Web3, NFTs and WordPress with Web3 WP

SUBSCRIBE

In this episode, Gaby and Jean Galea talk to Aaron Edwards and Joshua Dailey, co-founders of Infinite Uploads and WordPress contributors, about Web3, NFTs, and WordPress with Web3 WP. Aaron and Joshua have spent more than 20 years developing and maintaining enterprise WordPress sites. Also, they launched the first (and only) WordPress NFT.

Episode Highlights and Topics

  • Aaron and Joshua’s journey into NFTs, bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies.
  • NFTs: Non-fungible tokens used as payment gateway secured by blockchains.
  • Why NFTs? Smart contracts and digital wallets can be used to own unique assets.
  • NFT Projects: How to use scripts, open source code/design, and wapuu characters.
  • NFT Technology: Application will transform how music, video, and content is monetized.
  • WordPress decentralized publishing and Web3 decentralizes financial governance.
  • Educate, Explore, Experiment: Ways to understand Web3 purpose, security, technology.
  • Learning Curve: View, read, and customize open source code for token standards.

About Aaron Edwards and Joshua Dailey

Aaron has more than 10 years of experience as the CTO for a large enterprise WordPress hosting company and has built countless cloud services and plugins. He’s also the Co-founder and developer of Infinite Uploads, a cloud storage solution for your WordPress media. He’s excited to explore smart contract and dApp development with Web3 WP.

Josh is a marketing strategist, designer, and digital content producer for over 15 years. After managing content for a large WordPress blog and curating the content for their millions of monthly readers, he ventured back to his startup roots launching Infinite Uploads and helping building the Web3 WP community.

Resources/Links

Transcript

Gaby:
Hi, this is Gaby Galea, and welcome to The WP Mayor Podcast. In this week’s episode, Jean and I speak with Aaron Edwards and Josh Dailey. We discuss Web3, NFTs, what they are, and how their recent project, Web3 WP, aims to bring NFTs to the WordPress community. 

Hi, Aaron and Joshua, welcome to The WP Mayor Podcast. It’s great to have you on. Today, we’re joined by Jean Galea. He’s the founder of WP Mayor, and he’s also running his own blog, jeangalea.com.

Jean:
Hi to everyone and hi to our guests, Aaron and Joshua. To kick start things off, let me just say a bit how I came across your profiles and your work. I’ve been in the WordPress industry for many years. I think I started off in 2006. I kind of slowly drifted away and moved more into an investment role, more into finance.

I also started blogging more on my blog about financial topics. I also got into crypto. Eventually, I recently got into NFTs. There’s this kind of journey. But on a parallel side, I’ve also been voicing my skepticism towards WordPress over the past years. Part of it is due to, perhaps, the direction that WordPress was taking from the leadership and the people close to the core of the project.

Also, the second aspect of it was the actual changing of the landscape of the web in general with the arrival of what we call now, Web3. I think to kickstart things, we can have you say a little bit about your background. Then I think we can just start off discussing Web3 and where you see WordPress fitting in. I guess you also have ties to both camps because you’ve also launched probably the first and only WordPress-related NFT. We’ll talk about that too and then we’ll take it from there.

Josh:
Yeah, super cool. I guess I’ll go first. I’m Josh Dailey. I’m a Content Marketer or CMO for Infinite Uploads. We launched a cloud service for that at the beginning of this year and have been in WordPress for the last 15 years actually doing all kinds of stuff. I’ve set up my first site and know enough technically to be dangerous to break things.

We used it to help nonprofit organizations, small business owners, and then I worked for a long stint at WPMU DEV doing content marketing there. Last year, I branched out on my own for a while to get back into the startup roots and feel things out. It’s been a good journey. I’m @joshdailey on Twitter.

Aaron:
All right. I’m Aaron Edwards and I’m currently the CTO for WPMU DEV, which is a pretty big WordPress company. I’ve been with them for 12 years now, wow. We’ve grown a lot over time. It’s been cool to get into the entrepreneurship side of things. We launched […] plugin and cloud service, me and Josh, last year. Then our new thing is Web3 WP, which we just launched in the last month together. So it’s been exciting just exploring some cool new technologies and things like that for sure.

Jean:
All right. I think coming from WPMU DEV, you are no stranger to WordPress and controversy. Having been also involved for a long time, I have had interactions with you guys and James over the years. For a long time, I think there was just one voice in the WordPress space. I loved having these controversial figures sometimes being one myself through the blog. Obviously, not to be harmful, not just to be controversial, but just to bring more balance into this space.

Actually, when I started off in WordPress—it sounds like you started off around the same time—WordPress was all about revolution, bringing a voice to the people, bringing opportunity to people to work from wherever. Speaking about myself coming from an island where limited opportunities were to be had, I’ve got this opportunity to start traveling around the world, working online. That was all thanks to WordPress. But slowly, I saw this shift.

Again, it’s kind of twofold, both in the direction of the WordPress Project and the shifting landscape where people started shifting their attention to social media and Instagram. No longer, perhaps, was having a blog, the sexiest thing around, but having Instagram being an influencer became more important. So I was curious to see how you ended up getting into Web3, getting into NFTs, crypto, that kind of aspect of the journey.

