How Lens Intends to Make Data Ownership Mainstream
The web is largely broken. What was once an open communication tool has been walled off. Our data is used in ways we aren’t aware, don’t approve of, and are not comfortable with. There are many possible solutions floating around to help fix the web. These ideas all combine to form the concept of Web 3.0 — the user-centric web. Within this proposed new web, companies are not the stewards of the data we create. Instead, we own all our data, control who has access to said data, and can revoke access at any time. Lens is one company looking to leverage this new model in the Web 3.0 space to give users true control. And SimpleID is helping them build an approachable solution.
Lens, founded by Mark Chavez and Cody Eilar, sees data as a fundamentally protected asset. At least, it should be. Many people have compared data to the oil in terms of its value, and if those comparisons hold true, the owners of the asset should have control of it. This is where Lens comes in.
A couple years ago I asked myself: “Why is there not a single place where I can make a change to my data and everyone who needs that update gets it?” Lens was born!
When talking about the idea behind Lens, CEO and co-founder, Mark Chavez, said the idea was a simple subscription model that would let anyone update their data, provide access to their data, and revoke access. And it’s not an all or nothing proposition either.
Imagine you have medical data stored in some storage location you control. Keep in mind control could mean owning the storage hub and encrypting the data with your encryption keys or it could mean storing that data in a p2p network encrypted in a way that only you can decrypt it. Now, imagine being able to have a subscription access point that when you approve said subscription, the subscriber is now able to access and decrypt said data. But no one else is able to. This is the basic idea, but Lens does so much more.
The new data economy, in Lens’s eyes is one where data is not owned by companies but by the individuals producing the data:
We are data company that owns no data. Each consumer (individual) owns and maintains their data and decentralization enables this core value. The solution enables better data relationships between enterprise and consumers for better outcomes. If the data is accurate, enterprises can provide better services. Currently enterprises spend billions doing data dialysis. Decentralization, access to a customer’s single source of truth, to maintain enterprise CRM data is the correct model. It’s how the internet was intended in the first place.
Lens is built on Blockstack’s decentralized application platform, thus making it one of the early decentralized applications trying to bridge the gap between the niche and the saturated. Peer-to-peer networks are not terribly new, but they represent a niche form of computing for people because of their complexities. Blockstack adds a layer on top of p2p computing that includes blockchain operations, identity, and user ownership of data. Lens has leveraged this technology to give users control in what may be a different way than some thing of data control.
Rather than operating under the assumption that users care about decentralization, data ownership, and even privacy, Lens has taken the approach of giving users all of those things without the users having to think about it. But, of course, that’s not a competitive advantage. Mark and Cody knew they needed to provide a value-add that would give users a reason to use Lens.
We also have learned that individual’s are complacent about their data privacy. They really don’t care about being able to own their data. This is why our model is to solve a real world problem — creating a single source of data for consumers (that they own and control). We believe the real value to the consumer is not privacy, rather the ability to change their information in one place and everyone who needs the update automatically gets it. This saves them time! They no longer have to fill in forms, they approve subscriptions to the data they own.
In the decentralized web space, you’ll often hear conversations about not replicating what happens in Web 2.0 (the traditional web as we know it today), but instead providing new experiences. This is a brand new experience, and Lens believes users and enterprises will both benefit from such a model. But there was still a problem.
Using decentralized applications is cumbersome. It’s confusing, it puts a significant load on the end user that has traditionally been managed by the applications the users access. People expect to have a low barrier to entry for using an application. There are just simply too many apps out there to ask a user to A) use your app and B) go through a significantly more difficult process to use your app. While Blockstack’s protocol does offer an authentication solution, it’s difficult for users to understand and takes people out of the flow of using the app they intended to use. That’s where Lens turned to SimpleID for support.
We had been losing too many consumers to the complex ID creation process. Simple ID removes that barrier and the consumer immediately can connect with the value we have built.
Understanding both the technology behind this new world of Web 3.0 technology AND the consumers that need to adopt such technology is not foreign to either of Lens’s founders. Before Lens, Mark was CIO at Salesforce where he had to ensure the technology behind the solutions Salesforce implemented were consumer and enterprise friendly. Cody previously worked as a computer scientist with Sandia National Laboratories where he and his team focused on modernizing complex but legacy systems.
Lens is operational now. Users can sign up and start building out their data profiles. The next steps for Lens are bringing on enterprises who would like to subscribe to user data, allowing users to sell data to enterprises of their choice, and scaling all of it to a global market. If you’d like to give Lens a try, you can sign up here. You might get to be part of the data management economy of the future.
If you have a business that can benefit from adding user control of identity and data to your offering, SimpleID can help make that process simple for you and your users. Check out SimpleID today.