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In the current phase of the Internet, the topic of ownership is often a complex and puzzling one. At times, it’s an downright tough conversation, with a lot of confusion caused by complex end-user license agreements, ownership assignments, and terms and conditions agreements that are rarely read or fully understood.
But it’s not hard to understand. While people spend a lot of money today on digital content in all its forms, from streaming service subscriptions to in-game purchases, we don’t own any digital content we “buy” online.
In Web2, which we call the modern version of the Internet, everything is rented to us from companies that hold licenses. When you buy music from iTunes or eBooks from Amazon, you only need permission to access the content. That’s it.
The current era is one of digital leasing. This is an era when the promise of Web3 is over. To help you understand how this change will take place, I’ve highlighted three things in Web3 that I believe could revolutionize digital ownership.
Related: How Web 3.0 is changing the social media and online world as we know it
1. Wallets will replace profiles and provide a single ID (entity)
Today, our digital identities are multiple, spanning different accounts on different platforms. Your Facebook profile, your Instagram account, your Gmail address – these together make up our digital identity.
However, like the digital content we purchase, we do not own these accounts and we have no rights in them. Instead, we exchange. In exchange for our data, the platform lends us access to an account. This leaves us vulnerable because our account could be disabled and we could be disconnected.
In Web3, we will connect everything through wallets. Our wallet will be the key to all our digital, professional and social spheres. We will use our wallets to establish our presence online, enter the online economy, access our workspaces, connect with our friends and colleagues, stream content, and sell, exchange and store our digital assets. The goal is to provide each user with a self-sovereign identity (SSI) and guaranteed use of any service, so no individual or company can restrict or remove a user’s access.
Related: Entrepreneurs Should Embrace Web 3.0
2. NFTs will give real ownership of online digital assets
Last year was the year of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Projects like CryptoPunks and the boring ape yacht club Capturing the public imagination, it seems like everyone around the world is writing about them or trying to predict and invest in the “next big thing.” While these projects have done a lot to increase mainstream awareness of NFTs, the use cases for the technology are potentially endless and they will play an important role in ownership.
NFTs are unique digital assets that are verifiable and irreplaceable. When a person acquires an NFT, their details are recorded on the blockchain. The owner of the NFT is free to sell, exchange or trade it, whether it is a piece of digital artwork, an in-game item or a piece of digital real estate in a virtual world. All transactions and transfers are tracked and transparent, everything is governed by the token’s unique ID and metadata.
If true ownership is defined by proof and transferable rights, then NFTs are the key to enabling netizens to truly own digital assets online.
Related: The Birth of Digital Assets and the Growth of NFTs
3. Transfer of Power to Share Personal Data
One of the main differences between Web2 and Web3 is that Web3 is completely decentralized. Because data is stored on the blockchain, rather than on large data servers held by companies like Facebook and Google, individuals will ultimately be in control of their own data.
In the early days of Web2, no one cared too much about handing over their data in exchange for using platforms like Facebook, Google, etc. or Instagram. But as people started to become more web-savvy, better understand how their details were being monetized, and as big data scandals started to pile up, control over our personal data went from something we didn’t think about The real reason to care.
The central purpose of Web3 is to put the power of personal data back in the hands of people. The idea is that it should be up to users to decide if they want to share their data, they should choose which entities the data can and cannot be shared with, and the terms under which the data can be shared. If they change their mind and decide to no longer share their data, they can choose to block data sharing.
We are now going through a very interesting time in the evolution of the Internet. I believe that over the next few years, as Web3 develops and matures, we will see more creative examples of digital ownership. Expect to see many new projects, experiments, collaborations, and fusions between technologies. Not everything will be successful. Not all ideas will work, and some ideas and projects will be set aside. But it will be exciting.
In the short to medium term, I don’t think we’ll be leaving Web2 anytime soon. The infrastructure that supports it is strong, and as the first true mobile internet, it’s very much integrated into our lives. As Web3 develops, what I really want to see is that it slowly absorbs and integrates Web2 so that it becomes almost a gateway to Web3.
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