Rebutting Prof G's Web3 Rebuttal
This feedback is probably generational (I am 44) and read your content to gain insight into a complex topic that I find important. This article comes across as an emotional reaction to someone telling you "your baby is ugly" with a side of "educational elitism" layered on top and deviates from the traditional content I have read historically on this platform. This feedback dates me further, but I wonder if reaching out to Galloway to suggest a podcast discussion would have provided the most value to readers of one (or both) audiences. Good luck going forward. -L
I actually like Prof G’s content and enjoyed his book. I’m also a Crypto investor/enthusiast.
There’s “thought leaders” and “thought followers” in Crypto. It takes hours…per day to find the former…you qualify. Your critical thinking skills are a big bonus.
If anyone were alive who remembered the Elvis and rock and roll debate? Seriously? Of course many of us were. Dear Dear Packy -- I'm a retired professor. This reminds me of a time in an MBA management course when one of my students said "old employees cannot learn technology; they're worthless." At the time I was probably around 60 but had white hair since my mid 40s; I did not look young. Many students were aghast because they perceived it a personal insult to me. I did not; I merely asked this young man how old that would be. He quickly declared, "40!!" I asked him how old he was. "32." I then calmly and cheerfully said, "well, you have 8 years left; you'd better enjoy them." The whole room roared with laughter. I made it a point never to embarrass students because it would stifle discussion, but this one was deserved. Pay attention to what you say, Dear Dear Packy.
The big value in your piece, imho, is in the thorough background checks and detailed context clarification. The glib dismissals from prof g and many others indicate fear of the new, cloaked in mock disdain for the tech and cheap shots. Nothing could increase interest in Web3 more than weak, biased criticism coming from, as you point out, people whose minds are already made up…
it would've been great if instead of responding to a really underbaked Neg Case from Prof G, you responded to a really dank NC from somebody like Stephen Diehl.
his argument--echoed by many Engineers--isn't that "Blockchains aren't even decentralized", it's that Blockchains are technically useless, as decentralization is the only technical dimension which a Blockchain is superior to distributed databases (something Albert Wenger, cited by Dixon, granted in his "Why Bother?" piece).
Any application that could be done on a blockchain could be better done on a centralized database. Except crime.
what's your response to the many, many engineers who maintain Web3 has zero technical utility--that there's "no there, there". cuz Wenger+Dixon+you have had pretttttty pisspoor rebuttals to that idea.
Ok, so a long article about how to argue followed by more arguments.
What is not addressed is the simple question: is there really any gain to be had if web3 or distributed finance or whatever blaberty blah selling point is regulated with the same rules as the existing institutions?
I would argue that it is the existing regulations - right, wrong, whatever - which define the environment of the present system. And the existing institutions that are successful in this present system will insist on equal rules for all in it - new or otherwise.
As such, the technotopian dream that technology will somehow change the equation is naive at best. It has never been specific rule this or customary that which defines how verticals operate - it is the operators in the system defining and populating it.
I did Parliamentary debate too :')
Super weak “rebuttal”. Focusing on the minutiae of prof’s arguments and spending like 40% of your words rehashing high school debate rules was an odd choice. Was hoping to see a thoughtful case for web3’s alleged utility/value.
For the life of your young brand your content has been reliable, valuable, and consistent and your articles have faithfully educated, informed, and inspired with a generally uplifting, highly positive framing, and a point of view that screams WAGMI. These are really nice and highly accretive brand attributes to build if you can, and you have.
Given this, I was genuinely confused and frankly disappointed by the seemingly deeply personal, almost vitriolic, emotionality of your rebuttal to Prof G's piece. I kept wondering why you felt it necessary to bring a knife to fist fight that wasn't even a fist fight. Given everything I've read of yours over the past 18 months, the frequent sniping in this piece came across as so far off-brand and so out of character that for a minute I thought I had wondered off Not Boring dot co and landed somewhere in Washington, D.C. I fully understand wanting to set the record straight, especially when the facts, the knowledge, and the nuance are so heavily weighted in your favor and the person you're debating hasn't done their homework, but in the course of doing so, while the Prof stayed true to his sometimes sensationalistic brand, you wandered far afield of your own.
