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Exploring Web3 and the Metaverse


R/GA's senior strategist, Web 3 and Metaverse Julian Alexander on how the metaverse will drive culture and society forward

Exploring Web3 and the Metaverse

Julian Alexander is a full-stack strategist and creative technologist that was into crypto before it was cool but into disco way after it was cool. He’s an avid visual artist, former professional dancer, and lives in Portland with his amazing partner and sleepy dog.

Q> What exhilarates you most about where Web3 / the Metaverse is going?

Julian> The immense potential it will unlock for everyday people, artists, organisers, and communities. While our industry frequently talks about the brand and business value of this space, I’m more personally excited about its potential to impact the lives of working people.

Today, many people expect Web3’s path to follow the same top-down adoption of previous tech paradigm shifts. In Web2, the more privilege or power you had—as a person or a company—the more that era’s technology tended to benefit you and the faster you could adopt it.

Web3 is built on top of Web2, so it inherits the same history, language, and power of privilege that Web2 suffers from, meaning that marginalised communities face more barriers and challenges entering Web3. Much work still needs to be done. 

But, to take a step back, what’s fundamentally different about Web3 is that the actual tech/utility is available to everyone without permission. There is no way for any actor to censor, limit, or charge fees for these new technological superpowers. And, as the Metaverse is built on Web3, it shares the same permission-less characteristics. This brings Web3 / Metaverse powers typically reserved from companies to anyone—a teenager can develop and operate entire virtual worlds, fully own and control their digital possessions and benefit fully from the value they create for the world.

Due to this, Web3 is poised to start leveling the playing field between working people and large corporations—simply because it doesn’t reserve any of its immense powers just for the wealthy in hopes of charging for it.

This excites me immensely, as it gives powers typically only enjoyed by corporate America to everyone, such as;

- The ability to own, capture and protect the total, long-term value from every idea or project you create.

- New creative tools that unbundle privilege from the craft by letting anyone build vision-first. Do you want to operate a concert venue but don’t have the cash or expertise to make one IRL? Great, build one virtually for a fraction of the cost and let your taste and vision be the main attraction.

- New tools like NFTs, DeFi, and DAOs grow and organise digi-physical communities while protecting their shared resources without the need for any companies interference.

In Web3, brands and creative communities are on the most leveled playing field in history, with the main differentiating factor being community, vision, and execution—not power or control. That’s a status quo I’m excited to see play out. 

Q> In what ways will the metaverse drive culture and society forward?

Julian> Short answer? We’ll have to wait and see. How this will change society is hard to predict, but we know that Web3 and the Metaverse will define the next era of all these connected topics.

It is first necessary to mention that Web3 isn’t a disruptive force to society—but a complementary one. It didn’t come sideways out of the blue to disrupt a culture moving in a different direction. Instead, it was created and adopted because humans outgrew the confines of Web2 and were striving to find a better way to exist online.

The average person in North America spends roughly 11 hours a day on digital media of all types. We are now, indeed, a digital-first species. And, as more and more of the whole human experience moved online, we collectively realized that the deeper aspects of being human—the depth, intimacy, and spontaneity that makes living worthwhile (and FUN)—doesn’t translate well to our rigid, corporate-controlled, flat /2d Web2 internet. 

We collectively have started craving a way to use the internet that felt less contrived and rigid—but more natural and intimate. As our digital identities become increasingly powerful and influential, people are starting to desire to feel actual ownership, autonomy, and control of their online lives, the same way we do of our physical possessions, items, and ideas.

After twenty years of “renting” a satisfactory but not fully human online experience from companies that contort our identity, social networks, and content to fit their business targets—humans wanted an alternative. Web3 and the Metaverse are the alternatives. 

Q> What should consumers look forward to in the space?

Julian> Not going to answer this one; I encourage all of you to open a wallet and dive in!

Q> What was your last adventure?

I signed up for Bachata classes... man. I was a ballet/hip-hop dancer for seven years, so I thought I could hold my own, but I was sorely mistaken. One sweat-drenched class later, and I was hooked but also reasonably sure it’s how I would die one day.

Q> What’s a fact about you that most people might not know?

Julian> I wrote Google’s most popular/engaged tweet of all time. I was a photojournalist in the Middle East until I wasn’t. I was raised by four supremely fabulous queer parents. I do my eyebrows myself.

Q> What makes you feel included?

Julian> A little bit of vulnerability, honesty, and a decent amount of Cervezas make me feel included. I love meeting new people and promise that I’m much nicer than I look, so hit me up on LinkedIn anytime!

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R/GA US, Tue, 19 Apr 2022 08:05:39 GMT