Aaron:
Sure, I’ll answer that. I dabbled with crypto stuff, I think the first time was back in 2013 when we had the MarketPress plugin for WPMU DEV. A lot of our customers were on the first major spikes of bitcoin price, and everyone’s kind of excited about it. A lot of customers were begging us for a payment gateway for MarketPress using Bitcoin. So that was when I first played around with it, explored it a little bit, just learning about what it was, but I didn’t really pursue it very far beyond that.

Then the next big spike came in 2017 in crypto prices and then I was like, this thing might actually mean something, might be going somewhere in the future. So I’m like, I don’t want to miss it completely. I’m just going to buy a little bit. So I bought a few Bitcoin and Ethereum tokens and just said, I’ll just forget about these and hold these, someday I’ll be a millionaire.

It wasn’t quite enough for that but fast forward to probably over the last year that I really started just getting more into that and learning more about it. When I first invested in Ethereum, it was all the stuff about smart contracts, people talking about this is going to be the future. I understood a little bit, but not really what it meant. I’m like, this sounds like it could be the future. That’s why I picked that.

Fast forward to now, when the price started rising again, I started getting interested again. Just looking into it and realizing, oh my gosh, this isn’t just like some future technology. People are actually starting to build practical applications with this Web3 technology, and Etherium being the main network that started this all and where most of the projects get launched. Now there’s a lot of compatible, different blockchains and stuff that are pursuing a similar thing.

Just actually experimenting with and playing with some of these decentralized applications that people have been building, seeing the power of it, and really starting to understand, in my mind, wow, this is the future. Seeing what’s possible with it and seeing what people are just starting to build, it really feels like those early internet days. I guess, you were probably around then, but I remember having AOL and all that back in the Web 1.0 days.

The internet was so new, and new things are being invented and discovered every day. It’s just super exciting to see what is possible with this new technology. It’s just a whole wave of new things that were unlocked through that. I really feel like this, what they call Web3, is the next phase of that. I don’t want to really miss that.

We thought, hey, let’s build something ourselves to give us an opportunity to learn more about it and also as we learn to educate others in the community that we’re already a part of. We’ve been part of this WordPress community for many years now. It just seemed like a perfect combination of melding that community that we already know with this whole new Web3 technology. So that’s why we founded this Web3 WP.

Jean:
Very cool. You touched on a point that I think is most important now—community, the people, and technology. Again, in my feelings, it’s kind of a rebirth of the WordPress early days. It was all about the people, the community, the technology, excitement about what we can do. I remember, for example, the transition between WordPress as a blogging system, the introduction of custom post types—mind blown. We can do so many things.

I miss those days and found that same excitement in the crypto space in the last couple of years or so. Let’s talk about the NFTs. I understand that your experiment is the first step into creating and building stuff in this new Web3 phase to see how it goes, how things work, break things, whatever happens. But also introducing WordPress through the imagery of the project, which is really cool. What were your thoughts on that specifically? Because you had no necessity to include WordPress in this little project of yours. Why did you decide to go down that route?

Aaron:
Sure. I’ll start and I’ll let Josh jump into it more just because I never give my wife credit enough. But I was talking about all those cool new tech and like, I want to really build something with this crypto, maybe make an NFT, explore this technology, and she’s like, what about Wapuus? Everyone loves Wapuus already. That was originally her idea and that sparked my thought of, wow, we can maybe combine the WordPress community with this new technology and build something on that. Josh can talk more about why NFTs.

Josh:
Yes. There’s a lot of underpinning in the NFT market. Definitely, there’s this art, expression, and decentralization taking place inside of all of that. But there are also these smart contracts that are going to be used or we believe will be used for so much more in the future that applications are staggering when you start digging down these holes, these individual little rabbit trails. You’re like, oh, man, this could transform the way that we do in-person meetups, how we do ticketing, how we engage after an event, and how all of these things take place.

But in order for any of this to actually connect, land, and make sense, we have to hit this critical mass of people utilizing digital wallets for their identities, for engaging in commerce and engaging financially. There is a gap in that. Still, you see the hashes and the public URLs for your wallets. The first time you look at that, that’s a scary thing if you’re giving somebody your identity, your financial information, and all this stuff. We’re still encountering those kinds of roadblocks. 

What we wanted to do was to unlock in a fun way to introduce people to these things that are often way out of people’s reach because they’re left for either very technical people or people with a lot of money to expendable income to be able to play around with it. To lower that barrier to entry, to invite people into the space with a lower cost NFT solution, but then also doing a bunch of giveaways, and trying to get people to be able to get set up with their wallets so that we can start tackling some of the other options that are out there.

These are simple things that people understand now—art, collecting, trading, the basic principles that we all function in all the time. To the why WordPress space is because when you start talking about it, 41% of the internet has WordPress installed on the sites right now. You’re going, why not have WordPress instead of chasing this technology into the future? When it lands, we’re going to have to adapt. Why isn’t WordPress and the people that are participating in WordPress being the voice of how this plays itself out? Why can’t we be a part of shaping the future of this technology?

So we wanted to invite more like-minded people who are thinking, we know it’s not here today, but it is here today at the same time. People are shaping what the use cases are going to be of this. It’s going to transform the way we do everything online from spending to contracts to interactions. The cool thing is we’ve just met some amazing people who’ve already been in this space. We didn’t even know they were doing it and they’ve been building some really awesome stuff, especially in Europe.

