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Web3 Fall Forum Tackles New Technologies

Web3 Fall Forum Tackles New Technologies

Experts, academics, and students convened on USC’s campus for discussions about the future of blockchain technology.

12.04.23
Amanda Cassatt speaks at a podium with her laptop.

Keynote speaker Amanda Cassatt delivers her presentation at the Web3 Fall Forum.

[Sarah M. Golonka / USC Photo]

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Blockchain. Non-fungible tokens. Web3.

Many people have heard these terms before. Unless you’re an expert, however, the world of new technology and currency may be as impenetrable as it is inaccessible. This is just one reason why ERIC CHUNG, the managing director of the VAN ECK DIGITAL ASSETS INITIATIVE(VEDA), founded the first-ever WEB3 FALL FORUM. Chung hopes the event cast some much-needed light on complicated subjects.

“Something we’re trying to accomplish on campus is to demystify what this technology is,” Chung said. “How can one approach this new ‘clearly here to stay’ technology and make it apply to their lives?”

Since VEDA’s foundation in 2022, the initiative has striven to be an educational hub for new technologies like blockchain, cryptocurrencies, the metaverse, and NFTs. The November 14th Web3 Fall Forum served as an extension of those goals, welcoming students, experts, and entrepreneurs to the USC Caruso Catholic Center for an afternoon of discussions and panels about the future of Web3 and other tech.

WEB3 refers to the next (theoretical) iteration of the internet, one built by blockchain technology and controlled by web users, rather than large tech corporations. Essentially, proponents of the technology believe it to be a democratization of the internet.

The forum focused on this advancement, especially highlighted by a keynote address from Amanda Cassatt, the CEO of Web3 services company SEROTONIN and author of Web3 Marketing: A Handbook for the Next Internet Revolution.

As Chung explained, Cassatt’s presentation stepped away from the abstract and into the practical, demonstrating the basic differences between Web2 and Web3 marketing methods.

“[Amanda’s presentation] was a great segment for us to kick off the event with because it sets the stage that this isn’t just like esoteric cryptography and meme coins,” Chung said. “If you want to build a profession out of this industry, there is a clear function you can slot yourself into, and there is a career path.”

In her talk, Cassatt emphasized the importance of spaces like the forum, and the significance of building a following for a product.

If you really want to cross the adoption chasm for technology cycles, you need to have people care about why this matters to them.

— Eric Chung

Managing Director, Van Eck Digital Assets Initiatve

“Community is really important,” Cassatt said. “Everything starts with a few people that care about a project, the first few people that you meet when you're solving your 0 to 1 problem. And a lot of founders want to get scaled very quickly and they want to become a big brand with a big community. But nothing that has 1,000 fans, 10,000 fans, 100,000 fans, doesn't start with five fans.”

Other speakers echoed Chung’s unwavering belief in the future of blockchain technology. Panels on crypto-regulation and a fireside chat on web innovation showed attendees the many layers of blockchain infrastructure already built around these advancements.

Chung says the next step beyond infrastructure is application, opening up the technology for regular people to use in their everyday lives.

The transition won’t be easy. Blockchains communities have been through a lot in the past year. Major fluctuations within the crypto market cast doubt on the future of the currency. Meanwhile, scandals within the industry have rocked public trust.

Chung believes these sensational headlines only distract from an undeniable reality: this technology is the future. Despite the challenges, USC has stood by VEDA’s work.

“When [VEDA] was conceived early last year, the market was definitely not in an attractive place. And it was socially very risky, or reputationally risky, for USC to claim that they wanted to be leaders in these kinds of topics,” Chung said. “The fact that they were able to do that with boldness and with the generous gift from the Van Ecks — I take that as a very positive signal that USC is actually willing to go out on the risk curve and embrace this kind of innovation.”

The Web3 Fall Forum was just the tip of the iceberg, according to Chung. VEDA hopes to engage more people in March with their 2nd annual Blockchain Conference, a larger scale event intended to address major topics related to the transformational technology.

“If you really want to cross the adoption chasm for technology cycles, you need to have people care about why this matters to them,” Chung said. “I think you’re going to have that kind of moment in the next five years — that big shift where [blockchain] consumer apps are going to be a lot more usable, less jargon.”

As blockchain develops and Web3 gains traction, VEDA will continue to lean on its three core pillars: curriculum, research, and community engagement.