Is Jack Serious about Web5?
Web5: The Decentralized Web Platform, introduced by Jack Dorsey last week, is the next edition of the Web. Web2 + Web3 equals Web5, however it looks presumptuous for someone to utilize their large reach to promote a Web3 project and label it Web5.
It's no secret that Jack Dorsey opposes much of the venture capital involvement in Web3. This is odd because he would never have achieved such rapid success with Twitter without the help of investors.
Anyway, regardless of your feelings on VCs, I have a problem with the concept of Web5. This isn't because I previously wrote about Web4 (which I still stand by), but because you can't call something the next major version of the Web without making significant changes to the platform's principles.
Web3, which is based on blockchains, gave individuals the opportunity to own and regulate protocols. It was established by technologists, and unlike prior web iterations, it was not announced by someone with major industry clout. Instead, it was hackers, researchers, and amateurs who constructed what they were working on because they believed in its transformative potential.
After something was working and generating enough attention to build major buzz around it, names to describe these revolutionary movements emerged. As more individuals were connected to the internet, entrepreneurs and inventors began to see new types of products and services emerge.
In the case of Web1, the name "web" was derived from Tim Berners-World Lee's Wide Web project, which included the development of the web's basic protocols, such as HTTP and HTML, as well as the first browser.
Tim O'Reilly and Dale Dougherty promoted Web2, the social web, during their 2004 conference of the same name. Web2 highlighted the upheaval caused by the next generation of web platforms on publication and content development.
While working on the then-unknown Ethereum project in 2014, Gavin Wood, the CTO of Ethereum and subsequent founder of Parity Technologies and Polkadot, saw how what they were doing fundamentally changed the types of web platforms that could be developed with distributed ledgers and cryptocurrencies, he coined the term Web3.
All of these titles came from people who were witnessing fundamental changes in what the web could do, rather than just exploiting it as a marketing tool.
With the success of the platforms that arose in various iterations of the web, they were able to realize their aims with the help of venture capital. Even the industry's detractors would admit that it was a necessary evil in order to serve the world's population.
The popularity of any industry determines the availability of large venture capital funding. Much like the funding for Web1 and Web2 enterprises before it, the funding available to Web3 projects was a reflection of its own success.
You won't be able to prevent this unless you get rid of the VCs. But, as Jack Dorsey has often said in his critique of Web3, many of the early Web3 projects did not receive venture capital funding. Ethereum's crowd-sale (the first-ever ICO) collected funds, but it was available to everyone who believed in the concept.
To be a part of it, you had to be lurking in the correct online communities, but this was no different for bitcoin's early adopters.
Bitcoin maximalists will point out that it was established without any funding because Satoshi released the first version of the Bitcoin client, but distinguishing between the exact ways both networks were bootstrapped seems excessive - both were venues for considerable subsequent innovation.
As a result, the announcement appears to be extremely short-sighted. While Jack Dorsey has stated that he is a Bitcoin maximalist, using Bitcoin as the platform's core layer makes no sense. Bitcoin is a digital store of wealth with limited programmability. It is not a computing platform. Ethereum and related blockchains were all intended to be decentralized ledgers that could be used for more than merely holding digital currency. The programmability of Ethereum and other blockchain protocols allows developers to build general-purpose applications that exist on a ledger, whereas Bitcoin's utility is confined to being a digital store of wealth.
Furthermore, in comparison to Bitcoin, the community around these blockchains, such as Ethereum, is very functioning and capable of governing regular protocol changes that bring new capabilities. Any updates to Bitcoin usually result in a new forked version of the protocols and a lot of debate among its supporters.
When comparing Bitcoin to Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies, there is just no reason why someone would choose Bitcoin for their project owing to its lack of utility and effective governance.
Furthermore, even if the term Web5 was appropriate, what is so innovative about the platform that has been proposed by Jack's TBD Labs?
They're building on top of the Bitcoin network and hope to establish a protocol that incorporates Web3 features like decentralized identity. It's just incomprehensible to refer to this as Web5.
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