Do we need more web3 wallets?
013. On innovation and the lack thereof
Hey, friends—welcome back to online/offline, a weekly newsletter about technology, culture, and the future. I did not publish last week because there were (and are) more important things happening that should’ve occupied your attention. Namely, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is ongoing. If you’d like to support Ukraine, please donate to one of the many organizations on this master list, via the crypto wallets shared by the Ukraine government here, and/or via UkraineDAO.
This week, I want to explore a question I’ve been deliberating. This newsletter is meant to be a conversation, so do reply/DM me with your thoughts/questions. And if you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe below.
The answer is no.
We don’t need more wallets.
I’ve been reflecting on innovation inflection points, like when the iPhone standardized multi-touch screens starting in 2007 … This genius hardware update changed the game in terms of how people could and should interact with technology. When I first downloaded Snapchat on my iPhone, the app opened up to the camera—like the phone was seeing for me—and the multitouch led to boundless creativity. Pinch to zoom in, glide to write/draw, and tap to capture a shot. It was unlike any other photographic experience I’d had before. For the first time, I could add context to (ephemeral) memories.
When it comes to web3,I don’t think we’ve reached the aha moment of how the frontier techology can truly alter the trajectory of consumer experience. What we have are now “skeuomorphic” wallets that allow consumers to complete transactions, replicas of web2 platforms, and other developer-friendly but consumer-hostile products. We’re still early. But I challenge us to rethink the world and technology as we know it. Can we mint pictures as we take them? Can we fractionize a streaming subscription? Can we use on-chain data and geolocating to promote gated experiences and products? Can we get rid of legal IDs completely?
We don’t need more wallets, though there are quite a few I’m excited about.
We need more wacky, fun, galaxy brain ideas. We need to put consumer experience first. We need to live in the future so we can shape the present.
What do you think?
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As someone who works in a museum, I would like to respectfully challenge the 'consumer first' prioritization. However, you rightfully call out that a need to re-examine web3 wallets while it's still in the early phase of adoption. At the museum, we are discussing how to uncouple the market terms associated with NFTs. For example a "wallet" as a term and skeuomorphic icon, for showing one's digital collection, would not the right term or image for sharing an art collection (unless one only considers it an investment).