Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Testing Out Blockchain Networks

I have been away from testing out new networks for some time. Over the years, I have joined many a network that were great at the start and then never really took off. Some that I really liked and was starting to see traction on simply couldn’t monetize and went under. Other networks have been acquired by the big tech companies and then discarded. The intent of those was to buy the talent, not the network. They say “once bitten, twice shy”. One gets tired of investing time and effort exploring new networks only to see all of it go POOF! Although, something is changing with the newer networks. 

MINDS

First, let me present you with Minds.com. Here is my referral link - https://www.minds.com/register?referrer=shaine - to Minds. 

I am starting off with Minds because they have been around for a few years, meaning they have staying power. Minds rewards users with tokens for interacting with other users. You get rewarded for liking, subscribing, commenting, and generally being a good network citizen. They have relatively recently converted their points system into a blockchain connected system, which allows you to purchase tokens with Ethereum. You can use the tokens to Boost your content, to subscribe to creators in a Patreonesque style, and outright transact with other users for them to promote your content. It’s unclear to me how exactly Minds makes money to stay in business. There must be some arbitrage in their system somewhere. Whatever the case may be, their system cuts out the advertising middleman. If you want to advertise your business, you simply write a post and Boost it with tokens. Maybe that’s how they make money, keeping the tokens for boosts. Although some of those could be pooled to reward users. I don’t know. Whatever. 

Minds are very mindful to stay out of the censorship game unless you are breaking the law. The only drawback to the approach is that they have attracted a ton of refugees from other networks who have felt muzzled. Consequently, they let it all hang out with regards to their opinions. You are free to block them or ignore them. Keep in mind that if you disagree, and tell them so, they get rewarded with tokens. So, you’re better off minding your own business and interacting with people you like to reward them. 

If you somehow become very popular on Minds and generate way more tokens that you can spend on promoting your content, there are ways to cash them out and turn them into Ethereum or other crypto currencies. I am not so popular to have any experience with this, yet. So, I’m sorry I can’t say for certain whether this works. 

Steemit

Another network that uses blockchain and member rewards is Steemit. I have only recently joined. Consequently, I can’t say too much about it. As soon as I joined, there was an upgrade that broke a bunch of accounts. This left me unable to comment, upvote, post, or do any interaction beyond reading posts. The principles are the same as with Minds, except that the rewards pool is skewed towards people who have been involved with the network the longest. The more influence you have, the greater the rewards are for you. This presents some problems in that it makes the smaller fish try to get the attention of the bigger fish in order to increase their own influence and piece of the pie. Just as in life, clout can be good and bad, depending on which end you are receiving. 

Steemit has been around for years as well. Some people have successfully generated decent incomes from posting content there. So, it works. It’s just an uphil battle trying to get noticed enough to generate Steem. 

Narrative

Another network that is in the works is Narrative. The network is currently in Alpha. There is a waiting list to join for anybody interested. Narrative will also offer a rewards system for members. It further has opportunities for moderators, who are elected by content creators, and for Niche owners. You can buy a Niche and get a percentage of the income that is generated under that topic as an owner. Moderators are compensated for their effort in keeping the content relevant to the Niche. And the content creators will be compensated for their work. I am still unclear how the tokens will be earned, if by likes, shares, and upvotes like the other networks, or some other means. 

Once Narrative launches, it will be interesting to see it grow into a community. Currently, there are members but not much of a community like you would see on the other networks. 

My Take

There are likely more networks like these out there which I have not seen. The idea of being rewarded for doing the same things you do on Facebook and Twitter is fascinating to me. Consequently my use of those networks has diminished, despite having decent-sized followings. Obviously, it would be foolish to spread my attention to all the networks. There isn’t enough time in the day to make quality content for such different audiences. What is exciting is that these types of networks seem to be the future of social media that is not supported by advertising. As we have seen, advertisers can be fickle, threatening to cancel their advertising if they find content objectionable. These new networks take that out of the equation and enable people who can attract an audience to generate a little income. With more popularity comes more income from the very people who like what you create, rather than rely on income from advertisers object and refuse to support. 

I see that businesses can continue to post and buy boosts with these new networks. In the long run, business will be the source of revenue that gets pooled to reward users on the network. Tokens bought by businesses can Boost posts, pay for promos by influencers, and perhaps even serve as incentives for new customers. 

I can’t predict where I’ll be with respect to those networks a year from now. Presumably, things will be better in a year as my network grows. We shall see. It has been a while since I have been excited about a social network. 
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