By Annika Goldman on January 09, 2019
Hi! I’m Annika and I run strategy and product. I joined Canopy to reimagine the way the internet works. Like most of you, I have experienced amazing, personalized recommendations from big media platforms. I have seen the magic in creators finding their most devoted fans. I have learned new things from people I’ve never met and may never meet. I have celebrated that the internet can amplify vulnerable and marginalized voices and give people tools to amplify the voices of others. But I am - to be frank - angry that this place of discovery, creativity and connectivity is now optimized for engagement, revenue, and the retention and sale of personal data.
For too long, the tech industry has believed that the only way to grow was through personalization powered by user data. This business model led platforms to force us to give up control of our digital selves so that we could connect with a friend, read an article, plan a trip, listen to a song, or watch a video. This obsession with technical innovation and growth at all costs caused the tech industry to turn a blind eye to the social impacts of its creations. It’s left people vulnerable to misuse of their data, hacking, manipulation, radicalization, hate speech, and violence. It has led to the development of products - facial recognition that perpetuates gender and skin-type biases, resume scanning that compounds biases against women - that further entrench biases and oppressive systems. Corporate decisions to track, retain, sell, and exchange personal data power these abuses, which seems like an unreasonably high price to pay for recommendations.
What if you could have an amazing, personalized experience without being manipulated or deceived into giving up more and more of yourself? What if you could challenge bias and deception by taking control of your digital presence? With Canopy, you can.
For the past several months, we’ve been working hard at this very problem. If we’re going to fix this, and fix it now, what would the architecture of the internet look like? If you were going to commit to building mindfully from the very beginning, how would the user experience change? Our founder, Brian Whitman, has written about what we’re doing technically. At its core, Canopy is a protective layer between you and the internet/cloud/server. Our architecture keeps your data on your devices, and in your hands. This means that instead of third parties taking your data, manipulating it to figure out how you make decisions, and then using that knowledge for their own ends, you stay in control of your digital identity. With Canopy, you have the power to tell the internet how you want to be understood. You dictate what experience you want to have and who has access to your data.
A slightly annotated drawing explaining Canopy from our launch in November.
Since our founding last year, we’ve laid the groundwork of this new way, showing that private personalization can work at scale. And because we want you to experience it for yourself, we’ve built a personalized discovery app. This product is the first application of our architecture; our long-term goal is to change the value proposition of the internet so that you’re in control. You’ll get better experiences and you’ll stop paying for them by giving away who you are.
If you want to test our app and have an impact on how the future of the internet will work, reach out. We believe that the more perspectives the better, and we would love to have yours.
Join me and our Head of Operations, Urcella Di Pietro, as we find the good on the internet.