional VC investment, senior talents from large companies are often the first choice for investment. But in that year, I also saw many outstanding talents from large companies begin to flock to the Web3 field to start businesses.

When I asked investors and entrepreneurs who have invested in Web3 why they chose Web3, a common answer was: the Web3 industry is like the Internet in the 1990s, a blue ocean, and the sooner you occupy the ecological niche, the more industry dividends you can get.

2. Stir-fry hot

In Web3, speculation is a common verb. Especially in a bull market, speculation is indispensable.

  • Speculating in cryptocurrencies, especially speculating in contracts. If you look at the K-line alone, the growth of the entire crypto market in 2021 is very sharp. So at that time on social media, you could always see many people showing off their huge earnings and sharing their experiences on how to make money easily in the crypto market. Such information is available almost every day, and seeing too much will give people an illusion – that it is particularly easy to make money in this industry. No matter what your professional background or education is, if you leverage in a bull market and are bold enough, everyone can make money easily.

  • Speculating on NFTs. In 2021, the most talked-about thing is undoubtedly NFTs. In particular, BAYCs popularity has converted a large number of Web2 users. At that time, the greatest value of NFTs, in addition to hype, was as an avatar. If your social media avatar is a bored ape or a CryptoPunk, then congratulations, many people will regard you as an OG or a particularly powerful person, because people who usually own such NFTs are either worth a lot of money or have a good reputation. It can be said that NFTs very specifically satisfy the satisfaction of showing off in human nature. So at that time, many people around me were speculating on NFTs, especially some young friends. Since many NFT castings are not based on Eastern Time Zone 8, if you want to cast an NFT that you like and has a high price speculation, you have to stay up all night to wait. At that time, the industry jokingly called NFTs small pictures. As for the behavior of speculating on NFTs, there is an industry jargon: Have you worked hard today?

3. DAO is in hot practice

Until now, I still think that the emergence of the word DAO in 2021 is a very valuable thing. Because the word DAO means decentralized autonomous organization. Compared with the speculation of cryptocurrencies and NFTs, the tokenization speculation of DAO is relatively less, and it is more about exploring an organizational form that is completely different from the traditional organizational model. Such an organizational form has three very important characteristics: ① Decentralization, there is no so-called distinction between leaders and subordinates; ② Collaboration based on consensus and democratic rules of procedure; ③ Remote work is possible, and tasks are completed through online collaboration.

Of course, like the path of many things, DAO also first became popular abroad. The well-known DAOs at that time included: Bankless DAO (aims to promote large-scale application and social consensus of a truly de-banked financial system), Pleasr DAO (composed of digital artists and collectors to acquire culturally significant works), ConstitutionDAO (raising funds to bid for a copy of the U.S. Constitution), etc. Later, DAO organizations also took root in China and some experimental DAO organization projects emerged.

Just like the hype of NFT, young people are the main group participating in DAO organizations. They are more receptive to new things, and many young people at that time called themselves digital nomads, and organizations like DAO are more suitable for their digital nomad lifestyle.

Looking at it in 2021, I was inevitably affected by the Web3 bull market. My feelings about Web3 in 2021 can be summed up in one word: immersive admiration. This immersive admiration comes from the high-end technology represented by this industry – Web3 integrates new technologies such as cryptography, distributed ledgers, and smart contracts. It also comes from the fact that this industry seems to have an easier way to make money than other industries, and it also comes from the emergence of new organizational forms such as DAO, exploring the possibility of new organizational forms and new forms of collaboration in the future human society.

To sum it up in one sentence, everything is good in a bull market.

2022: From looking up to being calm, changes are always fast

If everything was rosy in the bull market of 2021, then 2022 will be the year of shattered optimism for the crypto market.

This year, there have been many historic events that can be remembered in the crypto industry:

  • In May 2022, the public chain Terra collapsed and the Luna token returned to zero overnight.

  • In July 2022, Three Arrows Capital, a leading investment fund in the crypto industry, filed for bankruptcy protection.

  • In November 2022, the leading exchange FTX was exposed to have a problem of misappropriating user funds. The entire process from discovering the problem to declaring bankruptcy took only a few days.

Although there are still some positive events that can give people comfort this year, such as the Ethereum consensus mechanism completing the transition from PoW to PoS. However, the occurrence of the above events can be said to be the darkest moment in the history of the crypto industry, and it also directly set the tone of depression for the Web3 industry in 2022.

I no longer hear those inspiring and emotional news, but more disappointing and terrible voices: XXX suffered heavy losses from speculating in cryptocurrencies, XXX quit the circle, XXX project stopped operating because of lack of financing, XXX crypto fund stopped investing. No one is discussing which coin is worth speculating, no one is discussing whether NFT will rise (on the contrary, everyone is selling, but because NFT liquidity is too poor, many NFTs are basically zeroed out), no one is discussing what DAO will do next, and no one is discussing how to mass adopt in this industry. The whole industry has quieted down, or to use the word I said above, the whole industry has become depressed.