One that specifically comes to mind is WordProof. They’re doing some really cool stuff with time stamping and have been full-time in crypto and blockchain since 2016, I think, and building stuff. You’re just going like, man, there’s a lot of smart people putting a lot of energy into this. It’s going to radically transform the way we engage the web in the future. I think that’s what has us most excited.

It feels like it’s right in front of us, but it also feels like there are some big hurdles to still overcome. We want to make sure that we’re inviting people into the space who can not just collect an NFT, but our thinking towards how we actually implement this and use it on a regular day-to-day basis.

Aaron:
Yeah, for sure. It’s been good. It’s been much more successful, I think, than we even hoped. Just in the main goal of gathering a community and building a community around WordPress, this new technology, and the Wapuus just was a great way to introduce it to people, get excitement in the space, and maybe even a tiny bit of controversy, but it’s been good.

Jean:
All right. I think there are a lot of builders like us in the WordPress community. I’m sure a lot of people are curious about how do you go about creating an NFT project. If you could just walk us through how to do that.

Aaron:
Sure.

Jean:
From initial, even how to get the artwork, whether you should create it or use something open source. Is it easy? Can you use some tools to create the actual code base? That kind of stuff.

Aaron:
Wapuus are great because the character already existed, everyone knew it, and the design is open source. It’s GPL licensed. That’s why companies and other people have been able to all create their own Wapuus, Wapuus flag, and give them away WordCamps and all that over the last number of years. That was a pretty great start to do that. 

Then as far as the design work, Josh handled most of that, so I’ll let him talk about that and then I’ll jump in on the tech.

Josh:
Early on, we just started saying, hey, this is something we’re interested in, but we want to partner with some great people to be able to get this out there. We have a lot of connections from the years that we’ve spent. We’ve spent a lot of times at WordCamps, at local meetups, and different stuff like that, where we built these relationships. There were some folks who understand blockchain, some who are just like, hey, we believe in you guys and so we’re going to jump in on a sponsorship package and be involved. We’ll donate our Wapuu that already exists.

All of that was with intent going like, all right, here’s the practical implications of that. From an art perspective, one of our sponsors, Aspen Grove Studios, is also the owner of Divi Space, a third-party service for Divi extensions, themes, layouts, and stuff like that. They have an amazing design team. So they’ve donated one of their designer’s time to help us create a whole bunch of different elements for the project from different clothes, styles, and things that fit the project.

That was a huge time saver for me. I have a design background. I like and really enjoy creating the one-off designs, but it takes me a really long time because I’m not sitting in front of the Illustrator all day. My design muscles are weak and slow. So I spent some time designing some of the one-off stuff, but we got a big help from them to do the artwork for that for the generative art side of it.

Aaron:
Yeah. From a technical standpoint, at least for the design, basically, it’s just a series of layers of transparent images. You have the body and then you have hair, headgear, then you have clothing, and you have the item that they’re holding, whether it’s a ball or whatever it is. Basically, I just code an advanced script that just goes through. Based on various percentages, weights, and things like that of probability, it combines those randomly to create completely random variations of the characters.

Jean:
If I’m not mistaken, this stuff is in Solidity, right?

Aaron:
The script for building the actual Wapuus is just a Python script.

Jean:
But the contract is in Solidity.

Aaron:
The whole application has four parts. I had to do a lot of learning in the last month to pull this off because a lot of it was new to me. We have the script that builds the actual Wapuus and generates their metadata. That was a Python script. 

After we have all the images and their metadata, then I had to build an API that would serve that metadata. I use just AWS, it’s a Lambda function, Node.js. A simple API script that serves the metadata based on all the traits that we generated. Then the real core of the whole application—the most important part of any Web3 app—is the smart contract. What a smart contract is, it’s fun to describe, but basically, it’s a custom application. 

You can write a little application and then you can deploy it to the blockchain. It’s deployed to the blockchain where it can never be edited, changed, taken down, blocked by anyone. This is really the core of what Web3 is—a decentralized application. Once that smart contract is deployed, then anyone can interact with it on the blockchain. One of the tricks is just like if you set up a server, an application in Amazon Web Services, or another cloud provider, you have to pay them fees to use their service.

In the same way on the Ethereum network, when you deploy a smart contract, you have to pay what they call gas. It’s essentially a fee. That’s really what the Ethereum cryptocurrency token is designed for, not speculation, but to be able to pay the miners to host your application and to actually allow you to do things with it. So to interact with the smart contract and deploy, you have to pay gas fees.

That smart contract, basically, has all the code that is really pretty simple. I have a video on our blog that walks you through exactly how I built it and how the smart contract works, which, if you’re interested in this, you should definitely check out. Essentially, all it is is just a ledger. So it’s just keeping track of, okay, we are minting, which means generating a new token out of thin air and then the token is a non-fungible token or NFT. That’s what it stands for.

That represents a one-of-a-kind object in the blockchain. In this case, one of our Wapuus. The smart contract, basically, allows you to mint which creates a new token. That just starts at zero and goes all the way up to the max that we set in the code, which is 2222 for this project. You mint it and then it gets transferred to your wallet. So basically just on the blockchain, it says that this token ID belongs to this wallet address.

