The potential of steem based local community networks to significantly increase recruitment to steemit and to create thousands of jobs is massive.
The inbuilt rewards system for both content creation and content curation makes the steem blockchain the ideal vehicle to build highly active and content rich local community networks.
However in its current form the steemit platform is still very limiting and limited in terms of trying to fulfill the needs of a good local community network.
The much antipated Communities feature will go a long way towards overcoming these limitations, but the arrival time of that feature is still unknown.
Likewise Social Media Tokens (SMTs) could revolutionise how community networks might happen but there is no set date for these yet.
These developments will come for sure but for the here and now progress will need to be made with the tools at hand.
I see a 4 stage development process for steem based local community networks over the next couple of years.
Stage 1 : Basic Networks on steemit using localised tags and curation accounts
This will be the first stage incarnation of a local community network on steemit.
It would be based on tagging posts with local specific tags, and a central locally named curation account.
The curation account would be able to resteem the best local content. It would also publish regular agreggation posts for example listing what's on events or local news - with links to other more detailed posts as available.
The network would be publicised to the outside world as steemit.com/@localtownnetwork.
Lead time to implementation : technology available now, only needs set-up of central curation account for each community.
Costs for implementation : only the cost of the curation accounts if using an instant account registration service.
The effectiveness of the network could be greatly enhanced if the central curation account has some delegated steempower for upvoting support of the best local content creators.
Stage 2 : Steemit based networks interlinked with off-block Wordpress websites
One of the key limitations for local community networks is the 7 day editing rule for posts on the steem blockchain.
This means posts would need to be reissued purely to update content. Some more 'evergreen' content likes list of local councillors might get lost in a continual flow of new material.
A way round this will be to combine or embed the local steem network (steemit.com/@localtownnetwork) within an offchain website.
This would allow the 'pinning' of the long term / 'evergreen' posts in a structured webpage format. The information would still be on the steem blockchain posts but they would be found through standard organised webpage links.
As well as giving significant advantages for content organisation having a standard web frontend to the network will make it more accessible to the general public. This will also be a useful conduit for steem recruitment.
The network would be publicised to the outside world as steemit.com/@localtownnetwork or more likely as localtownnetwork.com (or appropriate localised top level domain)
Lead time to implementation : steemit technology available now, only needs set-up of central curation account for each community. Wordpress site setup is simple. However depending on the degree of integration desired some development time might be needed.
Costs for implementation : The cost of the curation accounts if using an instant account registration service. For the website the costs of hosting and a domain for each network. Additionally there may be a cost for the integration development.
Stage 3 : Local Community Networks on the blockchain using the steemit Communities feature
Full details of the steemit Communities feature have not yet been released. From the information already made available it does look as if Communities will add significant new functiionality that might well be useful for local community networks.
This will need to be reviewed when full details of the Communities feature becomes available.
Lead time to implementation : not available until steemit.inc releases the Communities feature. This should be sometime in 2018.
Costs for implementation : unknown, until more is known about how the Communities feature in steemit will work.
Stage 4 : Bespoke external applications utilising SMTs
Social Media Tokens (SMTs) are now very close to release by steemit inc.
SMTs will allow any network to reward its creators and content consumers through its own token.
SMTs are based on the steem blockchain.
SMTs open the door for the development of autonomous, bespoke community network applications that provide exactly the required features and functionality and allow for the reward and incentivisation of content creators and consumers.
Lead time to implementation : SMTs are due in the early part of 2018. Once they are available there would be a lead time while the bespoke applications with SMT integration are developed.
Costs for implementation : unknown, until SMTs are released. There are likely to be significant development costs for the bespoke community applications.
This is still very much a work in progress.
Could local community networks catapult steem and steemit into the big time?
I would welcome feedback, and a much needed reality check, on these ideas.
I would particularly welcome the thoughts of the likes of @timcliff, @lukestokes and @aggroed who might cast their experienced eyes over the concepts, of @transisto who I believe looks keenly for ideas that bring new users to the platform, and of @taskmaster4450 who has a future vision that seems to pinpoint quite clearly where steem could be heading.
This is just my big picture overview of the idea.
If people think these ideas merit I will continue to expand further with more details of how I envisage taking this forward.
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[ flag image from pixabay - Creative Commons CC0 // graphics by @pennsif ]