For the uninitiated, the world of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology can be daunting, confusing, and difficult to understand. Three industry experts and a skeptical economist explore the past, present, and future of emerging technology in a new online learning series.
Masterclass is a web-based educational platform that offers ‘lessons’ from subject matter experts in their areas of influence. You can learn how to cook with Gordon Ramsay, explore the art of acting with Natalie Portman or master the tennis racket with Serena Williams.
Its newly launched series on cryptocurrency, blockchain technology, and Web3 follows the same trend. Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, A16z General Partner Chris Dixon, Coinbase President Emilie Choi and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman delve into the ins and outs of this topic that is gradually changing the way we transact and use the internet.
Cointelegraph has been granted exclusive access to the series that begins with an introduction to cryptocurrency and a comprehensive overview of the start-up of blockchain technology. In typical Masterclass fashion, the episodes are exquisitely produced, with trusted experts providing anecdotes and answering the questions most relevant to newcomers to space.
Zhao summarizes the evolution of technology by highlighting how the internet has allowed humanity to transfer information, while blockchain builds on this by promoting value transfer. Meanwhile, Choi offered a more relevant insight, pressing the power of decentralization to return control to individuals:
“Cryptography is universal by default as long as you have some kind of internet connection. This is especially important for people who have been turned away from the traditional financial system.”
Dixon is also a prominent voice through the series, providing his expertise as a technology entrepreneur, prominent cryptocurrency and Web3 evangelist. His introductory thoughts in the series set the tone for the overarching theme of Web3’s impact on the ever-evolving Internet: “The big question now is how these new networks will be created in the next year of the Internet, who will own them, who will control them and who will make money.”
Crypto History – Rooted in Bitcoin
Zhao takes a central role as the Masterclass covers the history of cryptocurrency. Rooted in cryptography and the need to solve the problem of a Byzantine general, Zha deconstructs these notions before delving into the mystery that is Bitcoin.
The creator is pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto.
With the 2008 financial crisis as a starting point, the CEO points to the publication of the Bitcoin white paper as a seminal moment for cryptocurrencies and the Web3 we know and use today. The famous Bitcoin Pizza is also on display, due to its significance as the first commercial transaction using Bitcoin.
The development of Ethereum is another focal point as a way for entrepreneurs to enter the cryptocurrency ecosystem thanks to smart contract functionality and the ability to issue ERC-20 tokens.
The concept and appeal of “liberty” is touched upon by both Zhao and Dixon, the former noting that this aspect is desirable for both libertarians and “militant anarchists”. Dixon concludes the chapter with a quote from author William Gibson:
“The future is already here, it’s not evenly distributed.”
He believes that cryptography is still an Internet movement and a grassroots technology. But tech companies and financial institutions don’t like it, which prompts the above quote.
Web3: Read, Write and Own
Web3 is becoming a ubiquitous concept, but the impact of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology may be lost on some. The masterclass does a good job of putting the pieces back together as Choi highlights the key differences between Web1, Web2, and Web3.
Web1 represents the early internet, where websites were read-only landing pages governed by open protocols and users simply consumed information. The emergence of Web2 in the early 2000s led to the introduction of read and write functionality, which Choi described as a paradigm shift:
“Users are the product, and central companies dictate the rules and control the data and user-generated content.”
Dixon breaks down at this point, highlighting the rise of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple to unleash the power of technology and do things you can’t do with TV, magazines, and other media. The result was a consolidation of economic power and control among a handful of large corporations:
“What that meant for creators, developers, and entrepreneurs is that instead of building on open systems, you were relying on those companies to gain and keep audiences to sell things.”
This is where Web3 enters the fray, not just information but publishing and ownership. It is community owned and operated in nature, with token implementations of new Web3 applications and concepts proliferating.
Choi summed it up succinctly, using Cryptocore