Any time I hear anyone talk about “crypto” — that, well, cryptic set of technologies that includes things like the blockchain and bitcoin and NFTs — every alarm bell in my head goes off.

More than once I have thought to myself: this whole thing seems like a scam.

But even dubious technologies can have real-world effects. Just this week, a group of crypto enthusiasts got together to try and purchase one of 11 remaining copies of the U.S. Constitution.

The future is, if nothing else, going to be very very weird.

But crypto is part of a growing set of ideas grouped under the moniker of Web 3.0. It is a collection of technologies and ideas loosely organized around the blockchain that, at least according to proponents, promises to revolutionize commerce, how we organize, and perhaps even democracy itself.

Others, however, assert that Web 3.0 is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme.

As happens with these things, the truth is likely somewhere in between, with the caveat that, as with Web 2.0, there is a lot of hot air, money and bad faith in the mix.

Perhaps more importantly, as also happened with Web 2.0, whatever few core, promising ideas there may be, the influence of money, business models and greed may quickly put an end to any utopian ideals.

Understanding Web 3.0 first requires some understanding of the blockchain.

At its core, the blockchain represents an immutable ledger for recording any exchange of data. A financial transaction is the most common example, but it could…

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