Washington, D.C., is a city of policy, but it’s also a city with a creative community that has its eye on technological advancements.
2021 was a big year for tech. The unveiling of the Metaverse propelled discussions around Web3 technology — virtual reality, cryptocurrencies and NFTs — further than ever before. In Washington, artists are exploring the possibilities of new media, and W3DC is here to close a gap of understanding around Web3 and its practicality for creatives.
W3DC is a meetup on June 2 that provides Washington’s art community with an opportunity to explore the possibilities of Web3 technology. The team behind W3DC told District Fray the inaugural meetup will be an inclusive space for local creatives to learn about Web3 and NFTs, all the while enjoying displays of physical and digital artworks.
“If you bought Bitcoin in 2009, or you have no idea what an NFT is, you’re welcome,” said Warren Weixler, co-founder of SWATCHROOM and co-organizer of W3DC.
Web3 is also known as Web 3.0, a new-age conceptualization of the internet that prioritizes blockchain technology. At its core, blockchain is the middleman for users to trade cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, according to Harvard Business Review.
“Web3 is very much love,” said Ryan McNey, founder of Washington’s Web3 community OVRT and co-organizer of W3DC. “It’s managed from love and managed from a different perspective.”
The shift that McNey is referencing is a noticeable change in internet ownership. The creation of crypto has enabled creatives to own their data, rather than have centralized companies such as Google and Facebook control and monetize personal information.
NFTs are the known entry point for creatives interested in the Web3 community. NFTs, also known as non-fungible tokens, are digital manifestations of physical art that are traded and stored on the blockchain in exchange for cryptocurrency, according to The Verge.
W3DC will dissolve the mystery around NFTs and the common misconceptions associated with Web3 technology.
“A lot of people see NFTs as crypto — there’s so much more to it. NFTs right now [are] just an experiment,” McNey said.
Weixler reiterated the importance of transparency around the inner workings of Web3. Artists should know they can leverage the sale of NFTs to self-fund their own projects, akin to a personal crowdfund.
“If you could release an NFT project [and] received money from that project, you could then use that money to grow the next body of work,” Weixler said.
Self-funding through cryptocurrency is also a potential resolution to the many roadblocks attached to obtaining arts grants in Washington.
“I think there’s an interesting financial piece to the creative Web3 world,” Weixler said. “For small businesses, for brands in the space — [self-funding] is a really powerful thing that hasn’t been tapped to its full potential yet.”
In the future, the W3DC team envisions Washington to be a hub for Web3 development. Beyond the continuation of W3DC meet-ups and panels for new media education, the group foresees the possibility of a yearly summit dedicated to Web3 and the intersections of design and technology.
Ultimately, W3DC advances Web3 through the lens of local creatives, not the blockchain.
“We’re trying to just create space and allow it to organically kind of grow. But, with that goal in mind that it’s to become a much larger thing.”