Like many people, after witnessing and experiencing so many thrilling and ups and downs in the industry, I also began to break away from my admiration for Web3 in 2021 and slowly calm down:

On the one hand, the huge fluctuations in the crypto market have shown me that people who set foot in this field not only have the ecstasy of getting rich overnight, but also the regret of huge losses overnight. Especially for those who increase leverage and speculate on contracts as spot, they regard Web3 as a place of destiny where a bicycle can be transformed into a motorcycle.

On the other hand, the problems exposed by this industry, such as the opaque use of funds and the lack of effective supervision, have really hit peoples confidence in this industry. Although for a long-term development, the sooner such problems appear, the better, it has indeed poured cold water on the excited mood, making everyone start to look at Web3 objectively and calmly.

Finally, those attempts that I think have greater social value, such as further exploration and discussion of the DAO model, and promoting charity and environmental protection through tokenization, did not make significant progress this year. Instead, they fell into silence along with the trend of the crypto market industry.

For a while, I have been thinking about a question: Why are there so many new people entering the circle in 2021? I think media like NFT have played a big role because it has expanded the application scenarios of Web3 (even if it is just as an avatar), allowing more people in Web2 to intuitively feel NFT and Web3. The problem is that when everyone comes into contact with NFT, they will immediately realize that this is an investment/speculative product. So overall, Web3 is weakly integrated with real-life scenarios, and the core is still in asset attributes or financial attributes – creating more tokenized financial derivatives to attract and enhance the liquidity of capital, and creating more investment and speculation possibilities. So at that time, I thought that if Web3 really wants to develop as an industry in the long term, it must balance financial speculation and application scenarios.

2023: Markets recover, but not back to the past

After the bear market in 2022, 2023 can be said to be a year of self-healing in the crypto community. This year, the price of Bitcoin has slowly climbed from $16,000 per coin at the end of 2022, and mainstream exchanges including Binance have begun to increase investment to promote compliance operations. But when I talked to some friends who invested in primary projects, they chose to configure the secondary or continue to wait and see. As a friend said to me at the time, Now the prices of mainstream coins in the secondary market are so low, why invest in primary projects with high uncertainty?

At the same time, I originally thought that as the market slowly recovered, discussions about Web3 on social media would heat up again. I remember that during the bull market in 2021, a niche social platform, Moments, gathered a large number of people interested in Web3. In the circle of the Web3 Research Institute, if you post a dynamic, you will get a lot of likes. But when I opened this social software again in 2023, I found that some people or project parties who were often active in the past no longer posted dynamics, and some new posts had almost zero likes and comments. Everything seems to be unable to go back to the past.

So this year, I began to consciously communicate with many people, including people outside the circle, people who have just entered the circle, and players who are very experienced in playing DEFI and MEME. When I asked them what they thought of Web3, I got a unanimous answer: Web3 is a casino for cutting leeks, and the key is to see who the leeks are.

Based on the feedback I got from communicating with them, I began to have the idea of publishing a book, hoping to objectively introduce the development status of Web3 at that time to more people, so that I and those who want to understand and enter this field can look at Web3 at eye level, rather than putting a subjective good or bad prejudice on this field. So, I and more than a dozen friends in the circle, who have deep professional backgrounds and knowledge accumulation in their respective fields, jointly published a Web3 popular science book From Technology to Application: Ordinary Peoples Web3 Learning Manual, which was officially published at the end of 2023 and received a lot of praise. Looking back now, although only half a year has passed, the chapter system and framework in the book are far from enough to cover the current status of Web3 development. I admit that my mentality towards this industry has changed a lot, but what remains unchanged is that this industry is still developing rapidly at its own unique pace.

2024: The bull market is back, is Mass Adoption far behind?

At present, the bull market in 2024 is a certainty. This year, two major events have become catalysts for the continuous rise in the price of crypto assets: first, the US SEC approved the issuance of Bitcoin spot ETFs, which means that more and more Wall Street funds will flow into Bitcoin, directly pushing up the price of Bitcoin and even other crypto assets; second, Bitcoin will experience a halving cycle. From historical experience, every halving of Bitcoin will drive a bull market, and this year will most likely be no exception.

Based on my own observations, I also compared this bull market with the bull market in 2021 to see what remains unchanged and what has changed.

What remains unchanged is:

  • The bull market amplifies the power of speculation. In 2021, NFT is a speculative product, and in 2024, MEME coins have become a unique speculative product. In my opinion, there is no right or wrong in any speculation related to assets. After all, the traditional stock market also has short selling and long selling. It’s just that the crypto market is too volatile and lacks effective supervision. Therefore, in the bull market, when the speculative game of each participant is aggregated into a K line, it will be infinitely magnified.

  • Tokens still need better liquidity and the ability to make money. In addition to NFTs, GameFi and SocialFi are also popular tracks in the bull market of 2021. The unique tokenization attributes of Web3 need to rely on specific tracks or businesses to better realize the flow of tokens and create more assets. The same is true in 2024. On the one hand, the Bitcoin ecosystem has begun to be hyped. From inscriptions to runes to Bitcoin Layer 2, Bitcoin re-pledge agreements, etc., Bitcoin has almost experienced the process that Ethereum has experienced; on the other hand, Ethereum-based re-pledge projects have become a hot topic. Since Ethereum transformed from POW to POS in 2022 to generate pledges, what everyone wants today is far from the income from pledges, but how to continue to improve the efficiency of capital utilization on the basis of pledges to obtain higher returns.

