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Read Write Own by Chris Dixon

Cornerstone Press, 2024


Like many others, I spent a considerable part of lockdown setting up my Coinbase account and MetaMask wallet, populating them, getting my head around NFTs in the form of rudimentary artwork jpegs and then watching the bubble burst - in terms of the jpegs, anyway.

But I was always convinced that the use cases for NFTs, particularly as smart contracts, was going to be a game-changer, especially for our business - monetising creative content.

Simultaneously, the outrage about corporate networks (Twitter/X, Meta, Apple et al) only escalates, and it's becoming increasingly apparent that the lack of ownership inherent to the Web 2 model - not least ownership of creators' audiences - will be the pinprick which bursts the Silicon Valley bubble as it has stood for the last 15 years.

Very few operators in the content and media business are talking about this, which I continue to find astonishing. I was therefore interested to see Andreessen Horowitz partner Chris Dixon set out his stall.

Enjoyment factor

I suspect that this is going to turn out to be a pivotal book on my business journey, and be much-quoted decades from now. Loved it.

It left me thinking ....

Regulators and media operators should stop trying to apply analogue legislation to Web 2 and recognise that Web 3 will self-correct many of the issues inherent in the current model. As Dixon puts it, "Instead of putting taxi drivers out of a job, blockchain puts Uber out of a job." That's big.

The token-centric environment around ownership of assets is more reflective of a real-world market-based democracy - including competition, and the ability to trade those assets - than anything that has come before on the web.

All technologies get off to a slow start, with a few false starts along the way. In 2007, we were all wondering what the killer apps for mobile would be. Now is the time to keep a close eye on the emerging killer blockchains.

This has particular resonance for the creative industries, enabling creators to not only own and monetise their own work, but also to own their audiences - a glaring hole in the existing corporate-network business model, and an exciting development as we enter an increasingly automated age.

But there's an astonishing lack of discussion around Web 3 in the media and creative industries at the moment. I was at an industry conference just last week, and it didn't come up once in any of the sessions I attended. Bashing (rightly) the existing corporate platforms is rife, but the solution is always to revert to analogue-era regulation, not to look around the corner for the opportunities ahead.

The few pioneers in the industry who I have met say they're getting nothing but blank looks from legacy media companies - which implies an exciting opportunity for both the entrepreneurs and the creators of the future.

That a firm such with a track record like Andreessen are putting their eggs in this basket is strong validation.

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