From Titans to Tech: How Web3 Echoes Greek Mythology

Note: much of this post was authored in collaboration with ChatGPT. I find it fun to prompt and have bots flesh out somewhat zany ideas. The post pairs well with listening to Igor Stravinsky's Orpheus, a myth about a mortal's journey into the underworld, which also is part of the subject of the great play Hadestown.

The evolution of the internet can be compared to the epic journey of Greek mythology, which is divided into three distinct eras: the Age of Titans, the Age of Gods, and the Age of Heroes. Similarly, the internet has undergone three significant transformations: initial interweb, Web 2.0, and Web3.

The Age of Titans: creating the cosmos and launching the internet

In Greek mythology, the Age of Titans represents the primordial era of the cosmos, dominated by powerful, elemental beings. Similarly, Web 1.0 marks the early days of the internet, characterized by static websites and a one-way flow of information. During this period, web pages were primarily read-only, and users were passive consumers of content.

  • Cronus and Web 1.0: Just as Cronus ruled during the Golden Age of the Titans, the early internet was ruled by directories and portals like Yahoo! and AOL. These platforms served as gateways to the web, organizing content and making it accessible to users.

  • The Static Nature: Much like the Titans who were bound by their elemental nature, Web 1.0 was limited by its static, non-interactive pages. Websites were simple, consisting of text and basic images, with no user-generated content or social interaction.

The era concludes with the Titanomachy, a great war between the Titans and the Olympian gods, led by Zeus, which results in the Titans' defeat and imprisonment in Tartarus. Here the conclusion of the search engine wars with the total victory of Google and Facebook dethroning myspace.

The Age of Gods: Web 2.0

The Age of Gods in Greek mythology symbolizes the rise of the Olympian deities, who brought order and dynamic interactions to the cosmos. This era parallels the advent of Web 2.0, where the internet became more interactive, social, and user-driven.

  • Web 2.0: The pantheon of Gods represents the emergence of powerful platforms like Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google (FAANG or other acronym depending on the stock market era).

  • Interactivity and Collaboration: Just as the Olympian gods interacted with humans and each other, Web 2.0 allowed users to engage, collaborate, and share content. Blogs, wikis, and social media sites flourished, giving rise to a more connected and interactive web experience.

  • Democratization of Content: The gods' involvement in mortal affairs mirrors the democratization of content creation. Users were no longer mere consumers; they became creators and influencers, shaping the web's landscape.

Sometimes web 2.0 founders even had somewhat overt god-like ambitions.

Emperor Zuck, Caeser Augustus aficionado.

The Age of Heroes: Web3

The Age of Heroes in Greek mythology highlights the exploits of legendary heroes who bridged the gap between gods and mortals. This era parallels the rise of Web3, which aims to decentralize the internet, empowering individuals and fostering a more equitable digital ecosystem. Moreover, it emphasizes the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and the digital transformation of all aspects of life.

  • Decentralization and Autonomy: Much like the heroes who operated independently of the gods, Web3 promotes decentralization and user autonomy. Blockchain technology eliminates the need for central authorities, enabling peer-to-peer interactions and trustless transactions.

  • Digital Transformation: The integration of AI into Web3 parallels the heroes' extraordinary abilities. AI is revolutionizing various sectors by enhancing efficiency, personalization, and decision-making. From smart contracts to AI-driven dApps to the inexorable shift in innumerable industry verticals like healthcare, government, transportation, and defense, the digital transformation is touching every aspect of life.

  • Founding New Cities: The heroes' founding of cities echoes the aspirations of modern pioneers who aim to establish new digital and physical communities. Visionaries like those behind blockchain cities and AI-powered smart cities are laying the groundwork for innovative, self-sustaining societies, reminiscent of ancient heroes like Romulus, who founded Rome.

The third wave of the web also represents alliances with new upstarts and early elemental internet pioneers, echoing Greek mythology. Unlike most of the Titans, Prometheus was not imprisoned in Tartarus. He had sided with Zeus and the Olympians during the Titanomachy. Later, however, he was punished by Zeus for giving fire to humanity and was bound to a rock where an eagle would eat his liver daily. Eventually, he was freed by Hercules (Heracles)

Today there are countless examples of early web pioneers supporting the eternal flame of innovation, sometimes even despite business conditions. (See for example the hero's journey hippie mythological quest that is the Daylight Computer company and its Steve Jobs side stepping founder.)

Many more remain. I hope to write more and explore deeper useful parallels and metaphors to make sense of this third wave of the web. For now I will end with a quote from canonical early web pioneer Steve Case on what this third wave means:

[the] third wave really will start integrating the Internet and things like healthcare and education and transportation and energy and even food and in a way that will really you know create big opportunities for the innovators and challenge some of the incumbents but there is no road a book I think this third wave will require a different mind set and require a different playbook than the the the second wave did.

Collect this post to permanently own it.
Pioneering Spirit logo
Subscribe to Pioneering Spirit and never miss a post.
#web3#internet#pioneer#hippie#ideals#homebrew#computer club