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The Real Value of Blockchains for Social Networks

FaizanMay 22, 2019, 4:44:03 PM
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In perhaps an unknowing way at the time, Minds was a very early adopter of digital currency, before Ethereum came into existence and before Bitcoin was popular. The old Minds Points system that launched in 2015 was essentially that -- an "in-game" digital currency that "players" (users) earned for their efforts. This was an excellent stepping stone to what's clearly becoming the new business model for future social networks -- and was far ahead of its time.

Bringing facets of the old Minds points system onto the blockchain was necessary for a few reasons. It was important to position the platform to prevent the overarching slide towards centralization that is happening all around us, from governments to central banks to tech corporations. Blockchain and cryptocurrency are rare technologies that, when applied properly, can combat this trend. 

Most innovations over the last 20 years in the web 2.0 era were built on centralized infrastructure for scaling purposes (images, video, content) and this was followed with deep user data collection. It seems privacy was trampled along the way. We will look back on these current opaque models as being an archaic way to monetize online communities that is ultimately misaligned with users. By just being a part of and using transparent, open-source web 3.0 networks like Minds, you are pushing back on this in a meaningful, grassroots way. The trend for the last 30+ years has been open-source platforms challenging and displacing monopolies—this is expected to continue with the emergence of open crypto networks.

With that said, it's good to be skeptical. It's good to be skeptical of blockchains. It's good to question why companies want to implement blockchains in the first place. By no means are they a panacea and there are major trade-offs that occur. 

The Minds Token represents not only the utility of gaining 1,000 Views per Token on the network, it represents ownership. Not in any kind of equity stake or traditional financial sense, but ownership of your time and energy on the network

Legacy social media companies own your time and energy. This time and energy becomes data, and is siphoned and sold into a murky advertising and political world, often without consent. This business model will die, but only after many attempts to be reiterated and resuscitated over and over again via loopholes and empty promises of privacy without actually delivering. Eventually, the consumer and user will collectively speak loudly enough to thrust major change forward. This is beginning to happen now on only a small initial scale.

The Minds Token allows us to take this concept of ownership back and have a stake in the network's collective usage. Everything can be consent-based when you have ownership of your time and data. New incentives can be created from the ground up. Any individual can gain fair reach and own the outcome. New arrangements can be made with advertisers as well, that are more attractive and engaging to the user experience, without the need to jeopardize privacy. 

Blockchains can also enable users to directly monetize their time and energy -- something that is not possible with typical rewards systems or "in-game" currencies. Blockchains allow for the concept of asset ownership and private property to exist in the digital world -- which becomes a foundation to build new apps from. When you acquire OnChain Minds Tokens, you own them and no central party, including Minds, can confiscate them.

As more tokens are held by more individuals, the economy continues to become more decentralized and autonomous. The digital economy can thrive on its own, relying on P2P usage and ad network settlements on the underlying Ethereum blockchain, which is a system completely out of Minds' control. In parallel to this, the goal is to continually put more power into the users' hands with things like the jury system and democratized content moderation.

It's not a question if  blockchains will be applied to all social networks, it is a question of who will apply the core principles the best. Who will create the best and most fair incentives? Also, who will honor open-sourcing their networks? Without open-source checks and balances and transparency, blockchain use becomes nearly pointless, as you run into all the original governance issues and lack of accountability. The big tech incumbents will likely stay as closed systems and despite their large head start, this puts them at a long term disadvantage, as their rate of innovation will slow down. Legacy systems won’t socially scale in this new era.

Unlike most crypto projects, the Minds Token was available and live on main net on Day 1. It was built for immediate usage and velocity. It's important to realize this sets Minds apart from 95%+ of crypto companies and projects that sold tokens before a minimum viable product, with zero users, and the fact that many are still grappling with unreleased test nets and proofs of concept months and years later.

It is still very early in this race but over the next few years, things will start to accelerate rapidly. The winners will be built on antifragile open-source code that captures network effects from top developers, attracts migrating social media users, and provides the best user experience built on ownership, fair reach, censorship-resistance, and monetization.

As always, the Minds community and early adopters taking this journey and treading new waters into web 3.0 land are much appreciated.