So, you want to take back the web? From whom? Why? What will you do with it once it's been handed over to your care?
More seriously, we are conditioned to value action and results over intention. We live in a global culture that emphasizes what we achieve rather than what we mean.
Actions are, in a sense, how we attempt to make the external world match our internal world. They're important, and what you achieve matters, but it is not the primary matter. If you are not clear about your internal world - what you mean to do - you will never be satisfied with the external world. Unless you examine your own expectations, you will always be disappointed.
How can you hope to improve the world if you do not know how to improve yourself?
Our action-oriented culture, driven by results, encourages us to believe that life is about what we can expect of the world. However, an honest, reflective life is as much about responding truly, in every moment, to what the world expects of you. This is only possible if you constantly practise awareness of your intentions.
Our focus on intention and expectation is inspired by Viktor Frankl's book Man's Search for Meaning, but you can find some version of it across nearly all the world's major wisdom traditions. We need not express it using spiritual or psychological language though, because this is all about developing the patterns of thought most well-suited to our particular context.
What's unique about web3 - about economic code which creates new trust spaces; expands the possible definitions of value; merges money and speech; and creates new constraints in which to experiment with freedom - is that we can encode our intentions, literally. Most importantly, the code with which we express our inner world and meaning then lives independently of us on a shared, global network where it will not change.
Prompt: In order to respond truly, in every moment, to what the world expects of us, we must practice what?
Awareness of intention.
Revolutions always end up failing because they are reliant on people whose priorities change. There is something ambiguous in each of us, and this is a wonderful thing. However, a smart contracts now deployed on mainnet will remain there irrespective of what happens to their original creators. There is no bribe or threat which can get them to change this. They literally cannot take it back.
That said, contracts are made valuable not by their 'immutable' nature, but by the way they are used by other beings. This nuance leads us not to veritas (the Latin word for "trust", from which we get the focus on verification), but treysta, meaning "stable" or "reliable": that is, given the same inputs, the contract will return the same result over and over again forever. Trust is established by looking both backwards (veritas) and forwards (treysta) simultaneously. While trust is a necessary condition, long-term value is actually arrived at by virtue of who uses a given contract, when, and how they use it. It is the integration of our own ambiguity in dialogue with shared, verifiable media that is most interesting here. As Pierre Hadot writes in The Inner Citadel:
"If our activity is animated by the perfectly pure intention of wishing only for the good, it attains its goal at every instant, and has no need to wait for its achievement and result to come from the future [...] Each action upon which good intentions and good will are focused finds its completion and its plenitude within itself, and no one can prevent us from completing it and succeeding in it [...] Even if something becomes an obstacle to what I was doing, and thereby to the virtue I was practicing, I can find in that very obstacle the opportunity to practice another virtue."
Placing our attention first on our own intentions retrieves our ability to act meaningfully, to live purposefully, and to "participate in reality creation" as Douglas Rushkoff writes in Team Human. Cultivating honesty about who you really intend to be - the kinds of meaning you truly wish to enact in your world - is the most direct path to experiencing a deeper sense of your "self", which may at the same time lead you to recognise the essence which you share with all life. From this place, which is both reflective and collective, we can create technologies that work with us; that complement our ability to live as wise human beings. Hadot puts it very clearly:
Look and see [in dialogue and your own lived experience] if there is anything more attractive than greatness of soul, freedom, simplicity, benevolence, and piety; for what is more attractive than wisdom itself?
Timechains (i.e. immutable chains of events in time) which encode intention over durations we cannot readily imagine are an invitation to be honest and clear about what meaningful money really is in our own experience right now, and to express the courage required to sign - and go on signing - that into shared reality.
Prompt: Web3 gives us the unique ability to ///// our /////////.
Encode our intentions.