Interview with Andy Levine on Steem Today and Tomorrow
In this first part, you’ll get an insider’s view of the power of the Steem platform in its current manifestation and why the future looks bright for the quickly maturing platform.
James: On the surface level, Steem is Reddit with crypto. You go to the website, you’re going to have a very familiar experience to Reddit. You can post articles there, but instead of upvotes, I am getting money, which is cool. But there is more to it than that?
Andy: Yeah. Objectively, the Steem blockchain is the most successful blockchain in the world. That sounds like a crazy extreme statement that can’t possibly be true, because obviously Ethereum, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash or your favorite thing is because you own some. Of course, I own some Steem, but I also own some Bitcoin and some Ethereum. How can I back that up?
Well, first of all, it’s still the only blockchain with a real application that real people are using every day. That’s Steemit.com. Steem and Steemit.com have become impossibly conflated. Steemit and Steem are [seen as] the same thing; it’s just one app. But no, it isn’t.
[Steem] is the only content management system on a blockchain, and Steemit.com was just the first application to leverage it. And the fact that a mediocre Reddit clone, that’s now way better than Reddit, but you know at the time — Steemit.com was built in three months.
No one is going to pretend that there’s anything totally special about Steemit.com itself aside from the cryptocurrency integration. And that integration led to SteemIt.com growing incredibly fast, and now it’s around #1500 in the world by Alexa ranking.
But now, there are numerous examples. Now, Steem is the protocol with not just the only real application that ordinary people use every day, it’s the only protocol with multiple applications that ordinary people use every day.
DTube is a YouTube competitor that works. People go there and they go, “Oh my God, there is a YouTube competitor powered by crypto.” What other protocol has that? You’ve got DLive, that’s a Twitch competitor, same thing.
Totally different spectrum: Utopian.io, revolutionizing the open source code movement by rewarding developers for the code that they contribute to GitHub using Steem. And so, Steem is powering now many disruptive applications.
That’s something that is totally ignored for some reason because it’s not Bitcoin. So, the Bitcoiners have no interest in talking about this because they’re talking about the Lightning network. And the Ethereum people aren’t interested in talking about this they’re years away from being able to support applications with this level of transactions.
DTube, DLive, and all these other competitors that are Steem-powered are alternatives to the content platforms that are out there right now. These are forms of content that people understand already. Video content, articles, live streaming, video.
Are there types of content that you can create on a Steem-powered platform that may not have even been a viable form of content on what we’ve had available so far?
That’s a good question. Steem doesn’t store any media. We encourage you to outsource to some other service like IPFS or just a private CDN.
I think my answer to that would be slightly different. I would frame it a little bit different in that when you are talking about social interactions, when you are talking about rewarding somebody for content in some kind of way whether it’s with appreciation or money or whatever, there are certain base primitives that you need.
You need an account. You need to be able to associate some content with a summary. You need to enable comments. Where Steem really shines is certainly text-based stuff.
Say, for example, you want to build an augmented reality or a video hosting site that specializes in virtual reality. You want to encourage users to generate videos and you want to encourage users to watch them and participate in them.
How do you incentivize all of these actors? How do you incentivize the person who is going to upload the content? How are you going to incentivize the person who is going to go there and participate in it?
What we offer are these turnkey primitives that apply to basically all forms of content. In a sense, we are almost never going to offer you a totally original way to monetize your content. You are going to have to tap into the specific primitives that we integrate, the Steem community, and the Steem blockchain.
At the end of the day, what Steem really shines at is integration and monetization of social applications that feature user-generated content, full stop.
Steem isn’t the only platform targeting social. In your eyes, what makes Steem the platform of choice?
Steem can be transferred anywhere in the world in three seconds with zero fees. Any other protocol that came out, and was just like, “This is our unique value proposition: Three seconds feeless transfers” would immediately be in the top five trade-wise.
We’ve got a million accounts. And these aren’t like Ethereum accounts. We’ve looked into it. I think we have the most users, too. Because if you look at the most used crypto Ethereum application, it’s CryptoKitties at 3,000 transactions a day.
Our second most popular application, eSteem, a third-party mobile application, for the Steem blockchain, has three times those transactions. Steemit has ten times more transactions than that.
So, not only do you not have this great token that’s hugely underrated because everybody thinks about social media and all of this other stuff, but you actually have probably the biggest network of users over the world.
You can actually transfer to people. And it’s easy because there are web applications and all this stuff.
Here’s the thing: The user-generated model, everybody knows how powerful this model is, right?
It drives the entire internet economy.
Which currently is powered by attention, likes, and advertisers. The Steem platform has moved that to a more monetary, aligned incentive structure that promises to be a little bit more of a healthy environment to engage in.
We tokenize it, and this is a common question we get with respect to SMTs: “Why would a particular SMT be worth anything?” No, that’s not how it works. We give you the protocol. You use it. You make it valuable.
What our protocol enables you to do is to tokenize content. Can you think about that for a second, focus on that, let that marinate, and then go build an amazing application that people love using and then you can use our stack to tokenize it?
Full Steem Ahead
In the next part of my conversation with Andy, we move into what the Steem team is building now and the future of the platform.
We’ll learn about Smart Media Tokens, Communities, Hivemind, and what the Steem team sees the ecosystem enabling for developers.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I’m a casual nerd who likes crypto and community building. Software dev, social psychologist and sipper of tea. I love art of all kinds, actively seeking truth, and alliteration.