The Metaweb is the computational space above the webpage. Today's web is centralized in that the page author controls the experience. In the Metaweb, entirely new and potentially decentralized experiences can be layered on top of content elements on webpages.
The Metaweb emerges
The web has a big missing feature. That’s why it has massive problems that diminish its utility including fake news, privacy, security lapses, data exploitation, scams, catfishing and more. Some of these problems can be addressed to a certain extent with Web3 but Web3 can also be used to exacerbate them. The human-centric use of Web3 is necessary but not sufficient.
In 2012, the father of the browser, Marc Andreessen, said that annotation - the ability to layer knowledge on top of webpages - is the big missing feature of the web. Directionally he is correct, however, he was thinking too restrictive. Unequivocally, the big missing feature is the Metaweb.
Our CEO Daveed Benjamin likes to say the Metaweb is the computational space above the webpage. Today's web is centralized in that the page author controls the experience. If they allow comments, you can comment and they are likely to let it stand if it confirms their beliefs. In the Metaweb, entirely new and potentially decentralized experiences can be layered on top of content elements on webpages. Stay tuned.
The Overweb is a decentralized yet safe layer in the Metaweb that respects privacy, data sovereignty, enables safe interactions, and rewards participants for the value they create.
The Next Level the Web
We think the Overweb is the next level of the web. When we say the next level, we mean next level in two ways. First, the Overweb was created at a whole different level of consciousness than that which created the Internet and continues to limit its possibilities. Second, the Overweb is literally a layer on top of today's internet.
Unbeknownst to most, the majority of today's web sites use just one or two layers of content, but the Internet can support virtually infinite layers that create value in themselves as well as synergistic value across layers.
The Overweb already exists, albeit in a nascent stage - the browser overlay extension. These extensions access and interact with the annotation layer, a layer over the web page that was always conceived to be an essential part of the web. In the beginning of the web, annotation was part of the browser but it was dropped in the transition from the web's first browser Mosaic to Netscape in 1995 when Microsoft was pre-loading Internet Explorer on all PCs. There was no cloud or peer to peer to store the annotations. In 2017, the WC3 approved its annotation standard which has yet to be implemented in any browser. Ironically, the only browser that supports annotations albeit limited is Microsoft Edge.
In the last 5 years, browser overlay extensions have proliferated and some have had market success. In 2019, Honey - a coupon code Chrome extension - sold to PayPal for $4B, Highly was "acqui-hired" by Twitter, and the annotation nonprofit Hypothesis gained momentum in Higher Ed with collaborative annotation of course texts. Despite or perhaps because of these successes, the overlay browser extension market maintains a limited vision of where the annotation layer is headed.
The Big Missing Feature
The Overweb reinstalls this big missing feature of the Web. Hence, beyond layering “knowledge on knowledge”, the Overweb provides computational space above the webpage which can address all of the seemingly intractable problems of today’s web.
For example, a main problem of the Web that facilitates the spread of false claims is the lack of context. Commercial websites avoid using outbound links. They want to keep visitors on their web pages so they can serve more ads and extract more data. The Overweb enables participants to build context, own and control their data and earn value for their contributions. Hence, the Overweb can be considered a decentralized trust layer above the webpage that rewards participants for building the capacity for trust.
The Overweb associates information and interactivity with content objects in the page source. The content objects can be specific pieces of text, images, and videos, tweets, social media profiles, and more. Thus, the Overweb makes thinking visible so humanity can begin thinking, learning, and building knowledge together.
As the Overweb emerges, the page source will become the contextual footprint for "intertwingled" worlds of information, interactions, transactions, and experiences emanating from content objects on webpages.
In addition to enabling information to have a presence in the layer over the webpage, the Overweb also enables participants to have a presence above the webpage similar to Google Docs but for any webpage. Participants that opt-in to be visible on a given webpage can see, review the profile of, and request to interact with other visible participants on that webpage. We call this on-page presence.
The Overweb’s bridging technology won the 2019 Disruptive Technology Culture Driver award from the EU's flagship Next Generation Internet program. Bridges democratize linking, incentivizing participants to connect information on an idea-by-idea basis with a relationship. Once the relationship is validated, the bridges self-assemble into a blockchain-enabled Universal Knowledge Graph that enables rapid discovery of trustworthy information as well as 360° context for relevant ideas in the information ecology.
Computation Above the Webpage
The Overweb and its virtually infinite layers support smart tags, digital nations, and overlay applications. Smart tags are the mechanism for associating information and computations with content on webpages. The Overweb will launch with 7 smart tags including notes, bridges, conversation, polls, lists, claims, and meetings. In the future, developers and thereafter participants can build and monetize their own smart tags.
Digital nations are nations or aggregations of people who have a shared identity or interest. The Overweb provides digital nations with a safe digital space, in which every active participant is a real person in good standing with the system.
Our First Overlay App
Overlay applications also known as Overweb apps are active over every webpage.
Our first Overweb app is Canopi Enterprise SDK, which enables site owners to build communities above their webpages. Participants entering the Canopi from webpages with the SDK installed can see the other users in the Canopi, post in a page chat, and initiate conversations. The second Overweb app is the Presence Browser extension which enables participants to access the Canopi of any page as well as build bridges and notes. Both are in usability testing.
We are now offering limited opportunities to participate in our pilot as well as prominent spots on our wait list below.