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Token Economy: How the Web3 reinvents the Internet

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Tokens - often referred to as cryptocurrencies - can represent anything from an asset to an access right, such as gold, diamonds, a fraction of a Picasso painting or an entry ticket to a concert. Tokens could also be used to reward social media contributions, incentivize the reduction of CO2 emissions, or even ones attention for watching an ad. While it has become easy to create a token, which is collectively managed by a public Web3 infrastructure like a blockchain network, the understanding of how to apply these tokens is still vague.

The industry keeps referring to “Blockchain” as different from “Bitcoin,” creating an artificial divide that is often misleading. There seems to be too little understanding about the fact that Bitcoin is a blockchain network, which is (a) globally managed by people who mostly do not know each other, and (b) enabled by the consensus protocol that (c) incentivizes all network actors for their contributions with a native token. The governance rules are tied to the minting of a native blockchain token. The Bitcoin token can, therefore, be seen as the currency of a distributed Internet tribe, called the Bitcoin network, where network actors are rewarded with Bitcoins, just as the Ether is the currency of the distributed Internet tribe Ethereum network, or Sia is the native currency of the Sia network. The Bitcoin network and other distributed ledgers all represent a collectively maintained public infrastructure and are the backbone of the next generation Internet, what the crypto community refers to as the Web3.

This book attempts to summarize existing knowledge about blockchain networks and other distributed ledgers as the backbone of the Web3, and contextualize the socio-economic implications of the Web3 applications such as smart contracts, tokens, and DAOs to the concepts of money, economics, governance and decentralized finance (DeFi).

364 pages, Kindle Edition

Published June 20, 2020

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About the author

Shermin Voshmgir

13 books27 followers
Shermin Voshmgir is the director of the Research Institute for Cryptoeconomics at the Vienna University of Economics, and the founder of BlockchainHub in Berlin.

In the past, she was a curator of "The DAO", and advisor to various startups like Jolocom, Wunder and the Estonian E-residency program. In addition to her studies at the Vienna University of Economics, she studied film and drama in Madrid. Her past work experience ranges from Internet startups, research & art.

She is Austrian, with Iranian roots, and lives between Vienna and Berlin.

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5 stars
181 (45%)
4 stars
150 (37%)
3 stars
51 (12%)
2 stars
14 (3%)
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5 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 44 reviews
Profile Image for Alessandro Perilli.
39 reviews11 followers
February 1, 2022
"Oh, and there's this. By the way, there's also that. And, of course, I would also look at those."

First, the good news.
This book is a trove of links ready to be investigated. A reader that has never heard of Blockchain and Bitcoin can use this book as a good starting point. That said, there will be a lot of additional research to do while and after reading this book.
That type of reader should consider the book as an accelerated way to figure out in what direction your Google searches should point.

If you are old enough to appreciate the analogy, this book can be considered an enormous Yahoo directory of web3 projects.

Part 4 contains some of the most valuable content, helping a complete novice envision the most common use cases for today's token consumption.

Now, the bad news.
This book is poorly written. So poorly, in fact, that it seems no editor was involved in the project. A reader might forgive a first edition, but this is already the second one.

I'm not talking about the frequent repetition of certain concepts, which is by design, as you'll read in the book's introduction.
I'm talking about poor sentence structure, narrative logic, and information flow.

Concepts appear out of nowhere without any context and any further explanation. The logic is circular on one too many occasions. Some statements contradict each other across chapters. Entire sentences are identically repeated in two consecutive paragraphs. And ultimately, there's a constant regurgitation of the same terms and ideas without really explaining what they are, why they exist, or how they interconnect.

Even the charts are poorly defined despite the minimal amount of text accompanying them: double terms with doubled meaning associated with the depicted concepts but no evident or explicit correlation between them.

Many of the links listed at the end of each chapter don't work. At least one of them now points to a porn website.
Web3 is evolving at neck-breaking speed, so the reader should expect that some projects will disappear by the time an edition is published. But, again: for a second edition, the number of broken links is exceptional. The quality should be significantly higher.

Part 1 is especially bad in all these regards, but the other parts will disappoint as well.

