Tell us about yourself, your backround and how you got interested in block chain technology?
My brain is wired for economics and psychology, that’s what I studied in school – and since the moment I first read about Bitcoin, it has always felt like the right path. From 2013 on, the rabbit hole of Bitcoin and blockchain tech has kept me busy and it’s been this wonderful experience where there’s something new or something to learn from with each passing day. Not long after discovering Bitcoin I came across Dan Larimer. He was beginning work on the Bitshares project. I followed the Bitshares project and other Blockchain 2.0 projects closely, and in mid-2015 I decided I would jump into the industry and I began moonlighting by bringing blockchain technology to different firms in New York. Soon after that I took a trip to see Dan and we came together to found Steemit as the first decentralized social media platform that pays users to post and vote.
What is Steemit?
Steemit is the decentralized social media platform that rewards users for posting and voting, and it's as simple as uploading your blog post or video. In the context of the decentralized ecosystem we’re building, Steemit is the blockchain-based social media application based on the Steem blockchain. Steem allows social media to be powered in a new way. People can now earn two types of cryptocurrency, Steem Power and Steem Dollars, just by posting and voting online, no tipping or third parties required. Content creators, since the dawn of the internet, haven't really made money online without advertising, but with Steem they can. And for the regular people, quality content, news and discussion can rise into view based on the wisdom of the crowd.
What makes Steemit different to our social platforms such as Synereo?
There are many great projects in the blockchain and social media space, but Steemit is different in that it brings a new economic model to the table. The model is a sort of fountain of youth, similar to the mining rewards of Bitcoin, rather than a tipping or revenue sharing model. Steemit users are rewarded by the Steem blockchain itself. The blockchain tallies posts by their votes and then rewards the best poster and their voters accordingly. Because of this, Steemit can be an ad-free, decentralized social media platform where anyone can get rewarded just by posting or finding good content.
How are coins Steem distributed?
The blockchain rewards new Steem to posters, voters, Steem Power holders, market makers between Steem and Steem Dollars and miners at a set rate, similar to the how new Bitcoin is created to reward the miners of Bitcoin.
This method makes Steem into a sort of fountain of youth .. where there are always rewards for people to come earn .. and they can do so at a very low barrier to entry. Crypto has traditionally been something only obtainable by mining or through exchanges. But with Steemit, regular people can be on boarded to the technology for the first time.
Is there anyway you can control undesirable content?
The beauty of a blockchain application like Steemit is that the content goes on the blockchain, and of course, content that goes on the blockchain stays on the blockchain. So as the app provider we can’t control how content goes on the blockchain and we can’t control it to take anything off of it. We do, however, manage the interface and that’s where we could be forced to hide content, but as Steem members vote down or flag content that could be bad for the site, the content would disappear.
It’s worth highlighting that because the blockchain is open, transparent and public, any other entrepreneur could come along and leverage the same database of information, including all the ssts, comments, votes, profiles and follows. Because of this, if there were ever censorship going on at the application layer, people could point to us and say “hey, there’s content being censored from the blockchain”, and that would be bad for us as a business. We want to promote freedom of speech, and it’s in our best interest to do that as much as possible – and the blockchain facilitates those incentives quite a bit more than social media platforms that have come before us.
Steem coins are backed fully by the US Dollar. How is this peg maintained and why did you decide to take this approach?
This is an important piece of Steem to look at because the mechanics are somewhat different from most other cryptocurrencies. In Steem, there are three types of the token, Steem Dollars, Steem Power and Steem. Steem itself works pretty much the same as Bitcoin, meaning it’s fungible, tradeable and transferrable. Steem Power is a committed version of Steem that gives the holder voting power, access to special functions of the blockchain and rewards the holder with more Steem Power. Any user can power their Steem up or down depending on how they want to use the platform. Steem Dollars are interesting because they only come into existence as a reward when a user successfully posts or up-votes quality content. The peg is a new design based on new and old concepts in the crypto economics space, including pegging-by-seignorage mechanisms established by Vitalik Buterin and others prominent figures the space. Once it’s been distributed by the blockchain for good posting and voting, the Steem Dollar is a blockchain-based contract in which the Steem blockchain has committed to buy and destroy the contract in exchange for Steem at the value of a dollar. The system does not depend on a third party to 'back' the value. The value comes from speculation (see: Steem on Bittrex.com or its market cap on coinmarketcap.com), price feeds and the recurring seignorage to reward those who hold the Steem Dollar token.
We took this approach because we hypothesize that the robust distribution and one-way exchange from Steem Dollars to Steem allows the token to be pegged closely to the dollar, which then gives the platform more utility for regular people who use or covet dollars today.
How can Entrepreneurs take advantage of Steem?
Steem is a public utility – especially for entrepreneuers. Because it’s a blockchain – and an advanced blockchain with 3 second block times, storage for posts, votes, comments, profiles and follows – it’s an open databse for entrepreneuers to tap into. Whether they would like to build their own social media application or build services that support the apps that have already appeared, the opportunities are unrestricting and we’re beginning to see many entrepreneurs take advantage.
Where do you see the future of block chain technology going?
I see public blockchain databases becoming fast and ubiquitous. Once real-time speed is factored in, it’s not beyond the stretch of imagination to expect developers to go to blockchain by default. The blockchain toolkit called Graphene, which was developed by my business partner, Dan Larimer, is a prime example. The three-second blocks achieved under Graphene and leveraged by Steem, provide the speed necessary to support real-time applications. With the added security and immutability of blockchain, I expect fast, application-specific blockchain databases will become a standard for application developers around the world in no more than a few years.
What can we expect in the future from Steem?
We expect to help build Steem into a decentralized movement for the common man. Similar to how Bitcoin has been a movement, and Ethereum has become a movement for developers, we believe Steem has a barrier to entry low enough to appeal to regular people – for the first time, getting into crypto is as simple as posting or voting on content.
Steemit is the first major app on the platform for publishing and viewing content, but in the future, expect getting content to Steem to be as easy as “pinning” the blogpost or video you already created.
Where can we find out more about Steem?
Join us at steemit.com or come join us in the slack channel to meet other early adopters and devs at http://steem.herokuapp.com. And for perspective, readers can also see another blockchain app, with the same content, at steemd.com.