Letter 10: Better Bear Building
On building when no one is looking
Well, the bear market has made itself comfortable and is settling in for a long winter. How are you holding up? Has the doubt begun to creep in yet? Are you nervously checking the value of your assets each morning? Have you gotten tangled up in the web of infinite regret?
It’s normal to worry or be concerned at times like this. People are understandably uncertain about the future. Pretty much everyone in the space—even the most bullish among us—have had those thoughts from time to time.
But there is one topic which many of us have not given enough thought to: how we can collectively use this time to better position ourselves for the next go around. As it stands, the space does not have the means to properly scale and adopt millions or billions into the fold.
So let’s take a moment to talk about better bear building: in particular, five things we should adopt before the next bull run.
1. Abstract Away Complexities
Gas, nonce, wrap, gwei, custodial, layer 2, DeFi, ReFi, Dutch auction, cold wallet, hot wallet, CC0, blockchain explorer, thin floor— we have well over 100 web3 specific definitions in The Glossary that we wrote and it could easily double or triple and still be incomplete.
99% of people who enter the space will never understand the jargon, yet alone the intricacies of how anything actually works. And the truth is, they shouldn’t have to: if your ecosystem requires homework and intense weeks of studying just to understand it, it will either fail or drastically cap your potential audience.
As an example of progress in abstracting away complexities, some wallets have begun taking steps in making the signing and transaction process more legible and understandable. This is fortunate for the majority of folks who are either unwilling or unable to read Etherscan.
While appreciated, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are many more changes we’d like to see.
Interestingly, a few companies have already caught onto this. Starbucks and Reddit are moving to embrace this new tech, but keeping things as simple as possible for the consumer, eschewing words like “NFT” or “blockchain” and sticking with vernacular that everyone’s familiar with: “rewards”, “digital collectibles”, etc. There is another factor to that of course, which is the public aversion to NFTs, but even still, the future will likely abstract away these concepts, technologies, and acronyms from common usage.
Eventually, most UI interactions will be invisible and under the hood, similar to how virtually all software, operating systems, and internet infrastructure operates today.
Most people don’t know or care how things work, so long as they do.
2. Improved Marketplaces
Despite the millions marketplaces have made, customization and discoverability remains woefully inadequate and in need of an overhaul.
For a proper feeling of ownership, user profiles need more than a PFP, brief bio, and pinning a few select pieces to their page.
Collectors should also have the ability to facilitate better discovery of work that may appeal to them. Rather than merely shopping by individual NFT traits, rarity, and properties (something clearly designed with only traders and flippers in mind), they should be able to search: by file type, whether it’s text, image, audio, or video based, if it was created digitally or traditionally, the art style, what mediums were used, and when it was created.
As the bare minimum.
Greater emphasis should be placed on enabling collectors to discover the projects and artists they’re looking for; reciprocally, artists and project creators need the means to tag and identify their work in more detailed ways to ensure that discoverability.
3. Respect Royalties
The current hot button topic in the space right now is over artist/creator royalties, and the bold move of certain marketplaces and collections dropping them to 0%. While flipping and trading is essential to a healthy marketplace, it is a cancer to artists and the vast majority of project creators.
Royalties are not a novelty to be tried and then abandoned. They directly affect the livelihood of artists, who, it would do well to remember, came to web3 with the promise of said royalties and greater ownership of their work. If they wanted to continue being unappreciated, they could have just stayed out of web3 and carried on as they were. Now that they’re here though, are we really comfortable taking away their livelihood, earning potential, and reason they came in the first place?
Artists and creators are tired of being repeatedly shafted just to save a buck.
That’s not to say that there aren’t more nuanced discussions to be had over whether it should be the buyer or the seller’s responsibility in picking up the royalty fees. There’s also the ongoing discussion surrounding marketplaces and whether they should include the option for creators to willfully set 0% royalties. That’s not what I’m talking about.
But the version of web3 that some are pushing for, in which artists and creators are relegated to begging for table scraps is not a cycle worth repeating.
Artists deserve royalties on their work; your liquidity means nothing if they leave the space and you have nothing to collect.
4. Security Overhaul
This is admittedly a tricky subject.
While custodial accounts, programs, and services are generally frowned upon in web3 for going against the ethos of decentralized freedom that we all espouse, the flip side of that is that everyone becomes 100% responsible for every aspect of their life.
I think most reasonable people would agree that potentially losing all of your crypto because you forgot/lost your seed phrase or had your account compromised is not exactly ideal.
If you can’t trust your mom or dad to remember their Netflix password or keep it safe, is it really wise for them to come into the space at all? It’s likely that this next bull run will reward ecosystems which find a way to keep the security and personal freedoms of web3, but achieve a level of permissiveness and convenience of web2.
Marketplaces like OpenSea also need to take a good look at their customer service and reporting process, as well as the timely nature of their replies, as their response rate to customer inquiries so far has been, shall we say…mixed at best?
Beyond this, we’re all aware of the frightening number of phishing techniques, and hacks which have hit people in the space. This is additionally concerning when you realize that Discord is perhaps the #1 gathering place for NFTs and crypto communities, while also being one of the easiest means for criminals to compromise and exploit.
5. Go Where the People Are
For a long while, to find a project without a Discord or a Twitter was a good sign that you were being rugged, and that the creator had no intention to interact with the community.
In recent months we’ve seen free mints and CC0 rise to the forefront. With a greater emphasis on doing whatever you want, people have begun to rethink everything, including the blind deference to these two specific platforms.
Sooner or later the space is bound to move to a web3 native platform that better understands its community and specific concerns (both security and otherwise).
Some are already in development.
When that happens, creators and founders need to be adaptable and prepared to go where the people are. If they don’t, they’ll risk being left behind.
Bonus: Keep Your Head Up
Beyond the subjects I’ve listed today, we mustn’t forget the daily struggle that it can be to even exist in the space, especially when the world misunderstands it and is largely against it. Beyond that, many of us are already seeing the exodus of friends we came up with drop out or otherwise become discouraged.
Even startup founders can (and are) dropping out, not just from a lack of motivation or money (although that happens as well) but simply because they grew sad and lost hope.
Our founder Mai Akiyoshi actually wrote a thread about it just the other day.
It is well worth a read and chock full of useful advice.
Readers, make sure to take care of yourselves. Keep your head up, and together we’ll build the sort of space worth thriving in.
Nobody knows when the bear market will end; anyone who says they do is just speculating.
But rather than leave the space to reemerge when the excitement returns, the wisest, craftiest, and grittiest will stick around, solving the problems of today and continuing to lay the foundations—brick by brick—for a safer, intuitive, and user friendly web3.
Better bear building.
Written by: Brad Jaeger
Director of Content @ Curious Addys (say hi on Twitter! )
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