The best explanation I’ve heard so far is that it’s a protocol/architecture for near-trustless commitments1, which honestly doesn’t sound like much. But if you think about it, commitments underlie virtually all of modern society, which I think is a big part of why even the well-intentioned rhetoric around the space gets so crazy.
We’ll have to see if it pans out, but at least in theory, the concepts behind web3 provide an alternate foundation for the inner workings of society, one where guarantees don’t have to be backed by mandated authority (aka governments), but instead cryptographic math that can be automated, observed, and verified.
With all of that being said, the current mechanisms - proof-of-work block chains, smart contracts, tokens, etc - could easily turn out to be bad local maxima or outright dead ends.
As a relative outsider, trust-less commitments seem to be at the heart of what web3 really is and that feels much harder to dismiss than owning JPEGs or speculating on currencies.