Web3: An Introduction

Issue #001 - Things you may not know or are too embarrassed to ask

Image created by author on Night Cafe
Please note: I started this article intending to simplify Web3 as much as possible and keep the buzzwords to a minimum. However, I quickly realised there were 2 choices - either omit the buzzwords altogether or use and explain them. They add much needed context, so I chose the latter.

What is Web3? According to Wikipedia:

“Web3 (aka Web 3.0) is an idea for a new iteration of the World Wide Web (www) which incorporates concepts such as decentralization, blockchain technologies, and token-based economics.”

Pretty clear, right? Yeah, didn’t think so.

A little bit of background

I’m sure you’ve heard of crypto, Bitcoin, NFTs, etc. Today, these words seem to be synonymous with Web3. Cryptocurrencies are enabled by Web3 technology known as blockchain. Bitcoin and Ethereum (and many others) are digital currencies that are underpinned by blockchain technology. Without the blockchain, they could not exist.

But, what is a blockchain? Put simply, the blockchain is technology that enables secure and transparent transactions without the need of an intermediary (ie. middleman). Web3 is built on blockchain technology.

Why do they call it Web3? What happened to Web1 and Web2?

I’m glad you asked. People have compared Web3 to previous versions of the web and explained it as:

“Web 1.0 was the “read-only” web, Web 2.0 was the “read-write” web and Web 3.0 is the “read, write, own" web.”

Is your head spinning yet?

These explanations do nothing to make it any clearer to the regular, non-tech person. Let’s see if I can put it in simpler terms:

Web 1.0 - In the original iteration of the web, we had static pages, but could not interact with them. Think of a newspaper that published “online”. You could read their stories, but that was all. There was no comment or feedback section. You consumed the content that was made available.

Web 2.0 - The same scenario as above, except now we have user generated content. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogs all came to life in Web2.0. You can have your own writing on the web and interact with an audience. You’re no longer just as consumer of content but an active participant…and a creator.

So, what does Web3 bring? Essentially, the same as Web 2.0 above, but with one a crucial difference - you can still create content but you maintain full ownership and control.

What does ownership actually mean in Web3? I’m glad you asked.

Say you want to start a blog - a blog is like a diary or a journal but online for people to read and interact with. You select a popular platform for your blog (there’s dozens to choose from) and you start publishing. Day after day you add fresh stories that people can read and engage with you. You build an audience of like-minded people.  

On one particular day, you decide to write about a controversial topic. You don’t pick sides, you just put out the facts as you have researched them. Unbeknownst to you, somebody has taken offence to something that you’ve written and complained to the platform. You wake up in the morning, grab a coffee and sit down to read the comments on your story. Except, there is no story. In fact, there is no blog.


Welcome to Web 2.0, where YOUR words, YOUR content, can disappear overnight because somebody else has control. It’s not your platform, it’s theirs. They have rules. Something you said contravened a rule and…BAM! Your site is no longer. Good luck trying to argue against this and get your content back. 

Does this sound farfetched? Extreme, perhaps? It’s 100% real when you decide to build on somebody else’s platform. When you choose to do so, you cede control. 

How can this scenario above be prevented? Welcome to Web3 and decentralisation.

Ok already. So what the heck is Web3?

Let’s get back to the original question at the top of this story: What is Web3?

Web3 is ownership. It is freedom from Web2 constraints and control. It is censorship resistant and permissionless. More buzzwords. Basically, you can write what you want without fear of censure from the platform (although common sense and decency should still prevail). And you do not need anyone’s permission to do so.

Decentralisation brings freedom. No longer beholden to a centralised platform that is the arbiter of what is right and wrong. You have complete control over the content and the medium you have chosen to create on.

With decentralisation, no one company can control your content. There is no single central source of information. When you create on a platform like this, your content is written to the blockchain, meaning it cannot be deleted by anyone else. It is there forever. Immutable. And only you choose what to do with it.

Do you want to create a blog post and make it a collectible, where your readers can purchase it to support you? You can. Welcome to Web3 where you are in control of your content.

I can appreciate that these concepts are difficult to get your head around when you first encounter them. We have not been conditioned to think in this way. Our day-to-day life is very much in the Web2 mould. 

This article could easily have been another 2000 words. The topic is vast. However, my intent was to introduce you to Web3 as painlessly as possible. I hope I succeeded, even if your head is spinning!

If you have questions (and I’m sure you have questions) please leave me a comment.

There is a lot of information out there. Trying to find something that is non-technical will be the challenge. But, it exists. Good luck!

In future editions of this newsletter, I will explain common Web3 technologies and applications as simply as possible. You may even understand some of them! 😀

Until next time.

Cast of the week (like Tweet of the week, but not from Twitter)

Warpcast is a relatively new social app to rival Twitter. Actually, its look and feel is based on Twitter (no need to reinvent the wheel!) but it is a Web3 app built on a sufficiently decentralised protocol called Farcaster - I will get into both in later editions of this newsletter.

For now, Cast of the week is from one of the creators of Farcaster and Warpcast, Dan Romero:

Surely you've made it if you're mentioned in the NYT!

Want to dive in further?

Here are more articles:

Web3 (on Wikipedia)

Web3 101: An Introduction to Web3