Adobe’s Strategic Development Manager on why the metaverse isn’t about monetizing consumer time & attention but rewarding it (podcast episode)

July 28, 2023


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In today’s episode, we speak with Chris Duffey, Strategic Development Manager at Adobe, who comes on the podcast to discuss the exciting and evolving landscape of Web 3 and the Metaverse. 

Duffey kicks off the show by giving us a brief history of the web. He takes us back to the late 90s/early 2000s which saw the birth of Web 1.0, a read-only environment. This was followed by Web 2.0, which allowed for interactions with both reading and writing, enabling sharing and expression.

He then takes us to the present day with Web 3.0, which expanded on the work of Web 2.0, focusing on co-ownership, decentralized finance, smart contracts, DAOs, and NFTs. Duffey distinguishes between the metaverse and Web 3, and in the process highlights the seven characteristics of each and their interconnectedness.

As the conversation progresses, Duffey then leads onto the interplay between Web 3 and the Metaverse. He dives deeper into the characteristics of the metaverse, including immersive 3D experiences, real-time interactions, and co-ownership of digital assets. He also emphasizes the importance of interoperability among different metaverse worlds, allowing users to transfer assets seamlessly.

With regardless to the potential for businesses to benefit from the Metaverse, Duffey advocates that the rise of the creative economy and new forms of commerce offers exciting prospects for businesses. During this part of the conversation, Duffey shares insights on the potential for businesses to co-create with consumers, leading to mutual success and community-building.

Before wrapping up the episode, Duffey shares interesting insights from his forthcoming book, “Decoding the Metaverse.” He mentions that a surprising number of NFT artwork is predominantly stored on the cloud rather than on the blockchain, posing potential risks for those investing in this technology. 

He also shares how NFTs have evolved from being investments in digital artwork to forming loyalty clubs with token gating, offering exciting possibilities for businesses.

You can listen to the episode below, or on SpotifyAnchorApple PodcastsBreakerGoogle PodcastsOvercastListen NotesPodBean, and Radio Public.

Alternatively, you can find a transcript below:

Chris Duffey: Great to be here, Sam. Thanks for having me. Well, hi, everyone. I’m Chris Duffey. My day job is strategist for the Creative Cloud at Adobe. And so we’d like to think of ourselves as the foundational tools that allow for creativity. And so over the last couple of years, few years now have really seen the rise of the excitement and opportunity around the metaverse. And so over the last few years, went really, I felt like I had a personal and professional obligation to go really deep into the metaverse world. So I have a forthcoming book called Decoding the Metaverse coming out soon. And it’s really a blueprint for success going forward to tap this gold rush of our generation in terms of imagination and Co-ownership.

Sam Brake Guia: Awesome, fantastic. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to join me today. And I’m super excited about our conversation relating to Web 3 in the metaverse. Now, I should say that we’ve touched on the metaverse before, but Web 3 is a topic that we have really yet to discuss on the show, certainly in any kind of like depth. So would you be able to share with our listeners what Web 3 is and how it works?

Chris Duffey: Definitely, I’d like to take a couple steps back before getting into describing and defining the work for Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, which got us to this point. So obviously, I’m sure your listeners know Web 1.0 was the late 90s, early 2000s, where it was this read only environment. Fast forward a few years to the early 2000s. And that’s where the rise of Web 2.0 came about. And that was about this read and write environment where not only did we have access to information like never before, but now we have this ability to express ourselves like never before, to share with, you know, friends, family and people we haven’t met literally around the world. Fast forward then again, a few years. And that really kind of evolved into the rise of Web 3.0. And I’m going to make a little distinction. Maybe your listeners know this, but there is a distinction. So web 3.0 Was this ability to semantically share information coming out of Web 2.0 out of Web 3.0. And sometimes really, you know, in technology paint ourselves into the semantic corners, but out of Web 3.0. What we commonly refer to today as Web 3, is this notion of co-ownership, the ability to have blockchain enable kind of authorship, to have decentralized finance to have decentralized applications, smart contracts, DAOs and NF T’s. And so those are some of the seven or so characteristics of Web 3. That is now going to fuel the foundation for the metaverse going forward and happy to go deep into the Web 3, or talk a little bit more about how Web 3, and the metaverse are distinctly different, but greatly dependent upon each other for mutual success.

