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How can you think you’ll answer easily asked you the next question: What do you have online?
In true to life, you own your house, the automobile you drive, the watch you wear, and other things you have purchased. But do you have your email or your businesss website? Think about the pictures that populate your Instagram account? Or the in-game purchases on Fortnite or FIFA video gaming or other things that you’re playing?
My best guess is, after casting your brain through the items you use the web for (which for everyone is just about everything, social and professional), you’ll struggle to look for a solid answer.
Perhaps you would ask me to describe why by ownership. Nonetheless it doesnt really matter. Even though I dont mean this to become a trick question, it sort of is. Because in today’s version of the web, we dont have ownership rights online.
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Digital ownership: Participants and products
To comprehend why we dont own anything online, we should first understand the evolution of the web and how it gave rise to the business enterprise model which has dominated its current iteration.
In the 1990s the decade of desktop computers and dial-up connections the web was predominantly a content delivery network comprising simple static websites showcasing information. What we make reference to today as Web1 was slow, siloed, and disorganized.
Next came the platforms, such as for example Facebook (now Meta) and Google, driven by wireless connectivity and the development of handheld devices like laptops, smartphones, and tablets, which gave us free-to-use services that enabled us to edit, connect to and generate content. These platforms centralized the net, investing in place a top-down structure that saw users reliant on the systems and services.
This evolution of the web occurred in the mid-2000s and may be the version we realize today. We call it Web2. This is a model predicated on connectivity and user-generated content, manufactured in the image and interests of companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
In this environment, netizens are both participants and products. We join services in trade for the data, that is sold to advertisers, and we create content that generates value and fuels engagement for these platforms. We do all of this whilst having no rights to anything online.
Our social media marketing profiles could be removed and our usage of email accounts or messenger apps suspended. We dont own the digital assets we purchase and also have no autonomy over our data. Businesses we build online tend to be reliant on platforms and so are therefore susceptible to algorithms, data breaches and shadow bans.
The deck is stacked against us. As the option never to be engaged, when so a lot of the commerce and communication on the planet occurs online, is not actually a choice at all. Yet you’ll find nothing that people can indicate and call ours. Nothing we’ve any actual authority over.
And, it really is this dynamic that Web3 is set to improve.
Web3 and the web of value
At this time, when a lot of people hear the word Web3 they probably think metaverse. But an easier way to take into account Web3 is really as the evolution of the web.
Today, the digital experience is quite corporate and incredibly centralized. Web3 will offer you the dynamic, app-driven user connection with the existing mobile web in a decentralized model, shifting the energy from big tech back again to the users. It’ll do that by spreading the info outward putting it back the hands of netizens that are then absolve to use, share and monetize it because they see fit and expanding the scale and scope of interactions between users and the web.
Underpinning that expansion will undoubtedly be guaranteed access, this means anyone may use any service without permissions no you can block, restrict or remove any users access.
The theory then is that Web3 can not only become more egalitarian but that it’ll create an Internet of Value as the value generated by the net will undoubtedly be shared a lot more equitably between users, companies, and services, with far better interoperability. Users could have full ownership, authority, and control over both content they create and their data. But how will this help us transition toward true digital ownership?
NFTs contain the key to digital ownership
The simple truth is that digital ownership isn’t too hard an issue to resolve. And we curently have the perfect solution is: NFTs.
In the general public consciousness, NFTs are recognized for the projects which have garnered probably the most media attention, such as for example CryptoPunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club. While projects such as for example these have catapulted the word in to the zeitgeist, the usefulness of the underlying technology has been significantly less discussed.
To put it simply, NFTs become proof ownership. The facts of the NFTs holder are recorded on the blockchain, all transactions and transfers are tracked and transparent and open to the general public, and everything is managed by the tokens unique ID and metadata.
So, so how exactly does this work used? Lets say I create an NFT. The moment I upload it, a good contract is established that tracks its creation, the existing owner, and the royalties I’ll receive. If someone decides to get it, they own that NFT and any extra perks that include ownership. Their details are registered on the blockchain and nobody can edit or take them off.
Now, lets say that the marketplace for my NFTs starts to heat up, demand grows and the worthiness of my collection begins to go up. If the dog owner decides to market, they make money and I earn a little royalty from the resale. The change in ownership is tracked on-chain in real-time and the smart contract ensures my royalty fee is deposited directly in my own wallet. This is actually the key value proposition of NFTs: Verifiable ownership and the choice to liquidate digital assets.
Whats next for Web3?
This is exactly what ownership appears like in Web3. It’s the promise that netizens can own their digital assets just as they own their house, car watching. NFTs will usher in a far more equitable digital economy and can play a central role later on of digital commerce.
The truth is that by right now, we have been still writing the Web3 rulebook. That is still an extremely new, very young space. Even though few things are certain, what we are able to say for certain is that the web is only relocating one direction: ownership.
The guiding principle in Web3 would be to accelerate the transition towards a far more equitable digital environment. It is extremely much opt-in, an internet built by individuals for individuals. It really is one where ownership may be the foundation where services, networks, and experiences are increasingly being built. In fact it is fundamental to establishing the web of value.
On the next couple of years, as Web3 develops it’ll operate alongside Web2. The infrastructure supporting Web2 is quite strong and I dont see us completely shifting from that anytime soon. However, in the medium-to long-term, Web3 will completely reshape our relationship with the web.
Filip Martinsson is cofounder and chief operating officer ofMoralis.
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