My story about Steemit for Backchannel: 'The Social Network Doling Out Millions in Ephemeral Money'

in #steemit7 years ago (edited)

I'm Andrew McMillen, a freelance journalist and author based in Brisbane, Australia.

I've been watching and participating in Steemit for about a year, and I've just written a feature story about the platform and currency for Backchannel, a technology-focused media outlet published on An excerpt from my story is below; click through to read the full article.

The Social Network Doling Out Millions in Ephemeral Money

Steemit is a social network with the radical idea of paying users for their contributions. But in the crypto gold rush, it's unclear who stands to profit.

Every time you log onto Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to share a photo or post an article, you give up a piece of yourself in exchange for entertainment. This is the way of the modern world: Smart companies build apps and websites that keep our eyeballs engaged, and we reward them with our data and attention, which benefit their bottom line.

Steemit, a nascent social media platform, is trying to change all that by rewarding its users with cold, hard cash in the form of a cryptocurrency. Everything that you do on Steemit—every post, every comment, and every like—translates to a fraction of a digital currency called Steem. Over time, as Steem accumulates, it can be cashed out for normal currency. (Or held, if you think Steem is headed for a bright future.)

The idea for Steemit began with a white paper, which quietly spread among a small community of techies when it was released in March 2016. The exhaustive 44-page overview wasn’t intended for a general audience, but the document contained a powerful message. User-generated content, the authors argued, had created billions of dollars of value for the shareholders of social media companies. Yet while moguls like Mark Zuckerberg got rich, the content creators who fueled networks like Facebook got nothing. Steemit’s creators outlined their intention to challenge that power imbalance by putting a value on contributions: “Steem is the first cryptocurrency that attempts to accurately and transparently reward…[the] individuals who make subjective contributions to its community.”

A minuscule but dedicated audience rallied around Steemit, posting stories and experimenting with the form to discover what posts attracted the most votes and comments. When Steemit released its first payouts that July, three months after launch, things got serious.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are only worth whatever value people ascribe to them, so there was no guarantee that the tokens dropping into Steemit accounts would ever be worth anything. Yet the Steem that rolled out to users translated to more than $1.2 million in American dollars. Overnight, the little-known currency spiked to a $350 million market capitalization—momentarily rocketing it into the rare company of Bitcoin and Ethereum, the world’s highest-valued cryptocurrencies.

Today, Steem’s market capitalization has settled in the vicinity of $294 million. One Steem is worth slightly more than one United States Dollar, and the currency remains a regular presence at the edge of the top 20 most traded digital currencies. It’s a precipitous rise for a company that just 18 months ago existed only as an idea in the minds of its founders.


To read the full story, visit Backchannel. Above illustration credit: Lauren Cierzan


Andrew thank you for publishing this aritcle on for us! Ads on Google and Facebook for your story as seen at are starting today to make sure hundreds of thousands of readers see what you wrote!

Extremely well written. This will be a classic reference piece as an article chronicling Steemit at the edge of mainstream adoption.

I wasn't aware that the "weighted voting system places greater value on votes placed by the older accounts of early Steemit adopters" though. I thought it was exclusively financial in its calculations . . . most whales were also early adopters . . . which could be what was being alluded to . . .

It does only depend on the steempower, not sure what he meant by that exactly. Reputation for instance doesn't get your more voting weight.

But we may have stumbled onto something here - working rep into a part of weight calculation might not be a bad idea. 🌞

Awesome collaboration! Great things happening from both of you!

Nice work, @jerrybanfield!

Jerry, just wanted to say thank you! You are the person who captivated my attention and introduced me to Steem. I not only am beginning to believe in Steem, but I believe in you! As a spiritual man, I believe that our generation is awakening to our power as the people, and I believe Steem is a platform that will bring this wealth change to people who care about people. You reached me, and so you are reaching many!

I agree great move steemit is growing pretty fast. 😀 😃 😄 😁 Have a wonderful day!

indeed a absolute worth reading and thank you Andrew . its high time make your eyeball busy on steemit , specially on those time people wasted on other social media. highly encouraging writing.

Nice Andrew! It's succinct and pointed enough to pique someone's interest.

User-generated content, the authors argued, had created billions of dollars of value for the shareholders of social media companies. Yet while moguls like Mark Zuckerberg got rich, the content creators who fueled networks like Facebook got nothing

This is a powerful message, and one that resonates with a certain kind of folk =)

Upvoted ur comment to 45.55 hey man @itchykitten so youre back now?? I expect to see you posting everyday man! You GOTTA! We need people like you man, u gotta just keep posting your daily life! u gotta just post post post man you had it DOWN in your first post! super long posts with lots of photos! i remember your mini home on wheels u made! I wish we could see more of that!

