The progression from Web 1.0 to Web 3.0 is all about eyeballs — but perhaps with a sinister twist…
The reality of technology is that so often, we are the product. We get free services in exchange for providing data around who we are, what we do and what we want . We essentially become cannon fodder for advertisers that are prepared to pay handsomely to have access to highly targeted prospects through highly targeted and measurable ads. Whether we like it or not, it’s the way the world currently works. This is likely to extend and evolve as technology head on the collision course towards the impending Metaverse.
Broadly speaking, technology is so often about standing on the shoulders of giants — of leveraging what has gone on before but making things better, faster and cheaper. But let’s look at one unifying feature across the transition between web 1.0 — web 3.0 — eyeballs. As we move increasingly towards the web 3.0/the metaverse, are we going to see a darker, more sinister side evolving?
In web 1.0 it was about eyeballs looking at your website and monetising those eyeballs through direct advertising dollars via click-throughs. It was Darwinian economics — those that got the eyeballs, generated advertising revenues and their next round of funding
In web 2.0 it was about eyeballs interacting with your website and with each other within communities that were being facilitated by Bigtech (e.g. friends on Facebook or themed videos on You Tube). Those interactions were directly monetising. The data offered had more layers and intensity, and brought in additional layers of interactions as time went on giving a wider, holistic sense of where community interactions could also be monetised.
Web 3.0 is bringing together five key layers of technology — the internet, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Gaming and the monetisation of digital files through blockchain-based technologies (primarily NFTs). But Web 3.0 will also be about measuring your eyeballs — directly.
Back in January the Financial Times reported Meta had filled a variety of patents from within VR headsets. Not only would sensors track directly where your eyeballs were looking, but they would also track a user’s facial expression to give a proxy for how you feel about a viewed image. The data you provide now becomes three dimensional and reveals so much more about us as human beings at a biometric level. If everything is being tracked in this way is this beginning of privacy being completely dead in the Metaverse? Facebook turned us all into faceless statistics — will Meta metastasize our eyeball movements?
Could those terms and conditions that we all so blindly click to accept be updated where we may inadvertently be giving away some deeply personal biometric data? Do you want a large faceless corporation playing with your deeply private data? We have already seen too often how this framework has been used and abused by external organisations.
Those in the decentralised world, on the other have been exploring the personal data economy over the past 5+ years — where you own your data and release it/monetise it when you feel comfortable or when you choose it is appropriate. Is this enough to make people put up with the challenging user experiences faced through decentralisation?
If Meta offered you an amazing user experience that enables you to smoothly flow from Facebook (web 2.0) to Meta (web 3.0), is this enough for you to say — “I’m okay with giving away biometric data!”
Or is this just the beginning of something more sinister?
Love to hear your thoughts?
About the author
Tim Lea (@timothylea2 on twitter) is author of the book Down the RabbitHole, a book on the blockchain in plain English, an international keynote speaker on the strategic application of the blockchain, and an investor in NTFs and the cryptocurrency space. He is the co-founder of the Social Impact project Walking Between Worlds (@WBWNFTS on twitter) whose mission is to energise global Indigenous communities to amplify First Nations powerful voices through NFTs.
He will be releasing a free e-book imminently — Your Introductory Guide to Buying & Selling Your First NFT — (In Association With Walking Between Worlds_.