Exploring Web5: The Next Step in the Evolution of the Internet

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Web5 represents the next phase in the evolution of the Internet, aiming to create a decentralized, peer-to-peer platform. It strives to give users complete control and ownership of their information, allowing them to store and manage their personal data on decentralized web nodes.

Although most of the world is just learning about Web3, there is already talk about Web5. The next step in the evolution of the Internet, Web5, aims to offer users a decentralized, peer-to-peer platform.

Who’s Behind Web5?

One of the companies behind Web5 is TBD, the Bitcoin-focused unit of Block, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s payments company.

TBD is developing Web5 with the goal of providing complete decentralization while ensuring that users retain complete control and ownership of their information. However, others were using the term Web5 several years before TBD announced its version.

One of the differences between TBD’s version and other versions is that TBD’s Web5 is not a peer-to-peer platform. In addition, TBD’s version of Web5 does not employ AI technology or aim to incorporate human emotions.

According to TBD, this technology has the potential to combat some of the challenges presented by the rise of AI – in particular, AI-generated deepfakes can be combatted by proving an individual’s identity with decentralized identifiers and verifiable credentials.

TBD’s Web5’s pillars (decentralized identifiers, verifiable credentials, and decentralized web nodes) are built on World Wide Web Consortium standards.

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TBD said:

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. Web5 brings decentralized identity and data storage to [companies’] applications. It lets devs focus on creating delightful user experiences while returning ownership of data and identity to individuals.

The goal is to develop an online system that is impervious to the control of the major technology companies and one that secures personal information by giving users back control of their digital identities. Web5 does this by combining Web2‘s ease of use with the decentralized model of Web3.

In fact, TBD came up with the name Web5 by adding Web3 to Web2, i.e., 3 + 2 = 5. (Web4 is just an addition to Web3, providing a seamless wireless connection worldwide.)

With Web5, users store and control their data on decentralized web nodes. Web3, on the other hand, stores data on decentralized storage networks, such as the InterPlanetary File System. And unlike Web3, Web5 does not use tokens or smart contracts to function.

Key Features of Web5

  • Verifiable credentials

Enable users to have exclusive access to their data without having to involve third parties, as in Web3. The credentials, digitized representation of users’ identities, allow users to identify themselves without involving intermediaries. This is much like traditional identification methods in the physical world, such as driver’s licenses, identification cards, or passports.

In Web5, these traditional IDs are signed digitally and verifiable. Users can build up their credentials on the network, then use them whenever a platform requires them to verify their identities.

  • Decentralized web nodes

Web5 includes decentralized web nodes (DWNs), personal data stores where users can store their data, including social media platforms, financial data, and contact information. These storage units are controlled by users rather than different entities, as in Web3. Because these nodes are decentralized, there’s no need for other platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, that have access to users’ public and private data.

Since DWNs are encrypted, they safeguard sensitive information and boost security and data privacy across the decentralized web.

  • Decentralized identifiers

These act as identity cards so users can operate the online versions of themselves. Generated by users, decentralized identifiers are unique to each individual and work with verifiable credentials to enable users to identify themselves.

Decentralized identifiers can work with blockchains even though they don’t have to be based on blockchains.

Web3 vs. Web5

Although the base operations of Web3 and Web5 are similar because they aim to create a web that is user-friendly and user-owned, there are some differences, including:

Feature Web3 Web5
Transaction Network Relies on smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps) on the blockchain to complete transactions. The record of every single transaction is stored on the blockchain and made public. Uses decentralized web applications not built on the blockchain together with decentralized web nodes to make up the transaction network.
Data Storage Data is stored on the public network using such tools as the InterPlanetary File System that users can access. Users have control over their data through decentralized web nodes. Users decide which information to store and make public.
Wallet Storage Users store their non-fungible tokens (NFTs), cryptocurrencies, and other digital assets in Web3 wallets secured by public and private keys. Public keys encrypt messages, while private keys decrypt messages. Each user has access to a wallet in their decentralized web node. Wallet securely stores data, authorizations, and identities for external apps and connections.

The Bottom Line

Since this version of the Internet is still being developed, it’s too early to determine the limitations of Web5.

Since the technology necessary to make Web5 a reality is still in development, it may be several years before the next iteration of the Internet can be implemented on a large scale.

However, those responsible for developing Web5 have been working on the technology for more than 10 years and, along with early adopters of the concept, are still fine-tuning it.

As such, the more individuals use Web5, the better the chances that it will succeed.

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Linda Rosencrance
Technology journalist
Linda Rosencrance
Technology journalist

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer and editor based in the Boston area, with expertise ranging from AI and machine learning to cybersecurity and DevOps. She has been covering IT topics since 1999 as an investigative reporter working for several newspapers in the Boston metro area. Before joining Techopedia in 2022, her articles have appeared in TechTarget, MSDynamicsworld.com, TechBeacon, IoT World Today, Computerworld, CIO magazine, and many other publications. She also writes white papers, case studies, ebooks, and blog posts for many corporate clients, interviewing key players, including CIOs, CISOs, and other C-suite execs.