Datum Spotlight Review: The Digital You & Data Autonomy
This article is the second in a three part series entitled Datum Spotlight Review, in which we will explore and analyse in detail various aspects of the Datum project in itself, as well as in relation to wider issues such as the importance of autonomy over our own digital data. If you haven’t already read the first- which is an overall analysis and project review- I’d suggest doing so before watching this instalment.
The reason for this multi-part review on Datum specifically is the importance I perceive it to have to our daily lives and we progress technologically. There are some use cases of blockchain which are more pertinent innovations, due to their disruptively beneficial potential in aiding in creating a more beneficial human experience. Datum, looking to mpower online users by giving back control over digital data, is one of these projects.
This second article will analyse the role of Datum and the importance of their vision in relation to the evolving digital landscape and that of a user’s resulting digital self, referred to as the ‘digital you’.
Entering a New Phase in the Digital Age
In the age of smartphones and social media, the digital you often interacts with the world much more, in many ways, than the physical you . Just think- when was the last time you physically went to search a shop before checking the stock online first? When was the last time you travelled to physically tell your friends an important (and in many cases not so important) piece of news, instead of posting or sending a message online?
Even if you yourself aren’t so tech obsessed, many people wouldn’t remember not relying on personal devices for such everyday tasks and the situation is poised to become more extreme as we progress further into the digital age of the 21st century; in addition to the fact that younger generations are becoming increasingly tech-reliant, technology is becoming increasingly aggressively intertwined with the human experience. In this world, nothing is free- including, and especially, online services and usage of ‘free’ websites or platforms. An online presence in such arenas inherently carries the cost of sacrificing online data security and autonomy, even if this is rarely truly realised by the users themselves.
Datum is striving to not only provide a technical solution to the problem of autonomy over one's data (data autonomy) through the development of their decentralised platform, but also to educate internet users on the importance of understanding the existence and use, or abuse, of their personal data. In my view Datum are to be highly commended not only for wishing to spread this type of personal critical awareness, but also to providing an actual technical solution to an otherwise disturbing problem.
The Current Digital You: A Captive, Profitable Asset
There is, of course, absolutely nothing wrong about having an online presence, but there is a darker side to your digital life which most fail to consider; as you, as a user, engage in your online life- browsing the web, using email, posting on social media- a shocking amount of data is being collected by large companies through the platforms and services used. This is largely done for reasons of effective marketing or user profiling, essentially in order to gain the maximum amount of profit from said data in whichever way necessary.
There is nothing inherently wrong with profitmaking- that’s how a business successfully operates- but it’s the dishonest, and often downright manipulative use of this data by overarching entities which is in serious need of addressing if a safe and comfortable data-powered future is to be obtained. There have been numerous public examples of corporate-level user data misuse, but with relatively little user awareness and no path for recourse, users are left powerless.
In the current situation, users have essentially no authority in how their data is used- and have no way of truly knowing how much and which specific data any certain organisations harness relating to them. These actors have proven themselves untrustworthy in their handling of data, and yet users have no option for transparently verifying this data usage even now; this is not conducive to a healthy or beneficial digital experience for anybody involved.
The sad truth is that many people aren’t even aware of the extent of their digital presence and valuable residual data, let alone feel compelled to attempt to resist it; we are, after all, conditioned to consume without questioning. Fortunately, however, people are slowly beginning to understand the importance of the security of their currently-abused digital data. Now, Datum is providing a verifiably secure, smart contract-powered blockchain-based solution as a means of tackling this increasingly problematic situation head on.
Datum’s Approach: Empowering the Digital You
Datum’s decentralised data platform offers a solution for users to regain authority over their own data, whilst being given an opportunity to optionally monetize their valuable (anonymised) data. Datum’s blockchain-based solution provides inherently secure and tamper proof data storage which, combined with users’ ability to assign individual access and sharing permissions to individual pieces of data, enables the ultimate empowerment of an individual over an aspect of their life as never before achievable- their digital identity and data traces.
Datum offers full user control over their data, taken from the Datum whitepaper: https://datum.org/assets/Datum-WhitePaper.pdf
Through the Datum Client- currently in the form of the Datum Android or iOS apps for mobile devices, and the web app for desktop- users are provided with a feature-rich yet user-friendly interface for the effective management of their data and DAT tokens. Visualisation and monetisation of digital data, both on a corporate and personal level, has never been able to be so effectively achieved.
One thing which particularly struck me whilst researching the project, and surrounding issues, is that Datum is a solution built to be future-proof and such an approach is set to become increasingly critical to a healthy online presence.
Datum & the Future of Your Digital Presence
As we progress deeper into the digital age and continue to push the boundaries of human technological advancement, though the details or even shape of our future can not possibly be determined, one thing is clear: technology will continue to grow increasingly intertwined with more and more aspects of the personal, and corporate, human experience. With this will inevitably come a richer pool of data regarding each individual- and therefore a more valuable digital you. The emergence of cutting-edge technology such as self-driving cars and IoT enabled devices will provide new layers of personal and corporate data, the use and custody of which is yet to be determined.
Datum secure ecosystem, taken from the Datum whitepaper: https://datum.org/assets/Datum-WhitePaper.pdf
As data collection continues to increase in volume and intensity by large centralised entities, a truly secure and verifiable decentralised solution is surely required if the digital you is to become increasingly empowered by data autonomy, as opposed to increasingly oppressed. Datum are proposing such a solution.
In the third and final instalment of the Datum Spotlight Review we are going to analyse the actual mechanics of the Datum platform, and explore how such a decentralised ecosystem can work towards achieving Datum’s goal of ultimate control over one’s own data.
Have any questions regarding Datum? Join their active community on Telegram where you can discuss anything Datum-related: https://t.me/datumnetwork