April 29, 2022
María Sanmartín and Martin Etzrodt gathered for Offscript - a conference focused on Web 3 UX and Product Design. The conference took place on the Comporta peninsula, two hours south of Lisbon Portugal. The conference occurred at an intimate venue that encouraged personal connection and discussion. Many new and lasting connections were formed!
It is inevitable that when you put together a bunch of designers they are going to talk about WHAT they do, WHY they do it, and HOW they do it. Below, I identify five key takeaways.
Takeaway 1: Understanding Web 3 and crypto is not easy
Many newbies feel overwhelmed by basic Web 3 concepts. Many of the people I spoke with attended special Web 3 classes during their weekly schedules. These classes are very similar to our Web 3 & Beyond meetings - a team-only event that we plan to open to the larger AKASHA community. I believe the community needs more educational spaces where non-experts can join and are introduced to Crypto, Blockchain, and Web 3. These venues will allow people to become familiar with complex topics in a safe and non-judgmental manner.
These nonjudgmental spaces will help designers feel comfortable and empowered to develop new creations. Additionally, designers will develop a deeper understanding of the possibilities and limitations of Web 3 technologies.
Takeaway 2: Designer creations from the conference
Below are three creations from the conference that made a lasting impression on me:
The above examples will continue to inspire our UX research efforts at the AKASHA Foundation. The conference and these examples have reinforced my belief that we must introduce the design community to our AKASHA Major Concepts in a visual manner. The written word is effective, but a visual language will reach a more diverse audience. We will continue to introduce a glossary of terms at our Web 3 meetings. This initiative will help deepen our understanding of the space. Lastly, it is important to create non-judgmental spaces that encourage silly questions, out-of-the-box thinking, and a diversity of viewpoints.
Takeaway 3: Designers are bridges between technology and humans
Designer and developer communication can be tricky at times. Especially in such a nascent field where new tools are emerging, sometimes for the first time. Design and developer teams may work on similar objectives but often feel like they don’t speak the same language.
Design teams often utilize cameras to express themselves with visual, auditory, and gesture cues. These design teams prefer to utilize cameras when collaborating with developer teams.
Designers need a language bridge to help them understand the language of developers - and vice versa. Many design and developer teams utilize GitHub as a bridge. These collaborating teams use GitHub to define the scope of work needed. Design files are attached to GitHub repositories to achieve synergy within teams. A noteworthy example is the Bitcoin Developer & Design Project.
Takeaway 4: UX research in Web 3 is almost non-existent - Insights from Georgia Rakusen (@G_Rak)
I spoke at length with Georgia and found our conversation particularly helpful.
Web 3 is new! We don’t have robust data on how this technology is influencing human experience and perception. Unfortunately, Web 3 teams are keeping UX insights and data behind closed doors. This can be changed: We need open UX research projects (DAOs?) that are funded by multiple teams. All research and data from these projects can be accessible in a public database.
Web 3 projects need to explore:
Takeaway 5: The power of open conversation, connection, and collaboration
The event only had a few scheduled activities. The majority of the conference was spent talking to others in small groups about spontaneous topics. This format allowed us to practice active listening, empathy, spontaneity, and creativity. I am still amazed and grateful for this wonderful time and ability to connect. I am also left with some fundamental questions:
How might we bring value to people?
Martin was invited to Comporta to lead a Circle on “Moderation and Curation”. The challenges of fostering healthy conversations while preventing harm are as old as the Web. To quote Aaron Swartz:
Building a community is pretty tough; it requires just the right combination of technology and rules and people. And while it’s been clear that communities are at the core of many of the most interesting things on the Internet, we’re still at the very early stages of understanding what it is that makes them work. (🔗 Aaron Swartz, Making More Wikipedias, RAW THOUGHT, http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/morewikipedias)
The AKASHA Foundation intends to carry this challenge into the world of Web 3 and the decentralized social networks that are emerging. In an ownerless social web, censorship resistance is a highly regarded good, but we need to ask: At what cost? I believe we are all working on applications in the Web 3 ecosystem that are inherently part of a new social web. A decentralized social web, with a set of challenges that are as old as the web itself. There are tradeoffs we need to face and find solutions for:
We invited participants to explore how the above challenges can be approached in the decentralized space (find our slide deck here: ipfs://QmdR45UK6mWxwTiHnLCfmxDGS5tCA7JmZN3Knn2wh4m5TQ). We explored how we can design for healthy interactions in the social web we are all building. Our conversations were sprinkled with findings from our research on developing a moderating app for AKASHA’s social media framework.
The participants realized the need for moderation and curation in their products. We are all committed to not repeating the same mistakes as the current social media companies. We pledged to not sacrifice community health for profit interests.
There was a consensus that the future of social networking is interoperable. Several smaller communities will emerge and people can join one or several - sometimes with many different identities.
We need a plurality of minds and ideas to work out how decentralized social networking should evolve. If you are interested in contributing your superpowers to a community of pioneers focusing on a complex but essential challenge for the decentralized web, the AKASHA Foundation’s community is your place to be!
Discuss, join working groups and read up about the latest conversations, design, and development efforts related to designing decentralized social networking on our forum.
Join us on our ride into the decentralized future of online social networks on akasha.ethereum.world.