[updating] Web3 Reading Material

Published: 2021-11-14
Tagged: coordination guide readings web3 updating

Updated Jan 9 2022

Hello there, fellow traveller.

Web3 is interesting. Back between 2013-15, blockchain was all abuzz about finance and ICOs and whatnot. Like a tool searching for a problem. Or like an academic exercise. But it's 2021 and the space has changed.

It seems like coordination is the name of the game. I'm surprised to find so many blog posts about voting systems or group decision making. This makes my curiosity tingle because the world needs a whole lot more coordination ability than it has right now. And no one, outside of a handful of urban designers and angry academics is even touching this topic with a ten foot pole!

Well, except the blockchain folks now. And I'm very curious to see where their experiments will go. Even if 99% of them fail, which I expect is being optimistic, we literally need just a handful to succeed to push millions, then billions of people onto a higher level of coordination. Doing that entails all the warm and good things, like plentiful food, shelter, education, and, more ambitiously, more opportunity to interact with all of humanity.

So here's a curated list of resources that I'm using to understand what web3 is now and what it could be in the future. I'll keep updating it as I find new, juicy pieces.

Basics, or, Why Coordination Matters

Meditations on Moloch - Moloch is the personfied godhead of coordination problems. Aside from answer what coordination problems are, this essay makes the case that they are like any other problems and that we, humans, can find solutions to them.

Jean Monnet: The Guerilla Bureaucrat - Jean Monnet, a merchant, and a coordination-superman whose work supported stitching together a handful of angry countries into the European Union. Good example of how coordination can benefit us.

Coordination Schemes Are Capital Investments - Coordination schemes as technology

What the Hell is Going On? - We live in interesting times. This spells out why I think we will need blockchain tech.

The Refragmentation - The unification and conformity present in the 20th century, something we all take for granted, was a historical anomaly. We're now bouncing back to "normal", where there is no pop culture, no mainstream.

Into the Weirding series - Our world is changing in fundamental ways after being stuck for a couple of decades. History is starting up again, everything is changing, and the pandemic made everyone aware of this.

Age of Abundance: How the Content Explosion will Invert the Media Industry - Attention has become the scarcest resource. By proxy, brains, not muscle or land or machinery, has become the critical constraint to building civilization. And a lot of our media is geared toward exploiting our attention.

RFCs, Whitepapers

EIP-20: Token standard - Fungible token standard.

EIP-721: Non-Fungible Token Standard - The technical description of NFTs.

EIP-1155: Multi Token Standard - Contracts that can represent any number of tokens.


Web3 - A vision for a decentralized web - web3 in a nutshell.

A tweet thread by Chris Cantino - web3 in a nutshell, but better!

A Prehistory of DAOs - Sketches out where DAOs came from, where they're at now, and where they could be going.

DAOs: Absorbing the Internet - In depth piece about what DAOs are, how they work, what is their driving philosophy.

Ethereum: Slayer of Moloch - Blockchains as the thing that will kick us onto the next level of coordination. Read the Slate Star Codex piece first, otherwise this won't make any sense.

Aragon, DAOStack, Colony, Moloch - A description of four DAOs, handy for improving your barings.

The Moloch DAO whitepaper - Take the idea of coordination-problems-as-godhead, make it a meme, then create an experimental DAO focused on improving coordination around improving DAOs. Noice.

Protocols and Creator DAOs - DAOs are much more than just bits of code and flows of money. They are focusing points for culture, like cities.

Crypto Cities - How web3 tech can help cities govern better.

A Voting Theory Primer for Rationalists - A quick tour of voting theory.

Quadratic Payments: A Primer - Details about quadratic voting and how it applies to allocating funds toward common goods (aka escaping the tragedy of the common).

Why Proof of Stake - Vitalik's entry-level description of why PoS is an important next step for Ethereum. Talks about what PoS means for chain security, including security from whales dictating a chain's future.

How to Attack and Defend Quadratic Funding - All coordination mechanisms can be exploited. How can we prevent defend them?

Notes of Web3 - A cooler look at web3.

Is web3 bullshit? - Another skeptical look at web3.

Is web3 anything? - A curious skeptic's take on web3 through the lens of blockchains-as-commitments.

My first impressions of web3 - Refreshing take on the wonders and horrors of web3.

Re: Moxie on Web3 - A reply to the above.

On Web3 Infrastructure - Another reply to Moxie's post.

Squad Wealth - How society is rearranging itself, fragmenting into smaller "squads.

on building with a squad - Squads, but seen from inside one.

Tribes, Institutions, Markets, Networks: A Framework About Societal Evolution - 1995 RAND report describing a framework for understanding the evolution of societies. The last form it describes are "collaborative networks", which appear to be relevant to Web3.

The Non-Fungible Token Bible: Everything you need to know about NFTs - A friendly and comprehensive introduction to NFTs.

Protocols as Minimally Extractive Coordinators - cheaper protocols incentivize usage, more usage increases utility, more utility increases incentives for usage...

Uniswap's Financial Alchemy - Helps answers the question "WTF is Uniswap and why is it a decentralized exchange?"

Sushi and the Founding Murder - Brief history of Sushiswap, helpful to better get what a decentralized exchange is.


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