The desire to own things is inherently human. People develop feelings of ownership for material and immaterial objects, with motivations that range from efficacy and effectance to self-identity.
Think of buyers competing against one another in an art market, driven by pure economic speculation, intrinsic joy, status-signalling, or some combination of all three.
In Web 3.0, the fundamental reasons why we, as humans, desire to own things won’t significantly change. How we own them could. The most mainstream example is non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which use blockchain technology to grant ownership rights over unique items of digital property like audio files, imagery, and videos.
Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) are communities of like-minded individuals who collaborate on shared interests, often using digital tokens to claim ownership over the eventual outcomes of their labour. DAOs are springing up as natural experiments in online organisation, but like NFTs, disentangling their interest-based aims from the underlying financial incentives of tokenisation is no easy feat.
Of course, with ownership comes power, which raises central questions.
Will existing power dynamics between platforms, institutions, creators, consumers and people, be fundamentally reshaped in Web 3.0? Or are promises of new ownership models merely an alluring ideological front to more quickly usher people towards the next generation of the internet?
At a time of heightened macroeconomic uncertainty, and following a decade during which traditional long-term savings options were unfruitful, what incentives and messaging about Web 3.0 are people most likely to respond to?