It feels a little like digital nomadism is to work what Web3 is to the internet. Both represent the decentralization of activities that were previously tightly controlled and a reach for greater freedom.
As Web3 continues to emerge, we predict that it will become hugely important to digital nomads, both in terms of the work opportunities on the table and the tools available to help us live our lives.
Let’s take a closer look at Web3, what it is, what it means for the future, and why digital nomads should care.
What is Web3?
What exactly do people mean when they talk about Web3? Well, among tech communities there are generally considered to be three iterations of the popular web.
Of course, when the internet was originally invented, it was highly unregulated and decentralized and developers were free to create whatever they could imagine on top of it. But, as with most things, this exciting new tool was soon incorporated into the big systems that control most of modern life.
Web1 is considered the phase when the internet became widely available and was mainly used as a publishing platform, allowing anyone with the time and expertise to broadcast their ideas and content to a fast-growing audience.
Web2 is considered the phase when audiences were invited not only to consume content but also to contribute content. This started with leaving ratings and comments, and eventually evolved into social media.
But while content creation might be decentralized in Web2, content ownership is not. The content created by users is used by big monopolies, such as Facebook and Google. They use the data gathered to improve their products, but also for marketing and sales, which allows them to generate staggering levels of income.
Web3 is the next logical step in the progression, with the internet becoming democratized and decentralized. This would mean that users would no longer be obliged to hand over their data to companies, and companies would also no longer be in control of user-generated content.
The best example of Web3 is practice is cryptocurrency. This is built on a technology called blockchain, which shares management and control of data in an open, transparent, and decentralized manner. This puts control of the currency beyond the hands of governments, banks, and other organizations.
But while cryptocurrency is the most well-known example of blockchain technology, it should not be confused with the only use for Web3. Blockchain can be applied in many situations where data needs to be stored, shared, verified, and protected. Consider the following real-world examples.
- BurtsIQ is a blockchain application that allows patients and doctors to securely manage and share sensitive medical information. It uses a smart contracts tool that allows users to set parameters for what data can be shared, with whom, in different circumstances, allowing each patient to personalize their data security.
- Mediachain uses similar smart contracts to allow musicians to manage their royalties. It is one of the tools used (and owned since 2017) by Spotify.
- Propy Inc is a decentralized registry system for property that allows for instant transfer of property ownership when desired.
- The Illinois Blockchain Initiative is a state-funded initiative to enhance the security of birth and death certificates, voter registration cards, and social security numbers.
- Voatz is an encrypted blockchain biometric security system that makes it secure to vote on a mobile device anywhere in the world.
- DHL uses blockchain to keep their digital ledger of shipments and maintain the integrity of their transactions.
What does Web3 mean for Digital Nomads?
We think that there are three very good reasons that digital nomads should care about Web3: future jobs, nomad lifestyle tools, and the underlying philosophy.
As Web3 continues to develop, the number of jobs available in the area is set to skyrocket, and many will be recruiting 100% remote teams that align with their philosophy of decentralization.
This means that digital nomads hoping to expand their careers and stay ahead in the professional game should be familiarizing themselves with Web3 and the skills required to work in the sector.
A quick browse of current job vacancies shows the variety of different Web3 related roles out there including blockchain developers, solidity engineers, crypto researchers and analysts, and blockchain consensus engineers.
Being educated about Web3 is about being prepared for the future of the “digital” profession.
Digital nomads often struggle to find the tools that they need to live a life that crosses political and technological boundaries. Sometimes just transferring funds between currencies and making local payments can represent a major hurdle for digital nomads.
Many of the new Web3 tools being developed will circumnavigate arbitrary, often state-imposed, rules and restrictions that can make living as a citizen of the world challenging.
There are already excellent examples of useful tools such as voting applications that allow you to vote from your mobile device no matter where you are in the world, and applications that allow you to maintain and share your medical records across boundaries as needed.
There are even a variety of applications being developed specifically for travelers.
- Travala is a travel booking service that will allow you to pay for flights and accommodation using cryptocurrency, even at that little B&B in a remote village.
- Winding Tree is using blockchain to link different elements of the travel industry for better logistical supply chain accuracy, which means no more lost luggage and missed connections.
- Cool Cousin is a blockchain app that connects tourists with local guides in a similar way to Uber, removing the middleman who often skims off the top in these types of transactions.
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Web3 tools that will soon make living and working remotely more accessible. But one of the biggest challenges for these new products will be buy-in, from people who do not yet understand and trust Web3.
There is also an argument that digital nomads should be supporting Web3 on a philosophical basis. This new approach to the way we use the internet reflects exactly what digital nomads are trying to achieve with their chosen lifestyle.
For decades governments and corporations pushed the message that we should get a high-paying office job, invest in property, and start saving now so that we can enjoy life in the future. But digital nomads dismiss the idea that we have to play by these rules.
The same holds true for online activity. The current hype is to publish content online on platforms such as YouTube and Tik Tok, create viral websites and blogs, and earn money through marketing impressions paid by the big guys such as Google and Facebook.
With Web3, there will be new ways to earn online for valuable activities. Take the example of Modders, people who modify video games. In 2005, economists called this unpaid labour. They noted that the people who could build social status and become “game influencers” through modding were few and far between, and most people did it for passion with no hope of gaining income.
But with Web3, the entertainment industries could track and reward the activities of Modders, making it a genuine career for the most talented and enthusiastic. And this is only one example of how people can start gaining from their value-adding activities.
As supporters of decentralized workplaces where people play to their strengths and build careers on what they are good at and passionate about while making the most of life’s opportunities now, digital nomads should be very excited about Web3.