Jack Dorsey announced a new crypto project—“Web5: The Decentralized Web Platform”—Friday on Twitter and in-person during a Web3 festival.
Jack Dorsey wants two jobs. He was CEO of Twitter and Block (then Square) simultaneously for years. Then, in 2021, he quit running the blue bird app and announced Block’s rebranding and new focus on blockchain technology in addition to financial services. So if you were wondering what the hell he was working on post-social media, it’s here, and it’s… well, all I can really say is it’s here, that’s for damn sure.
Dorsey’s new crypto-like project is jumping “4” and jumping the shark at the same time. Through his bitcoin-based company TBD, his Web5 project promises to be everything Web3 isn’t, AKA in his own words, “decentralized.”
In TBD’s slideshow describing the project, “decentralized” is used about as much or even more than the word “the.” TBD, a subsidiary of Block, proclaims Web5 will fulfill the original promise of a truly democratized internet space through their “Decentralized Web Platform.” Through this development kit, users can establish apps and web nodes to create options for decentralized identity and data storage.
In the past, Dorsey has been heavily critical of crypto and Web3. While the next wave of the internet has promised to be a truly democratized system not owned by any one individual, Dorsey has said the space has been taken over by venture capitalists.
On the other hand, the ex-Twitter CEO has also been a big proponent of bitcoin. His wholehearted support of the OG cryptocurrency is despite critics and researchers who have pointed out that early adopters of bitcoin essentially became “the elite” of crypto, amassing wealth while essentially becoming a new flavor of 19th century oil barons, but for crypto mining. Dorsey has likewise defended bitcoin despite its negative environmental impact.
Block’s Web5 promises to do away with anything that has stopped Web3 from being truly (say it with me) “decentralized.” They promise no utility tokens or consensus models, instead relying on a (sigh) decentralized web-based on blockchain tech.
The program is supposed to allow users to jump from app to app anonymously without needing to log in. According to Blockchain Magazine, bitcoin will apparently function in this new apparatus without need of a validator or a consensus mechanism. Though here’s another question: who will somebody be able to turn to if their bitcoin gets stolen from their wallet? Perhaps the answer, just like with Web3, will be “Tough luck, kid.”
The company has said that the ID and app layer will be separate from the monetary layer, and you don’t need to have bitcoin to use the former two. In response to Gizmodo’s questions of the company plans for outreach, a spokesperson from Block pointed to a recent talk from Angie Jones, the company’s VP of developer relations, at a software engineering conference. The spokesperson for Block did not offer details on the platform plans to protect users’ wallets.
It’s still unclear how this will actually change the work of any of the venture capitalists that Dorsey finds so dastardly. Who will adopt Dorsey’s vision while people are still busy investing in Web3 despite a slowdown in the market and proliferation of scams. It’s also still an open question whether proposed regulation will make any real impact or drive people away from Web3.
Despite the high-minded talk of doing away with the worst of Web3, Dorsey’s pet project still suffers from the same issues in communication. The company is still concealing its processes behind technical jargon, which is itself antithetical to a real democratized system as they claim to be. Their system is “resistant to all forms of interdiction,” can “leverage decentralized identifiers,” and will “create a new class of decentralized apps and protocols,” according to its Web5's presentation. Sure! But if most people don’t know what a protocol or identifier is, how then are you supposed to get them on board, instead of just the super tech literate?
Dorsey’s release date for Web5 is still, ahem, TBD.
Update 06/10/22 at 8:00 p.m. ET: This post was amended to include a response from Block.