What is Web5? What did I miss?
It was a Saturday afternoon and, as a good techie, what was I doing in my spare time? Reading the latest industry news. Scrolling through articles with one eye while watching the new episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi, when I saw something (worth pausing) happen that sounded weird but familiar at the same time. I came across a hashtag I didn’t recognize: “#web5”. As CTO of Extrimian (where, among other things, we are dedicated to giving access to blockchain and are experts in digital identity and SSI), I’m familiar with the terms web 1 , 2 and 3 but 5?!?!?! To be honest with you it captured my full attention.
Saturday was taking an interesting turn with Jack Dorsey’s note talking about decentralized identity and web5 (and it was a lot more than 140 characters…). The more I read, the more familiar it all became to me. And the fact is that, without knowing it, we at Extrimian are already building part of the web5.
That’s why in this article I will tell you about the differences and similarities with Jack’s project (yes, let’s suppose he authorized me, through a VC, to call him by his first name).
Taking the Decentralized Web to Bitcoin
TBD has announced plans to create a decentralized web platform called “Web5” on the Bitcoin network.
As we already know, Web3 offers an approach to building blockchain-based web applications. But, Web3 relies heavily on Ethereum and other blockchains that support smart contracts, and are well suited for programmability and tokenized payments. In contrast to this, Dorsey’s Web5 project announced at the latest Consensus event is notable in that it seeks to build its components on top of the Bitcoin network. In the case of Extrimian it’s multichain, which is one of the most important differentiators as it is not limited to a single network, making it even more decentralized. From a technical standpoint, Web5 will focus on identity rather than tokenized payments. To that end, TBD plans to build a Decentralized Web Platform (DWP) that will allow developers to create Decentralized Web Applications (DWAs) with Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) and Decentralized Web Nodes (DWNs), according to a TBD web presentation. The DWN or Decentralized Web Nodes are precisely the core of what we are doing. In Extrimian we call them MODENA DWN, they are the point of contact for the exchange of information between two entities, they can be two wallets, agents, or two things (Iot) or to store information, but the most important thing is that all messaging and data are encrypted and it is the user who has control of their information, so no matter who hosts this service can not access to read the data. These nodes can be public or permissioned, the authentication method used are the Did’s and their signatures.
The platform will primarily use ION, a Bitcoin identity layer developed by Microsoft and the Decentralized Identity Foundation. We, at Extrimian, use the Sidetree protocol but implemented on other blockchains. We call it MODENA SIDETREE, which it’s a multichain network. We have implementations on RSK, Polygon, and we are working to connect it to Starknet. Another important feature is that it supports multiple did methods.
In practice, Web5 aims to solve the problem of securing personal data online without selling it to third parties in the case of centralized applications (as is the case in Web 2.0). The project aims to “bring decentralized identity and data storage” to web applications and return data ownership to users.
In our case, as I mentioned before, the MODENA DWN is responsible for keeping the user’s data encrypted, and only the user can share what is necessary with a third party. Web5 will be developed by TBD, a company recently created by Dorsey’s Block Inc (Block, Inc., formerly Square, Inc.) to focus on Bitcoin infrastructure development. Block itself – best known for its Square payments app – has also expressed plans to launch a Bitcoin hardware wallet and decentralized exchange in the future.
However, Dorsey said in a tweet about Web5, “it will probably be [my team’s] most important contribution to the Internet.” We agree 100% with his words, due to the contribution it gives to users and above all to data protection.
Dorsey backed up this sentiment declaring: “This will likely be our most important contribution to the internet. proud of the team. #web5 (RIP web3 VCs 🤫)”. Also, he has come under fire for his Bitcoin maximalism and criticism of Ethereum. Jack Dorsey was also instrumental in helping Twitter embrace cryptocurrencies before he stepped down as CEO of the social media company last year.
No tokens in web5
Web5 will be built on top of Bitcoin and will not require any other tokens to function. The idea of web5 is a Bitcoin maximalist approach to innovation that, if successful, could eliminate the need for any cryptocurrency other than Bitcoin. Well, this should be the only approach that I personally do not share. I think the user should be able to choose which blockchain is the one that protects their data
Mike Brock, Head of TBD, confirmed: “No. There are no tokens to invest in with web5. Kthx.” He also took a shot at web3, saying: “Some people seem to think we are joking about web5 and we are not for real working on it. I promise you, that we are for real working on it. It will actually exist, unlike web3.”
It is clear that web3 is part of web5. The set of web3 + DWN and the rest of the components make the web5 platform possible.
Source: Web5 Deck
The Web5 revolution
The project of web5 is based on TBD’s thesis that web3 is not enough to make a decentralized web. That is why TBD explains the problem with these words:
“The web democratized the exchange of information, but it’s missing a key layer: identity. We struggle to secure personal data with hundreds of accounts and passwords we can’t remember. On the web today, identity and personal data have become the property of third parties.”
The four key components of Web5, which as described in that thesis, are based on decentralization and Bitcoin, would be: decentralized identifiers, self-sufficient identity service, decentralized web nodes and self-sufficient identity SDK. Taking this into consideration, we could say that the goal of Web5 is:
“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.”
The big difference between traditional web2 applications and the web5 ecosystem can be seen in the following slide. Briefly, in web2, progressive web applications transmit information directly to centralized servers with minimal details cached by users. But unlike this, Web5 works through decentralized web nodes owned by users rather than a centralized server.
Source: Web5 Deck
To better understand the project, and what are its main features, you can see the whole presentation on their public presentation. And if you want to know more about Extrimian’s services and products discussed in this article, please contact us through our website or social media.