That’s basically all NFT is. There’s anything other than that and yet, the only other key part of it is there’s a URL for where you get the metadata for it. You have to know what the token ID is out of how many are tied to the smart contract. You have to know who owns it at any given point in time, then you have to know what the URL is to get the information about that NFT.

In this case, it would be the image file, which would be most important. Then metadata attributes like what kind of hat it has, what kind of clothes, and description, that kind of stuff. So there’s a whole specification that people use for NFTs so that it makes it compatible across many marketplaces like OpenSea. That’s the smart contract.

Josh:
There’s something to that like a big part of this project and we’re calling these experiments. This is experiment one of hopefully many. We already have a number two that we’re thinking about implementing and working towards. We’re getting excited about that, but we also want to involve the people who are joining the community. So we have a Discord server where we have about 70 people on there right now, and then our Twitter following is pretty active and communicating with us as well.

We’re trying to get people involved to go what do you want to see us experiment with next. The NFT thing was really a way to invite people to participate. By owning one of these tokens, they’re also participating in our community. That’s a powerful tool in and of itself that we can use into the future. We also want to be an inclusive community, not an exclusive one.

You don’t have to own a Wapuu to participate in our community at this point. But it is a part of showing the power of what’s available if we were to start creating things like DAOs and token systems around this. We can go into that later. All that to say, as we’re creating this stuff, we’re putting it up on GitHub.

All four of those applications that Aaron created are already available for free to look at, review, use, copy, paste, or in the spirit of WordPress, trying to keep this stuff as open-source as possible. Any parts of it that we’ve already integrated with WordPress, have at it. The links are on our website and it’s there for you if you want to do your own NFT experiments or projects and implement that stuff.

Jean:
Very interesting. I have a few questions based on what you’ve said. Maybe we can run through them quickly. Integrations with WordPress, what have you created so far?

Aaron:
Currently, there isn’t any direct one on this project. The web app part, I built with Next.js. It’s basically just a React front-end app that uses a JavaScript library that can speak to your wallet. So if you have a Metamask wallet or something installed in your browser, it basically uses that to be able to talk to the blockchain, to be able to mint your Wapuu.

We also released last week a naming feature. If you own a Wapuu, you can actually go and give it a custom name. That gets written to the smart contract on the blockchain. So you can not only adopt your own, but you can name him, which is kind of fun.

Jean:
One thing that people will notice is that you have to pay gas, as you mentioned, every time you need to operate. In this case, when you name it, I guess you need to pay some small fee for the right of the blockchain, right?

Aaron:
Yes, depending on what the current gas prices are and how much data you’re trying to write to the blockchain.

Jean:
As a project, you don’t actually control the price of the gas. It’s based on the complexity of the code that you put out.

Aaron:
Yes, that’s partly based on the complexity of the code and a much more large part based on the traffic coming up. With the popularity of NFTs right now, the Ethereum network is very busy, very crowded. We’ve seen gas fees go to insane levels, especially at busy times of day on weekdays. That was definitely a tough thing as we were launching and trying to decide.

I was afraid that just the gas at this point in time right now, it can make it a lot harder entry point for new people into this world of Web3 because of that. But there’s a lot of things happening, whether it’s side chains, layer 2 chains, or F2, which should be coming out, hopefully, maybe in the spring next year, which is going to have a huge impact on lowering some of those fees and speeding things up.

Jean:
All right. The image files, are they stored on the chain or on a third party?

Aaron:
We save the source images on Infinite Upload’s cloud storage, just because there are other businesses and they sponsor the project too by providing that storage. But the actual source of the image in the metadata, we also have stored on IPFS, which is a blockchain that’s made specifically for storing files. The actual image files are decentralized on the IPFS blockchain. So conceptually, they will never go away no matter what. It’s impossible to delete or change them.

Jean:
With regards to ownership, as we spoke, a lot of the code involved in this project is open source. That’s quite in line with the WordPress philosophy as well. I am guessing that most of the stuff that you worked on was also inspired by some other projects. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe a lot of the code is open-source, right?

Aaron:
Definitely, yeah.

Jean:
With regards to the images, you mentioned that the source was open source. When I buy an image, a Wapuu, what rights do I have on that image that I purchased?

Aaron:
Since the Wapuu image is GPL licensed, that means that any derivatives also have to be GPL licensed. All our Wapuu NFTs are GPL licensed. We actually wrote that license into the smart contract. There’s a function where you can say, what is the license of this NFT? Then it returns GPL. It’s encoded on the blockchain forever.

That’s definitely an interesting point since licenses are an artifact of legal systems and government authority. Then blockchains are something completely different. Aside from that, the idea with the NFT is that you can prove or verify ownership easily using the blockchain in a way that no one can cheat or break. But that doesn’t necessarily imply any kind of legal rights or license.

For example, I think it was Time Magazine, they just had a huge NFT drop of magazine covers and things like that. If you look at that license, I haven’t looked at it personally, but I’m pretty sure they’re not giving you a license saying that you own the copyright to those past issues of Time Magazine. You’re buying the providence of saying that, yes, you’re the one NFT owner of this collectible. So I hope that made it clear.

Josh:
I also think it’s kind of important to note that most of these projects, so even the art ones that we’ve seen online—where there’s tons of NFTs going up all the time, people can collect whatever they want—are more tied to the idea of a community than it is to the ownership of that piece of art. Because the question always becomes, if I own this, what stops somebody from copying, pasting, and using it anywhere they want to use it? There’s really nothing at this point that can stop somebody from right-clicking, downloading, uploading, using it all over the internet. That’s not the point of the technology to begin with.

