How do we stop our digital selves being owned by The Man and take back control of our free will? This isn’t a profound philosophical conundrum, but rather a debate being promoted by those who believe Web3 is the technology solution that will give us equality, democracy, and peace in our time.
Cynics of such utopian views may agree with the argument that our current internet is a bust — corrupt even. Web2, dominated by a handful of people at Big Tech like Facebook, Google and Apple, has us on lock.
Everything we do online, everything we purchase or sign up for, everything we browse (even incognito) is stored, tracked, analyzed, or sold to the highest bidder, comprising a multi-layered profile of our individual selves.
It’s accurate, too — because our social feeds, our online viewing or reading “choices,” our real-world buying habits — are informed, pushed and pulled by all the myriad interactions we’ve made online, wittingly or not.
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“Make no mistake, customers are in a state of constant targeted marketing if they use Web2,” Cortex App co-founder Leonard Kish writes at VentureBeat.
This virtual identity, or profile, isn’t composed of the old standard data points, he says. It goes beyond who you are as a consumer — it defines who you are as a person.
“It doesn’t just define what you do, it’s able to quantify why you do what you do. Advertisers can pay directly for the behavioral effect they seek because they can now measure the results.”
Does web3 offer the promise of a truly decentralized internet, or is it just another way for Big Tech to maintain its stranglehold on our personal data? Hand-picked from the NAB Amplify archives, here are the expert insights you need to understand web3’s potential and stay ahead of the curve on the information superhighway:
- Magnificent Obsession: Why Are We in Love With Web3?
- Web3 and the Battle For the Soul of the Internet
- Web 2.5 Is Just… Awkward
- Avatar to Web3: An A-Z Compendium of the Metaverse
- Brave New World? Sure, Just Click Here
Reasonably, Kish wants this to stop. His solution is the suite of emerging technologies called Web3, which, instead of centralizing our data in the hands of a few, returns privacy and control over algorithms to us as individuals.
That’s the theory, anyway, and Kish explains how.
It starts with decentralized identities, or self-sovereign identities (SSIs). In current web models, our digital identities are owned by our devices and/or third-party apps. This makes it hard to manage our data because it’s being used and mined by so many different sources. With decentralized identities, our digital identity lives in our wallet, a single source, and users control who sees what.
“For example, when we sign up for anything on the web, we have to create an account. This is true for everything, whether you’re signing up for a mailing list or making a purchase. Every time you sign up for a new account, you have to provide personal data to confirm identity.”
“Make no mistake, customers are in a state of constant targeted marketing if they use Web2.”— Leonard Kish, Cortex App
In the US, the average email address is associated with 130 accounts, making it impossible to keep track of your data.
“With decentralized identities, you’re able to control the outflow of information. By utilizing decentralized identities in wallets, users can ensure that the only relevant information is shared and used for authentication purposes only.”
Underneath these decentralized identities is a world of decentralized content and data that runs as the foundational layer of Web3.
“Whether a messaging app, a project management tool, the next Instagram or the next Yelp, the content can be owned by the users, and the algorithms can have a better chance of working for users rather than advertisers,” Kish claims.
Sounds OK, but all of this needs to be made automatic and frictionless for the 99.999% of internet users who have never heard of Web3, let alone have a clue about how to get involved in it.
Users need companies like Facebook or Google to make it easy for them to just do stuff online. Where are the Web3 companies that are going to deliver on all the promises of Web3 (as outlined) and stick to their word and make the consumer the owner, not the product?