Web3: A Brief Overview and Curated Resources

Starry Sky Over Mountains by Cliford Mervil

Web3 represents the era of web technology, functionality, and ethos emerging now.

We’re seeing the term mentioned more often across media recently, which parallels the increase in interest in digital assets and cadence of innovation in decentralized applications. 

Here is a brief Web3 overview with a few curated links for those who want to dig deeper.

Where We’ve Been

Web3 is a progression so let’s take a quick look at Web1 and Web2 for context.

Web1 marks an early era, which emerged in the 90’s and early 00s, and has been called the read-only web. Web1 enabled static pages, search, hyperlinking, e-commerce, and the like.

Web2 marks the next era, which emerged in the 00’s and early 10’s and has been called the read-write web or social web. Web2 is built on more dynamic applications, enabling interactivity and ubiquitous publishing like social media and peer to peer applications.


The ecosystem emerging around decentralized protocols and the communities building out these technologies are just beginning to have a profound impact on the way we interact with each other and technology.

Web3 represents a shift towards blockchain, accessibility, and community governance.

Web3 is decentralized. Decentralized systems operate across a global network of computers. There is no single point of failure and no centralized platform that can change the rules or bait and switch in the middle of the game.

Web3 runs on blockchain technology, which is programmable and maintains records across a global network of computers.

Web3 is open. It is built on an open group of protocols accessible to developers independent of status or affiliation.

Web3 is permissionless. Developers are not limited by institutions like corporations or governments.

Web3 enables community governance where rules are determined by code and not enforced by centralized authorities.

Web3 is trustless. Since there are no centralized institutions governing, people interact without requiring a trusted third party.

Web3 holds the potential to change finance, law, commerce, ownership and more in a fundamental shift from “don’t be evil to can’t be evil” as Chris Dixon puts it.

Curated Web3 Link Festival

There’s a lot to take in here. So for those who want to dig a little deeper, here are a few well curated links.

Patrick O’Shaughnessy interviews Chis Dixon on the potential of blockchain technology. This is a broad and dynamic conversation and Patrick provides reference links, which only widens the rabbit hole.

Here’s Dr. Gavin Wood with an early and foundational presentation on The Journey of Web3. This is a must watch for those who want to get at the history and motivation.

Here’s a comparison between Web2 and Web3 via Ethereum.org. It’s a great way to contrast where we have been and where we are headed.

What Exactly Is Web3? via Juan Benet. This is a tour de force video where Benet takes us back to the pre-computer age and contextualizes eras.

What Is Web 3.0 & Why It Matters via Mersch & Muirhead

Three is the magic number via De La Soul