Sam Brake Guia: Yeah, actually, that sounds quite interesting. Would we be able to go down that rabbit hole of distinguishing between the two and how they interact?

Chris Duffey: I would love to and I think that is my was my point of inspiration, curiosity. A few years back where, you know, one school of thought was it was being conflated. The Metaverse and Web 3 as one in the same. The other school of thought was yes, they are distinctly different with a slight tendency to think of Web 3 as crypto, which it has a component to, but it is not one in the same there again. And so really had to go deep into talking about where are the shared borders between the metaverse and Web 3 So we describe some of the characteristics of Web 3. There are similar seven characteristics or so and I don’t get too religious about the characteristics like does a Metaverse use case have to have all of these? I personally don’t think so. But it’s a good framework to think about things going forward. So the metaverse essentially has seven or so characteristics. One being immersive 3D, right, this ability to have an immersive experience with 3 dimensional aspects to it. The next one real time and a number of these you’ll probably recognize your audience will recognize our characteristics taken from recent or current gaming environments, which is a great visualization currently of what the metaverse may may look like. Second one being real time, this ability to interact with an environment in real time, the third being ownership. And this has overlap, a shared mission with Web 3, this ability to have co ownership to not I like to say the metaverse is not about monetizing consumer time or attention, but rewarding their time and attention. And that gets to this underlying mission of ownership. The next one, maybe the technically, probably the toughest is interoperability this ability to have digital assets within Metaverse worlds. And I’m of the belief and I think we’re becoming having universal agreement on this. There is one Metaverse like one internet. But there’ll be multiple Metaverse worlds much like we have multiple websites or platforms in the internet. We will have multiple worlds in the metaverse and the goal is to have an inner operable ability to take your assets. When you go from one environment to the other kind of the the classic thought is if you wear a pair of shoes in the world world, you can wear those shoes to work. And then if you go to a sporting event, you can wear those shoes there too. So why shouldn’t we be able to, you know, take assets and data cross platform. The next is the shared experience. And that is this ability. Again it taking inspiration from gaming, kind of this multiplayer opportunity for users in the metaverse to have a shared experience. And I think fundamentally, that is one of the great promises of the metaverse is this ability to connect us like never before. And that’s greatly driven by the ability to have shared experiences. The next one is a shared economy. This gets a little bit back to the ownership. But it’s talking, focusing in on the ability for the metaverse to create new forms of commerce, which is really exciting, happy to go into some use cases about that. And then persistence, this ability for it to always be ongoing. It’s almost a you know to use a human trait. It’s always living type of thing. The Metaverse it’s ongoing. There’s not necessarily a start or the end, like a static geometric movie, per se. So those are the seven characteristics of the metaverse and then seven of the web three. And then we kind of talk about how those come together and amplify each other’s abilities going forward.

Sam Brake Guia: I mean, all of these things sounds so exciting. I personally love the idea of like ownership you mentioned I think that sticks out for me is one of the most exciting to see develop. Now I also want to say like from a business perspective, like why do you think businesses should pay attention to Web 3 and the metaverse? And how can they benefit financially from investing in this space?

Chris Duffey: You know, I think we’re all experienced in this over the last couple of years. It has been a dramatic, dynamic environment from an economic standpoint over the past 24 months or so. And I think it will continue to be like that for the near future. All be it, you know, the forward visibility is a bit cloudy at the moment. But you know, I think the predictions are it’s going to be very dynamic. And so I think all businesses from just a business profit standpoint are looking for opportunities for growth, right. So if you have that lens on things, you can then apply in point, you know the flashlight towards the metaverse on how can the metaverse amplify that ability to create new business lines of growth. And I think this is where it gets really interesting where there’s going to be mutual benefit for the consumer. And the businesses where they co create code develop not only products but community and brand together. And that’s that’s ultimately a win win for for everyone. You know, I think there’s some aspects of that. I’m sure most people have heard the rise of the creative economy. And that is pointing a bit to this notion that that we can now co create together mutual success for businesses and consumers in individuals.