Part 3, about decentralised finance, perpetrates the myth of barter with a typically inaccurate narration of the origin of money. Before reading this book, I highly recommend reading "Debt: The First 5000 years". Written by an anthropologist, it will be an eye-opener about how and why money actually came to be.

Part 4, about token use cases, contains a long rambling on cognitive psychology, behavioural finance, and related concepts. These are fundamental disciplines, but they are not critical to explaining purpose-driven tokens and mainly distract a confused reader.
Part 4 also rambles on and on about the history of a token-based social network, portraying the events as fights between toddlers attempting to seize control of the toys at the kindergarten, further distracting the reader.

The attitude of this book is "Oh, and there's this. By the way, there's also that. And, of course, I would also look at those."
There's no serious link between the mentioned topics. There's no way to understand how they are correlated and the implications of that correlation. Most of the time, it's a name dropping exercise.

Many readers will be left more confused than when they started. Others will spend double the energy necessary to understand the concepts. Both, ultimately, will be forced to re-read everything from other sources. Not because the book is introductory by design and requires further investigation, but because the narrative is so shallow in some parts and so convoluted in others that it leaves the reader with the urgent need to double-check everything you think you have understood.

I believe that the reader will walk away with no comprehension of web3. Only some very basic awareness.

Bonus for Kindle readers: inexplicably, some portions of the text are in black font colour while others are not black. It's subtle but still noticeable. The colour change sometimes occurs in the middle of a paragraph, as if the author had copied and pasted portions of text from somewhere else and no formatting was applied afterwards.

How I review books

5 stars - an exceptional book that expands my reasoning, not just my knowledge

4 stars - a great book that significantly expands my knowledge

3 stars - a book with some interesting information and some major flaws that didn't really make an impact in my life.
(Notice that there's a time in life for certain books. It's possible that this was not the time for this book, and the review rating would change ten years from now)

2 stars - a book that gave me nothing and took my time.

1 star - a book so poorly written that I couldn't even finish reading.
Profile Image for Digitalerstaub.
47 reviews3 followers
November 2, 2021
This book is an encycolepia for the web 3. The author covers everything that is happening in the token economy from the beginning of cryptography up to the challenges that proof of work faces in relation to scalability.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in the topic, no matter what your level of expertise is.
Profile Image for Daniel.
64 reviews8 followers
February 20, 2022
Web3 is the next wave of technological change with the potential to uproot many industries.

It is in its early stages. The only thing you might have seen or heard so far regarding web3 might be the speculative market of cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

The current Internet was built to connect machines and not humans. Its protocol is stateless and lacks native solutions for:
- Identity management
- Value exchange
- Governance
- Access, ownership, and settlement rights

Web1 (information economy)—World Wide Web, HTTP protocol, rudimentary browser (client), and server apps—was invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. Web1 revolutionized information access via increasing the usability of the Internet by visually appealing and easy-to-navigate websites instead of command-line interfaces which were hard to use and not intuitive.

Web2 (platform economy) revolutionized interactions. SocialMedia, e-commerce, and knowledge platforms bring producers and consumers of information, goods, and services closer together. Web2 allowed peer-to-peer interactions on a global scale. But always with a middle-man, a platform acting as a trusted intermediary which controls and governs the interaction of the users who do not know or trust each other.

Web3 (token economy) has the potential to revolutionize agreements and value exchange. Web3 changes the data structures in the backend of the Internet, introducing a universal state layer, often incentivizing network actors with a token. The backbone of this Web3 is represented by a series of blockchain networks or similar distributed ledgers.

Blockchain networks seem to be a driving force of the next-generation Internet which reinvent the way that data is stored and managed over the Internet, providing a unique set of data, a universal state layer, that is collectively managed by all nodes in the network. This provides a native value settlement layer for the Internet in the absence of intermediaries. It enables true P2P transactions.

(from the book)

This book is an overview of Web3, its main building blocks, its potentials and bottlenecks, its applications, its current stage of development, challenges ahead, and further needed innovation.

Each chapter is well referenced. The author keeps the big picture dominant throughout the book. Reads and feels like academic work while being digestible for the mass audience.