We’re talking about things like this could transform not just an image, but it could transform the way that music is monetized, video is monetized, ownership of the content on a blog is monetized. All of these things are being able to assign history and to follow the trail of ownership through for proof and verification all the way down the train. When we’re doing this, we’re not trying to sell people on an investment. We’re not investors, we’re not bankers, we’re not accountants trying to tell you, hey, this is going to be worth millions of dollars down the road.

What we do want to do is say, by participating in this, we have assigned any trade that we do in the future. Some portion of this will be going back to the WordPress Project way into the future. If this is traded 20 years down the road, it’s assigned into the contract that royalties will be distributed between the WordPress foundation and Web3 WP. Then on top of that, we’re hoping that you’re wanting to get involved in what we’re creating for future experiments that we are going to continue to build, explore together, and work together on this stuff.

I think you’ll find that across even the major projects like Board Apes. The biggest thing is not owning the ape, it’s being a part of the Yacht Club. So we’re trying to invite people into something a little bit bigger thought process-wise, and going, yeah, the Wapuu is a fun way to do that. But what we’re really asking you to participate in is where we’re headed as a community and of the future of this technology.

Jean:
I agree with everything you said. The only thing I would add is with regards to images, there are some projects like, we see the CryptoPunks where people will attend to their branding. So having a particular punk, you’d create a Twitter profile, become anonymous, and have that punk represent you, which is why some of them get ridiculous offers and they still refuse to sell because they don’t want to sell their brand.

There’s an element on certain projects where the image does represent a lot of value. It would not make sense for me to just copy the JPEG from a well-known CryptoPunk and put it on my Twitter. It will just make me look ridiculous. 

With regards to the community aspect, one, there are communities where you do have to buy the NFT to become a member. Also, that will be an application that we’ll see in the future for say, entrance to maybe WordPress conferences, events sponsorships on podcasts, or blogs that could also be an NFT.

Also, one important thing, and maybe Gaby can back me up on this one because she just recently got into NFTs. Before you buy an NFT, most people will just look at it and say, what is this? This is just a JPEG, all the typical stuff. Even I, coming from the crypto space, struggled. Ultimately I said, I’m just going to buy a cheap one just to see if there’s a mind shift once I’m an owner.

That’s exactly what happened. Once I became an owner, I’m into Discord. I learned how to use Discord, I’m participating. I’m loving the conversation about the new technology, which I’m excited about. That’s what, I guess, you’re paying for. You’re paying for your own self, to tie yourself and part of your brain bandwidth into NFTs and this new technology.

I think that’s—in this case, especially in your project—what I would purchase the Wapuu for, to be part of the project, to help you because I want to support you, and also to help me put some…

Josh:
Like some ownership, having ownership into the project or some investment that you’ve put behind that. For sure, I agree with that. I think what you said is really valuable around that. But because the Wapuus is GPL, it’s the ownership of that specific one.

Obviously, we’re going to try to use them or we already have used them and some poll apps to do some little fun stuff. The naming feature we only released to people who had ownership in the first 72 hours, and then we’re going to unlock that for everybody else, just to kind of show the capabilities of it. You’re like, okay, now it’s open to everybody else and that’s it. Another fun way that we can explore some of that capability. I think that’s really interesting.

Jean:
I love the idea because for people coming into WordPress, I have my own developers, and I’ve been trying to tell them, let’s get into NFTs or crypto. This is something that should interest you, but it’s very hard even for a technical person to understand this stuff. I think this is an excellent bridge that, as you mentioned, now WordPress is used by so many people, and there are so many developers that could participate. Maybe some will move into building totally crypto only and move away from WordPress. But I suspect that many others will just pull WordPress into the community and to the next phase of its life.

Josh:
That was another one of our conversations that Aaron and I were having quite a bit. It was like, there was a stent of time for about a two-week period of time where I think we watched three or four people who had been in WordPress for over 10 years, who all said, hey, WordPress is awesome. I still love it, but I’m jumping because there’s this whole new thing that’s taking place over here. We were like, we’re just going to leave WordPress over here.

There’s this interesting thing that I think I’ve realized since then of these two parallel kinds of things, where WordPress is the democratization of the publishing side of things. It allows people to do some really interesting stuff. Aaron and I both agree that it was a big part of what made Web 2.0 what it was. People being able to engage content in a way like they never had before and build websites.

This is kind of the financing governance. It’s solving a decentralization of all of that, where the publishing decentralization has happened, and we have these opportunities now. Obviously, big corporations have connected, matched on, and owned all that stuff. But this takes that a step further where I still think we’re going to have new page builder technology, speed, and performance enhancements.

That’s a different line of thinking. Web3 technologies are the decentralization of the financing, the DAOs, the smart contracts, and the blockchain stuff. Aaron, you can correct me if I’m wrong.

Jean:
We keep mentioning DAOs. I’m sure people will say, what on earth, NFTs and now DAOs. Who’s going to give us a primer on those?

