Empowering Creators with Decentralized Web Technology

New Gray Area Courses to Help Creators Leverage Decentralized Web Technologies

NFTs have introduced important concepts about digital ownership into mainstream conversations. Yet, these emerging technologies often have a steep learning curve, and there are barriers to understanding how to best implement and leverage these technologies. Web3 technology and decentralized web (DWeb) principles have the potential to reshape how creators think about digital content, data sovereignty, decentralization of power, and ownership, yet there is currently a lack of accessible, trusted learning materials.

To address this knowledge gap, in 2022 Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web (FFDW) started working with Gray Area—a San Francisco-based nonprofit cultural incubator—to support the development of curriculum empowering creators working at the intersections of arts and technology to incorporate the decentralized web into their creative practices.

Gray Area’s mission is to apply culture and technology for social good, bridging the gap between artistry and engineering and equipping learners with tools and skills to foster an inclusive, equitable, and humanized society. At this year's 9th annual Gray Area Festival: Plural Prototypes, taking place October 19–22, they will debut the first previews of DWeb for Creators.

The decentralized web has proved to be an economic lifeline for many artists by opening new markets to digital, generative art, introducing a generation of collectors to cultural stewardship, and enabling never-before-possible works engaging with economics, data sovereignty, governance, and society,” said Barry Threw, Executive and Artistic Director of Gray Area.

DWeb for Creators

DWeb for Creators will empower emerging artists with the knowledge and tools needed to embrace decentralized technology in their creative practices. While artists play a pivotal role in the DWeb movement by providing cultural context and use cases, many need guidance to fully harness this technology.

Co-developed with some of the leading artists, curators, and thinkers in the DWeb space, including Sarah Grant (Radical Networks), Sarah Friend (Our Networks), Kelani Nichole (TRANSFER Gallery/FORA), mai ishikawa sutton (DWeb community), and Regina Harsanyi (Museum of the Moving Image), the curriculum will offer open-source toolkits and hands-on projects as starting points for DWeb creative work. It will also provide insights into the philosophies that underpin the DWeb movement to foster best practices. DWeb for Creators explores a diverse range of topics—including DWeb Cultural Foundations + Context, Foundational Literacy of DWeb History, DWeb Art History, the Lexicon (understanding the language and vocabulary), and DWeb Philosophy—from a community-driven, social perspective.

The courses are designed for a diverse audience of backgrounds, perspectives, and practices. A “Choose Your Own Adventure” curriculum style will empower learners to tailor their educational journey to their specific needs and interests. They also include opportunities for learners to apply their knowledge; network and share within a supportive community; and self-organize co-learning spaces to encourage collaboration. The completed student work will be shared with the public and amplified through a hybrid exhibition at Gray Area’s San Francisco theater and online.

Whether you're an artist curious about incorporating decentralized web technologies into your work or an arts worker seeking to understand the future of digital creation, these courses offer valuable insights and skills that will meet you at your current experience level.

Learn More at the Gray Area Festival

In today's world, technology has a tendency to either isolate or unite us. This year's Gray Area Festival serves as a response to this challenge, focusing on radical arts-driven digital interventions they’re naming PLURAL PROTOTYPES. These interventions reimagine infrastructure to promote meaningful collaboration among diverse social groups.

Through artistic inquiry and antidisciplinary practice, PLURAL PROTOTYPES seek holistic approaches to create a more equitable and inclusive society. The festival highlights cultural experiments from Gray Area's Creative Research and Development Labs, Cultural Incubator, and Education programs in collaboration with community and industry partners.

These projects tackle pressing questions about organization, governance, digital democracy, data sovereignty, and the future of work. Leveraging emerging technologies, such as immersive environments, generative AI, simulation, and the decentralized web, these projects showcase how artistic engagement can drive critical perspectives and open new pathways for collective imagination.

As its first entry point, the festival will be featuring an exhibition, “The DWeb Pluriverse.” Because the DWeb space has so many dimensions, this exhibition will present seminal artworks about the decentralized web that paint a picture of why it is important our online spaces be open source and accessible. Additionally, the majority of the core educational design team will be featured on a panel that will touch on DWeb history, ideologies, and the promise of the decentralization of power, practical tooling, and why it's so important for artists to sculpt the future potential of DWeb.

DWeb for Creators will officially kick off in January 2024 with an 8-week Intensive, alongside the release of fully open-source toolkits and learning materials. Sign up here to be notified when applications open.