I’VE NEVER BEEN THAT PERSON.
The one who doesn’t keep up with change. The one who eschews new technology out of some self-righteous adherence to a past that was never meant to remain static. The past IS prologue — time and time again.
My job has always been to keep moving forward, to find what’s lurking beyond the current line of sight, and to embrace the past knowledge that never stopped but continuously evolved — from Second Life and Ultima Online to today’s “Metaverse”; from Friendster and Usenet to Twitter and Reddit; from elementary digital goods to serious digital money and NFTs; from online communities like The Well to today’s Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs.)
And all this time I’ve never felt old or past my prime; I’ve never been called an outdated thinker. So when a current group of acquaintances says things to me like “that’s very Web 2.0,” or “this is what we do in Web 3.0,” well I get little defensive.
I understand, I could be their dad. I’m a bald dude with graying temples. I’m sure they think I still subscribe to cable and have a Netscape email account somewhere (and that I’m old enough to remember Netscape — yeah, Compuserve and GeoCities too, and proud of it.)
“That’s very Web 2.0” is code for “step aside, grandpa.” It’s ageism as a digital pejorative. They assume because I have a 401K that I also like to print out and fax my emails.
So my advice to them — and to all of us — is to take a page out of Ted Lasso’s book and Be Curious. If the Web 3.0 disciples had asked, I would have told them that I have not just one but two crypto wallets; that I’ve been around the blockchain since the early 2010s, and that I was creating digital environments for brands in virtual reality platforms since 2006 (I also attend a synagogue service in Second Life in 2005, which was a religious experience on multiple levels.)
I know that what’s happening today, this “new” thing called Web 3.0, is in large part what Tim Berners-Lee predicted back in 2008 — a “semantic web” of machines talking to machines (blockchain “smart contracts” anyone?) But I also know that the Web 3.0 of today will evolve and become something new and unique, something that all the tech and talent of the past could never have predicted.
Which is why after all these years, I still love this shit.
So if you want to find me I’ll be in my usual spot — just around the corner, taking all of that “old” knowledge and applying it to what’s next. Because if being a product of the Web-Point-No era has taught me anything, it’s that change and new ways of thinking shouldn’t be wasted just on the young.