Shermin Voshmgir is unquestionably a thought leader in the Web3 movement and this book is solid proof of her thorough understanding and compelling vision of the next stage for human society.

What do you think of Web3? Did you also read some other book on Web3?

Happy reading! 📙
Profile Image for Giorgi Jibladze.
9 reviews1 follower
August 17, 2022
Judgment of a book is a very personal experience. It depends on the context, specifically who reads the book and with what kind of knowledge and experience.

This book looks valuable as the first book for people (like me) who don't have any prior knowledge or experience in this topic.

In the first part, the author explains the very core ideas behind the umbrella term "Web3” - the distributed ledger, the blockchain, the crucial topic of "who controls the session" and so on. This part will be loved mainly by software engineers who already understand how the internet works and what is client-server architecture. Personally, for me, this was the most influential part of the book as it was like an eye-opener experience, after which it became super clear exactly what issue is solved by blockchain technologies. If Web2 was mainly the front-end revolution, Web3 is a back-end one.

The next parts are devoted to detailed research of various use cases of the blockchain idea, and their political, and socio-economic aspects. The author clearly shows that decentralized money is just one use case of web3 and after the emergence of Ethereum and other similar platforms which provide the chain infrastructure to define your own "application tokens" with just programming code, now as a result, we are looking to the very actual hype of tokenization of different businesses and whole economies. This is not going to stop and we are at the very beginning.

In the last part, the author describes the conceptual process of engineering new tokens and shows that technical development is one part of it. The very important are also the economic, legal, and ethical parts.

Again, I definitely recommend it as an introduction to become aware of the horizon and to see the roadmap for the next steps.
Profile Image for Dillon Butvin.
83 reviews1 follower
February 6, 2022
This book is (pardon my expletive) FUCKING PHENOMENAL. It is dense, but it is by far the best book on Web3 I've found. Not technically dense. More theory, utility, practical use cases, and remaining problems.

I have a friend group who we all started discussing Web3 recently. I knew nothing when we started chatting. After this book, I have to find new friends who know/understand more because this book took me that far.

If you give it your time, you will not be disappointed.
Profile Image for Joshua Pujol.
10 reviews1 follower
October 29, 2021
I LOOOVE this book. This is a very technical book so if you don't have a background in computer science it might not interest you as much as other similar books. I constantly find myself going back and rereading the chapters of this book. If you are curious about Web3 or the next step for the internet it's a must read.
Profile Image for Omar Venturi.
51 reviews7 followers
June 19, 2021
Ho letto diversi testi sull'argomento blockchain e questo è certamente quello che ha saputo rispondere alla maggior parte delle domande, colmare i dubbi e permettermi di comprendere meglio il fenomeno nel suo complesso.
L'argomento "blockchain" (può avere anche altri nomi e sfumature come DLT, cryptoeconomia, web3 o tokenizzazione… non sono la stessa cosa, ma in questa fase iniziale ci si riferisce facilmente allo stesso concetto con parole diverse) è ancora nella sua fase iniziale e nessun libro è in grado di dare un quadro chiaro di come si stabilizzerà l'evoluzione di questo fenomeno, ma questo testo affronta la tematica - che è molto, molto complessa - in maniera davvero efficace.

Aspetti tecnici, sociologici, etici e soprattutto economici. L'economia in effetti è il focus del testo, ma gli argomenti sono comunque distribuiti in maniera equilibrata.
Il libro affronta il tema partendo dalle basi e si rivolge potenzialmente ad un pubblico ampio. Tuttavia consiglio la lettura di questo testo solo dopo aver appreso le nozioni di base e compreso le dinamiche essenziali di Bitcoin, di Ethereum e magari anche di un'altra blockchain.
Senza questi concetti di base l'opera resta utile, ma ritengo possa essere meno efficace. È piena di riferimenti e rimandi ad altri concetti che, per quanto introdotti nel testo, devono essere compresi per poter seguire pienamente lo sviluppo del ragionamento.