What changes are:

  • The paths of Mass Adoption have become diversified. In 2021, everyone placed Web3s Mass Adoption mission on games, social projects, etc., but the results did not meet expectations. In 2024, Web3 and AI are increasingly combined, and they also begin to combine with offline physical infrastructure to shape another narrative DePin, hoping that curve saving the country can achieve the goal of Mass Adoption. From this perspective, Web3 needs AI or the Internet of Things more, rather than AI and the Internet of Things need Web3 more. In addition, in my opinion, the passage of the Bitcoin spot ETF and the acceptance of crypto asset donations in the US presidential election have shown that crypto assets have become mainstream, but this is a Mass Adoption that everyone can have, not a Mass Adoption that everyone needs.

  • The importance of MEME culture in Web3 is further highlighted. In the decentralized world of Web3, I think it is a spiritual core to believe and maintain what you believe in, and MEME is a direct expression of the original spiritual core of Web3. This is enough to explain why the increase of MEME coin is better than other altcoins in this bull market.

After experiencing two rounds of bull markets from 2021 to 2024, as I said before, I have changed from looking up to Web3 at the beginning to looking at it at eye level now. In my opinion, Web3 is a person or a group of people selling an idea or vision and raising funds from the public. Those who agree and participate are rewarded with tokens, and in order to make the tokens effective or flowing, they are given financial attributes. In short, it is a consensus of a group of people covered with a financial coat, and then constantly looking for utility scenarios enabled by tokens.

Conclusion: How to better gain a foothold in Web3

The above is my understanding of Web3. As I said at the beginning, I regard myself as a learner and observer in this field. So in the process of in-depth participation and personal experience in the past two years, I have had many opportunities to communicate with friends and practitioners in the circle. I found that many people face a common problem, that is, when we choose Web3 as the field for future development, how can we better gain a foothold in this field?

This question varies from person to person, after all, everyone will come up with different answers based on their own experiences and feelings. I cannot call myself a Crypto native because I have more experience in Web2, and I have not had long-term experience in well-known Web3 projects or investment institutions, so it is difficult to say that I have any outstanding achievements (although my personal investment return rate is still good), but fortunately, in the past two years, I have met many practitioners in the industry and learned a lot of experience. Combining my own experience and the experience of my friends, I would like to share my comprehensive views:

  • Dont enter this circle with the mentality of speculating in cryptocurrencies. This industry seems to have many opportunities to make money, but in fact, there are not so many. I have heard of a saying before that there is a pyramid model for making money in this field. The first is to gather together to do projects or plates; the second is to do VC investment; the third is to be a trader of arbitrage and quantitative strategies; the fourth is to make investments after investment research; and the fifth is to hoard coins. My own experience is that those participants who often speculate in cryptocurrencies may not have a high rate of return. On the contrary, traders who do arbitrage and quantitative strategies and investors who foolishly hoard mainstream coins will have a stable rate of return. The former is because of professional ability, and the latter is because they believe that mainstream coins such as Bitcoin have long-term value that can cross bull and bear cycles. Therefore, in Web3, for most people, having a continuous and stable rate of return is far better than frequently speculating in cryptocurrencies to fight for a high risk and high return.

  • Judge people with the greatest goodwill. Web3 is a relatively mixed field. Since everyone has different purposes for entering the field, and since many communications and collaborations are based on virtual online methods, the cost of trusting people or projects is relatively high. If you have found a team that you can work with for a long time, then congratulations, you are lucky. If you havent found it yet, it doesnt matter. In the process of communicating and trying with different people, although you will encounter some disappointments, you will find like-minded partners to do something with you in such an experience. The more liquid and trust-cost-intensive the field is, the more you should judge people with the greatest goodwill.

  • Do Your Own Research. This is the most widely circulated phrase in Web3 and is widely recognized as a very valuable suggestion. Because there are all kinds of people, opinions, views and information in this field, when we try to judge people with the greatest goodwill, we also need to form our own independent thinking and judgment in a dazzling environment, so as to form our own thinking mode and professional investment methodology. Please remember, dont be kidnapped by emotions, dont be kidnapped by other peoples CX, everything needs DYOR.

I wrote this article to summarize my change in my understanding of Web3 over a period of time. This field provides me with a better return on investment than other traditional investment products. It also allows me to meet many different people, including real industry builders, powerful traders, and some speculators who want to make a quick buck. This is a very interesting thing. More importantly, through personal experience in this field, I also realized my niche in this field and how to stick to some of my principles.

Of course, these are based on my own personal experience and feelings, and are not universal. I believe that everyone in this field will have their own cognition, understanding and feelings about Web3. I hope everyone can make money while also finding a niche that suits them.

This article is sourced from the internet: From looking up to looking straight, how I became disenchanted with Web3, the personal experience of an ordinary Web3 participant

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