I always have the best conversations on Discord. I read what people are saying, I think about how all the pieces fit together, and then I share my own thoughts. Sometimes people suggest that I should do a post on something. Usually I'm too busy, but with Steemauto down for the last few days I've had a little extra time.
Steemit, Inc cares about scale, not as much about the existing users. If the platform is built to scale to millions (or billions) of users, it's not as important how many individuals leave along the way. Right now Steem does NOT scale. Sure we talk about the theoretical transaction limits of graphene, but... it takes 12 hours to replay a node? I takes how many GB of RAM to run a witness? What does that go up to when we have 1 million active users (not just 1 million accounts)?
The future Steem direction is a blockchain built for platforms and programs. For front-ends like Utopian-io. For dApps like dTube, Partiko, dSound. We see this with RC's, with Hivemind, with SMTs.
Condensers will have their own front-ends, SMTs, and RC's. You will create a new account with that website as recovery; they track your keys on their end and you have a normal login/password on your end. They may have normal advertising, sponsored content, or maybe even subscription models as independent revenue sources and use that to ensure that their users have a seamless experience.
There will be RC markets where users or accounts not consuming RCs will be able to sell them to other programs. They will use their own tools to squelch spammers/scammers through their platforms. If you use a walled garden, you don't have to worry about RC's at all (since the walled garden will make sure you have enough as long as you follow their TOS).
Maybe they will develop their own reward models (SMT) and publish everything with their account as full beneficiary for the normal STEEM/SBDs. I would hope not, but if their users don't know they're on Steem, then why not...?
Steemit is the Wild West
If you want direct access to the blockchain (to bypass walled gardens, or to see and interact with everyone) you can continue to use Steemit, or even your own condenser. If you stick with the wild west of Steemit, you will need to track things like RC's, private keys, and hundreds or thousands of (mostly worthless) SMTs that will clutter your wallet. But it will give you access to airdrops from all the early SMTs that haven't gone full garden yet, along with priveleged access to every dApp that wants to woo the existing user-base instead of building their own from scratch.
Depending on the restrictions of the walled gardens, you will have limited to no interaction with their members. Maybe you will have to hold their token for your content to appear to their members. Or maybe you will have to use their condenser and beneficiaries. Some people will create rogue accounts and enter walled gardens to preach to their inhabitants about the freedom of the wild west and the STEEM/SBD rewards that come with it that their garden overlords are 'stealing' from them.
A Bold Future
In 5-10 years, it will be like a whole new internet, built on a blockchain, with Steem as the protocol layer that it runs on and RC's the distributed resource that drive the underlying value of STEEM and make running an extremely expensive witness node actually worthwhile.
Will it happen?
Everything depends on Steemit, Inc.'s ability to pull off the bold vision. Right now it feels bleak. Users are dropping off left and right, engagement is down, and to top it off I have to think about whether this post is good enough to be the one post that I post today. For me that's easy... I don't post that often.
But what about contests like PIFC? Freewrite? Open Mic? I see contest managers wondering if it's responsible stewardship to expect their contestants to spend their valuable comments on each others entries. If we don't reach equilibrium quickly, a lot of programs will die. That worries me.
I'm optimistic about the bold future, but I worry a lot about the people and communities that are already here, the individuals that have put heart and soul into building something, only to see their entire user-base disappear from a 'forced' 5-day hiatus.