I started tentatively on Steemit about 6 months ago because I sensed potential. But the platform, although deceptively simple at first sight, is in fact extremely complex and, shall I say, rather unwelcoming. My first post, a simple introduction, got a few cents.
I've tried to persevere and wrote a couple more articles which I believe are thoughtful and insightful. I remember reading sometime around that date that the Steemit consensus algorithm was "Proof of Brain". Well, I thought, if what is meant by that is the ability to create high quality content, then I should do well.
Yet it quickly appeared I was wrong - I was focused on creating quality content and getting 0, zero, naught, nada in return. Obviously, "quality content-producing brain" was not what the platform was rewarding; and it still isn't.
I am convinced that if Steemit (or a successor) are to leave an enduring mark on how we create and share knowledge, it needs to get the selection and promotion of quality content right
Meanwhile I took a step back trying to contemplate the big picture.
On the technical side, I've discovered one can browse the underlying blockchain by navigating to https://steemd.com/@ and adding the name of an account after the "@" sign. I've linked to my name but you can replace it and see the actions of any user. I confess that, right or wrong, my confidence in the whole system increased greatly once I knew that I can always browse the blockchain. Just as I remember my confidence in Bitcoin increased after I discovered I could follow the flows of transactions from sites such as 0xT and Blockexplorer. And as my confidence in Ethereum increased once I was able to browse the Ethereum blockchain using Etherscan.
If you are even a bit technically curious, don't be shy: click on the link and have a peek. You might just feel the magic touch of the blockchain, as I did when I first browsed Etherscan!
However for the former two (Bitcoin blockchain and Ethereum blockchain), I know I can anytime download the executable and start running a full node on my computer. Even if I cannot find a new block on my own, at least I can have the full copy of the blockchain (and contribute to securing the network).
With the Steemit blockchain, I'm not yet sure about this part. I've tried to find more information but it's hard to know what is still actual as currently the Steemit system is not yet decentralized.
An old YouTube audio debate (with poor sound quality) between a long-time skeptic, Tone Vays and the two founders of Steemit, Ned Scott and Dan Larimer seem to indicate that the Steemit blockchain has about 5% of the nodes secured by PoW and the rest of 95% by Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS).
Like Tone, I am a bit skeptic about PoS consensus protocols (but that is a different topic) but here both Ned and Dan sounded like serious guys trying to build a solid system (not at all like the scammers Tone Vays implicitly held them to be, through the tone of his voice). From the explanation (which I'll probably have to listen again to), the system Ned and Dan built resembles representative democracy where the holders of Steem Power vote to elect "witnesses" (like members of a Steemit parliament) that then work (somehow) to secure the blockchain.
I have a lot more work to do to understand in detail how this all process works, but it looks seriously hard, so let our eyes and brain relax for a second ...
... with a completely unrelated picture whose only purpose is to reboot and recharge the reader's concentration.
Which kinda' neatly brings me to the next topic.
As I said above, I have discovered that my insightful articles, into which I had put quite a bit of reflection and writing effort where not gathering either upvotes nor views nor STEEM. I could have given up like I've seen many doing (by browsing the steemd blockchain).
Persevering (perseverance is key, as very often in life, which could be a nice take-away lesson) led me to first discover a user going by @etcmike whose blog you can see here and whose blockchain profile you can see here. He was extremly helpful and explained a lot of little details without which one cannot make sense of how it all works. And he answered a lot of questions and demonstrated a number of things.
Thanks to him, I realized that it was not smart to keep my STEEM on an exchange or in a cold wallet if I didn't want to trade it actively. In the fiat monetary system, it was akin to staying in cash accruing 0% interest. And a special kind of cash at that, a lot less useful than the fiat money. Imagine keeping at home a stash of Peruvian "Sols" (the national currency of Peru)
Of course they could appreciate against the euro if Peru's economy does well and you could also use them when you travel to Peru ... which only happens so often for someone living in Europe ...
What I wanted to do in turn, was to invest those STEEM in the platform as "equity" if I believed in the whole enterprise (or sell the STEEM outright if I did not believe ...) And that "equity" was STEEM POWER. There is a third quasi financial instrument, the SBD which i've seen compared to short-term commercial notes but I still have to understand how they work.
What I've discovered next was thanks to another user, @modemser, who explained me a number of smart tricks akin to the "financial engineering" we see in the world of fiat currency. My impression is that, on the path toward a platform that encourages the production and rewards quality content we are presently at the stage where the financial plumbing is being built. This happens behind a thin veil of legitimacy, often conferred by using mostly irrelevant (yet pleasant to behold) pictures such as this one
Lay back and let the colours and reflections sooth your neurons. Then think, and visualise the path ahead....
Then Steem on!