When it comes to next-generation storytelling, Cassandra Rosenthal has a pretty good idea of how far we’ve come on the road to Web3.
A film and television producer, she is one of the creatives behind the popular Web3 entertainment firm Kaliedoco, where she is redefining storytelling with the use of augmented reality. For her, the world is now in a crucial transition between Web2 to Web3. Or as she calls it, Web 2.5.
Cassandra Rosenthal is a speaker at CoinDesk's Consensus Festival.
“A lot of times when we talk about the web, Web1 one is about broadcasting, Web2 is about subscription and services and Web3 is about ownership,” she says. “And so for me the whole thing about being able to have a voice. It's being able to as a community make decisions together.”
With Kaleidoco, Rosenthal and her partner Jennifer Tuft are bringing users to the footsteps of metaverse by providing opportunities to explore AR blockchain gaming, mixed reality storyliving and interactive NFTs. Their aim is simple: Move people into the Web3 world through great stories.
“In general we have been changing as a society in the way we actually digest content,” she says. “I think that Web3 is just the next chapter in that. We're now utilizing new technology like mixed reality and augmented reality to bring people into the story and have that sensorial effect with it.”
As cool as that sounds, Web3 storytelling comes with its fair share of troubles. Many have even criticized AI for lacking human autonomy, the ability to choose for oneself. But this is not enough to shake Rosenthal’s confidence in it.
“What we do is we're utilizing AI to actually give our characters an understanding of the real world. We're enabling the characters to have contextual awareness of their environment.”
With an argument that strong, we’re sure storytellers (and the rest of us) can use Cassandra’s secret to dominating the entertainment industry, supporting creative visions and most importantly, to not be afraid of taking risks.
This interview has been lightly edited.Let’s start with Helena. What piqued your interest in it?
I come from a film and TV producing background and all my life I've always been very passionate about human issues and environmental issues. For me, storytelling was a way to help bring a larger audience to these issues. And so when I met Henry Elkus [Helena’s CEO] and Sam Feinburg [Helena’s chief operating officer] for the first time, I was super inspired by what they were doing, and I thought it was incredible work. I actually met them when they first started the organization and I said look, I'd love to help you guys because I really believe in what you're putting together here. I think it has a chance to not only bring great minds all over the world together, but to actually solve problems.
What was that nudge to move to Web3 and try something completely new?
For me, Web3 also touches on the ethos of community. How do you have ownership of your own identity? What does that mean? You know, we've been living in a world where in the typical kind of Web2 scenario, you're a product, and they decide how they're going to and what they're going to advertise. A lot of times when we talk about the web, where Web1 one is about broadcasting, Web2 is about subscription and services and then Web3 is about ownership. And so for me the whole thing about being able to have a voice. It's being able to as a community make decisions together, and more ideally it is about how do we work together and inspire each other in a positive way. And I feel like Web3 has a lot of opportunities for that.
We're in a transition between Web2 and Web3 and we can go one direction or the other. So what better time than now than to have a voice where we can say no. To say that we as a community want to actually build something different to what we've learned from our past. And now as we enter into the new Web3 we are able to make better choices, right. That's been a big driving force as to why I entered Web3.
Could you or would you ever go “Full Web3,” as in does Web3 have all the same social/content creation/distribution channels you need to sustain yourself?
It is a new learning curve, and especially now with phones and computers people are digesting content in much smaller form format. Like it's rare to see somebody sitting and reading a newspaper these days. People like short-form content and they like things at their fingertips. So in general we have been changing as a society in the way we actually digest content. I think that Web3 is just the next chapter in that. We're now utilizing new technology like mixed reality and augmented reality to bring people into the story and have that sensorial effect with it. I think there's great ways to utilize Web3 and the way that you secure and validate certain content. But what I do like to say is we're not quite there yet. We're not quite in Web3, we are in Web 2.5.
How do you feel about AI lacking human autonomy? How do you see this problem solving?
AI is such a wonderful subject. I love it. And I think there's a lot of wonderful positive uses of AI. I think that a lot of people are seeing right now with GPT how quickly AI can grow. And that's just touching the surface of what AI can provide for us. There are a lot of wonderful uses of AI like health care diagnoses and being able to access information faster so that we can be more productive.
As for storytellers, we’re thinking, how can our stories come alive? How do we interact with our stories? And what we do is we're utilizing AI to actually give our characters an understanding of the real world. We're enabling the characters to have contextual awareness of their environment. When you have a digital character that comes alive in augmented reality and in your own world. You're like, oh, wow, I can actually feel this! This character is utilizing AI to have an understanding of me and my life.
Especially the younger generation, they get so excited about the idea of having, like, their digital sidekick or their digital best friends. They're, like, Oh my god, it's so much fun! And there's also beautiful things like mental health, right? Mental health is a big issue and one we don't talk about enough. You know, to have to be able to have a digital character that understands you in that way that potentially you can have this interaction with ... It can also be very helpful for people who are maybe suffering from depression or dealing with certain things. So it really brings those characters to life.
Your work has touched on a lot of subjects – human rights campaigns, energy crises. Where do you find inspiration?
I am very drawn towards hard subjects and I had the fortunate experience of growing up in Indonesia as an American woman. As a little girl I was exposed to many different cultures, and I was not sheltered by any means. My parents were very much about spending time with local people and spending time with different types of families.
Because I was able to have that at a very young age, I was also able to see what people were going through, and for me it was always about not ignoring it. It was about how do we help? How do we build things that help the community build a better life for everyone? Obviously I'm very passionate about womens’ subjects. And it's not just about women. It's also about how men support women, right? My business partner is also the same. She's very passionate in the same way and that makes us like a really great team.
The vision was to understand how we blend technology and entertainment. If you're going to reach a large audience, how do you do that in a way that they understand and can respond and can feel something? Right now, the audience is very overwhelmed by everything that's going on around them. It's like, they don't know which way to turn in. And, frankly, I've also had that feeling when I started to get into Web3. It was a whole world out there and you don't know where to start. It can be very overwhelming for the general consumer. So for me, it is an inspiration of being able to be able to tell these stories and to bring people into the Web3 world through these great stories.
Do you have advice specifically for women creators?
Don't be afraid. Women often are fearful of utilizing their voice because of how they might be judged. Just be authentic. Be true. And, do not let judgment get in the way.