2022 DCentral Conference in Miami

Posted: December 11, 2022

Two weeks ago, I have attended the crypto and Web3 conference DCentral in Miami. Despite my long-standing interest in the topic, it was the first time me attending the crypto conference in person. My main goal was to connect with the industry leaders and learn about practical experience to develop academic research.

My general impression was that there are plenty of people engaged in building the Web3 entertainment industry, metaverse, and communities around the novel technologies. I have visited multiple tracks, such as the non-fungible stage, DAO stage, fashion stage, and the main stage, as well as the expo. (The full conference agenda may be found here.) Below are a couple of points sourced from multiple stages and united under the same topic.

· Community. Hearing about this topic in the first session of the first day of the conference was surprising. Zack Nelson, Jay Kurahashi-Sofue, Victoria Vaughan, and Benji Freedman were all agreeing on the importance of community building in the Web3 projects. As stated, any company that uses tokens or NFT is treated as a public company on day 1. Therefore, it has to communicate with its public and maintain engagement. It is important to choose the right channel of communication with different groups of stakeholders, e.g., Slack for developers, Telegram, Reddit, and discord with the general public and customers. It is important to take into account that the more open the channel is, the noisier it becomes. In addition, there is a lot of toxicity in NFT communities regarding focusing on the price of tokens, and product owners should manage and dissolve it by means of personal communication. Meanwhile, real engagement should be driven by the generated value of the product.

· Creator economy. Indeed, web3 technology grants a lot more ownership over their product to the creators. Platforms’ revenue share in web3 has to be much smaller than in web2 platforms to make a significant difference.

· Technology. Despite the rapid development of the technology protocols, there is a lot of space for improvement. One of the central issues is the interoperability of the defragmented blockchain platforms and protocols. The technical solution to the problem is to build bridges between different chains. On the other hand, economical and practical issues arise. One is how to create incentives for the platforms to get connected over bridges when they may affect the platforms’ competitive advantages. Second, when there is a bridge between chains, who do customers trust with their NFT (and their value).?These are the nascent questions that should be thought through, and industry standards should be developed for them.

· Tech talent. Reportedly, there are around 4,000 developers accessible in the US that can code Solidity. That number is drastically low for the growing demand for tech talent driven by Fortune 500 companies. Referring to the previous point of the willingness of some platforms to strengthen their competitive advantage and build a single blockchain that can do everything, that is not a risk model we want to take. Such a monopoly model is not different from the system that we have now in web2. To build more sustainable solutions, it is okay to have multiple specialized solutions that can be connected in a network. And lastly, when assembling the developers’ team, ethical considerations should be taken into account. Essentially, in many cases, developers are coding money in the blockchain, therefore, the issue of trust should be in the attention of talent managers to avoid any undesirable consequences as we encountered recently with FTX.

NFTs. Probably, the most discussed and experimented instrument of web3. A quite sharp comparison of NFTs to IP licensing was given in a legal session. Trading NFTs, in some sense, is like selling licenses to intellectual property. Moreover, the legal prenup may not be necessary at the early stages since the technology provides the accountability of the ownership and royalties distribution. Arguably, mass NFT adoption will happen through entertainment, though not limited to it. Any type of data, e.g., medical records, private data, or company data, may become an NFT. Moreover, the multiplication of the instances of NFTs suggests the fractionalization of rights so that multiple stakeholders may be mutual owners of the piece of intellectual property or information.

· Metaverse. Last but not least, a lot of talks have been devoted to the prospects and potential of the metaverse. It has been reminded by one of the speakers said that the metaverse concept was a crafter in the 1993 novel. The popular opinion today is that metaverse is to bridge physical and virtual worlds. In some sense, it is to fill that third place of our life – spare time, alongside the time spent at home and work. Multiple advanced technologies are being used today to augment our reality and build a metaverse. A good example is the deep learning algorithms that allow to scan the physical spaces and converting them into 3-dimensional virtual space. While there is a lot of doubt from the customer’s perspective about the usefulness of virtual reality, there is a lot of enthusiasm and enthusiasts to build up the infrastructure for the alternative reality, from virtual garments and clothing to conference and social spaces, avatars, etc.

Lastly, alongside the openness, transparency, and automation that came along with the technology development, the success element for the mass adoption of all new tools is the improved customer experience. We have proven that we can solve technical problems, and there is substantial interest from potential investors and customers. The next generation of projects should focus on improving the UX design, accessibility, and seamless service in the web3 applications.