Game Theory 101 - Schelling point or "Why Steemit.com is important"

in steemit •  last year 

I intended to write this earlier but I wanted to make a more "idea dense" post. As it turns out, I discovered @cryptogee this evening (courtesy of @abh12345) and one of his recent posts in the series "What's the point of Steemfest"

In it he reckons steem is much more than Steemit.com but the latter is still the "focal point". Writes @cryptogee:

In a recent Reddit poll, whereby readers were asked to identify alt coins by their logos alone, as you'd probably expect Ethereum was the most recognised. However when it came to Steem, the readers almost universally identified the Steem logo as Steemit.

Blizzard_of_2015-_Empty_Grand_Central_Terminal_(16377099101).jpg
Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

That happens to be important - the term "focal point" comes from Game Theory when the problem to solve is one of "coordination without communication". Think about it in a "lab context": look at the image below and silently pick one of the four squares. If we both pick the same square (without the possibility to communicate with one another), we win $20 each !...

four_boxes_focal_schelling_point.png
If I have no idea whatsoever about who the other person is, I'll pick the red square

The classic academic experiment involves a class of students who are told that they'll meet a stranger tomorrow in New York but have no idea where, nor when. They are then asked to indicate where would they go and when. As it turns out, the vast majority indicates Grand Central Station (photo above) at 12:00

Now the steem blockchain being so versatile, it is host to numerous projects. While many were variations of the initial "content platform" of Steemit.com, such as Busy.org, Steempeak.com or Steeve.app, newer projects start using the blockchain in new and different ways, such as Steemmonsters.com or the simple (yet very effective) wallet of @roelandp, Steemwallet (no content there, just simple, fast, free transfers!)

Moreover, even a casual observer will notice that Steemit.com does not try very hard to stay ahead of the competition - it has barely improved in more than a year and lacks the bells and whistles of newer, more competitive web applications. Whenever Steemit Inc. is asked the question, there appears (somewhat surprisingly) to be no love lost between @ned and what one would think is "his baby", namely the Steemit.com application...

Why that is so, it's secondary. Upon searching, the theories offered turn around three points:

  • Steemit.com encourages behaviors which are costly to sustain in the long term (content production is a lot more resource consuming than the simple transfers of a wallet)
  • Steemit.com distracts and obnubilates the users who forget how much more capable this blockchain is.
  • For content creation there are so many better dApps out there

Nevermind that the first is a bit at odds with the third, as those many dApps for content creation incentivise people to do precisely the "costly" activity.

More important is to stress what a pity neglecting Steemit.com is and what a "value destruction" risk it entails. To think of a timely analogy, it's a bit as if Ned and Steemit.com were like Roger Ver and the "Core" team of Bitcoin (don't take this literally and don't look too much into it, no insult intended) - as if Ned wanted to "fork" the minds and allegiances of the community and pry them from the original focal point, Steemit.com, in order to bring them to a new focal point.

And because I write this post not in 2017 at the time of the BCH fork but in 2018 during the "hash war" pitting BCH ABC versus BCH SV, one only has to watch that debacle to realize what stirring a community which has made Steemit.com into its "Grand Central Station at noon" could lead to in terms of value destruction.

I believe neglecting Steemit.com and letting it wither presents an almost existential risk for the community. Steemit.com was what brought the people together here in the first place and it still offers a competitive mix of functionalities and user experience despite under-investment.

Steemit.com is to this blockchain what Bitcoin core is to the bitcoin blockchain. No matter how many "Gold" and "Diamond" and "Private" and other "forks" appear (read: dApps), newcomers, "normies" mostly come through Steemit.com and will likely do so for a long time. Moreover, while the 300 "hardcore steemians" who participated to Steemfest realize that steem is much more than Steemit.com, that might not necessarily be the case for the majority of the roughly 200 000 people active on this blockchain.

Making people "forget" about Steemit.com once the newly announced Destiny UI comes out is likely to be expensive and might produce unintended consequences.

What to do then?

Well, my mind sides with @cryptogee and @ned - we need to show the world how many other powerful applications can be powered by steem, beyond Steemit.com. I am doing so myself in an institutional setting with the EFTG project.

But my heart aches when I see Steemit.com being neglected. As much as I would like to be only reasonable, I, and I believe many other "steemians", feel an emotional attachment to Steemit.com even when posting from busy.org (as is the case with this article). Let's hope we manage to "paint the square nb. 2 (above) back in white and paint another one in red".

If you know what witnesses are and agree that people commited to keeping this blockchain ticking play an important role ...

(by simply clicking on the picture - thanks to SteemConnect)

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Steem is definitely so much more than Steemit and it is what most here seek when committing to its future. However, I agree with your assessment that leaving Steemit behind can have consequences. I have been actively experimenting with new DApps to engage on the platform but continue to find myself returning to Steemit for voting for witness or making transfers among other actions just because that it what I was oriented to do since beginning. Imagine others that are less vested here? What incentive do they have to move? I envision that Steem should have an interface similar to its ecosystem where everything is connected by one portal instead of the continuous gateways needed to access then today. I think a challenge for adoption is this user experience which is antiquated with its current interface.

The internal market too. Busy has not integrated it yet. Don't know whether any other interface has. Maybe steempeak?

thanks for sharing

I echo your sentiments my friend... but I'm slowly but surely moving away from them... I'm convinced steemit.com is going to end up dying one day in the future and maybe, just maybe, that's for the best.

I wish it 'll turn out to be true ... Still, it hurts. Like having to throw away an old sweater that is warm and soft and you had and worn for many many years and now it's kinda' full of tiny moth-made holes ...

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