The Overweb

The digital world isn't flat yet; we interact within today’s two-dimensional web as if it was meant to be that way. But the Internet was always supposed to be hyper-dimensional, enabled by annotation. Annotation was built into the web’s predecessor ARPANET, Tim Berner-Lee’s invention of the web, and even the first widely distributed browser, Mosaic.



But annotations were dropped in 1995. Partially as a result of perhaps the most blatant sustained anti-competitive behavior ever by a US technology firm – Microsoft was preloading Microsoft Internet Explorer on all PCs – and partially due to the lack of cloud or P2P infrastructure to store the annotations' data.


Fast forward to today’s two-dimensional web that flattens and atomizes multidimensional beings into polarization bubbles, which channel attention into confirmation bias and outrage.


The Overweb is the antidote: a hyper-dimensional trust layer over the web.

Overweb-enabled browsers connect information and people in the right relationship, creating a deeply-connected Internet that layers knowledge on top of web pages. Enter the Internet of Ideas.


The three pillars of the OverWeb pattern are:

  1. Safe digital space - every person you encounter in the Overweb is a real person in good standing. In the Overweb, each person has one and only one account and one or more personas that may or may not be openly linked to the account. The onboarding process ensures that the new member does not already have an account and is a real person. Quiet as it is kept, people want a space free of bots, fake accounts, and serial abusers.

  2. On-page presence - people can meet on web pages. Community members who opt-in to being visible on a web page can see other members who are also visible on that page. They can retrieve the profiles of visible members and initiate communication.

  3. On-page interactions - members can use smart tags anywhere on the web. Members can interact with specific pieces of content using smart tags on any web page. The initial set of tags include notes, conversations, polls, AMAs (Ask Me Anything), claims, lists, and bridges. Bridges are the most important as they constitute a basic building block of knowledge that connects two pieces of content with a relationship.

For example, there can be a contradicting bridge between a sentence in a news article and a TikTok or a segment of a YouTube video in which the person in the video is saying something that contradicts what is written in the news article. Once validated, these bridges automatically self-assemble into a universal knowledge graph. This creates the possibility of ubiquitous context; that is, access to deep layers of context for any idea on the web, which provides members with the information they need to discern what to believe on the web.


In short, a veritable truth machine.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to build the case for browser extensions and protocols that access the Overweb. Just as the Wild Wild West ultimately became Silicon Valley, the Internet will evolve into the Overweb. The question is: who will own it?



Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

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