The first thing newcomers to the crypto space notice is the importance of community. For most, the first step toward understanding crypto is to jump into one of the innumerable communities scattered across various platforms, from Twitter and Telegram to Discord and Reddit, and start asking questions. (Or just immerse yourself in a stream of acronyms and memes.)
Crypto’s reliance on community isn’t incidental – it’s fundamental.
A commitment to openness and decentralisation sits at the heart of the crypto boom and the wider shift toward the blockchain-driven paradigm of Web3. As a result, the values of the crypto space don’t just encourage participation and collaboration – they require it.
After all, openness and decentralisation are just abstract ideas without people being willing to put them into practice and seize the chance to get involved.
But the crypto community, as it exists today, is the product of a Web2 world. As Web3 alternatives to the “social web” of the past two decades begin to emerge, how might online communities develop and change, both within and beyond the crypto space?
How communities work in Web2
Web2 was the era of scale. The dominant platforms of the Web2 era succeeded through the relentless pursuit of more – more users, more data, more attention, more engagement. Even if this engagement was harmful, or if users were unhappy with the amount of data they were giving up, the imperative for these platforms to outdo their competitors overruled any concerns.
And we’re now seeing the results: massive political polarisation, the amplification of harmful content, and a relentless push toward ever-greater surveillance. If a newcomer like TikTok has seen such success, it’s not from breaking the mould but from outdoing its predecessors at their own game.
Of course, it’s not helpful to focus exclusively on the downsides. If these platforms offered nothing but targeted ads and hate speech, they’d hardly be boasting user numbers in the billions.
And in fact, the social web has offered innumerable benefits. It has allowed people to connect and share knowledge and ideas across huge distances, form communities, and build friendships across social and cultural boundaries.
Nowhere is the value of this more evident than in the crypto space. Platforms like Twitter and Reddit have allowed what was once a niche and highly technical topic to become the foundation for a shared vision for the future of the web. And it’s a vision that is truly global in scale:
- The number of crypto owners hit 295 million in December 2021 according to a crypto.com report.
- Crypto ownership is widely distributed worldwide, with countries as diverse as Nigeria and the Philippines among the fastest adopters.
- Online sources are essential for those looking to invest, with 38% using online forums like Reddit to shape their decisions, compared to 34% who consult friends or family.
But though the crypto community may have managed to leverage the tools of Web2 to their own ends, that does not mean we should settle for simply making better use of the same old walled gardens. The shift to Web3 promises far more than this – and online communities must embrace the transformation.
Social platforms in Web3
Even in the Web2 world, not all platforms were created equal. Notably, crypto enthusiasts have tended to gravitate to platforms that support greater autonomy and self-direction. Reddit and Discord, for example, are structured around forming subgroups (subreddits and servers, respectively) that have some degree of self-management, from determining their own moderation policies to assigning users with custom permissions and roles.
But this is just the first step.
The shift toward blockchain-based social DApps will offer two key benefits over even the most malleable of Web2 platforms:
- Ownership. At present, those sharing content on social platforms have limited ownership rights. No amount of retweets for your trenchant analysis of the latest developments in Web3 can disguise the fact that your content is generating value for Twitter rather than for you. The shift toward an “ownership economy” model would change this, allowing everyone to share in the benefits of a growing community by directly rewarding them for positive contributions.
- Governance. Social DApps can utilise the DAO model, in which a platform’s native token confers rights to vote on its rules and have a say in any changes. Rather than negotiating with opaque and ever-changing terms of service, those who are actually contributing to a community would get to shape its future.
In both cases, what is at stake is how we reward engagement. A token-based online community model would incentivise positive contributions and ensure that those who engage most fully have the most substantial say. And while this might not be a quick fix for the problem of online harassment or misinformation, it at least puts the community in the driving seat when it comes to finding solutions.
Virtual interaction in the metaverse
By offering decentralised alternatives to the existing social platforms, Web3 will empower users to build the kinds of online spaces they want to inhabit. But what about when these user-controlled communities encounter that other impending transformation of how we interact online, the metaverse?
The key appeal of the metaverse is immersion. Though there are many competing visions for what the metaverse will be, they share an emphasis on using XR tech to allow us to truly inhabit virtual spaces.
The implications for community-building are enormous. That’s because the other major critique of the “social web” extends beyond its data-gathering, attention-soliciting imperatives to focus on how essentially limited it is as a means of connection.
The lament is now long-familiar: online interactions lack the richness and spontaneity of in-person contact. They reduce or eliminate essential social cues and empathy triggers, from facial expressions and gestures to subtle shifts of intonation and all the ambiguities of atmosphere.
Recent studies show that concerns about the limitations of virtual interaction are widespread:
- 78% of people say they miss physical contact when interacting virtually, according to a survey by the National Research Group.
- 67% of workers felt less connected to their colleagues after shifting to remote work during the pandemic in a survey by the Royal Society for Public Health.
- Researchers have begun to study “Zoom fatigue” after discovering that video calls exert a higher cognitive load than in-person conversation.
For those shaped by online interaction, this has been a necessary and acceptable trade-off for all the manifold benefits of digital communities. If I give up online interactions in favour of face-to-face, then my world shrinks significantly.
But what if we could have the best of both worlds? This is the true promise of the metaverse.
There is already significant evidence that XR interactions can enable deep, empathetic bonds between users. And we remain at the earliest stages of what is possible. Recent research into haptic feedback and the automated modelling of facial expressions showcases the true scope of what is possible for social interaction in the metaverse.
Cudos’ partners DreamVR is already exploring such possibilities, with their Dream Life metaverse offering photorealistic locations and supporting a huge range of social activities, from esports to concerts. They are also adopting a DAO model for their Burning Mars metaverse club, allowing members to take control of how the club evolves.
Of course, these ambitious plans will require significant computing resources to power them. And that’s why DreamVR is turning to Cudos’ decentralised cloud solution Cudo Compute to power its metaverse ambitions.
Cudos’ commitment to community-building
Here at Cudos, we have long understood that Web3 must be a collaborative, community-driven effort. For decentralisation to have any meaning, we need as many people as possible to take part and shape the future of the web together.
That’s why we’ve not only built an extensive range of partnerships with other leaders in the Web3 space, but we’ve also put our best foot forward in making those all-important IRL connections.
We're live at @NFT_NYC 2022 and meeting up with some amazing friends 🚀
— CUDOS (@CUDOS_) June 22, 2022
Our team has been crisscrossing the globe in recent months to meet up with friends and collaborators, both new and old. We’ve even reached beyond the crypto space with our recent sponsorship of London’s premier sporting event, Chestertons Polo in the Park.
Help us build the future of Web3
We’re always looking for people to join us in our mission to build a decentralised future for the web.
- If you’re a developer, a designer, or just community-minded, why not sign up for our Cudos Ranger ambassador programme?
- We’re looking for data centre owners, and other compute providers to join the pilot phase of Cudo Compute. Register your interest today.
- Head over to our mainnet page and learn more about our recent mainnet launch.
Cudos is powering the metaverse bringing together DeFi, NFTs and gaming experiences to realise the vision of a decentralised Web3, enabling all users to benefit from the growth of the network. We’re an interoperable, open platform launchpad that will provide the infrastructure required to meet the 1000x higher computing needs for the creation of fully immersive, gamified digital realities. Cudos is a Layer 1 blockchain and Layer 2 community-governed compute network, designed to ensure decentralised, permissionless access to high-performance computing at scale. Our native utility token CUDOS is the lifeblood of our network and offers an attractive annual yield and liquidity for stakers and holders.