How to Explain Web3 to Your Grandma This Thanksgiving

Amid career discourse and the latest hometown gossip, your grandmother may ask you what the metaverse is or why that picture of a cartoon ape is worth millions of dollars.


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key takeaways

  • Unlike Web2, where most of the power and ownership is concentrated in big tech, Web3 will be decentralized and ideally governed by its participants
  • Facebook defines the metaverse as “a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you”

Your grandma has just asked you to pass the pumpkin pie, green bean casserole or some other dish at Thanksgiving dinner. 

Following discourse around career updates and hometown gossip, someone at the table brings up Facebook (or I mean Meta.) Chaos and confusion ensue over the company’s recent rebranding. Meanwhile, you’ve been privately checking Messari to make sure the price of ETH hasn’t plummeted since you sat down ten minutes ago.

But, as the resident crypto expert, you’re deemed the chosen one to explain. You’ve gone deep down the rabbit hole, listened to Bankless’ podcasts religiously and are in six different discord servers, preparing all year for this moment to evangelize the entire table. 

Inspired by Joe Weisenthal’s newsletter from Bloomberg, here’s how you can respond to these questions – and other proposed ramblings – to get you through Thursday.

Q: Okay, Morgan. I’m seeing something on the internet called “Web3.”  What is Web3? Why do I need a third web?

A: Well, *insert loved one’s name*, it’s not quite three different “webs,” per se. Think of Web3 as the successor of Web2. 

Web2, which debatably reigned from 2005 to 2020, was when the internet “was about siloed, centralized services run by [big] corporations” like Google, Apple and Amazon. (I’ll text you Chris Dixon’s blog post about this later.)

We are at the very early stages of Web3 now though. 

Unlike Web2, where most of the power and ownership is concentrated in big tech, this will be decentralized and ideally governed by its participants. So creators, builders and users of Web3 can own pieces of internet services by collecting tokens such as NFTs.

Q: Slow down there, kiddo. Is a NFT that thing Snoop Dogg, Jimmy Fallon and Reese Witherspoon keep talking about? 

A: Let’s break this down more. A NFT is a non-fungible token. 

Q: That’s not helpful.

A: Non-fungible means that it’s a unique asset and cannot be copied. Think of a baseball card. But these are mostly digital and are powered by different blockchains. Blockchain technology and a decentralized ledger allow everyone to know that the NFT is yours. A lot of people refer to this as “verifiable ownership.”

Additionally, you can bid on or purchase them on various marketplaces, using cryptocurrencies like ethereum, solana or polygon. Some are really expensive though. Individual NFTs within popular collections, such as the Bored Ape Yacht Club, have been sold for more than $3 million. 

There are other use cases for NFTs, such as gaming, medical records and fashion, but they’re widely known for being art-based right now.  

Q: But what’s the metaverse? Mark Zuckerberg keeps talking about it and even rebranded Facebook because of this, right? 

A: There’s a lot to unpack here. Zuckerberg changed Facebook’s corporate name to Meta, yes. (Additionally, the company plans to invest at least $10 billion in the metaverse this year alone). 

Facebook defines the metaverse “as a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.”

But for the sake of dodging gross generalizations, I’ll quote Matthew Ball’s “Framework for the Metaverse” as well.

Ball describes the metaverse as “a massively scaled and interoperable network of real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds which can be experienced synchronously and persistently by an effectively unlimited number of users with an individual sense of presence, and with continuity of data, such as identity, history, entitlements, objects, communications and payments.”

Q: We’ve covered a lot and I’m ready to make some money.  What should I invest in then?  

A: Let’s save that for Christmas, Grandma.

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