In case you hadn’t figured it out, I’m a bit of an internet optimist1. I think that the open, largely free access to publishing and consuming of information that the World Wide Web affords is, generally, A Good Thing.

Had I not been able to visit websites and forums, read up on HTML, web design, programming, hacking, games, music and all the other things that interest me, I’d have been a much more glum teenager and wouldn’t be a product manager at a tech startup.

It’s why all the talk of web3 worries me. Much of it seems to suggest that you can’t involve yourself in the ecosystem without exchanging some value, for example, paying gas fees on the Ethereum network. What happens to non-commercial creation then?

But I read a couple of pieces this morning that gave me hope. Some Notes on Web3 by Robin Sloan2, and What is Web 3.0, Really? by Alan Morrison. Each presents a different view on the possible futures, but it’s really the place in between the two I’m trying to imagine. One where free hobbyist publishing exists alongside commercial content creation empowered by networks, not corporations.

Is Web3… anything? by Chris Granger begins to paint a picture of that place in between. Is web3 bullshit? by Max Read sits there too.

But maybe it’s a dream. Over the last week or so, I’ve been reading more on web3 – admittedly pieces critical of whether it solves the problems it professes to solve – and maybe you can’t solve a socio-economic problem with technology. Check out:

All in all, I’m undecided as yet. I need to read more and write some notes, although everything I read feels like political discourse, two opposing sides. (Anil Dash mentions this.)

If you’re in the web3 world and haven’t read up on the Semantic Web, the original vision for the Semantic Web, or whatever happened to the Semantic Web, I recommend taking a look. Then take a look at Solid. Not everything needs to be on a blockchain.

And if you’re one of those people who has been feeling dread about web3, what did you read that changed your mind? Could we build a reading list for the rest of us? Let me know, I’ll add to this list.

  1. OK, maybe a little bit of a purist too. 

  2. Hat-tip to Trilly