Interessanti tutti i capitoli. Che si tratti di riferimenti storici, tecnologici, politici o sociali, ho sempre trovato degli spunti davvero interessanti e utili. Utili sia per chi voglia capire meglio il web3 e perchè si parla di "economia dei token", sia per chi abbia ambizioni più avanzate che portino allo sviluppo di un progetto o addirittura di una DLT.
Ecco, soprattutto per chi voglia sviluppare progetti, questo è un testo che - per quanto non presenti aspetti tecnologici operativi (non ti insegna di sicuro a scrivere il codice) - dovrebbe far parte del background dei membri del team!
15 reviews
December 30, 2022
Loved this book.

Its a useful for beginners to dive in and slowly learn the internals of Web3 and Tokens. I would strongly recommend to use a Kindle version since you will highlight the hell out of the book.

It doesnt get into too much details of technology but gives a high level view of Security, Merkle Trees, Consensus Protocols, Block Creation methods, Smart Contracts, Oracles, mechanisms of Proof-of-work, Proof-of-state. But these are sufficient considering the enormity of Web3. The author provides sufficicent reading links at the end of each chapter for further deep dive.

This is a necessity reading for Developers, Architects, Managers, Entrepreneurs as it provides information into the technology, the infrastructure, economic, social, ethical and behavioral issues.

It also provides information on the various issues that currently exists in terms of unethical attacks, stealing, the trilema of Decentralization, Security and Scalability. It appears there is still a long way to go for public blockchains.

Some very good information on the evolution of Blockchain and the differing implementations.

The chapter on Use Cases was fantastic as it gave a realistic view of the possibilities, the designing of tokens and the economic, legal and behavioral sciences that needs to be applied for implementing new Tokens.

The summary section and the reference material at the end of each chapter is immensely useful. I am planning to use my highlights (it appears i have highlighted 50% of the book!) and the summary section should be a good revision material.

Dont miss this book. Its brilliant. I am going to be following the author Shermin Voshgir closely for further information
2 reviews1 follower
January 23, 2022
If you're curious about web3, do yourself a favour and read this book. It lays out the entire landscape in an extremely accessible way (it will be slightly more accessible if you watch some YouTube videos about the basics of blockchain and DeFi beforehand) and gives you the confidence to dive deeper into whatever specific area seems most interesting to you. In particular, I thought the chapter about designing your own token system was incredibly insightful and made it abundantly clear that the web3 will be built across disciplines, not just by engineers alone. It will take a combination of technical, legal, economic, and ethical engineering within web3 combined with emergent technologies like AI and IoT to make truly revolutionary breakthroughs in the space.
Profile Image for David Dávila.
43 reviews1 follower
October 29, 2022
Es el primer libro que leo sobre web3, prefiero leer blogs o foros, o bien escuchar podcast relacionados al tema. Leí la 2da edición y tomando en cuenta que es del 2020 está decentemente actualizado.

Es ligero si tienes conocimientos de sistemas, pero podría ser algo técnico y pesado para quien no esté familiarizado con el tema. Aborda bien el tema de los tokens, la filosofía alrededor de web 3, y un montón de ejemplos y aplicaciones de estas tecnologías.

Si bien en algunos casos los gráficos y diagramas salen sobrando, en muchas casos ayudan para entender con mayor rapidez la arquitectura de lo que expone.
Profile Image for Robert Gebhardt.
Author 6 books54 followers
December 24, 2021
Great dive into pretty much everything about Tokens. The dive isn't too deep, but this probably shouldn't be your first foray into Blockchain technology, unless you have a finance background maybe.

Regardless, I found it very informative, if a tad boring and long-winded in parts. Like with any book about this topic, it will be out of date by the time it goes to print, but it still gives quite a bit of good background information.
Profile Image for Charlie Naudy.
7 reviews1 follower
August 4, 2022
A good starting point to understand the concepts of bitcoin, blockchains, crypto-assets, crypto-economics, and why this is a groundbreaking advance that will yield many new use-cases and potentially change the way the internet works in the future.

