What Is Web5?
The main idea behind the architecture is to provide users with anonymity, giving them the ability to retain control over their digital identity and data without handing it over to unaccountable third-party providers.
When Was Web5 Invented?
The term Web5 first emerged noted when Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, did a Ted Talk in 2009, which he defined as an “open, connected, intelligent web.”
Then in 2022, Jack Dorsey, former Twitter CEO and current CEO of Square, released a revised version of the concept, with the launch of a Web5 platform designed by TBD, which would enable dApps and protocols.
Web5: An extra decentralized web platformhttps://t.co/LDW3MZ8tON
— TBD (@TBD54566975) June 10, 2022
TBD argues that under the current model of the web, users didn’t own their data or online identities but instead relied on third-party companies to hold their accounts, where users’ data and online data becomes the property of a third party.
How Does Web5 Work?
Under a Web5 model, users would be able to use decentralized web apps and protocols, providing users to manage self-owned identities. When logging in to a web app, the user would verify their identity on a decentralized basis.
There are four main components that enable this:
- Decentralized Web platforms. These are platforms that enable developers to build decentralized apps that aren’t built on the blockchain. This means data isn’t stored on them.
- Decentralized Web nodes (DWNs). These are data storage and message relay mechanism that helps decentralized web apps function.
- Verifiable credentials. These are standards for creating independently verifiable claims about others from individuals or entities. Examples include proof of employment or a driver’s license.
- Decentralized identifiers (DID). These are self-generated and self-owned identifiers that help authenticate and route identities. Consists of a long string of text which consists of a URL scheme identifier, the identified for a DID method, the DID method–specific identifier.
A developer would use a decentralized Web platform to write their own decentralized web apps – apps that aren’t built on the blockchain and don’t directly store data. The app would then use decentralized identifiers to enable users to identify themselves to the app.
These identifiers act as an alternative to the email addresses and account names that Web 2.0 sites use to identify users. The key difference between decentralized identifiers is that they aren’t managed by a centralized provider or trusted authority but by the end user, who can choose to make their identity discoverable or not.
It’s important to note that these identifiers work alongside verifiable credentials, which means that two parties don’t need to trust each other to engage.
For example, if a user attempts to connect to a decentralized finance app, then the provider could request a verifiable credential from the user’s identity wallet, such as proof of banking or an ID card.
This is all underpinned by decentralized Web nodes, which decentralized Web apps use to collect data from. Nodes have a DWN address that apps can use to communicate and provide the mechanism for users to protect their data within a personal data store, enabling the user to relay messages to decentralized web apps.
How Is Web5 Different From Web 2.0 and Web3?
The core difference between Web5 and other iterations of the Web is that elements like decentralized identities and Web nodes enable users to take ownership of their data independent of a third party.
|Ownership of Data||Users have ownership of the data||Data controlled by service providers||Data controlled by service providers|
|User Control||Users have more control||Limited control||Limited control|
|Authentication||Decentralized identifiers used||Service provider authentication||Service provider authentication|
|Data Storage||User-owned data nodes||Service provider’s servers||Service provider’s servers|
|Dependency on Third Party||Independent of third parties||Dependent on third parties||Dependent on third parties|
|Privacy and Security||Enhanced privacy and security||Limited privacy and security||Partial privacy and security|
A Privacy-Centric Version of the World Wide Web
While Web5 has yet to come to fruition, on paper, it will be the first iteration of the web to offer users greater ownership of their data, so they have more control over what entities can access their data.
Ultimately, it’s designed to make sure that providers don’t have the ability to process and store user data without permission.