My definition of web3 from a technical perspective is that it is composed of self-verifying data structures, cryptography, and distributed systems.

These are all active areas of research in computer science and information theory.

Aside from technology, Web3 supports user ownership, data portability, open source, and public goods.

The DWeb Principles are a good background.

Some of the ways of working look a lot like my Three Definitions of Open Source.

Not all web3 has to be available under an open source license. Most often, I expect a Web3 system to be based on a protocol or standard, that can have multiple code implementations that interoperate by following the protocol.

Some examples of Web3 systems:


Blockchains are a subset of web3. They are useful in cases where strict global consensus is required.

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