Matt

Founder, Write.as. On Web³: @matt

I’ve loved this place in the South for what it was. I spent my twenties here accidentally, moving to the beach after college with my then-girlfriend, and later to the city for a job. Met good people. Slowly replaced who I’d always been with this southern Me. Bought a house even though I was always looking for a way away. I figured I’d live here a year or two. That was seven years ago.

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Seemingly overnight, there’s been a whole new version of the Web invented, dubbed “web3.” I’ve seen a lot of people talk about it online lately, so I started looking into it to see if it’s worth paying attention to.

What I’ve found is summed up in my (slightly cheeky) web3 analysis. Basically, it’s that “web3” is a set of blockchain-based technologies with some very specific use cases. Many proponents are happy to make wild claims as to how this is truly “the future,” and more thoughtful community members seem to be drowned out by hype men who look at the tech uncritically.

From my conversations and research, it seems to me “web3” is at best poorly branded, having less to do with the Web itself than new ways to do commerce on the web. Overall, the hype seems disproportionate to the real-world usability or application, even when the idea is eventually fully realized.

Seeing that, I started wondering: if not this, what would a true iteration of the Web look like?

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Last week I had the smallest window of time without any pressing obligations at the end of the day, paired with enough energy to code something for fun. So I used it to lay down some more code for Remark.as.

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I spent the end of October in Mexico City for Founder Summit, and it was a really wonderful experience. Between the people I met — other founders, developers, salespeople, etc. all building companies — and the conversations I had, I was actually excited to get home just to start putting new things in motion. Here are some of my takeaways from the experience.

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Lately, over the course of the last few months, I’ve realized that I’m lacking something crucial to building this business: my inspiration to go after anything bigger.

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After two years of pushing hard to grow Write.as into a large business, heavily investing (and losing) my savings along the way, early this year I scaled us back to a calm, profitable level we can sustain indefinitely. With a still mind now, I’m seeing a clear vision of how I want this business to run and grow going forward.

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Writing “just because” feels like one of the most innocent, humble human activities. Just like making up games to play as a kid. If you step back to view our manufactured world from the frame of what is human vs. non-human, this is clear to me.

We have our screens, and our great technology and economic systems, far removed from the natural world we came from — they’re “human” in the modern sense of the word, rather than the ancient meaning. But we also have this “old humanity” left in us, even as it’s slowly squeezed out of us with ever-encroaching modernity. We still mimic each other in empathy; we still recognize a smile and a laugh; we still gain social connection through touch.

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Among other ideas I noodle on for months or more at a time, I’m very slowly mulling over monetization on Write.as — how we would do it, what fits our product, what is the most human way to approach the problem, etc. I first wrote about it a year ago, before we added support for Web Monetization.

I don’t want to just slap a copycat subscription feature on our blogs and call it a day. Like everything, I want to approach this with my own eyes, after surveying the current landscape, talking to our unique group of writers, and asking “Why?” to everything along the way.

So here are some new general principles / ideas on monetization that came to mind today, especially after an earlier conversation with one of the writers in our community, Manuel Parra-Yagnam.

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Maybe we don’t need more ways to connect with the people we already know, if we care about breaking out of our filter bubbles, growing, being less depressed, etc. We have more than enough ways to connect with any loved one anywhere in the world. We don’t need more. We have plenty of algorithms feeding us the same-old recommendations of music, products, videos, and tweets that we’ll probably enjoy. We don’t need more.

Our hometown-social-networks might help us connect with people we already know, but do we ever grow? Are our worldviews ever challenged? Do we ever learn, or question anything? Are we ever blindsided by bliss at the discovery of something utterly unanticipated? It seems rare; almost frowned upon.

Maybe what we need, to complement this same old same old, is new ways of digital discovery; new methods of mental adventure. The “old” personal web was, and is, this frontier. It never died, but its frame has been changed by today’s web giants — what used to be the web is now the old web. Unconventional websites are now quaint pitstops on the commute to FaceGoog; aberrations among the real web, as defined (naturally) by the giants.

But our appetites for adventure haven’t changed. Sure, not everyone else will care to step into the wilderness of the decentralized / p2p / weird-and-funky personal web. But those who do, as always, will be rewarded — through growth and pleasant surprise, instead of the same old, same old.

I’ve been digging into the world of image parsing the last couple days, after fixing image orientation issues while introducing a new issue: image metadata (particularly for color correction) getting lost during processing.

In short, Go’s standard image/jpeg library tosses out metadata when you decode an image to transform it, as we do for images uploaded to Snap.as. So preserving that metadata means first parsing it out, running the transformations, then writing it back to the image when you encode it with the new transformations. Should be straightforward, right? Oh let’s see…

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