In recent months there has been a lot of talk about the arrival of Web3, that new, theoretically decentralized Internet that got rid of intermediaries and was closely linked to cryptocurrencies. Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter, criticized it in the past, but he was also preparing his alternative: Web5.
This latest version wants to go further and add a layer that for them is crucial: identity. “In today’s Web, identity and personal data have become the property of third parties,” explain those responsible for the project. Here that identity and that data will also be decentralized and according to them “will give ownership of that data and identity back to individuals.”
“This will be our most important contribution to the internet”
Dorsey’s concept does take advantage of some of the principles on which Web3 is based, but it goes a bit further. There is also talk of a “Decentralized Web Platform” (DWP) with developers creating “Decentralized Web Applications” (DWAs) using “Decentralized Identifiers” (DIDs) and “Decentralized Web Nodes” (DWNs).
The essence is not so different from what was proposed in Web3, but here those decentralized identifiers would be that pillar of a Web5 in which identity is very important and becomes a fundamental part of data ownership management.
In the official presentation of Web5, several slides explain how a protocol would be created that would mean that in the browser we would no longer type “https://[URL]”, but “did:// [URL]”. These identifiers would be self-generated and would not be provided by a trusted entity.
We would also have the so-called “Verifiable Credentials” (VCs) that would make it possible to prove that you are whom you say you are in this new version of the Internet, and that would prevent possible identity theft and security in transactions of all kinds.
There are other relevant components, such as those decentralized web nodes that, among other things, would offer a semantic discovery option – searching for any type of data according to its semantic type – and that would allow the creation of decentralized applications and protocols for the exchange of all types of information and with those nodes as a base.
The project has been created by TBD, the subsidiary of the Block (formerly Square) company founded by Jack Dorsey, also co-founder of Twitter. At a recent event called Consensus Festival, Dorsey indicated that “this will probably be our most important contribution to the internet,” a statement certainly striking coming from Dorsey.
Goodbye, venture capital firms
One of the objectives of Web5 is to avoid the absolute dominance that large venture capital firms had played by investing large amounts of money in Web3 projects.
Dorsey himself had criticized those moves, stating in December that “You don’t own Web3. Venture capital firms and their limited partners do.” This weekend he reconfirmed his critical stance against that Web3 saying “RIP web3 VCs”, giving for dead those who have made those investments in that platform that has not come to fruition so far.
Curiously, in this presentation, there is no direct mention of cryptocurrencies and the underlying economy of this platform, something that was clear, for example, in the Web3 foundations.
Here the monetary layer is based entirely on bitcoin, something logical considering that Dorsey is a very vocal “maximalist” of the cryptocurrency, but there does not seem to be as clear a focus as Web3 has on the idea that users and creators can earn money (cryptocurrencies) through the use of this type of technology.
The central idea seems to be to offer Web5 users a decentralized identity. One that allows them to move from application to application without logging in. User data would no longer be stored by third-party services, but controlled solely by the users, who would be the ones to allow or not its exposure and use.
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