The three-decade-old Internet as we know it today, commonly referred to as Web2.0, is on the brink of yet another disruption. This is known as the “New Internet”. dWeb or Decentralized Web or Web3.0. It refers to the next generation of the global network, which is generally believed to take over from Web2.0, which is more centralized and focused on user-generated content.
Gurugram-based startup Agaamin Technologies wants to play its part in this Web3.0 revolution. The company, which went live on New Year’s morning, offers native smart names that can be used like the Devanagari equivalent of dotbha (.bha) instead of dotcom (.com) or dotin (.in). — The first alphabet of the word Bharat.
To understand the importance of clever names, it’s important to know a little bit about how the internet works. One of the main pillars on which the Internet stands is its “namespace”. In the current internet, the root of the namespace is managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and is “.com, .org, .in” etc. is built on Top Level Domains (TLDs) such as
Names created in these TLDs are used as names for websites. For example, in the name “google.com”, “google” is the name and “.com” is the TLD. However, Agaamin believes that this technology is now outdated and severely limited for use cases for dWeb requirements.
This is because the dWeb is structurally different from the old Internet and consists of hundreds of protocols in silos, each with its own ecosystem of decentralized applications and services. Simply put, in Web 2.0, your digital identities were given to you by centralized entities like Google and Facebook as usernames, which you then used to log into other applications. However, your user ID on dWeb is owned and controlled by you. And this means that unlike the current namespace, which only applies to website owners, the namespace in dWeb is relevant to everyone.
We spoke to Sajan Nair, founder of Agaamin, about the need for an “Internet of India” and dWeb’s potential in the digital ecosystem.
Why do you need “smart names”? What are some problems with existing namespaces?
Sajan Nair: The current namespace is obsolete when it comes to dWeb needs. These names can only be used for naming emails and websites. Also, they mostly consist of Latin alphabets, so it’s a barrier for those who don’t speak Latin-based languages like English. Although there are some regionally scripted TLDs such as the full word “Bharat” in various vernaculars that are part of the ICANN system, the technology is becoming obsolete.
Users will need a unique identity to work on dWeb. This is your avatar name in the metaverse, wallet ID, website name, email ID, etc. can be. Being a programmable name ensures that the use cases are limited only by human imagination.
What namespaces can users buy?
Sajan Nair: We present the first alphabet of the word ‘Bharat’ in various Hindi scripts. We will start with the Devanagri version of the alphabet for Bharat with the “bha” sound. It is available in Hindi, Marathi, Bhojpuri etc. will work for all languages that use this script like…. We will be launching the Bengali version in March, Malayalam and Punjabi in April and other languages in the following months. So people will be able to use the names in their mother tongue.
How and why did you come up with this idea?
Sajan Nair: I noticed that many blue-collar workers are still left out of the fintech revolution. Although many of them had smartphones, they used minimal Internet services and seemed intimate with sending money over the phone. My maid would use Whatsapp through voice messages instead of writing anything. I couldn’t help but wonder what it must feel like to constantly have to interpret actionable information from something as essential to everyday life as the Internet.
The Internet of India is built on a decentralized and open source protocol called Handshake. It seeks to create a free and open namespace on a global scale. Thus, there is only one global network as a system. “Internet of India” is now something that refers to the possibility of an ecosystem that can flourish in our vernaculars.
This will ensure that all our different cultures find expression. Imagine 100’s of people’s video streams, media, microblogs, social networks and content all in our languages. With other projects like the award-winning Hindawi (which supports programming in Hindi languages), Spheron (a Bangalore-based decentralized hosting start-up), and Agaamin, which builds local naming infrastructure, the dream of an “Internet of India” may finally come true.
Will the decentralized web be more privacy-focused?
Sajan Nair: Privacy Yes. Anonymity no. The beauty of Handshake as a technology is that it frees you from centralized control, but you can’t hide behind it. People will know the identity of the individual. A handshake is also included. Handshake supports all vernaculars, Emojis, numbers, symbols, signs, hieroglyphs and even braille.
And the best part is that even though Handshake is built on blockchain, the average user doesn’t need to know anything about blockchain technology or cryptocurrency to use smart names.