Top 5 Ways Web3 is Redefining the Future of Work - Identity Review - Identity Review | Global Tech Think Tank

Even before COVID-19, some industries had already begun transitioning to new ways of work— most notably, the crypto space. Since its early days in 2009, the crypto industry developed various platforms, tools and protocols to accommodate their diverse and incognito talent base. The pandemic has made some of these labor models like remote work easier to adopt by the general population. Now, the future of work envisioned by the crypto world is resurfacing into the public eye.

The onset of Web3 and its new coordination mechanisms are changing the game for human organization and resource management. Web3 paves the way for a reality where people and machines can interact effectively, without the need for third-party involvement (thanks to smart contracts). As a result, the world is witnessing a huge shift in not just how we work, but why we work.

“Crypto economies have already begun to shape the future of work. They blend how we play, learn, organize, socialize, and create, with ownership and income generation,” said Stephen McKeon, a researcher in crypto-assets and finance professor at the University of Oregon. Both developers and users are catching on to these trends and driving new innovations in this space, with five of the most topical trends for the future of work below.

Top 5 Earning Models

1. Create to earn

This model enables anyone to be endowed with property rights upon joining or uploading their creations online, most notably in the form of NFTs, which have revolutionized the way artists, collectors and curators around the world redistribute work.

One of the top platforms for this earning model is SuperRare, a leading crypto art marketplace and social gallery. Platforms like SuperRare demonstrate the amount of creative freedom digital artists have via digital scarcity and immutable ownership. There is still an exciting amount of untapped use cases for smaller asset classes like NFTs that are gradually coming to fruition for every kind of creator looking to generate value from their work.

2. Play to earn

Models that allow players to participate in the development of the game and earn through gameplay is known as play-to-earn. 

One of the top play-to-earn games is Axie Infinity, a Pokemon-style online metaverse. It gained popularity through online communities who discovered new modes of generating income on the blockchain outside of Axie’s regular gameplay. In fact, players are finding new economic and cultural opportunities within these blockchain-based games, like creating rental services, breeding services and more. Dedicated players are now earning thousands of dollars a month through Axie’s economy, according to Verge

Micro-economies founded on platforms like Axie Infinity enable an ease of transition for first-time gamers to become active investors, according to Gabby Dizon, CEO of play-to-earn Yield Guild Games, on a recent a16z podcast. These blockchain games find an effective means to capture the true value of creative work put in by players.

3. Participate to earn

One of the top ways for people to earn through this model is through decentralized autonomous organizations or “DAOs.” These communities distribute work through responsibilities such as community managers, governance participants, regulatory advocates, operational support and developers. In these cases, participants will earn from their contributions via reputation and tokens that allow them to own equity in the DAO and help shape the DAO’s future.

It is likely that the future of crypto will continue to assign value to those who show dedication and contribution to projects, and DAOs are just one of those frameworks that currently allow anyone to contribute and earn from their time and interest in a project. 

4. Learn to earn

The model for blockchain education is turning the traditional pay-to-learn model on its head by rewarding potential users who go through the typical tutorial or onboarding process for new products: a win-win for user acquisition.

RabbitHole is an example of a protocol which sponsors “quests” for users to go down the rabbithole of new projects (hence the name). This is a scenario where a company like Adobe would give users a few shares of stock for learning how to use Photoshop or Illustrator. 

Many see this trend likewise building towards on-chain resumes, where the user’s learning activity would be reflected as experience like LinkedIn does with certificates.

5. Judge to earn

Finally, for this newer category, protocols in the DeFi space are seeing a rise of “subjective oracles’’ that provide qualitative input. Wikipedia is a good example of how people in this space would contribute, judge and curate to earn a reputation through their work— the model sets up economic incentives for participants who want to earn rewards by contributing their research and insights. 

Untapped Futures

Economists Michael Jensen and William Meckling said “it is important to recognize that most organizations are simply legal fictions which serve as a nexus for a set of contracting relationships among individuals.” The absence of these traditional organizations in Web3 enables new ways for individuals to contract working relationships without the intermediary of traditional institutions, and there are still a myriad of earning models beyond the aforementioned that have the potential to revolutionize how we coordinate knowledge and action around the world.


Ivy Tsang is a Tech Innovation Fellow at Identity Review from the University of Southern California, where she explores the intersections between the Arts, Technology and Business of Innovation. 

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