Thoughts on steemit and the future of media

I have spent some time playing with and reading about steemit. The vision of the media world it suggests we might be heading towards is fascinating.

In short, steemit is like reddit/medium on top of a blockchain with tokens integrated into the system to reward publishing and other activity on the platform. It is still a complicated system that I do not get entirely, but I think I get a sense of how the dynamics are. 

Steemit rewards content contributions, both by publishers and curators ('likes/votes'), with tokens. It also makes the tokens useful in other ways. Holders of tokens can pass additional rewards to the authors they like, but they also get to enjoy more influence on the platform as well as benefit from the platform's success by getting a share of the tokens getting mined.

The tokens can be traded on exchanges against bitcoin, i.e. they represent real value, not just an internal currency of the platform. The supply of tokens is pre-defined for the future, which makes the users not worry about token inflation.

Creating a system that gets this mini-economy to balance is likely a tough job for the platform's operators. I think at some point we will see best practices for such communities emerge, but now it still seems like a learning process and that's why the system is somewhat clunky and hard to understand. Yet, most importantly, it seems to be working and growing and some content contributors make real money of it.

Below is a chart of the traffic of steamit taken from similarweb. The dynamics is clearly positive, and with 6m visits in May it is at a respectable size. 

It is of course still small by the standards of reddit (1bn+ visits in May) or medium (close to 100m). It is also possible that the increase in interest for steemit and other token-based services in May was driven by the strong crazy price increases in crypto in that month and that it will subside in the coming months. The price of steem (steemit's token) went up by ca. 20x recently, which by no means was an exception in the market. In any case, the activity on the platform is signifcant.

What I find most fascinating about steemit is that it suggests a direction for development of the media landscape in the future. Imagine a world where journalists are truly independent. Where they can create and publish their work, get audience and make a living, without the need to be part of a larger publishing platform or a magazine.

One can take it a step further. Imagine similar rules applied to music. Something like a distributed soundcloud. Where artists can publish and make a living of it. Moreover, the tokens being tradeable, how about a music band issuing a pre-sale of tokens entitling the users to listening to their not-yet-existing album once it has been released? I think many bands would prefer this than dealing with music labels. Or independent film makers pre-selling (tradeable) tokens enabling one to view their films in advance of a public release once they have been made? Amazing!

I am still learning about steem and other platforms working on applying the blockchain paradigm to the web as we know it and reinventing it. It is still early, but it feels like strong new concepts are emerging. If you want to help me find more practical ways how blockchain technologies can impact the world, or want to add something to or comment my logic above, please do so, I will be thankful for additional insights.

P.S. Fred Wilson wrote about steem before and it is an interesting read.