Aaron:
Sure. I’ll talk about some of the stuff that we’re hoping to explore with this project. Our NFTs was just an initial experiment just to get people involved and into it. Of course, that’s all the rage right now in the world of NFTs, the popularity of that, and different projects launching. But there’s a lot of interesting technologies or applications of Web3 technology that we’re seeing being invented right now. We’d love to explore some of those.

One that Josh mentioned was DAOs, which stands for Decentralized Autonomous Organization. Essentially. It’s a new way of forming any kind of organization, whether it’s a business, a company, a collective of people that want to work together, or hoping, maybe even an open-source project like WordPress. It’s a way of using blockchain technology to be able to do things like define ownership in a project, define monetization in a project, or define governance.

How do you vote? Who gets to make the decisions? Who has more of a say than another person? All these things, that’s what DAOs are being invented and created to handle. In a project like WordPress, where governance has been a very hot topic lately in the last few years, just people worried, especially with more controversial features added, things like that.

People wondering, well, who’s making these decisions? Why do they get to make these decisions? It’s kind of in the air and people don’t really know. Then you have worries of WordPress. A lot of WordPress work is done by, technically, it’s all volunteers. But there’s a lot of big companies in the space that sponsor developers, sponsor their staff to actually work on the WordPress Project.

So the question is, what does that mean? That they’re the ones making these decisions? The more that they sponsor, is that necessarily going to be the right decision for the community as a whole and not just their business or the direction that their business has taken? There’s a lot of questions there. So it’s possible that something like DAOs—this new technology built on the blockchain—could be the answer to that. That’s something that we definitely want to explore and see what the possibilities are there, for sure.

Josh:
To add to that, Web3 WP is not necessarily connected to wordpress.com.org. We are not connected to them in any way at this point. Any experimentation we do doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s what they’re going to do. This is just us exploring implementations, looking at the possibility of what they could do if the WordPress Foundation decided to go down that path.

Aaron:
And educating people on that too.

Josh:
Yeah, education, exploration, playing around with this stuff. We could build some epic, amazing governance tool and it would be completely dismissed. We want people to understand what our purposes doing, and we’re not trying to step in and say, hey, if we build this, then this is what it’s going to be.

Aaron:
Another thing that this Web3 technology has unlocked in a lot of projects is new ways of monetization through tokens. One of the big problems in open source is that open source developers are criminally underpaid. When you consider how much value their work brings to the world, companies, even big corporations that use those open source tools, and the developers who contribute to those on a volunteer basis, they’re not getting any share of that profit, that monetization.

Often, projects die out because people don’t have the time, effort, or bandwidth to be able to contribute to these projects if they’re not getting anything in return. So using tokens, Web3 technology really enables new ways to monetize these kinds of things. There are already some projects starting to come out like Gitcoin, where that’s based on grants.

So companies, if they need a new feature in some open source project or a brand new project, they’ll create a tokenized grant, then developers can contribute to building that, and then they get a share of that grant money. That’s all using Web3 technology. That’s something that we definitely want to explore when it comes to WordPress too. How can we reward the people who are building WordPress in a way that might just be socially, but it could be monetarily too? That is what our next experiment that we’re planning to work on is going to just dip our toes in the water of that, which we’ll be happy to talk about if you’re interested.

Josh:
I don’t know if you’ve seen the participation coins, physical coins they made that were like enamel pins for WordCamp events in the past that say different things on them. They were events of specific tokens that you got when you showed up to these events. You can think about digitizing that kind of experience for people that they would then have this digital representation saying, you were there, you participated in this, and then we can assign value to this based off of that participation.

Aaron:
What we’re thinking with WordPress is there’s already a defined group. When you go to a new version of WordPress that comes out and it takes you to that about page, there’s a list of all the developers who contributed to that version of WordPress. You can see their usernames and what role they had in that release of WordPress. Every release of WordPress has that. It’s a way that they reward contributors in cool ways.

It’s great to see your name on there. I remember being excited when I saw my name on there as well. But we thought, wouldn’t it be cool if we could make WordPress versions themselves collectible on the blockchain? We’re working on building a new NFT project that creates collectible coins, like Josh mentioned, for each version of WordPress. That collectible coin, the only people who can collect it or mint it are the developers who participated in that version of WordPress.

There are actually APIs with wordpress.org that allow us to do this. Just imagine a developer who contributed to past versions of WordPress, they can sign in in our application. Sign in, authorize their GitHub account so they can prove that they are who they are, and then we can connect that to their WordPress username. We can tell, okay, they contributed code to these five versions of WordPress.

By doing that, it allows them to mint NFT collectible for each of those versions of WordPress. They would only have to pay gas, which is outside of our control, but we wouldn’t collect any fees or anything like that. Basically, it’d be a way for people who contribute to WordPress to have a cool little collectible, highly limited edition coin for that version of WordPress in their wallet that they can show off.

Hopefully, in the future, as it’s so limited, if it takes off that maybe they even have valuable just on the open market that people want to click that version of WordPress and help sponsor these developers. That’s something that they could actually sell on the open market to get some kind of reward for their contributions to WordPress. That’s something that we’re working on, and that’s our next idea and experiment that we’re exploring. Just dipping our toes into the idea of monetizing contributions to open source using tokens.

Jean:
Very cool. I think at this stage, everything’s a win, right? Even if it ends up not being the most brilliant idea or it’s not taken up, it’s always you’re progressing your skills and your relationships with other people who are interested in this stuff. You’re building that niche within the community who’s interested in Web3. Before we close off, my developer side is still thinking about what you built. I had a few more questions, why 2222 Wapuus?

