Image for the sake of having an image
The next proposed Hard Fork of the Steem blockchain has two parts - the Steem Proposal System (SPS) and the Economic Improvement Proposal (EIP). @timcliff did a great job of explaining what those two parts consist of in this post so I am not going to go over that here and instead recommend that you read his post to learn more about the issues and the proposed changes.
The Big Picture
When deciding what changes to implement, or not to implement, I think it's important to start looking at things from a high level perspective. What are the grand goals and vision for Steem? How do we get there? What is currently holding us back?
Steem is an application-specific blockchain. We are not and should not try to directly compete with general purpose smart contract platforms like Ethereum, EOS, and Tron. Instead we should strive to be the de-facto place people go to if they want to build a user-friendly website or app that rewards users for contributions utilizing cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. This is the vision for Steem. This is what Smart Media Tokens are all about.
I look at Steem as being something like WordPress whereas platforms like Ethereum and EOS are more like Amazon Web Services. Sure, you can build a blog site hosted on Amazon Web Services, but it usually makes much more sense to build it on a platform like WordPress which is specifically tailored to what you're trying to do.
There's been a lot of noise around here about the recently announced "Voice" project (for obvious reasons) but while that may be a competitor for steemit.com, it doesn't seem to me to be a competitor to Steem. Voice may be very successful and attract a lot of people, but it does nothing for the brands, businesses, or communities who want to have their own experience tailored to their specific use case and reward their userbase for their contributions in a decentralized manner. That's where Steem comes in.
The best part is that we've already gotten a decent amount of market validation for this concept. There are a significant number of organizations that have either forked the Steem blockchain since SMTs aren't yet available or that are still waiting around for them. That tells me that we're onto something and that it's worth it to continue down this path.
How do we get there?
Obviously, we need to actually build and release SMTs. Steemit, Inc is supposedly back to working on them, which is great, and as stakeholders and witnesses, @aggroed and myself have been working on Steem Engine and SCOT to try to allow the organizations that are waiting for SMTs to get started and stay on Steem until the real SMTs are ready.
But achieving that vision requires more than just building it. Ever since I have been involved with Steem it seems that it has had an "if you build it, they will come" attitude. But I've found that things rarely work that way. I've seen many great products fail because people never even know about them, and many poor products ultimately succeed simply because they are good at marketing.
When I look at Steem, I see a platform that is on par or better in nearly every applicable metric than almost every other cryptocurrency platform in existence - except for the token price.
I believe that's because people just frankly don't know about Steem...even within the relatively small cryptocurrency community. I go to a large number of blockchain and cryptocurrency events and it is extremely rare to find anyone there who knows much of anything about Steem. You're lucky to get an "oh yea, I've heard of that", and even then half of the time they're thinking of the game platform.
If we want to achieve our vision, we need to make sure that everyone knows about Steem, understands the vision, and believes that Steem has what it takes to make it happen.
What Is Holding Us Back?
Up until recently, everyone has pretty much been looking to SteemIt, Inc to do everything that Steem needs from core development to app developpment to marketing. This makes sense since they have by far the most resources of anyone on the platform and the most stake in it, but, regardless, it hasn't happened.
In 2019 they have been doing much better from a development perspective, but as I said earlier, it will take much more than that to achieve our vision. The Steem community is doing its best to take on the other pieces necessary to get us to where we want to be, but without adequate funding the chances for success are very low.
This is why I believe that Steem desperately needs an adequately funded worker proposal system. If you think that there's a lot of great development happening on the Steem platform now, imagine how much more there could be if there was funding available for it.
We need to compete with all of the other blockchains who are actively going out and offering funding for app developers to come to their platforms. We need to fund partnerships, integrations, and initiatives that get the word out and make sure everyone knows about what's going on here and share in the vision for what Steem can become.
The Economic Improvement Proposal
I was one of only two top witnesses who voted "NO" for the EIP in this unofficial poll. It's not because I necessarily believe that the changes are bad (I do believe that a separate downvote pool would be good, for example) but because I just don't think it's what we should be focusing our time and effort on right now.
While we're spending time messing around with parameters that a very small number of people actually understand or care about, Steem will continue its steady decline as the rest of the world flocks to the platforms that understand user experience and marketing.
In a grand vision of Steem where millions of people are playing Splinterlands, sharing pictures on Appics, posting reviews on SteemHunt, logging their workout on Actifit, and so much more - all of which are using their own tokens with their own individual economies powered by Steem - does the curation split or reward curve of the STEEM token really matter? Does it help us achieve that goal or does it distract from it?
That being said, it seems clear that the vast majority of the top witnesses are in favor of releasing the EIP as part of the next hard fork. If that is the case, I will fully support it and do my part to ensure it's tested thoroughly and rolled out smoothly.
I've talked to a few large crypto hedge funds and investors in the past and their general criteria for investment is pretty simple and fairly consistent - what is the vision / potential for the project and, more importantly, do they believe there's a good chance it will be realized.
Steem has years of history behind it showing a lack of clear vision and a lack of execution that we have to overcome, but if we focus on the vision and put our resources and funding where it is most needed, I firmly believe we can do it.
If we can show the world that we have the potential to become the leading platform for websites and apps that want to take advantage of blockchain and crypto, I believe that the valuation of the STEEM token will quickly rise up to where it should be in comparison with other blockchain platforms with similar metrics.
With that in mind, I will continue to push for an HF21 that includes the SPS and not the EIP; however, if a super-majority of the top witnesses chooses to implement both then I will support their decision, work towards a smooth rollout, and then continue working towards achieving our vision.