Table of Contents
- 1 Web5: The Ultra Decentralized Web
- 2 What is Web5?
- 3 Four Pillars of Web5
- 4 1. Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs)
- 5 2. Verifiable Credentials (VCs)
- 6 3. Decentralized Web Nodes (DWNs)
- 7 4. Decentralized Web Apps (DWAs)
- 8 Web3 vs. Web5 — What’s the Difference?
- 9 Table Comparison of Web 3.0 and Web 5.0
- 10 Conclusion
- 11 Identity.com
Web5: The Ultra Decentralized Web
Who has the ultimate control over users’ data on the web? The advent of Web5 makes this question a vital one to be answered by the proponents of web3, which emphatically promised decentralization. Are users in control of their data, or are the blockchains that hold their data and Web3 DApps (Decentralized Apps)? Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and former CEO of Twitter, disagrees with the execution of Web3. He said:
“You don’t own “web3.” The VCs and their LPs do. It will never escape their incentives. It’s ultimately a centralized entity with a different label. Know what you’re getting into…”
(Note: VCs are venture capital firms. LPs refer to limited partners)
Jack’s tweet started discussions online, including the mainstream media featuring it in the headline. A barrier to this next phase of the web is the possibility that the decentralization promised by Web3 might not be fully decentralized. The original purpose of Web5 was for Jack Dorsey to mitigate the lie that he claimed Web3 proponents presented to the public.
What is Web5?
On June 10, 2022, 6 months after Jack Dorsey said internet users do not own Web3, a follow-up tweet announced what his team has been up to. He retweeted TBD’s tweet with a comment that says, “this will likely be our most important contribution to the internet. Proud of the team. #web5 (RIP web3 VCs),” he said. TBD is a subsidiary of Jack’s conglomerates of companies under the general umbrella called Block, Inc, previously known as Square, Inc.
Web5 is not just a successor to Web3; it’s a revolutionary concept that blends the best of both Web2 and Web3. It’s like taking the user-centric approach of Web2 and merging it with the decentralized promise of Web3. The result? A decentralized web platform that empowers users with control over their data and identity.
The term “Web5” might sound like a simple mathematical addition of Web2 and Web3, but it’s much more profound. Jack and his team at TBD envision a web where users aren’t just passive participants. Instead, they have an active role, leveraging frameworks like Web 3.0, which emphasizes user control and decentralization.
However, it’s essential to understand that while Web5 borrows elements from its predecessors, it also addresses their shortcomings. Jack Dorsey’s critique of Web3’s execution highlighted its insincerity towards the public. With Web5, TBD aims to integrate the ethical attributes of Web 2.0 with Web3’s decentralization. It’s a response to the current Web3 model, which, according to Jack, is merely a centralized entity posing under a different label.
Four Pillars of Web5
Web5 goes beyond the “decentralization” mantra into actual implementation. The team developing the protocol is focused on building a solid foundation so that the new phase of the web is truly decentralized and not just a marketing tactic to sway unobservant users. There is no doubt that Jack wants to return data control to the people.
Jack further confirmed this when one of his followers responded to him with a question paraphrased thus, “if the scientists were in the driver’s seat of Web 1.0, the techno-entrepreneurs championed Web 2.0, and the VCs want to be in charge of Web 3.0, who then will be in control of Web5?” Jack replied, “the people.” Time will tell if this ultra-decentralized web will be a reality.
Currently, Web5 and Web3 differ significantly in terms of architecture and backend operation. In spite of the fact that Web5 is still in its early stages, it is important to explore the frameworks and protocols on which it is built and compare it to Web3. Let’s analyze Web5’s four pillars which are:
- Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs)
- Verifiable Credentials (VCs)
- Decentralized Web Nodes (DWNs)
- Decentralized Web Apps (DWAs)
1. Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs)
DIDs are new, globally unique identifiers that enable users to be in charge of their identity. In contrast to centralized third-party identifiers such as emails and phone numbers which are siloed to each ecosystem, users can control how their identities and personal information are used, shared, and accessed. Remember the email used by the user? That will be an example of the DID in Web5. To learn more about DIDs, check this article.
As part of Web5, the unique identifier of users will be connected to their data via the Decentralized Web Node (DWN). By doing so, users’ data is cut off from centralized storage. Users will have total control over their data, and developers can focus on building the best user experience without worrying about storage. Public blockchains will enable the connection between DIDs, DWN, and other frameworks of Web5. A user’s DID is the only thing that interacts with the public blockchain, not their data, DWN, apps, or websites.
2. Verifiable Credentials (VCs)
These are tamper-evident, cryptographically enabled digital credentials. They are secure and impossible to forge without proof that they’ve been tampered with. They prove a user’s identity similar to a national ID, student ID, international passport, driver’s license, etc. Check out this article for a deeper view of verifiable credentials. Verifiable credentials connected to a user’s decentralized identifier further confirm the user’s credibility and establish a user’s digital identity as genuine.
As an example of Web 2.0, a user registers with Paypal using an email address (a third-party identifier). The new user will have access to some features but not all, and there will be limitations such as a maximum transaction limit of $7,500 per month. To lift these limitations and access the full features of PayPal, users will need to undergo ID verification. The process requires a valid ID from the government or legal entities, such as an international passport or driver’s license. This means of identification provided by the user is a form of credential. The legal means of identification provided to Paypal will be a form of Verifiable Credential (VC).
3. Decentralized Web Nodes (DWNs)
In a fully decentralized web, nodes communicate and work together to host and share web content between users/participants without needing a central authority or organization to control it. These nodes are Decentralized Web Nodes (DWNs or Dweb Nodes).
