Unless you printed this page, the words you are reading are digital. You could effortlessly copy them and paste them elsewhere.
The combination of the internet (a global network of connected computers) and digitization (the encoding of nearly all information into digital, non-physical formats) has resulted in an explosion of information duplication and dissemination.
This all changed with the advent of computers and digitization.
The compact disc—or CD—was one of the first mass-market media that was digital; it represented a physical means to give its owner access to media.
An owner of a CD is understood to own the medium, but not the message: if you bought a CD, you own the disc itself, but have no right to the music. You’re not allowed to copy and distribute it.
The CD, and later the DVD, defined a surprisingly brief moment in history when digital media technology was mature enough to be made available to the mass market, but home computer and network technology was not mature enough to share it.
This all changed once the internet became mainstream.
It was in 1996 that the first DVDs and players were released to the public, and just 15 years later in 2011 that Netflix officially separated its streaming and DVD services, marking the beginning of a new era of digital consumption: streaming.
Large media companies had a big problem on their hands as personal computers and the internet matured: their IP was being copied and spread faster and more widely than it had ever been in the era of VHS. But this problem wasn’t unique to them; any digital artifact could be copied and shared globally, infinitely, and instantly.
This is precisely what wallets like MetaMask help you do.
MetaMask isn’t like one of those siloed corporate walled gardens: it doesn’t store or hold your digital goods. Instead, it gives you direct access to control your assets and identity on global, public, crypto networks like Ethereum.
So now that you can own digital assets, what kinds of things can you do? In the next few lessons, we’ll dig into how digital ownership, self-custody, and identity come together to make decentralized finance (DeFi), digital collectibles (NFTs), and digital cooperatives (DAOs).
The Advent of Digital Ownership
Web3 technology grants me digital ownership over my assets
Crypto wallets like MetaMask give me direct access to control my assets on public networks like Ethereum
Web3 ushers in a new era of digital possession with individual control
Ready to take the next step?Explore MetaMask