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The World Of Web3: A Beginner's Guide To A Space That's Set To Change The World As The Internet Once Did In order to best understand why it's important to build in Web3, you need to take a step back to understand public goods.

By Azeem Khan

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Unless you've been living under a rock, it would have been difficult for you to not have heard about Web3 yet.

Whether it was because everyone around you was buying Dogecoin in hopes that it would soon be valued at US$1, or hearing that the artist called Beeple sold a jpeg for $70 million, it's been inescapable for the past 18 months or more. Should you care though? Is this groundbreaking revolutionary technology that will take over the world tomorrow, or is it another useless thing in the news to overlook since it'll be gone soon? The reality is that it's somewhere in between. While this is definitely going to change the world, it's not happening tomorrow. But the reasons for why you should care are important enough to want to build in Web3 though.

In order to best understand why it's important to build in Web3, you need to take a step back to understand public goods. Traditional examples of public goods include clean air, libraries, and even the electric grid. These are things that don't exclude anyone from using them, and that one person having access doesn't negatively impact someone else's. A more recent example in today's knowledge-industrial age would be open-source software, which is non-proprietary software that anyone can modify, enhance, or simply view the source code for. This allows software developers to work on and collaborate on projects made by different individuals, teams, companies, and organizations.

These public goods might be easy to think about like the roads and bridges of the internet. However, this time, you don't need to spend years fighting for a permit or negotiating land sales- you can start building in Web3 today.

The dominant internet platforms of today are built on having taken what we in Web3 consider public goods, and turned them into privatized products. They aggregate users and user data, exploit those users (i.e. you and me) for profit, grow their platforms using network effects, give us back none of those profits, and continue that cycle to reap billions in profit. This is the key place that makes Web3 exciting, because it's built on the idea that there is an alternative way companies can make money without exploiting users for data. Instead, we see a world whereby building open platforms that share profits and value with users allows us to create more value for everyone involved. Tell me, doesn't that sound amazing?

In Web3, we strive to build messaging apps, financial products, social media, search engines, and so on to be public goods. These are things that we've simply come to accept as owned by private corporations who allow us to use their products to profit on us, while delivering mind-numbing ads on a daily basis. We are exposed to ads that only seem to get creepier with each passing day, and that no matter how much profit they've already made without giving anything substantial back, the corporations will find a way to milk us for just a bit more, and somehow make us less happy on their platforms too. Just think about how much worse your experience has gotten on Instagram in the past couple of years.

Related: A New Frontier: Lessons Learnt From Exploring NFTs, The Metaverse, And More

The world that Web3 builders are creating is one where it won't be the platforms who have full control of the data. It will be users who own whatever content that they've created and actual ownership of the digital assets they've bought. Right now, when you buy something like an item in a video game or a ticket to a concert, there's a private server operated by the company you purchased it from that ticks a box off saying that the item in question is yours. In reality, it's not actually yours, and they can take that away from you whenever they want. In Web3, these digital assets live on public blockchains, they are portable and interoperable, and most importantly, actually owned by the user.

A world in which users can take their data and assets from one platform to the next will introduce a sense of competitive pressure that doesn't exist with the companies of today who know you have nowhere else to go. Companies must now update how they do business from extracting value to delivering value, because they will know if they aren't creating enough value for users, users might simply leave to another company that will.

Digital property rights are increasingly important as we all live in digital worlds, and that is not something possible with today's technology. It's not impractical to think we will soon live in a world where a majority of the things we use paperwork for now will all live on blockchains in the future, like art and music, among other things. In order for that to happen though, we need to actually be able to own these digital assets in a way that's only possible with Web3.

It sounds cliche to say at this point, but the same way that it was evident to people that the internet was going to change the world in ways we knew and later in ways we didn't, Web3 will do the same. The job opportunities are endless, plus some of the (arguably) most intelligent people in the world today are leaving great jobs to help create this future. Plus, the work is generally fully remote, meaning we can easily tap on talent globallyas a result, it's more than just idealists working to create something better than what we have now, and it's inevitable.