DWNs are a crucial part of Web5; they are the distributed networks used by Web5 users to host and serve content to all users via peer-to-peer (P2P) protocols. They serve as data storage and the message-relaying mechanism that enables Web5 users to communicate, share and identify information among one another. DWNs resemble distributed databases, but users control and distribute them among all Web5 users.
In other words, DWNs form highly connected networks of nodes that locate public or private information associated with users through their decentralized identifiers (DIDs). As a user, you can host your personal data completely separate from any app you use. You will have complete control over your data since these apps need your permission to access it.
With decentralized Web Nodes, a user’s data can sync to the same state across multiple nodes, enabling them to easily secure and manage their data while communicating with other users, apps or services without relying on location-specific infrastructure or routing mechanisms. Decentralized web apps are built on decentralized Web Nodes and decentralized identifiers.
4. Decentralized Web Apps (DWAs)
In a more relatable term, DWAs can be called decentralized “progressive web apps.” Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Telegram, etc., commonly use Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). They are website versions of native apps and rely on web browsers that support the necessary web technologies. Typically, they include most, if not all, of the features found in native apps. They can effortlessly operate as native apps; some are also installable from app stores. We can describe PWA as a “hybrid” between websites and mobile applications in lay language.
You can understand the concept of DWA using the PWA understanding above; just replace the word “progressive” with “decentralized.” There is a major difference, though, “PWA operates with a centralized server” while “DWA operates with a Decentralized Web Node (DWN).”
Benefits of DWAs
DWAs are decentralized, so they can be launched without a server since data is stored on DWNs. As a result, developers can concentrate on building apps that offer exceptional user experiences while DWNs handle data storage. Through the user’s DWN address, Decentralized Web Apps only access the DWN when necessary. Due to users being in control of their data, the user will need to grant access to the query or request. The user must approve private data, whereas the DWA can retrieve public data automatically from the DWN.
Let’s say you went to the beach during your vacation, took some pictures, and downloaded WhatsApp for the first time just to share these pictures with your friend. WhatsApp will request permission to access your local storage before sharing these pictures, and you can decide whether to grant this permission or not. Without permission, WhatsApp cannot access these pictures. This is possible because your pictures (data/information) are entirely under your control (in this case, your phone’s local storage, which is obviously under your control).
You can grant permission for the moment and then remove it from your mobile phone settings the following day. Despite having permission yesterday, WhatsApp won’t have continuous access to your data. This freedom or data control of yours would not have been possible if WhatsApp stored all your pictures in its silo (database). WhatsApp isn’t a decentralized web app, but do you get the point? Assume WhatsApp is your “DWA,” your phone’s local storage is your “DWN,” and your pictures are your “data.”
Web3 vs. Web5 — What’s the Difference?
Web5 appears to offer “look-like” features of Web3, giving both next generations of the web similar benefits and limitations. Despite having blockchain affiliations and promising similar features, these two have different architectures and backends. This will require looking into their differences.
Table Comparison of Web 3.0 and Web 5.0
|Developers deploy application logic in the form of smart contracts on Blockchain platforms such as Ethereum.||Developers build applications individually, while Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) are the only component of Web5 that interacts with the Blockchain (Bitcoin).|
|Apps are “Decentralized applications (DApps)” because developers deploy them on decentralized networks.||In 5.0, we call apps “Decentralized Web Apps (DWAs)” because they enhance normal web apps with DIDs and equip them with external data storage capabilities (dWeb nodes—DWN).|
|Web3 is decentralized but not at the same level as Web5. Web3 is said to have traces of centralization because data are stored on centralized third parties like OpenSea or Coinbase. The storages are decentralized as third parties but centralized as individual entities.||Web5 is an extra decentralized phase of the internet as data storage isn’t just moved away from individual apps or centralized storage silos to third parties like OpenSea and Coinbase. Rather, users can host their data, as total control of where and how to save the data is given to users.|
|Data is stored on decentralized off-chain storage silos.||Individuals can host their data on Decentralized Web Nodes (DWN).|
|Through non-fungible tokens (NFTs), users have control over their data as it is ties to their identity.||Users own their data which is isolated from the apps, blockchains, or platforms they use and stored on DWNs.|
|Most blockchains hosting Web3 apps or platforms offer native tokens.||Does not need a native token, nor is there any native token in sight yet.|
Transaction and Operation
|Does not use DIDs; instead, it uses native tokens of the blockchains where it is deployed.||Web5 uses DIDs representing an entity’s cryptographic state on a decentralized ledger.|
|Web3 appears to be a total replacement or alternative to the present Web2.||Web5 combines the present Web2 structures with a complete decentralization that Web3 proposes’.|
The web was created more than three decades ago. Due to the web, numerous developments have occurred across many industries, but privacy remains a bone of contention. The privacy subject is so important that legislators have been focusing in that direction with policies and legislations, one of the latest being the CPRA — California Privacy Right Act.
Without legislation, Web5 seems to be the only web with the architecture that delivers true decentralization. In terms of true decentralization, it solves privacy issues, gives users control over data, and makes companies the ones requesting consumers’ data, with consumers having the right to refuse. Will this be a reality? Jack Dorsey and the future will prove that to the world.
Among our goals at Identity.com is a user-centric internet, where users are in control of their data–this makes us support true decentralization of users’ data. More reason why Identity.com doesn’t take the back seat in contributing to this future via identity management systems and protocols.
The work of Identity.com as a future-oriented company is helping many businesses by giving their customers a hassle-free identity verification process. Identity.com is an open-source ecosystem providing access to on-chain and secure identity verification. Our solutions improve the user experience and reduce onboarding friction through reusable and interoperable Gateway Passes. Please refer to our docs for more info about how we can help you with identity verification and general KYC processes.