You gotta start posting a LOT man! come on the discord chat and come chat or voicechat with us its @fyrtsikkens 's chatroom for everyone on steemit to mingle and its a great place to meet wha;les and witnesses nd steemit employees i even have met some Steemit executives like @sneak there who dropped some early news about some secret new features and also told us about the new steemit app comin out, when that gets announcedby the execs the price of steem will spiek again just liek with the smart media tokns announcement!

anyway man u should post everyday again u seem to get viral FASt here and we need you man!

Now about Facebook, remember, facebook at around 300 billion is around 1000x the marketcap of steemit which is like 300 million dollars so when steemit gets as big as facebook we will see steem go up 1000 times from $1 to $1000 and anyone with $1000 in steemit will have $1 million dollars! Way better than owning shares of facebook stock!

And there WILl come a day when Facebook asks to "buy" steemit and after we turn them down with teh answer of how they phsyically cant buy it,they will just think we are p;ayuing hardball and theyll just keep offering a bigger and bigger ampunt untill someone just tels them to simply buy steempower LOL and then they will and theyll be stuck helping the price of steem go up like crazy! If someone bought like all the steem there is to buy, probobly what a few million? the price would go way up and they would have to then WAIt for someone to come and sel some steem to be able to hve any! Thats the SECRET of steem and its price and WHY it is valuable! people who get paid get paid in SBD and so that gets traded internaly and on exchanges but hah the steem is actually being purchased more than its being sold, if u look atthe graphs, so interesting, the state of the steem network posts i believe that show like how much steem is sold and boughte veryday and i mean ifpeople are just seling mor ethan they buy that means the porice of steem would be faling which was hwta happebed from the beginning last summer to marcgh of this year just a drop because more were simply selinga nd cashing out than ever powering up but NOW the amount of steem owned by believers in steemit is over the majority fo steem because the price of steem never seems to drop below 1 dollar so basically no one wants to let it get cheaper than 41 because peopel start buying it up as being REALy cheap when it goes below $ never goes below $1 and never really getrs to like 90 or 80 cents for very long because someone instantly buys some up to get that deal! And the $1 price being like a constant is because the people selling dont have anything left to sell! hahah see when you have steemit whales who believe in steemit holding most of al the steem , then they can just refuse to sell any of it and just help keep theprice to go up up up and also people just dont get that steem is boughta nd sold like bitcoin and steem is also mined like bitcoin but not proof of work just proof of stake with delegation, and DPOS delegated proof of stake is very new and effcient and will alow steem do keep itself free of transaction fees and simply a mroe useful crypto currency for things liek microtransactions or obviously for social media but jere is the deal, steemit is new and not many people use steemit compatred to redit or facebook BUt to say there arent many people yusing steemit is a godamn lie. To think that even 100,000 people is not a lot of people is so arogant! And there are around 300,000 to 400,000 accounts on steemit now and even if half of them are individual people , or even if you use the only 30K active users a day stat, that is still pretty amazing that in just a year we gorta brand new social media of the ground with basically no advertising and using the users to advertise and that they "willed" over a quarter of a billion dollars into existence and THAT should be our selling point! Let people talk shit and let the insecure naysay and question it! They will see that steem is going to remain valuable and that YES That 300 Million to 400 million marketcap is accurate and real ! some people incorrectly believe that crypto is only "real" when it gets translate into your fake fiat bank account LOL such a lost perspective! Steem will only impress us and we should all take courseson internet mareketing and pay for youtube ad roll viodeos to p[romote steemit just like @jerrybanfield did on youtube and facebook ! You use the rewards from your steemit poist to pay for ads to promote your own steemit page (and steemit itseklf of course at the same time!) and you end up getting new followers AND paying for teh ad using money from steemit so in a way it can not cost you anything!

Wow! That's quite the welcome message Ackza. Thanks =) I do intend to be posting more...It's been exciting to see everyone. I'm not thinking much about the price of steem. It's gonna do what it's gonna do, and I just want to write.

I was really sad after ChanChan got hit by a car =( Anyway, looking forward to being around here more often, thanks for the great welcome back!

Yes, remember that you are not safe with Facebook, you work so they can suck the profit out of you and therefore they sell your privacy to marketing agencies to spam you with all kind of ads so you can spend your money online.
Facebook has become online shop instead of social media site, that's why people must gather and join Steemit. It's benefitical for all.