In summary, Web3 brings the potential to unlock more value for everyone on the internet. Instead of platforms having control of the data, users own any content they create, any digital objects they purchased, and those assets are usually portable. In order for us to get there though, we need more people to understand why it's worth working towards it to begin with. It's time that we stopped letting these billion- and trilliondollar companies take advantage of us, and instead partake in the value creation that our being part of the network allows. There are so many amazing things happening that really do go beyond the cringe headlines you see today. This innovation will revolutionize the world the same way the internet did, and it will allow more people to take part in it too.

If, after reading this, you're convinced that it's time to start diving in to Web3, then you're in luck. Since this space is so nascent, there's not much information you can't get for free. And spending time learning is what you need to do more than anything else. Most people ask me what they should buy, but if they put the time into learning the things to buy, that would make sense anyway. For instance, I'd start with the Bitcoin whitepaper, as well as the Ethereum whitepaper. Neither are very technical, and they help explain the core thesis of each in a simple to understand manner. They're really good starting points for any beginner, and they remain documents that experts in this domain go back to from time to time.

After that, I would take a look at any materials Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) releases. It is one of the most prestigious venture capital companies in the world, but given how good the content it creates is, many people joke that it's actually a media company that does venture capital on the side. Both the a16z Crypto Startup School and Crypto Canon are amazing, and after that, you can get into the NFT Canon, DAO Canon, and NFT Virtual Summit. If you exhaust those as well, you can easily find podcasts and newsletters the company has been working on too.

Making an account on Twitter would also be massively helpful. A majority of the information as to what's going on in the Web3 space happens in real time there. Based on what really piques your interest, starting to find the founders, investors, content creators, and projects in the space that intrigue you will help you get an understanding of things as they're happening. What you'll quickly find is that Web3 is not a monolithinstead, it's actually a highly diverse ecosystem much like any other industry, despite the fact people may see all of it as a big blob from the outside.

Another account to make will be on Discord. The communities for specific projects or even groups of likeminded people hang out in different Discord servers. These will become easier to find once you spend a bit of time on Twitter anyway, so don't worry if this doesn't make sense yet. Think of these like new versions of old-school chat rooms based on different interests. And once you get inside them, don't be shy. Just introduce yourself, and start taking a look at the conversations happening. I promise you that people will be way more inviting than you can imagine. So much education happens in these servers that finding the ones you like alone can make you an expert. Much of my learning has taken place based on people I've never met who took time out of their day to help me out, regardless of how many questions I had.

And that, in effect, is really all you need to get into Web3, and I promise that before you're even at the end of it, you'll be in a much better place than you could imagine. Even if you're not looking to start a company, every skillset is much needed in the space. From video editors and copywriters to operations people, companies willing to pay you more than current counterparts exist everywhere. Putting yourself in a position where you've got real world skills and deep knowledge of Web3 puts you ahead of 99.9% of the general population, and it also sets you up well for the inevitable future that is Web3- which is a really good place to be.

Related: Decentralised Investment Group Founder Haydn Snape On Why Dubai Will Become The Crypto Center Of The World

Azeem Khan

Fundraising and Partnerships Lead, Gitcoin

Azeem Khan is a New York-based entrepreneur and Web3 native. He entered into the crypto space in 2013 buying and selling Bitcoin, and he went on to write about it for The Huffington Post. Since then, he has tried launching a cryptocurrency called Kim Coindashian in early 2014, and he then worked within the initial coin offering space in 2017. In 2021, he launched a venture-backed Web3 crowdfunding platform, and currently, he’s one of the leads in partnerships at Gitcoin, a decentralized autonomous organization that has helped distribute over US$65 million in grants to the Web3 ecosystem since 2017, and helped spawn many multi-billion dollar companies in the web3 space that were originally grantees of the enterprise. 
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