Sam Brake Guia: I think that does sound very exciting and obviously like the creation element, as you mentioned, I think like, the possibilities of how it can build like these communities, like you mentioned, I think it’s really exciting. And um, I do want to say like, besides businesses, what would you say that you’re most excited about seeing when it comes to Web 3? And the metaverse like for society as a whole? Like, how do you see it, shaping our society and our future?

Chris Duffey: Yeah, I think there’s maybe two aspects to that. The Metaverse, much like the internet, gave us democratize access to information. There’s a growing belief and I’m fundamentally a believer of this at the metaverse is ushering in this new era of unlimited creativity. And that creativity is going to not only allow us to express ourselves in different ways within the different worlds, but it’s also going to elevate the rate and speed of innovation from a business standpoint. So I think a really interesting dichotomy is forming about self expression that overlaps and is, you know, hand in hand with business opportunities going forward. So I think that’s one lens. The second one is maybe a little more philosophical. I think the metaverse is going to present a new case where there is limitless abundance. And that is going to introduce some new things that, you know, I can’t solve or, you know, one company can’t, but I think collectively, we probably can solve together as what happens when everything is of abundance, the abundancy to create the abundancy to be monetized the abundancy to access information, you know, at your whim, the the abundancy to literally travel, you know, through time and space, like never before, will usher in a new era of abundancy. And so I think we just have to start to consider the impact of abundancy, which is, you know, converse to some some of the constraints we’ve had, you know, historically.

Sam Brake Guia: Yeah, that’s quite bizarre to think about. Because when I think about something in such abundance, my mind is limited. Like, I can’t even think of examples, I feel like, this will be some completely new concept or something a completely new experience. So even just like speaking about it all discussing is hard for me. Funnily enough of all the things we discussed today, that’s probably one of the hardest things for me to wrap my head around.

Chris Duffey: You know, there’s a, you know, thought that, you know, we’ve kind of pulled back from the hustle culture a little bit, rightfully so over the last number of years. But there’s something to right, the pursuit, and the challenges and the setbacks in many ways. But what happens when those are easily accessible going forward? So that’s something I’ve been thinking about, after getting through the the technical and the ethical implications of the metaverse. That’s one question that I’ve been pondering recently is the impact of abundancy. And how we can use that as fuel for greater innovation. Verses, almost demotivating. And kind of making us somewhat lazy to put it in a blunt term.

Sam Brake Guia: Yeah, no, I get you. And it sounds cool. It sounds cool. I liked the idea of it. And I wanted to move on and ask. So you did recently, you mentioned this book that you’ve been working on Decoding the Metaverse: Expand Your Business Using Web 3. And obviously, we would recommend and encourage all our listeners to go check it out. But can you share some cool insights from the book that might interest our listeners and give them a taste of what they can expect from this book?

