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Building the Next Era of the Internet

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    Setting the stage: two eras of internet

    In today’s era of social media titans, it’s hard to imagine, but the internet began as a wild frontier – a decentralized network where anyone could innovate and create, without permission. You didn’t need to own a television station or a printing press; anyone could create a webpage which was instantly accessible across the world, by anyone. Early internet pioneers saw this openness as the basis for a new, more empowered, more democratic society, immune from centralized control and censorship. 

    But the dream didn’t last. Over time, big tech companies gradually began to take over the internet, imposing their rules and extracting value from popular use of their platforms. Facebook, Google, Amazon and a few others dominate the internet today, stifling competition. 

    The author calls the first internet era the “read” era – and it lasted roughly from 1990 to 2005. It was driven by the development of internet protocol networks that democratized information sharing – allowing anyone to access content on websites. 

    The author calls it the "read" era because the main empowering capability the early internet provided was allowing regular people to easily read content online from websites. Even if someone didn't publish a website themselves, they could now access and consume information published by others on this new medium.

    Next came the second internet era: the “read-write” era – lasting roughly from 2006 to 2020.  This is when corporate networks like Facebook and other social platforms flourished by enabling anyone to write and publish content that reaches mass audiences.

    In contrast to the initial "read” era, where people accessed online information in a read-only or consumption mode, this second era provided average internet users with simple yet powerful tools to become publishers and creators themselves. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others allowed anyone with internet access to not just take in content made by others but also to share their ideas, perspectives, creations, and more with the world – by commenting, uploading, or publishing, directly through user-friendly interfaces. But this new functionality came at a cost. These “read-write” services were part of a centralized, corporate-controlled model – extracting the ownership and economic value created through all this user-generated content.

    Like an empire annexing autonomous villages, these Big Tech platforms have swallowed the vibrant ecosystems that nurtured early online life. The spirit that animated the web's early days threatens to flicker out.

    But the game’s not over yet. There’s an emerging technology that could turn things around: the blockchain. Truly participatory networks require something that the walled gardens of app stores and social media platforms lack – shared ownership and governance. The blockchain offers this – a power shift away from centralized chokepoints and back into communities. 

    Let’s find out how.

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    What is Read Write Own about?

    Read Write Own (2024) shows how blockchain can revive the democratic promise of the early internet. It examines the internet across three eras: the early democratic but read-only age of the web, the “read-write” age, centralized under corporate control, and now the "read-write-own" movement, occasionally termed web3, whereby blockchain networks empower user communities, not just big tech firms. With lucid prose and tech industry expertise, it provides historical context and an inspirational guidebook for a more open, equitable digital future.

    Read Write Own Review

    Read Write Own (2022) explores the power of reading, writing, and owning our narratives. Here's why this book is worth delving into:

    • It offers practical exercises and strategies to enhance literary skills and creativity, empowering readers to express themselves authentically.
    • The book delves into the importance of storytelling and self-reflection, encouraging readers to claim ownership of their narratives and shape their identities.
    • Through insightful perspectives on personal growth and self-discovery, the book ensures a journey that is both enlightening and engaging.

    Who should read Read Write Own?

    • Tech enthusiasts eager to understand the next major wave of internet innovation
    • Entrepreneurs and builders seeking new opportunities in web3 spaces.
    • Advocates of decentralized systems and collaborative economies who want an empowered open web

    About the Author

    Chris Dixon is general partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and an early investor in companies like Oculus, Coinbase, Kickstarter, Pinterest, Stack Overflow, and Stripe. He also founded and leads a16z crypto, Andreessen Horowitz's division dedicated to crypto and web3 technologies, which has grown from $300 million to over $7 billion since 2018. Dixon has an MA in philosophy from Columbia and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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    Read Write Own FAQs 

    What is the main message of Read Write Own?

    The main message of Read Write Own is empowering readers to create, communicate, and take ownership of their ideas.

    How long does it take to read Read Write Own?

    Reading Read Write Own takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Read Write Own a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Read Write Own is worth reading for its practical insights into unleashing creativity and embracing ownership of one's work.

    Who is the author of Read Write Own?

    Chris Dixon is the author of Read Write Own.

    What to read after Read Write Own?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Read Write Own, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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