Remember the days of Myspace, when you could fully customize your profile with HTML and CSS? It was a time when users could express their personalities and individuality through the wild color palettes, moving GIFs, and custom cursors that adorned their profiles. Your Myspace page was even more of an expression of yourself than the content you added to it.
For many of us, creating our Myspace profile was like creating a digital scrapbook, a way to showcase our interests, our music tastes, and our friendships. It was a time before Facebook’s algorithmically curated feed, when the order of our friends on the side bar was directly related to their social standing. Everything was intentional and personal, if not messy at times.
The Myspace era of social networks may have been short-lived, but it was a formative time for many of us who came of age in the early days of the internet. It was a time when the web was still new and unexplored, and each of us had the opportunity to carve out our own corner of it and make it our own.
The modern crypto-wallet (such as Metamask) has the potential to be a powerful tool for personal identification and self-expression, much like the customizable profiles of Myspace in the early days of social networking. Just as we used to curate our Myspace profiles with music tastes, hobbies, and interests, the clutter of a crypto-wallet can be a treasure trove of digital assets and tokens that reflect our history, our affiliations, and our identity.
However, one of the challenges with crypto-wallets is that they default to an anonymous state, making it difficult for others to discover and connect with us based on the contents of our wallet. They are not content uploaded to a social network, but islands of “self”: something closer to a person who knows what they like, but has no way of sharing or connecting with others. Time capsules buried in the sand and forgotten, no labels inside to tell us who curated them.
In order for crypto-wallets to truly become the “myspace profiles” of the modern era, there will need to be a way to make them more discoverable and personal. This could involve finding ways to link our crypto-wallets to our online identities, or creating ways to showcase the contents of our wallets in a more visible and expressive way. Twitter’s integration allowing NFTs (Non-fungible tokens, a form of blockchain digital collectible) to be used as profile pictures is a weak half-measure. It allows showing off one digital item someone owns, but fails to leverage the networking possibilities.
Imagine instead connecting your crypto-wallet to Twitter and it showing tweets more often by people who own NFTs from similar collections, changing the background of your profile to something akin to a piece of luggage covered in stickers? Imagine it making your profile more you.
One of the challenges of building connections and communities within the web3 ecosystem is the lack of tools like hashtags and “liking” content that are commonly used on social media platforms. These tools allow users to discover and connect with others based on shared interests, even if they have not met in person. In the past, many NFT projects have relied on Discord groups to advertise and build communities leading up to launch. However, these interactions have often been purely market-driven, with individuals motivated by the promise of “winning” at a new technology rather than forming genuine relationships based on common interests.
To mature into a platform for identity and self-expression, web3 and NFTs need to go beyond speculation and serve the purpose of recording and verifying people’s interests and actions. This can help connect individuals who might not otherwise connect and form genuine relationships based on shared passions and hobbies. By leveraging the power of NFTs and tokens to facilitate these deeper connections, the web3 ecosystem can move beyond market-driven interactions and become a true platform for identity and community.
The web3 ecosystem has the potential to provide new and innovative ways for individuals to display and celebrate their digital identities and personal expressions. By finding ways to make crypto wallets and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) more discoverable and personal, individuals can connect with others who share their interests and form meaningful relationships. While the current aesthetic of social networks tends to lean towards minimalism, there is potential for new tools and features to be developed that bring personality and individuality to the service though web3 identities.
Web3 can be used to celebrate and express our digital selves.