Snippets made the rounds on Steemit as users tried to discern a pattern from the noise after news broke Monday evening that Global Blockchain Technologies and Steemit Inc. will enter a non-binding agreement worth $20 million. The cash will establish the "Steem Fund" (for some informed speculation, see this thread on this first-alert post by @veronoi; and this concise summary by @jrcornel). That's the headline, but I believe the takeaway should signify more.
We can now breathe easy: Social Media Tokens (SMTs) are so much of a given, being as essential as they are to long-term engineering soundness of—as they scale up—both the blockchain and platform, that I would argue we should turn our attention to Oracles. This influx of capital is the clearest signal yet that Steemit is poised to become the supreme social media clearinghouse of user- and media-generated content. Following the news, stakeholders have more reason to hold faith that cross-platform interests will enable SMTs' roll out across the web. SMTs can take a backseat to much larger conceptual issues with Steemit like Oracles—which, if successful, will be an abstract machine that merges the historical categories of experience and platform.
Maybe. I don't know, but we should be adding value to the blockchain by—as adopters before the storm—thinking through this.
Confidence is a nice thing to take home, particularly for the committed Steemit user, but the influx of capital into the incubation of Steemit development matters beyond traditional metrics of "confidence" in a social media company or a cryptocurrency, both of which Steemit and its blockchain are. What matters is a much broader picture, one wherein cross-platform protocols are emerging as a way to monetize homeostasis within information systems, and at a time wherein information systems are replacing traditional models of money markets and value. Derivative—in effect of, but functioning as a cause as well—of this calculus in this joint venture is a shared interest of both parties to integrate all corners of the Internet (and more): Tokenize, or evaporate into cyberspace.
By Meme and Bit, Aligning Incentives Are Tokenizing
Global Blockchain Technologies Corp. CEO Rik Willard, quoted in International Business Times, outlined these historical stakes—what we can survey as a critical turning point in social media, cryptocurrency, and information networks, as well as the attention economy itself—in terms that should comfort Steemit wallet holders:
"We're proud to be the first publically traded company to make a significant investment in the Steem ecosystem. No current open source and public blockchain protocol is more mature, scalable, and as rapid as Steem."
There is an ontology at work here more than an epistemology, the traditional haunt of knowledge upon which monetary theory purports to stomp. The business side and conceptual angles of the experiment Steemit (which it is and has always been) began to align over the last few months, beyond the ecosystem I'm posting within. A story emerged that synergized, traversing several lines of capital flows, around one common interest the past year: tokenization of the economy, and not limited to social media, but implemented through the new kind of social media/blockchain hybrid that I am transmitting these words through right now. Six days ago, @ned posted “The SMT Oracles whitepaper.. call for academics, modelers and deep thinkers. OK, I’m just a minnow speculating here, but the timing of such a request—made by @ned on a deadline himself, as he finishes up the latest whitepaper—suggests that perhaps SMTs, already a done deal for the future, should now be put into context in a much broader picture about the information age itself. SMTs are native to the Steem blockchain, and Ned Scott hinted at the secondary (worry-wise, not as a feat of development), technical role of SMTs to broader and more abstract horizons—clustering SMTs through Oracles, for example.
What makes Steemit unique, of course, is its sole status as a social media platform built atop a cryptocurrency blockchain, monetizing “content.” Now that term seems antiquated, in the way it relies upon traditional notions of centralized interfaces. In a tokenized economy, any bit of digital information (i.e. information of high fidelity) that can be replicated and transmitted across a network will be; in the Steem blockchain and on Steemit, this process is accelerated by a non-representational monetary schema wherein “proof-of-brain” is the central processor of value, supplanting the mining of value through “proof-of-work". The blockchain protocol/platform hybrid assumes intelligence is not the capacity to be rational, but processual. The assumption behind SMTs is not that the more people come in, the more the Steemit ecosystem will stabilize content-wise, but that there is no content distinct from the replication of the data itself—only tokens of information instilled with value, which is distilled from more memetic principles of information in markets. The meme economy has arrived, and Oracles will be the vessel of distribution—at least that's the bet.
And then we have the trail leading back to Global Blockchain Technologies, by way of investor Jeff Pulver, who advises the Company. Pulver founded the Monage Money Summit, which the GBT sponsored this year, where the focus of the meeting was the token economy’s future. In October, GBT was “considering” several tokens, one of which was Steem. The big news is not just the influx of capital. The Pulver-Monage-GBT connection, hints of which have been scattered in the financial press, is what bodes well for the potential of the Steem blockchain to become a sort of global clearinghouse for tokens, online and not. Not just digital tokenization, but global tokenization.
