Writing online still sucks.
We’re still mostly in the age of Web2 which is the era of mobile apps and social media. We’re moving slowly into the world of Web3 — the next version of the internet.
Web3 is simply an internet built on top of decentralized blockchain technology (made famous by Bitcoin). Don’t overcomplicate it. It’s a buzzword designed to usher in this new era. Yay!
As an online writer for eight years, I’m right at the center of this conversation and can tell you first-hand what to expect.
The cool thing is we get to help build the future of online writing on Web3.
Here’s what it could look like for writers (aka creators):
The rise of anonymous writers
One of the biggest bugs of publishing content is the stupid influencer movement. It gave rise to the personal brand culture.
This meant we all had to create and write online using our real names. If we say something someone doesn’t like then cancel culture can ruin our life.
Many female writers I know prefer not to use their real names because creeps can track them down and stalk them. We all should have the right to go anonymous. In Web3 an anonymous user profile is normal.
Users love to have NFT apes with cigars sticking out their mouths and use barcode names similar to the one Elon Musk gave his kid.
The future of online writing will be about the sharing of ideas, not personal attacks on the names that wrote them.
A “follow” automatically gives the creator the email address
When someone follows my writing on social media I make a sad face.
An algorithm controls our relationship and it’s likely to put my interests last and ads first. In the Web3 world data is king.
Creators will have ownership of their audience by default. When a reader follows us we’ll get their email address. Then we can continue the relationship via email until the reader decides we’ve done enough and unsubscribes.
By removing the algorithm middle man the creator economy will be able to thrive once and for all.
The control will shift from platforms to individuals. Partnerships between apps, writers, and readers will be formed more naturally.
Right now tech bros in San Francisco decide what content we can and can’t consume on most big social media apps. This is a disaster.
Biases and inequality can easily bleed into the decisions by accident.
In Web 3 the moderation of content is done by the users to reduce the burden on platforms. To ensure consistency there will be democratic voting rights that happen on the blockchain. Creators, readers, platform employees, and investors can all vote equally.
The standard ethos is to avoid removing content at all costs so free speech isn’t inhibited accidentally.
Right now the platforms we create on aren’t owned by us. And we can’t properly own most of them even if we did want to invest.
In Web3 the whole ownership model is disrupted. Every platform has a token and anyone can buy that token. Borders, banks, or government don’t limit the token sale. Anyone with an internet connection can participate.
When creators can own a part of the platform they create on it changes the behavior and realigns incentives. Suddenly you become a partner, not a prisoner waiting to get given ten lashes for saying “friggin” in a headline.
A new monetization model for writers
The creator economy is still held back because it’s not as easy as it could be to make money as a writer.
The business model needs to get reinvented.
I sent this problem to one of the most famous venture capitalists in America. His response took my breath away.
“Advertisers should be able to fund tokens. Readers then should be able to receive these tokens that can be traded for content or even sold.”
This is the tokenization of attention. Wow. An ad model where users actually see promotions for things they care about, and where the affiliate model and word of mouth phenomenon are built in.
An amazing form of payouts
The current Web2 creator economy assumes every piece of content involves one person or entity.
The truth is collaboration and remixes of content are way more common. No platform has a way to split payments between creators.
The other issue is payouts. If you want to get paid it depends on whether the popular services like PayPal are available in your country. If not, you’re tough outta luck pal.
In Web3 payment happens via crypto. Everyone can get paid in the US dollar stablecoin pegged to the exact one-for-one value of real US dollars. Or if a creator wants to get fancy then they can get paid in popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
These borderless payments are instant and cost cents to process. Creator platforms can even stream payments. I kid you not — as you write words a platform could stream dollars to you in real-time as you type. That changes the behavioral economics of writing a lot.
Portable content (finally!)
You currently write your words in a google doc. Then you have to copy and paste them to all the different platforms to publish. It’s a pain in the ass.
If you want to move your content from say WordPress to Twitter then there’s no easy way. Web3 solves this.
All content is an NFT.
NFTs store the copyright information, and can be imported and exported to any platform without friction. Suddenly content is fluid again which creates new opportunities and lets the market decide where the best content will live.
Platforms will have to compete to get content from creators rather than sit back and be greedy because they can lock creators in without recourse.
Better sign-in and security
Web2 is built on top of email login.
Emails can get hacked and they’re not secure. In the Web3 world you log into any app or platform with your digital wallet. That wallet can have cryptocurrencies in it or digital property such as NFTs.
This means a creator platform could attach prerequisites to the action of logging on. They could say “unless you own a piece of the platform and store it in your wallet for us to see, our app isn’t for you.”
Or a writing publication could use part of the information from your digital wallet to determine if you have enough experience points to get featured.
The future is digital wallets you can log in with, show proof-of-writing experience, and get paid into.
The newsfeed feature of content platforms is good and bad.
It’s a way for users to discover new content — the problem is on most platforms it’s the only way.
In Web3 the newsfeed will be an option. You can turn it off. Or instead of having a social media algorithm organize and show you content, you can simply sort your optional newsfeed by topic, date or popularity.
One of the criticisms of algorithms on content platforms is they’re too powerful.
They can be used to manipulate human minds and even tamper with the democratic electoral process (as one US Trumpet wearing a wig showed the potential of).
Elon Musk seeks to open-source the twitter algorithm. Whether it works or not is still to be seen. It’s unlikely.
In Web3 the algorithm is open-source by default because it’s how the architecture is built and enables easy decentralization.
There are no good Web3 creator platforms right now. MirrorXYZ has played around. Bitclout aka DESO has experimented too.
This revolution will happen no doubt. The financial system was first into Web3. The art world and music have entered recently via NFTs. Writing and other forms of content will come next.
This is a huge opportunity for content creators/writers.
- Keep an eye out for Web3 creator platforms. Experiment with them and research Web3 so you’re ahead of the game.
- If any of the Web3 features I’ve spoken of excite you then I encourage you to become a builder and join a Web3 project that’s building out parts of this roadmap.
The next iteration of the internet will finally enable kickass creator monetization. The starving artist will no longer be real (it’ll probably become a Web3 meme).
Get out there, get amongst it, and get excited. A change is gonna come.