"Web5 is happening" according to jack Dorsey. The bold and enigmatic claim rang out from his Twitter account. Linked in his tweet was an article from Jack's latest venture, the Zion app.
Diving into the content, web5 and Zion make bold claims for the future of life on the internet. Web5 is a theoretical combination of web2 + web3... (2+3=5 get it?). How web2 and web3 are combined is a fascinating process.
Right now on conventional web2 sites, user info is siloed onto the apps they use. That's why you have separate sign-ins for Instagram, Twitter, food delivery services, Uber, etc. With the new web5 system that Zion is developing, every user will get a DID or decentralized identifier. This DID is a one-password-to-rule-them-all credential that will allow people to sign in to any service, account, or website and safely verify their identity. This is obviously way more convenient than having 1,000 different passwords for every site one uses. But the greatest benefit of all comes from the web3 contribution of decentralizing the identity and cryptographically securing it. The formats used by the DIDs, the way they communicate to websites, and the decentralized data storage which contains the DIDs, are all next generation privacy and security measures. This ensures that it is impossible for hackers to break into a DID account. Scammers will never be able to impersonate a user's DID. In other words, DIDs are the answer to one of the internet's greatest problems: identity theft.
On top of the security aspect of web5, there is the privacy layer. User activity on Zion will occur within an individual's own decentralized web nodes (DWNs). Any activity, for example, chatting with a friend, will be 100% secure. A user's DID logs them into their own DWN. Anyone with whom the user wishes to chat on Zion will also have their own DID and DWN. Messages between the two parties can't be accessed by a third party. Most importantly of all, Zion itself won't be able to spy on its users. Aka the system is subpoena proof!
Another aspect of privacy, but a big feature in its own right, is payments. Zion will allow users to pay for goods and services through the Bitcoin lightning network. Zion's own cryptographic structures will allow for scalability and near instantaneous finality of transactions between users. Or to quote the Zion Team, "Because exchanges of content are secured by the same cryptography that underpins financial transactions, all payments on Zion are instant, immutable, and untraceable." This would be a major breakthrough in both technical and social terms. It's also the kind of thing the SEC would hate!
Will Zion be the internet's mythical sanctuary for privacy, security and financial freedom? It is hard to say. The promise and prominent founder are in place. The developers are working... the app's waitlist is full! While it is exciting to dream of a world secured by Zion's features, even Team Zion is asking for people to slow down. As difficult as building can be, the team says, "Building new software on new primitives for products that have not existed before is exponentially harder." Waiting for Zion is the least of some critic's concerns.
Jack, respectfully, how does this differ from web3?— avi.eth (@real_avi_eth) October 27, 2022
yes I read the article.
it looks like they’re reinventing the wheel and slapping on new names.
Many were quick to criticize Dorsey's tweet as a mere marketing ploy. Calling something web5 certainly sounds good even though the product closely resembles web3. CoinChain threw shade by upping the web stakes by +2:
Me and the homies in the lab working on Web7 pic.twitter.com/MYfAbqhQwA— CoinChain (@CoinChainEx) October 27, 2022
Another source of criticism is that Zion isn't being built on web3 native tools—this presents a risk to all the decentralized ideals of web5. One tweet showed that sign ups are taking user metadata; thus, Zion is acting just like web2 dinosaurs. The decentralized computing service, Flux, offered to help, pleading with team Zion to avoid building on Google or AWS.
As we all wait for Zion, as we all wonder if web5 is a marketing maneuver or a major move forward, there is one thing people should do. Learn about the tech! Check out this amazing presentation on web5.