A Decentralized Digital Future: How Blockchain Could Transform User Autonomy

Kalyx Lyons

Category: Content

01.14.2022

A privacy-focused internet is becoming the new global standard — see our leadership’s take in The Cookiepocolypse — and we’re keeping an eye on this shift so we can advise our clients appropriately. 

Current conversations of authenticity indicate that targeting audiences through purposeful marketing initiatives is the key to a new age of cybersecurity —  being genuine, legitimate and trusted. It is important for Big Tech to use user data responsibly when making informed decisions. With an expanding global network, we’re taking a closer look at how we, as internet users, web creatives, and developers are linked to the blockchain.

What Is a Blockchain?

Centralized data is controlled and verified by one authority. Decentralization flips this concept on its head and stores user data among thousands of devices making it an increasingly difficult system for bad actors to corrupt. Through decentralization, thousands of device “nodes” verify user data. 

Good news — for an entire network to be negatively affected, each node must be hacked (which is extremely unlikely).

Even better news — this process protects the copyright of content creators.

A blockchain is a decentralized database. A normal database is centralized to one computer or systems network; the blockchain is stored in multiple computers across a network of locations. Each of these locations is called a “node” and is password protected with a permanent digital code. A node has a finite capacity for information, so as more content is added, the chain grows. This is a unique way to track and support the transfer of information that fights against fraud and copyright infringement. 

Lock and Key

Users are often skeptical of the blockchain. By overcoming the initial fear and distrust associated with tech innovations as they become popularized, users can experience a more positive outcome. The flow of information from one creator to another at a greater rate will be successful when backed by authenticity and transparency.

The blockchain approach to recordkeeping helps creatives’ work to maintain value, in part by ensuring that creators receive royalties when others make copies of their original work. If corrupted information appears along the decentralized chain of nodes, it is easier to pinpoint and fix because of its differentiation from the other nodes that are also tracking the information tied to that same piece of work. 

For example, when a Gmail account is created, all the data is stored on Google’s centralized servers. Users must trust that Google will keep all the data private and not sell their data to third parties. If Gmail is hacked, all the email accounts held by Gmail will be vulnerable. That’s why virtually everyone, at some point, gets a notification that a site they have registered on through their email was hacked and that their personal information was compromised. Decentralizing the servers makes your information more secure. 

If so many lived experiences are rooted in tech, is it possible to protect user data while leveraging it to make informed decisions as a marketer? The answer is yes. Marketers need to be mindful of security, and the blockchain stands as their point of accountability. 

Let’s Talk About Crypto

There’s a good chance you’ve had a conversation in the past month about crypto; what it is, who’s behind it, and how to spend it wisely. The blockchain can be further investigated by taking a closer look at one of many real-world applications, cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency’s blockchain is arguably the driving force behind the current buzz about decentralization. Cryptocurrency hails its name from cryptography, the art of writing and solving codes. Relying on deliberate code to ensure the security of its digital footprint, cryptocurrency has the potential to create long-lasting trust within user relationships and cybersecurity.

Bitcoin is the most commonly known cryptocurrency, and is rooted in a blockchain. The shiny gold coin with a “B” on it may not be tangible, but it does hold a great amount of weight. The value of a single bitcoin fluctuates depending on the amount of money people are willing to trade for it. Each bitcoin is backed by a record of all exchanges and transactions, or in other words, a blockchain. 

On the Horizon 

Granting users the right to their own content shouldn’t be revolutionary. Period. 

Social media has been the face of marketing and information circulation for the past decade and isn’t leaving any time soon. Instead, users are becoming ambassadors of a decentralized social media movement leading to the rise in popularity of systems that utilize blockchain technology; including non-fungible tokens (NFTs), cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts. The fingerprints of the blockchain can be found on channels all around us, right now, reinforcing the community-based approach that users desire.

Data Analytics

Informed decision-making rests on data analytics. Marketers’ ability to leverage a digital ecosystem of contact points between their brand and any population of users has immeasurable potential in a decentralized future. A database record of digital currency activity through platforms such as Chainlink or OnChain would only scratch the surface when it comes to potential use for marketers with expertise in behavioral observation.

Content Creation and Circulation

Content creators have long grappled with how to truly own their work when the minute their creation goes live it feels out of their protective reach. Protecting the copyright of any one piece of content can be tricky, however, authentication is a step in the right direction when it comes to empowering creatives. Decentralization may be the answer to the age-old question of how to protect a creator’s copyright. 

Gamification Through Unlikely Tokens

Many brands may begin to tokenize their reward systems, invoking play-to-win marketing tactics in incentivized systems of engagement. And, like any good competitor, we all want to win — so we continue to feed our data and creative content through these channels. In an age where the term “screen-ager” exists, we have started to crave experiences outside the screen. 

Tokens, by nature, offer a link between a digital experience and a tangible reward. If reward-system tokens offer uses similar to cash, they may be more successful. But what about cross-brand collaboration? This is where corporations and other keepers of reward tokens would be incentivized to enter into a network of compatible businesses where reward tokens can be redeemed.

Payments

The rise of crypto credit cards, options to pay in crypto on banking platforms, and buy-now-pay-later services such as Klarna, Affirm, and Afterpay have evolved the way goods are circulated from production to consumption. It is safe to say that the way we make payments and the level at which we decide to consume are changing rapidly. Cryptocurrency dares to address a behavioral shift in the average consumer. Due to cryptocurrency’s large impact, crypto coins are starting to become an option for payment among small and large retailers

Supply Chain Tracking

Access to a public ledger of logistics and supply chain activity could provide streamlined communications between partners who collaborate on everything from a creative brainstorm to business administration to search engine optimization. Greater integrity of the data being exchanged, backed by the hard-to-hack nature of the blockchain, could mean that partners could work together more efficiently and with the trust that information is accurate and up-to-date.

Real Impact

  • The social media model is shapeshifting toward decentralized digital content.
  • With cryptocurrency in play, a blockchain network founded on transparency and trust between Big Tech and the everyday user is a necessity.
  • User-first social media ecosystems thrive with individual data ownership and thorough cybersecurity.

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