Josh:
That was literally just for the intrigue factor. That was a marketing move more than anything. We had a few numbers running around our head and not one was where we went. We actually were going to do 1111 and just have…

Aaron:
And then 1234.

Josh:
Yeah, 1234. We had some ideas like that. But the reason we actually ended up bumping it is we had talked to quite a few people who were already in the NFT space and they were saying, hey, if you’re really trying to keep this open to as many people as possible, expand the project out. Don’t try to sell out overnight because if a whale investor comes in and buys up a whole stack of them, then it’s going to shut your community down because you only have three people who own these.

It actually did work to our benefit in that way. It would have been awesome to go like, oh, we had an NFT project that sold out in 24 hours. The Sint Token, now we’re at almost 700 that have been sold. Aaron set a purchase limit of 40 at a time, and that really helped us out because we had a few whales who did come in and start buying. Because they had to continually re-state how many they were going to purchase and up that, they only would do it in waves of maybe 100 and then it stopped. It helped us out in that way.

So now we have a bunch that are there for people. As they discover, finding, and they’re like, oh, what is this, that they’re able to continue purchasing well into the future? We hope to sell them off because we have sponsors who are randomly distributed throughout the project who would love to see their Wapuus purchase stuff as well. That would be great. 

They’ve been so supportive and going like, well, we have this free stuff here. When it happens, it happens, and whatever. We’ve been so thankful for the people who participated to this point.

Aaron:
Yeah. We have I think, 105 unique owners so far.

Josh:
Yeah. It was awesome for us.

Aaron:
Pretty cool.

Jean:
Maybe for Aaron, how hard is it to transition for a WordPress developer to go and learn? Obviously, there is a learning curve, as you mentioned. But let’s say as a developer, I want to get into this, what time should I be allocating to it?

Aaron:
I think one of the good things about this is that most smart contracts out there are published as open-source. They actually verify them on the blockchain, which allows you to actually read the code and see the actual code that they deployed. Just like anything, whether it was when I was learning WordPress or anything else, reading other people’s code is the best way to learn something.

I definitely looked at a lot of NFT projects, read their code, and saw what they’re doing. There are open-source standards out there. For example, OpenZeppelin is a project that creates an open-source foundation for a bunch of different token standards that have been created. You can basically just include their code and then you just customize it how you want. That takes care of a lot of the details that you don’t have to worry about.

It’s definitely not the super early days. There’s a lot of developer tools for testing, developing, and deploying that have already been built and exist. We’re very helpful in that. Definitely, it was a stretch for me just having no idea. It’s like a new programming language. How do I learn this? What do I do? But once I actually dug into it and got into it, it wasn’t that hard. I’m far from a professional in Solidity.

Josh:
You said in the video that Solidity was similar to C.

Aaron:
Yeah, its syntax is very familiar to the C-based language or C-based syntax, even PHP. So it wasn’t a huge learning curve in that respect. Just try it. Just build something for yourself and read other people’s code, and it gets a lot less scary.

Jean:
I think Gaby has some points that she wanted to mention.

Gaby:
I’ve been silent here. But it’s been very interesting because I’m new too. I’ve only been working in WordPress for around one and a half years now, so it was very interesting to learn about the early days of WordPress. Also, I’m new to NFTs. As Jean said, I just got my first NFT yesterday. So I’m very, very new.

Jean:
Actually, today.

Gaby:
Today, this morning. We woke up at 3 AM.

Jean:
For the minting process, which we didn’t get into because of the insane fees.

Josh:
Yeah.

Gaby:
That was also an interesting process to see. Like Jean said, once you get into it, you also get attached.

Aaron:
It can be addictive, for sure.

Josh:
Yeah, I’m in the same boat with you, Gaby. I’m very new to this space. Aaron had been down that trail. Aaron and I have been best friends since elementary school age. We grew up in the same town and went to high school together, married our high school sweethearts, and have had kids together growing up in this at the same ages and stuff.

When Aaron came to me, he’s like, dude, you got to look at this stuff. I’m like, a month in now and my mind is just exploding all the time. It’s been super fun learning a ton about this stuff and seeing the possibilities of where things are headed.

Aaron:
For sure.

Gaby:
It’s very exciting.

Aaron:
Let me throw out there just one more thing. We talked about monetizing and we talked about governance. Another thing that I think might be a real practical application of Web3 tech in the WordPress space is identity and privacy. This is something that’s completely separate from people’s concerns about money in crypto, in speculation, and all that stuff.

This technology is actually the solution to passwords, literally. How long have we been stuck with this archaic idea of having passwords that you have to remember or that kind of stuff? In crypto, you have a wallet, you have a private key, and a public key. This is all you need for a true single sign-on that works everywhere completely secure, all that kind of stuff, and identity.

We’re seeing a lot of that starting to be attached. You have unstoppable names. In the Ethereum name service, you see all these Twitter profiles. People are having their Ethereum domain name on there .f, whatever it is, .f. That’s some of the beginning stages of this idea of decentralized identity where you have control over something like a DNS record to where it can point to not only your wallet where you get paid but also your identity, your avatar, which may be based on NFTs that you own, to the information that you want to give up to the company or whatever.