That is the really good site

Less and less people are using Facebook because better alternatives already exist. If Facebook doesn't change their tactics, soon people stop using it because none of the interesting people are active anymore. I see a lot of accounts of for example celebrities where all the posts are actually written in Instagram or using apps that aggregate external blog posts. A good test is to comment on someone's Facebook profile or page and count how many hours or days it takes to get a response other than a mere like. Some people just batch like all comments on their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts to make followers and friends think they are really active. What matters to other people is the quality of the actual replies to the comments or that "friends" actually comment back something meaningful in your own posts.

I wasted my time on facebook posting, sharing and liking hot chicks and never rewarded or compensated.
Steemit platform is better or the best currently.

What if the porn industry will follow Steemit platform?

good idea! write a post about how pornhub or xhamster could use steem blockchain to allow users to submit porn that people couldn't remove and that people could profit from and maybe we could make it a hard fork of the steem blockchain , NSFW steemit post is all yours! write a long post about it! thats how u start getting yourself a big following!

And soon you will be getting rewarded for liking photos of hot chicks on steemit!

No need to hard fork, wait for SMTs to come out and make your PORN token.

nice! steem cam token to pay the cam girls lol

We already are, as well as other similar platforms, pre-empting the Establishment's plan to do away with cash. After all, we ARE the oldest profession, and no-one's going to stop us plying our trade.

You're right. I think so too.

i think the beauty of this platform is that it's making a real use of cryptocurrency that people are actually earning and trading in steem. I have seen people offer jobs for people to make logos etc in return for steem and to date this has really been lacking from other cryptocurrencies which, have only really been used for trading and storing, buying and selling. This platform allows crypto to begin being used as a currrency the only thing i worry about is how much content is about crypto currency. I think the ideal scenario is crypto currency blending with the real world and this is close but only if it doesn't end up with every single trending post being about crypto currency.

I could not agree more. We need various communities with their content to join. I am working on that! Have a project to bring an ecosystem of fine artists onto the platform. Will likely issue an SMT to help us get going with the project. It's been a year-long project and we are finishing our WP and business plan this week. Good timing with the SMT announcement.

i want to say that i am so excited and i want to thank steem team and founders that gave us this opportunity to share our thoughts for better world where future is brighter and people are working in favour of each other

well i believe steem among a few other cryptocurrencies like tokencard (tkn) and tenx (pay) have a real use case in our everyday applications and projections to technology. Who could have ever thought that there would exist some sort of decentralized social media platform, where user's could interact with themselves without the fear of loosing their privacy to a third party and also get rewarded some steem simultaneously. This so far is a bold step towards true decentralization and exorcising plagiarism in today's invention

Excellent write up! Thanks so much for giving Steemit a fair shake on such a popular website like Wired. We definitely need more publicity like this.

I thought it was a good read too! Agreed!

I agree with you @lukestokes

You're on point, buddy! Steemit all the way!

Agreed! More stuff like this from @andrewmcmillen and @jerrybanfield will get Steemit pushed further into the mainstream. And anyone can do this stuff! The two I mentioned are just leading by example.

Great article @andrewmcmillen! This is such a critical statement (below). Steemit represents an entirely new way to look at social networks on the web. Content has value, a tremendous amount of it. STEEM is positioning itself to flip the script and forever change the way in which we engage the internet.

"While moguls like Mark Zuckerberg got rich, the content creators who fueled networks like Facebook got nothing. Steemit’s creators outlined their intention to challenge that power imbalance by putting a value on contributions: “Steem is the first cryptocurrency that attempts to accurately and transparently reward…[the] individuals who make subjective contributions to its community.”

Andrew, this is fucking amazing! I love Backchannel and am blown away to see a full Steem feature on there. Thanks so much for getting us onto such a huge, legitimate blog!

Maybe Kevin Kelly will start poking around here soon o_o

Your account is now worth USD $1,300 + 418 and counting :D

A very well put together article, you have rightly weighed the various aspects, and I'll be definitely sharing this around! It'll be easier to convince people with all the points jotted down within a reputable article.
Steemit isn't magic, neither rocket science, nor a get rich scheme. Its a social media site that pays, we waste time on FB, rather use the same time here. Thanks!

Keep up the great work!

Fantastic article. The anecdotes about the early ideas and drivers behind Steemit were new to me and fun to read!
I even shared it to Facebook, which I almost never do! It’s a great piece to show to friends that explains and entertains better than I would in a “come join Steemit!” post.

Thanks for your encouraging words, in a time when this relatively new upstart is preparing to charter new waters for growing revenue.

Many who have been part of a ‘failed’ blogging platform are inspired to continue in quiet optimism that Steemit really is a revolutionary form of ‘social media’.


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