Could a future version of the internet allow people to turn what turns them on into cash and rewards? That's what some web3 leaders believe, turning personal data into a sort of side hustle.
In this case, whether you want to call the future of the internet web3 or the metaverse, blockchain technology may offer online users the ability to exercise more control over their personal data and consumer behavior.
“People getting rewarded [for] data, I love that,” said Napster CEO Jon Vlassopulos, prognosticating about what opportunities the next era of the internet might unlock for both consumers and companies. “It’s moving in the direction of providing data in exchange for value.”
Vlassopulos joined other technology executives at a panel in Las Vegas this week, where he and peers traded ideas about what the metaverse and web3 might look like from a brand perspective. The panel was a CES-sponsored event — one of the year’s biggest tech conferences — and part of an all-day series called Digital Hollywood.
“If I say I want to go to Iceland and somehow an airline gets that data and I allow them to have it, and they offer me a companion ticket to Iceland, that’s money in my pocket. That’s like magic,” said Vlassopulos, noting that some internet companies like Brave’s is already experimenting with ways to compensate people for online behavior.
Vlassopulos’ comments come in an era where both consumers and regulators have never been more aware of — and in some cases perturbed to the point of taking countermeasures — by how internet companies have made billions from users’ personal data. In recent years, social media empires like Meta-owned Facebook and Instagram, or the world’s largest search engine Google, have come under intense scrutiny for engaging in what has been called by some “surveillance capitalism.”
Blockchain-enabled paradigm shift?
Many have recently theorized how wider adoption of encrypted, blockchain technology would give people more options when it comes to managing and safeguarding both their digital identity and personal data.
A new set of standards underpinned by blockchain technology could create a “paradigm shift,” according to Mary Hamilton, a technological innovation executive for global consulting giant Accenture. Hamilton is optimistic about a new model where people not only own their data, but also choose if and how to monetize that data.
“It’s almost better for brands too. You’re allowing them to have the correct data, not a guess at who you are or an approximation, but who you really are,” Hamilton said. “And you allow it for the brands you trust, and you want to engage with.”
While some might argue actively selling one’s personal data to different companies in pursuit of compensation conjures thoughts of a technological dystopia, metaverse enthusiast Brian Weiner believes his company Sizzle Network can improve the lives of consumers in a meaningful way.
“Consumers are incentivized to sell … data to the brands, and it puts them in the power seat,” the Sizzle Network CEO said during the panel discussion. “A lot of them are excited about having that income opportunity.”
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