Web3: The New American Dream by Sylvie Bax
This article first appeared in Vagobond Magazine Issue 7 which can be purchased as a readable NFT on Opensea
Web3 is a community, an ecosystem, a society, and one version of the American Dream
Within this brand-new space there are micro communities, DAO’s, and mysterious collectors who are spoken about in hushed tones and weave their way through the intricacies of creative lives bestowing great wealth and immortality.
Well, not immortality but capable of enshrining an artist’s reputation in stone. Money has always been power. Even if you lose your reputation and piss off half the web with unusual world views, with enough money you can just skate off to Lichtenstein and enjoy the ride.
Most of us don’t have that luxury (although that luxury is often hard earned so no begrudging here). Most of us use the communities of Web3 to build a platform, a space to showcase our work and share common beliefs. Hanging out with like-minded people who emulate our own desires and work ethic.
But how does the physical environment individuals inhabit affect how they are in their communities. Cultural and religious beliefs, gender, sex, and ideology all shape us and our characters in the physical world but how does that translate to Web3 presence.
I asked three artists/writers in my NFT space to give their views on how their physical place has affected their NFT experience.
Smoothie FM, poet and Web3 bard
I’m from the third world – specifically the Philippines. It’s a place where beautiful dreams are born, and most of them are not cultivated due to a lack of resources and recognition. Coming into Web3 was an amazing opportunity for me to develop my dreams, share my vision, and go through the watering process most artists with more stable backgrounds can enjoy. So that’s my perspective as a Filipino – hopeful and expecting a fair shot. A lot of times, that fair shot isn’t given, and I must fight for it. But I’ve been fighting for opportunities my whole life and I know with enough hard work – I can pave a way for me here and help others that came from where I came from achieve their dreams.
Nate, Dead Poets Society AVAX
-musician, Latino word weaver and poet
My physical environment has had a profound influence in my Web3 experience. While the ideas of a free and autonomous space for creativity is extremely attractive, my lived experiences coupled with the harsh realities of the physical space make it difficult to look past the glaring facade made up of the IRL/Web3 binary. Not only does the Web3 space mimic the middle class and cultural hegemonic gatekeeping of the physical space it reproduces the same values inherent within our hyper-capitalist society.
African futurist visual artist, Aishatu Ado writes as a peace technologist & diasporic storyteller.
“In my experience, Web3 has provided platforms that enable participation and representation while at the same time allowing for community building. We can overcome these fundamental barriers by creating a community of creators, developers, and collectors. Now that we are free from legacy platforms that see us merely as consumers, we are empowered to shape the architecture of Web3.0 platforms and communities. Despite this, I remain sceptical. The promise of Web3 is to be inclusive and not to leave BIPOC communities behind.
There is a need for more BIPOCs in power positions in Web3.0 companies since we continue to have little say or stake in curating partnerships, facilitating campaigns, creating change for creatives, or developing culturally relevant projects. Speakers at Web3 conferences like NFT NYC, Bitcoin Conference, and SXSW are largely male and white. I am dedicated to preventing a dystopian vision of Web3 that mirrors our current reality in Web 2.0, where historically marginalized groups already face disproportionate abuse on legacy platforms. As an AI ethicist, I research the effects of technology and I’m convinced that without a critical perspective focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), familiar harms will not only be replicated, but they will be exacerbated.”
What I have found when navigating different spaces in Web3 is the bold use of colour to root and ground BiPOC in their homeland whilst being part of a general diaspora. The use of colour in both art and writing gives the creator a tool to instantly set tone and mood and even represent an idea or feeling outside of its literal sense.
There are so many connections with colour. In Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi describes the Biafran flag and attributes each colour to the past, present, and future of war.
Red was the blood of the siblings massacred in the North, black was for mourning them, green was for the prosperity Biafra would have, and, finally, the half of a yellow sun stood for the glorious future. (Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie published by 4th Estate – 2017)
My colours are the ochre sun blasted sand of the Iberian Peninsula & bright white of Moorish spires, the spiced purple of Scottish heather peppering the grassy land and the historic shamrock green and scarlet of Ireland, divided and bloody nosed by English greed.
These colours make up my home, my physical space is no matter. Lovers fail, family betrays, government mock but certain chromatic tints and hues make up my whole, my identity and ultimately what I bring to my Web3 communities.