The decentralized web movement has gained momentum in recent years, promising to usher in a new era of the internet and completely transform how we use it. While Web5 isn’t a whole world away from what we have now, it’s certainly different — so how exactly will it work? This article breaks down the basics of Web5 to help improve the general understanding of Dorsey’s new project.
What Is “Web5”?
As Jack Dorsey’s new company, TBD, defined the latest addition to the decentralized web movement, web5. “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 the simplest terms, Web5 is the next generation of the internet that promises to be more reliable and secure than ever before. The driving force behind Web5 is the idea that the technology, which is entirely based on Bitcoin, focuses on personal data security. Its major goal is to give its users control over their data and identity through decentralized data storage and application identity.
The Components of Web5
According to the creators, Web5 will comprise three key components:
- The Decentralized Identifiers
- Verifiable Credentials, and
- The Decentralized Web Nodes.
All these components work together to make web5 possible.
Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) and verifiable credentials are vital components of web5. These are digital identity documents that act as proof of one’s identity. Without verifiable credentials, it is hard to prove who you are online. The DIDs will allow you to access content and websites in a decentralized way. It will be attached to your identity, much like an email address, so you can use it as a user identifier.
Verifiable Credentials are documents that can be used to verify your identity online; they include government-issued IDs, academic certificates, and even driver’s licenses. You can store these verifiable credentials on blockchains or distributed ledgers, so they can be easily verified by service providers or anyone else who needs verification of your identity.
The third component, decentralized web nodes, are nodes on a peer-to-peer network similar to bitcoin’s blockchain but tailored for web5 data. It facilitates communication between people and devices in a network without a central server. This means that people will not need to give their data away because everyone will have complete control over their own data.
How will Web5 work?
As Web5 is a decentralized online platform, it will employ wallets, decentralized IDs, verifiable credentials, decentralized web nodes (DWNS), and decentralized web applications (DWAS). The main intent of web5 is to majorly provide two use cases: allowing users to “own their data” and “manage their identity.”
TBD has given examples of how Web5 will function. Consider Alice, who has a digital wallet that securely handles her identity, data, and authorizations for external apps and social networks. In this case, she uses her wallet to join a new decentralized social networking program on a platform such as Web5. She does not need to establish a profile because she has already linked to the app using her decentralized identity on Web5. Her app connections, relationships, and activities are saved on her decentralized web node. Furthermore, Web5 empowers Alice by allowing her to switch applications whenever she wants without compromising her social identity or data.
What to Expect From Web5
Web5 enables assured mobility for personal identification, which is one of the options. However, one of the major concerns about digital identity is that, in the name of user convenience, the platform players we rely on for so many of life’s digital utilities will become the default wallets holding our digital identities, separated from other platforms, other providers, or our access to be utilized somewhere else.
It will be designed so developers can easily build decentralized yet unified apps like Android for mobile browser-based web apps. In addition, it will enable user-friendly apps that provide end users with frictionless access to the blockchain’s capabilities while maintaining individual sovereign control over their identity and all data connected to their identity across all apps.
If Web5 achieves its goals, it will hasten the widespread adoption of blockchain-based apps. The advantage of widespread adoption is that it will unlock the economic value-creation potential of decentralized trust.
How Web5 Differs From Web3
Jack Dorsey argues that the fundamental concepts of Web3 are quite correct in theory, but far from decentralized in practice. The former Twitter CEO believes that Web3 hasn't done much improvement on Web 2.0, and it is still largely centralized with major access points on platforms like Coinbase, Rarible, and Opensea.
Also, the popular Proof-of-Work (PoW) and Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensuses greatly favor early adopters and give them enormous leverage over the infrastructure. In summary, Web3 isn’t fully decentralized. Rather than being controlled by users, it is run by a group of venture capitalists and limited partners.
What web5 intends to address are these difficulties. TBD said, “Web5 brings decentralized identification and data storage to your applications." “It allows developers to focus on developing enjoyable user experiences while restoring data and identity control to users.” Unlike web3, users can also use the application to store their content on web5’s decentralized web network. In essence, they want users to be allowed to move between applications at any moment while still maintaining a single digital profile through the usage of web5.
Dorsey and other web5 proponents consider Bitcoin to be the only true decentralized ecosystem; hence, Web5 is proposed to run only on the Bitcoin blockchain, to facilitate a fully decentralized internet, in contrast to Web 3.0 with several hundreds of co-existing Blockchains.
Web5 is still a project and concept in embryo, and it may be too early to judge since Web 3 hasn't even fully launched. Yes, it appears as an innovative, exciting upgrade; however, we cannot accurately predict how everything will unfold and whether it will truly oust Web3 as the future of the internet.