If you ever read about DID, Decentralized Identifiers. This unlocks a whole thing and it solves a lot of our privacy problems that we have right now. People put their Facebook login or Google login on their site, and you’re giving all that power to Facebook or Google, another centralized source where they can sell your data. But the Web3 technology allows you to have a decentralized-based identity where your identity is stored in the blockchain, and where only the things that you want to give out or make public will be made public.

For example, there’s something called verified credentials. For example, you can have attached to your decentralized identity, your age, and your age in a way that’s been verified maybe by a government source. So your birthday is there, just like your driver’s license or passport. You may have your things.

If you need to sign up for a website and they need to prove your age, you don’t have to show them a document or all this information. They can trust the blockchain. By your signature, they can verify that you meet these criteria without actually giving them your birthday or showing them your ID. They can say, just by signing with your wallet, you can cryptographically prove that you meet their threshold, whatever it is. It might not be age, it might be country, location, and all these different things.

Jean:
It’s a perfect example because it’s completely broken. Either you have to provide your ID or you have to just put in your date of birth to access a porn site.

Aaron:
Exactly, which is giving up your identity. It’s a violation of your privacy. What Web3 technology allows you to do is allow a site to be able to verify that cryptographically without actually giving them more information than they need.

Jean:
It’s interesting that there are books written about decentralized IDs. Ever since Bitcoin has been around, there’s been this concept of, perhaps, it even predates Bitcoin, but it has never really taken off. I think the NFT space with Metamask that logs you into all the NFT project websites for minting, DeFi as well for all these aggregators and decentralized exchanges. It’s making people accustomed to just having your wallet connect it, logging in, no need to sign up to anything. So I think that can be the gateway drive to eventually taking up these systems.

Josh:
For us, this has been the challenge of a project like this. I think that the waters are so muddied by the financing side of blockchain right now that everybody’s talking about it from all the money that’s being made. The NFTs are art collecting and all of that stuff, which is fine, but it’s very speculative and very volatile.

When you’re starting to talk about it as how do we become a part of the tooling, participating, and shaping the experience of this, and all of this stuff is that those things start overlapping so much that people still have a really adverse reaction to it at first, and like, hey, don’t mess up our open source project with your weird fake money, tokens, and everything else that’s out there. We’re going like, but there’s this really epic part of this technology that would transform the way that we do everything. Identity, commerce, and everything could be so much more streamlined, changed, and that stuff.

So I appreciate you guys allowing us to come on and talk a little bit about it because I do think it still has so much confusion similar to the US when there was all the exploration going on and gold rushes. It reminds us of the gold rushes of ‘49 and stuff where you have these camps and there were outlaws out there trying to take advantage of people and stealing everything. You’ve got people trying to do good stuff, people inventing with gold, conducting electricity, and doing all this stuff.

All these different things are happening at the same time. You just either can go, I’m out of here because this is so weird, scary, and too dangerous to participate in, or we can create a safer space for people to participate in without having to risk their whole life savings to do it.

Jean:
Yeah. History repeats itself. The biggest benefit for me to be involved in the crypto space is that it pushed me to learn about so many different topics including history. Because when you see something so new and you hear somebody say like, this happened in the gold rush. What happened in the gold rush? I have no idea. Let’s go learn.

Bitcoin is the new money, but the financial system is broken. Like, how is it broken? My card works. I’m fine. Okay, and then I learn about how many people are on banks, the censorship, and all that. But it drives you in a way to learn about this, which is really good.

Aaron:
Yes. We’re all going to make it.

Jean:
Final question, are we going to make it? That caught you by surprise. I’m just joking. How can people get involved with your project, especially people from the WordPress space?

Aaron:
First off, you can follow us on Twitter. It’s @web3wp. We post a lot on there not only about our experiments, but also just sharing interesting articles and tweets and talking about this new technology as well. 

You can also join our Discord. We went the crypto route, everyone’s got a Discord, every crypto project. So we thought maybe we better do that. We thought about Slack or Discord, how do we build our community? It’s been a learning experience for us as well. So we have a Discord and there’s a link to that on our website, web3wp.com. That’s where we just chat throughout the day.

If you have any questions or are interested in the subject, we’ll post updates there and things like that too. We also have our blog where we’re publishing tutorials and news. Also, as we’re sharing code and educating on how we built this project and how we’re going to build future projects, experiments that we work on, that will all be there. 

Finally, there’s email too. You can sign up for our email newsletter there. In case you don’t want to check our blog every day, you can get periodic updates to your inbox.

Jean:
Excellent. Gaby will put up the links that you mentioned and perhaps a link to the NFT lingo so that people can get around on the Discord channels. Thanks a lot for being with us. It’s been a real eye-opener. I’m really excited to see what’s coming next.

Aaron:
Thank you. Thank you for having us.

Josh:
Yeah, I appreciate it.

Share this episode:

Facebook
Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About the Show

Join us as we introduce you to some of our friends in the WordPress community.

Learn all about their products and services and discover business techniques to help you enhance your WordPress business.

Meet your host

Meet your host

Gaby Galea

Gaby is the Content Manager at WP Mayor and your new host on the WP Mayor podcast! She is passionate about learning how to start, maintain and grow a WordPress business. Follow her on Twitter @GabriellaGalea.

Follow us on
Social Media