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Entering the Field of Web3: “Infrastructuring” and How to Do it

Kelsie Nabben (European University Institute, Italy)

Defining Web3: A Guide to the New Cultural Economy

ISBN: 978-1-83549-601-5, eISBN: 978-1-83549-600-8

Publication date: 1 July 2024


“Web3” is a practice in participatory digital infrastructures through the ability to read, write, and control own digital assets. Web3 is hailed as the alternative to the failings of big tech, offering a participatory mode of digital organization and shared ownership of digital infrastructure through algorithmic governance. This paper offers an introductory playbook to researchers entering the field of Web3 by providing an analytical lens to approach the emergent field of Web3 as “infrastructuring.” It argues that Web3 can be understood as a collective, community exploration of “how to infrastructure.” Drawing on qualitative examples derived from digital ethnographic methods, the study reveals that play, politics, and prefiguration are fundamental qualities underpinning Web3’s vision of offering an “exit” from established institutional infrastructures. Therefore, a primary challenge Web3 faces in its governance experiments centers around the question of how to effectively build and manage infrastructure.




Thank you to RMIT University Blockchain Innovation Hub and BlockScience for ongoing research collaborations, and the editors of this special collection for the invitation to contribute.


Nabben, K. (2024), "Entering the Field of Web3: “Infrastructuring” and How to Do it", DuPont, Q., Kavanagh, D. and Dylan-Ennis, P. (Ed.) Defining Web3: A Guide to the New Cultural Economy (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 89), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 27-42.



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