The blockchain industry moves fast. New concepts pop up every day. Just this weekend, co-founder of Twitter Jack Dorsey announced a new initiative from TBD (a subsidiary of his digital payments company Block): Web5, “The Decentralized Web Platform”.
What is Web5?
Web3 is commonly referred to as the next version of the internet. In Web3, people will build DApps, tokenize content, and give users more control over their personal data. This is in contrast to the current Web2 model, where users give companies access and the rights to their data. For Web5, Dorsey aims to move the internet from Web2 to Web5 straight away.
First let’s look at Web5’s description, as proposed by Jack Dorsey:
“Web5 is a Decentralized Web Platform that enables developers to leverage Decentralized Identifiers, Verifiable Credentials, and Decentralized Web Nodes to write Decentralized Web Apps, returning ownership and control over identity and data to individuals.”
In Web5, user identity and data are controlled by users themselves via decentralized web nodes (DWN). DWN helps to store data and can communicate with other nodes, forming a network of nodes. In this case, users can choose to grant DApps access to all or only certain data, to enjoy customized experiences.
For example, if you were planning a trip in Web2, you would need to visit different websites to book your airline tickets, hotel room, day tours and more. You would need to register accounts with each company and collate information from different sources.
In Web5? Instead of having personal data and preferences strewn across 10 different sites on the internet, your DWN now helps to store and manage information in one place. You could create a collection of trip-related data like previous booking or hotel information. You would then authorize the booking app, for example, access to all or certain parts of this data. The app would recommend hotels based on your preferences — summarized from the data you provided.
What is the relationship between Web3 and Web5?
The concept is similar to Web3, where users have control over their personal data and sovereignty over their identity. However, what is the difference between Web3 and Dorsey’s Web5?
- True decentralization: Most Web3 projects rely on blockchains like Ethereum or Solana to build DApps. Dorsey’s point of view is that this does not afford sufficient decentralization (he is commonly labelled as Bitcoin’s Spiritual Leader). Web5 aims to realize the same goal by building on the Bitcoin network.
- Reduced VC presence: Dorsey is an outspoken critic against Web3 for its heavy presence of venture capitalist investments, which may threaten true decentralization.
- Project vs fundamentals: There are Web3 projects building decentralized data storage and identifiers (e.g. Arweave). However, while these are just projects in Web3, Web5 seeks to make them fundamental building blocks of the next internet.
Will Web5 kill Web3?
Considering that Dorsey had just announced his plans for Web5, it is still too early to tell if Web5 would replace Web3. These are some challenges that Web5 faces:
- Web5 isn’t just another company project. Dorsey and his team have ambitions for Web5 to be the next version of the internet.
- Like the concept of Web3, Web5 may be abstract and difficult to define. Extensive education efforts would need to be made for the public.
- It may take a long time for Web5 to show results.
- The Web5 proposal reveals a Bitcoin maximalist approach where there would be no other coins or tokens. This is not inclusive for many in crypto and blockchain.
As of now, Web5 is only an idea and proposal. Currently, we are in the transition phase between Web2 and Web3 and the public has just started to familiarize themselves with the concepts. We don’t know what the future holds, but perhaps we could also consider a scenario where Web2 splits into Web3 and Web5. This will provide new opportunities for developers, companies and individuals to decide what the next iteration of the internet should look like.
The views expressed in this article are the author's alone and do not necessarily represent the views of ApolloX.
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