Chris Duffey: Definitely. And this is my second book, and I have to share, it’s somewhat therapeutic when I when I say this, you know, both books were were fundamentally challenging and difficult. And, you know, I have this realization, like it doesn’t get easier. And so that’s just a personal reflection for anyone who’s thinking about a book, or writing a second book. Yes, there’s some learnings, but you know, it’s, it’s equally as difficult. On the metaverse side, maybe I’ll back up. The first book was about five years ago called Superhuman Innovation: Transforming Business with Artificial Intelligence. You know, I came from a digital health background and did some early work with health data and artificial intelligence. And that was my “Aha!” moment for the merging of creativity, technology and data. And so wrote a book about, you know, the impact of AI on innovation going forward, that was about five years ago, and used some early language transformers, to not only write a book about AI, but write the book with AI as a co author. And a few days ago, I was remembering how I was presenting that a few years ago, and it was literally the audience 100% was a blank face that quickly before my eyes turned to anger, and asking that that is not technically possible, that is going to be detrimental to society. And I have to say, I’m so pleased, fulfilled to see, you know, the technology advance so much that it’s pervasive across our culture now, ChatGPT, much like that. I think we’re in the still vision days of the metaverse. So I think this this book is a call to action to get the mindset first in place, and then kind of the organizational structure to be able to act pretty quickly over the next year or two, to get into the metaverse. A couple of interesting factoids and get directly to your question. NFTs. You know, one interesting factoid I learned about NFTs throughout the research is 99% of all NFT artwork is not on the block, it’s on the cloud. And so perhaps like Etherium, moving from proof of work to proof of stake will change that. But currently, that’s something everyone should be aware of, if they’re a investing in NFTs or creating NFTs for a business standpoint, that nowhere your your art asset is on the cloud, because if that cloud provider goes down, in many ways, your NFT could potentially go down. Maybe a second point on NFTs. Even within the last year or so, it has seen a great maturity, it started out as almost an alternative to physical artwork as digital artwork investment, we’re now seeing it evolve to more of a loyalty club with like token gating, this ability to have different tiers of membership and VIP access, which I think that is the fundamental, broader utility of NFTs, which is quite exciting. You know, we talked about I think that’s another important. I’ll just underscore that the importance, Web 3 and Web 3.0 are distinctly different. Web 3.0 is semantic web. And then Web 3 is all about the interoperability and the number of those other characteristics that we talked about. So those are a couple points that I think are interesting factoids to get to create some intrigue to get into the metaverse a bit more.

Sam Brake Guia: Definitely. I mean, that’s crazy what you said about like, just the hyper prevelance of NFTs existing on a cloud rather than the block. I mean, I never knew that. That’s absolutely. That’s crazy. Cool. Fantastic. Well, obviously you’ve been working on the book, but like book aside, what else you working on? What’s going to be next for you? What’s Yeah, what’s up in your future?

Chris Duffey: Couldn’t be more excited about the future. You know, I think some of the headlines, paint, you know, in the economy paint, some what of a negative narrative. If you zoom out a little bit more, couldn’t be more excited from a long term standpoint on how technology is advancing and is going to propel new business opportunities going forward, specifically around AI generation. Alright, so we talked about language transformers, kind of all the buzz in the you know the headlines recently of ChatGPT and then Google recently getting, showcasing their, their work. You know, my day job at Adobe, we’re quite excited about maybe four horizons of generative AI, the first being the text generation, ironically, probably the hardest with all of the nuances of, you know, the spoken and written word. The second one being visual generation, and we’ve seen some early entrants into, you know, the, the ether with like mid journey, Dali and a number of others. And we’re working on something pretty exciting. Currently, the third one being generative video, and then the fourth being generative 3D. And all of those play really nicely into amplifying the immersiveness of the upcoming so called metaverse. So really exciting time, you know, a number of years ago, with the the early formation of AI with the caveat that, you know, AI has been around for 50 plus years, since the 50s. But it really kind of took off because of compute power and bigger data sets. Just a few years ago. Again, I think what’s exciting is AI always felt like a great technology without a broader mission. And now when you couple that with the metaverse and web three, I think we have a great trinity of technologies to propel humanity and business opportunity going forward.

Sam Brake Guia: Yeah, indeed, it is an exciting time to be alive, lots happening. And I’m really looking forward to seeing what develops in this space. And if people are interested in keeping up with the work that you’re doing, or connecting with you personally, how can they do that Chris?

Chris Duffey: Please, I love feedback. And you know, I’m inspired, you know, from the content creators out there on a daily basis from, you know, the likes of Tiktok and Instagram, YouTube. You know, I get equal inspiration. So please reach out. I can be found at my website, would love to meet chat, co create with with the community out there.


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