Less convincing on current web3 use cases, but that may well be because current web3 use cases are still in their infancy and have yet to demonstrate their usefulness beside speculation and short-term FOMO buzz.
Profile Image for Victoria  Gruber.
6 reviews1 follower
January 3, 2021
Finally a book that gives an amazing overview on all topics related to distributed ledger technology. It gives many use cases, depicts the current state of the art research in each area and explains the technology in a very easy way. I myself did not have much prior knowledge or understanding and was able to to finally make sense of the technology and its possibilities.
10 reviews1 follower
August 23, 2021
Very well rounded introduction into the blockchain world. Takes you from zero to hero, helping to breakdown every term in the emerging industry. I think it’s understandable for both developers and non-developers. Highly recommended to gain a sense of understanding of cryptocurrency, bitcoin, wallets, web3, smart contracts, DeFi, and all the rest of the blockchain newspeak.
Profile Image for Joel.
81 reviews11 followers
November 28, 2021
The Web 3 landscape is dynamic to say the least. This book is an excellent primer and is an encyclopedia-like treatment for anyone wanting to orient themselves in that landscape. It doesn't teach the "how" but it does teach a lot of the "what" and some of the "why". I would recommend this book as the first book to read if you're interested in getting into or have found yourself thrust into the world of web3.
Profile Image for Jate Saitthiti.
34 reviews4 followers
February 6, 2022
The author clarifies the difference between Web2.0 and Web 3.0 by many use-cases. Essential information like infrastructure and ecosystem behind the blockchain network, protocol, node, and smart contract are included. My favorite topic is "DAOs vs Traditional Organizations" and "How to design a token system."
14 reviews1 follower
June 23, 2021
If you want to know all the buzzwords around Bitcoin, web3, ethereum, etc., this is THE book you have to read. It covers basics and provides resources for In-depth self learning. The author also breaks down jargons/concepts, thus making it easy for public to digest.
Profile Image for Ivan Kireev.
6 reviews1 follower
December 9, 2021
This is, bar none, the easiest and most comprehensive way to understand very complex matters (at least I thought so before I started reading) in a very simple way. It is a great way to know more about crypto, Dao and smart contracts. I can’t recommend it enough.
Profile Image for Andy Febrico Bintoro.
3,410 reviews25 followers
December 13, 2021
This is a step by step guide to learn about cryptocurrency, many terms here was explained with illustrated examples. This book was a good starter for ordinary people to understand about cryptocurrency.
Profile Image for Karel Asselman.
32 reviews
January 10, 2022
Te veel technische aspecten besproken maar dan veel te beknopt waardoor het eigenlijk amper te snappen valt. Voor een groot deel goedgemaakt door het laatste deel waar concrete voorbeelden van tokenised ecosystemen uitgebreid worden besproken met do's en don't's
1 review1 follower
May 11, 2022
Introduction to tokens and the how the economy works. Quite well articulated. At times there is speculation on how the future will evolve in terms of web3 but this book generally paints a good picture.
Profile Image for Ashe Magalhaes.
104 reviews9 followers
December 18, 2022
Best web3 textbook I've read so far - although a bit, but not too much, out of date. Great overview on a range of web3 applications with cited readings making it easy to deep dive. Good resource to have on hand. 3 stars because my interest in web3 textbook material ebbs & flows.
Profile Image for Sally Nikesch.
38 reviews
April 28, 2023
Keine Sorge ich lese das nicht als Hobby! 🤣War für die Masterarbeit... es war ein bisschen zu kompliziert und wirklich geholfen hat es nicht aber hey dafür einen Schritt näher am reading-challange-ziel 🤩
126 reviews3 followers
January 17, 2021
This book is a very comprehensive guide to the current web3 landscape.
Profile Image for Marcel Schwarz.
389 reviews
July 28, 2021
Excellent book not only about the basics but also about different developments in the blockchain world. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Loren Picard.
64 reviews9 followers
October 21, 2021
Great resource. Includes good additional readings at the end of each chapter. If you need an overview of tokens and the issues around engineering tokenized systems, this book is a good start.
Profile Image for Dimas.
1 review11 followers
February 23, 2022
A must-read for everyone interesting in getting familiar with such an amazing world which is web3 and the economy built on it.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 44 reviews

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