If you polled your audience I'd bet they far prefer the wise-beyond-your-years and WAGMI Packy over the winning and sarcastically sniping Packy any day. Disagreements are fine. Differing points of view, also fine. But perhaps we should leave the sniping and winners-take-all elitism aside and opt for discourse and discussion. Remember, in a world where rising tides lifts all boats, web3, crypto, et al will have advanced significantly when someone like Prof G knows all about last year's Glassnode investigation, LooksRare's recent launch and it's many consumer-facing benefits, and the nuance of progressive decentralization to DAOs.
While I think it's safe to say the ship has sailed on a Prof G-Packy podcast episode about web3's choice vs. web3's web2 rerun it sure would have be nice to hear that. -dth
Great read! By the way, the "Continue Reading Online" button is broken from the email newsletter.
Packy, if you think this is a strong rebuttal, then I'd like to cordially disagree. This reads like an emotional stream-of-consciousness piece that is as likely to undermine your credibility as highlight Scott's weaknesses.
Scott's "mistakes" such as saying that 2% of accounts control 95% instead of "just" 71.5% of Bitcoin? How does this mistake disprove the basic premise that it's very much centralized and concentrated?
If the premise behind "web3 is good" is "power to the people"—then that's just not a fact.
And if you remove "power to the people" from web3—then what do you have left?
The same thread runs through Moxie's argument: there are forces pushing towards centralization and control… meaning winner-take-all platforms, yet again.
Logically, the sheer fact that there's a lot of VC funding behind it should be a tell—else, why would VCs invest into something that supposedly "cuts out the middlemen" and redistributes all the gains to creators and consumers? You either take the creator surplus (like Substack) or the consumer surplus. That's how you make money.
Or, am I missing something?
My fundamental issue with any "brave new world" proclamations is essentially this: people are people, and their psychology doesn't really change. Not without laws.
So, what is it about the technology that creates a different set of constraints that makes people behave differently under "web3"?
Your rebuttal doesn't really rebut any of the underlying points expressed by Jack, Scott, and Moxie. No matter the order they went in.
You give the game away right here:
"It’s not about whether any particular platform is centralized, or who owns how much of what."
In capitalism, it is always about who owns how much of what.
Anyone who tells you anything different is selling something to your disadvantage.
“Decentralization is a false god evangelized by high priests who pass collection plates the size of Mars and admonish regulation as heresy.” - this felt like the gratuitous sex scene that makes the cut because the film director said so.
When I travel in countries that have black markets for U.S. dollars, I pay cash because merchants lower prices to get U.S. dollars. Ecuador had a horrible inflation problem that was devastating to the poor and middle-income classes. It decided to go on the U.S. dollar, which solved the inflation issue. What does Bitcoin or crypto currency do for the poor? My experience in Third World countries provides an answer and it isn’t Guatemala.
> That a 6-day-old project had not yet decentralized is a weak and amateur indictment of the concept of DAOs as a whole. Indeed, it seems the Prof’s arguments against DAOs more broadly are based on a very basic and inaccurate model of governance in which maximum decentralization is the goal and every decision should be one person, one vote. That doesn’t reflect the reality on the ground.
Galloway is making a terrible argument here. Let me espouse criticism about this.
The more general criticism is less that it hadn't decentralized and more that it raised 47 million dollars in 6 days and wasn't even prepared to say how they were going to use the constitution or how to govern usage of a shared item. Yet they still were able to raise that astronomical value of money and spoiler, it's not because people give a shit about the project. They are buying purely based on the fact that this is "web3" or "blockchain" or "DAO" or whatever other buzzword you want to use.
If constitution DAO was a gofundme, it likely would have raised hundreds of dollars (if that). Instead they raised millions and didn't even have a way to refund the money or establish what they were going to do.
Interesting how you blithely skated past the environmental issue. Wow!