Discovering your onchain adventure is only a click away 😗
I am forever exploring the human experience through digital adventures.
And I’ve been thinking a lot about internet adventures this week. It’s funny because when I start talking to complete strangers about it, I find myself emotionally responding to how it feels to share these explorations.
Like how you know a loaf of bread you baked tastes exactly how it should.
We’ll look at just a few aspects of how we got here, what it means to embody an adventurous spirit on the web despite these challenges, and why Cloud Scouts is an important next step to building communities of adventure online and onchain.
tl;dr The internet is evolving, or devolving, into something old and new at the same time. We feel the tectonic plates of the AI revolution and digital empires shifting below us, and we, the users of the web, are changing how we use it.
The Internet is Lost, Not Dead™️
In my recent deep dives, and of course, with the rise of AI, I’ve come across more content about the Dead Internet theory. It’s quite a compelling thought exercise backed by decades of data, so I wonder how true it really is and what, if anything, we can do about it.
The web itself has been a catalyst for creativity and connection that fundamentally altered society and cultures, touching over 5.4 billion users or 66% of the world population as of 2022. I’m not sure how far to the extreme end I believe this theory, but the data is clear: nearly 50% of the internet is automated or bot activity. This marked the lowest level of human activity on the web in eight years. Read the 2023 report from Imperva here.
The (conspiracy) theory started around 2016 and states that the web is being run by bot armies and is, therefore, drowning out organic human content.
You may have already heard about this theory in The Atlantic, or you may have even felt a shift on the web yourself.
From algorithms determining which content we’re served, the fact that content on mobile apps is served differently from web content on the same sites, and the dangers of link rot, the collapse and possible rebirth of the internet or whatever it becomes is accelerating. See e/acc.
This is not the newsletter issue to get into my alignment with e/acc, though I do appreciate its esoteric nature.
And in case you were wondering, yes, I do believe “web3,” encompassing identity and other decentralized computing solutions, is one answer to link rot and other damaging effects of AI or disconnectedness. But I do not believe these things to be the only answer.
However, to counter this argument, I propose that the internet, rather than dead or dying, is simply lost. We are and have been in a liminal state for many years now. Standing at the edges with our foot on the accelerator, as futurists, we imagine how the web and life itself will form as we move into new territory.
Being lost isn’t inherently a bad thing. The various paths to take are very exciting, and if you’re reading this, it’s likely you feel the same.
Adventures often send us into the unknown and require an inquisitive mindset in order to uncover new people, places, and “innovation,” even for the sake of pure curiosity. This is why community builders have specifically proven to be such a pivotal force for adventure on the internet throughout its existence.
Conflict of Culture and Expectations
If the web feels lost to you, too, it’s because a collective uncertainty is making us all literally delulu. My diving into the esoteric parts of the internet is no coincidence. In a desperate search for identity in flux, both personal and digital, we often seek the weird and unexplainable.
We’ve seen this phenomenon multiple times before in various eras of the web. From early web boards to Geocities (RIP 🪦) to Y2K and back again in design language on interfaces.
I spent a ridiculous number of hours playing with Dollz Mania 2000…
Where we congregate today are sites designed specifically for as little adventure as possible. Keeping users in their respective hubs is a consequence of algorithm dominance. This translates into a UX that keeps us on the same few sites longer, serving more personalized viral media from the top 10% of users, fundamentally altering culture creation.
One counter to this is aptly called Yesterweb, a call to reclaim the old web. One of personal websites, webrings, guestbooks. This community advocates for the days of Web1, a different style of idealized social and digital navigation. Yesterweb believes in these three main principles:
The commitment to social responsibility and partisanship
The commitment to collective well-being and personal growth
The commitment to rehumanizing social relations and reversing the process of social alienation
Note, the Yesterweb community is anti-web3 and has advocated against crypto, so we’ll move on, but it’s worth noting the differences in ideologies.
In both e/acc and Yesterweb, enthusiasts are uncovering how we might explore human consciousness in an ever-increasing digital life. I do not fully align with either, and that’s not just me wanting to be non-controversial. I genuinely don’t agree with everything either of these groups believes.
When onchain luxury media is regarded as an outlet for deeper community connection, we may find a balance between these two opposing ideologies.
We’ve been using web browsers and mobile apps to connect, communicate ideas, and educate ourselves online for so long that it took significant advancements in AI to fundamentally shift those interfaces.
By tapping into this acceleration, I believe it won’t be long before we ditch the browser, the chatbots, and social networks for new, more immersive interfaces.
And we’re seeing this happen right now with this week’s news of upcoming consumer products:
Shaping Our Next Adventures
One distinction I will make is that since I’ve been building Cloud Scouts and thinking about the future of online and onchain communities, I have a much deeper self-awareness of my own sense of adventure. It’s my aim to fuse that within everything we do.
We are specifically calling on adventurers because the one thing that AI and an evolving web will continue to require is enthusiastic, expressive spaces for human connection. Community is one industry that AI will not be able to fully replicate since we are human and require human connection, though we may see many improvements through automation that enhance our explorations.
As our digital lives become increasingly immersive, blending realities into one another, we will require novel decision-making standards like sociocracy and decentralized governance. This will allow us to more closely align the internet to our adventures rather than the other way around, as the many algorithms would have it.
Inspirations for our adventures
We are surrounded by communities examining Internet culture. Boys Club, SheFi, Crypto Witch Club, and many others inspire learning and exploration of what the web has to offer in varying degrees.
Cloud Scouts exists to cultivate a new understanding of community in an evolving, emerging web space where adventure takes the spotlight. We do this by forming small focused communities for exploration where earning badges verify our learnings signal experience, reputation, and expertise.
From the very beginning, we’ve introduced Scouts to new features of the web. These people are building the future of governance, media, marketing, and community.
Cloud Scouts is a mix of Product Hunt, TestFlight Club by Seed Club, and traditional local scouting.
This is the space we are carving out. Not simply education but tackling a very specific need for exploring what these interfaces hold within them.
I encourage you to chat with us. Learn from where we’ve been and where we’re going on this journey. Take our hands and let us guide you on your next magical internet adventure.
As Scouts, we are explorers, adventurers, and observers. It is our mission to add thoughtful art, frameworks, essays, and more to breathe life into our shared spaces ☁️
Current Request: seeking design, content, and advising contributors to our upcoming Onchain Scout Handbook
If you’d like to work directly with me or partner on the seminal work, reply or send me a DM and let’s chat!
We aim to highlight Cloud Scouts members and supporters to diversify our work in the space. This is your chance to have your work featured early as we grow into an onchain Scouting organization.
Submit your work to the open call anytime. If you have any questions or want to get some feedback on your submission, I’m always open to chat.
Thank you to all the collectors of Expansive Communities. We now have 214 editions minted, totaling 0.088ETH ($145 in protocol rewards)! If you have any questions about the writing, please send me an email. Happy to chat about it anytime!
Expansive Communities is minted as a 15-page PDF including extra details and visualizations, the first of the series to live in The Nursery. 🪴