"Quite simply, blockchains and cryptocurrency tokens are a quantum leap in the evolution of marketplaces, even transforming various forms of social media and communications networks which were once unmonetizable."
It is not merely the opening up of a new arena—social media—to tokenization beyond advertisement, attracting the cash, but that the platform is already natively built for tokenization, and one implemented upon a governance and monetary (blockchain) protocol that foregrounds diagramming information, not representing it. Pulver also gestures towards the horizon of information theory and its application, which should have its goal, in infrastructural and structural terms, the stalling of information entropy in systems. This throttling is increasingly the same act with tokenization on either a social media platform or a blockchain— and with Steemit, both.
"With new business models driven by token economics, combined with AI, these technologies will be the driving force for a continuing Internet revolution. Companies such as Global Blockchain are defining this future. We are thrilled to have them join us as part of our combined commitment to growing the blockchain ecosystem.”
Pulver’s nod at AI reveals the strength of Steem now, as AI increases information entropy, as it already has beyond any reasonable doubt on traditional centralized social media. Centralized platforms cannot do this work; only memetic evolution can, bringing SBD closer to a truly memetic currency.
Multiverse Interiors, by vidiom
The Oracles will suture a vector of value oscillation into the current ecosystem, constricting the bandwidth of certain accounts (think weak “weak AI” bots in the worst case). My hope is that this will ease information entropy within the environments built upon the steem blockchain, including Steemit. They'll need such processing hubs added as another layer to interfaces' circuits of interaction between users—also the pathways for their memes, their channels of mining steem—as more information enters their relatively closed social ecosystems, in the form of new users and derivative entities, from posts to communities.
This should come as a great relief to Steemit users worried about how the blockchain feels at times when using the Steemit platform. Credibility, as @stellabelle urged recently on Youtube, is one of the critical issues affecting the blockchain's development in terms of drawing in new users, and perhaps retention of current ones.
I have been here for just a bit, but I have reasonable comfort looking at the broader contours emerging, as new ground is tread by Steemit—despite most of the content on the ß platform, frankly. There is some great content here, but I've found it exploring the developer tools and exploring the apps for the most part.
We must understand this will take time, in how all of the bits coagulate, gelling together to form an unprecedented abstract object—a memeplex, perhaps—that will show new faces of itself at every change in scale. This reveal will happen "up" and "across" the Internet, "online" and in "the real world" as well, augmenting the material terms to which that last binary references. It's is because the value circulates in the blockchain not by representing or modeling it, but diagramming it. The platform’s abstract machinery—the ways this particular blockchain binds monetary value and governance to digital objects, distributing information through a circuitry of content producers—has already changed the way avid users think about monetizing content, blowing up assumptions about what social media platforms even are. The question is a "where" and not a "what" when defending the credibility of Steemit. The content producer is more than that here, function as meme processors, acting within the ecosystem—this assemblage of affective nodes—in a manner ideally correspondent to their "proof-of-brain," which is their literal bandwidth and monetary value "on the blockchain."
Unlike traditional, centralized platforms' "connecting" of users through an interface that is a skeuomorph of the printed page (it's in the name, Facebook), in a distributed network any and all "bits" of information that can be replicated here will be, and with variation. The blockchain takes evolution—not preservation of static forms of expression—as a given, positioning it as always virtually ready to scale, suturing that algorithmic change to our virtual wallets. Algorithims dictate that if there is transmission and variation of information, there must be change in the aggregate—not maybe. The question is not one of describing to outsiders "what" Steemit is, but "where" we are relative to it, this hyperreal, decentralized, abstract object.
Steemit is where writing, visuals, audio, as well as any other bit of information or action—or even whole programs—can deliver packages of serialized (or not) and hyperlinked objects: memes, units of information that can be replicated and put in our wallets. This is a memes and not a means economy, one wherein any meme can attach to the blockchain like a crustacean. Though it sounds a little hyperbolic, I’d confidently argue that there is an oceanic feeling here as we hedge our bets on content and the platform’s architecture (at least on my feed, particularly after a wave of posts from Steemfest crashed ashore).
Where in the interference patterns are we floating and evolving our rewards pool? Where and when in the ripple of the blockchain algorithm will we land? I hope not chaos, but tonight I'm doubting it will be entropy that prevails as it has elsewhere, even if it's a little loud in here right now.