This is the platform of the future. Steemit is what we've been waiting for.
What a week. I see my recent interview with @benleemusic has taken Steemit by storm, racking up over $500 in up votes. A huge win for Ben but also for Steemians as a whole, while we continue to promote the platform to our respective audiences and recruit more independent journalists and musicians to the community, bringing their followers with them!
The conversation I had with him was really significant for a number of reasons, even beyond just the fact that we are combining forces to evangelise the use of the platform. We got into the significance of Steemit technology for content creators, but more than that - we talked about the potential for Steemit to defeat the mechanisms of state control and propel humanity as a whole towards progressive change.
While lots of people love viewing our messages in video format, I wanted to take this opportunity to slow it down to a text format, highlight some of the really key points made in the interview and let it sink in for people just how powerful this platform really is.
So I am taking the time to transcribe the entire interview for you below and will put in bold and italics the quotes that really resonate with me, and hopefully will for you all too.
Thanks so much for your enduring support of myself, and Ben, and Steemit. I deeply appreciate it.
TRANSCRIPT: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM. INTERVIEW WITH BEN LEE AND SUZIE DAWSON
Ben: Hey everyone, I am Ben Lee and I'm doing this little video webinar with Suzie Dawson. I particularly invited her to come and chat because I'm so interested in the way that journalism is being effected - the possibilities - by blockchain technology and particularly Steemit. And also I'm just getting a sense from reading some of the different journalists on Steemit about the various problems that people are bumping into on Facebook or other platforms so I just wanted to kind of educate myself and learn a little bit and hopefully share with you guys. So Suzie, thank you so much for chatting with me!
Suzie: Thank you! Sorry it took 25 years since I first heard your music! (laughs)
Ben: (laughs) That's alright! Hey blockchain didn't exist then so what would we have discussed. So just for people unfamiliar with you and all the amazing things you've done, do you want to give a little rundown on who you are and why you know so much about this particular area that we're talking about?
Suzie: OK. I definitely consider myself a novice where Steemit is concerned but hi guys, my name is Suzie, I'm a journalist and an activist and I'm the Leader of the Internet Party of New Zealand, which is a very much internet and blockchain interested and focused Party from New Zealand founded by the tech entrepreneur Kim Dotcom in 2014. I had a really good friend of mine who is an independent journalist try to convince me to join Steemit about a year ago and I have people approach me about different platforms all the time and I had a quick look at it but it didn't seem like it really had the user base or the level of uptake that is has now, back then. And instead of realising that that is exactly why I should have got in at the ground floor back then, it took me right through until this year and the continued pestering of my friend to make me realise that hey, this really is the platform of the future. And it's only in the last couple of months as the censorship has really ramped up on all of the traditional platforms that I realised that this platform, Steemit, is what we've been waiting for. It's a way for us to engage with our audience and earn money to do so. Without having to constantly beg our audience for donations, which is what all of independent media have been having to do. We've been having to constantly beg our audiences to support us but with Steemit, they can support us just by clicking and engaging with our content. Which is in itself quite revolutionary.
Ben: OK so going back a step, you know, I'm very connected to music and the arts and entertainment, I understand the implications of all this there, but can you talk a bit - you know I'm just as guilty as anybody of consuming whatever media I am fed so can you sort of give us a little rundown on the way that these political or corporate agendas affect the media that we consume because that's something I don't know that much about. I'm trying to learn a little more about it and I think its what people are interested in.
Suzie: The first thing I would talk about is from an activism perspective actually, because coming out of the Occupy movement in New Zealand, the GCSB movement and the TPPANoWay movement, all of which I was involved in, we would quite often find that we would post our event materials, we would tell people on Facebook that there's an action at 2pm today, and our posts would disappear into this vacuum and then we would get back from the action that we'd posted about and our posts would miraculously appear. So there has been very definite interference with information posted by activists. Steemit, posting to the blockchain, prevents that from happening. It makes it impossible for them to alter or withhold your information at the time that you need it to be out there. As soon as you post it, it's there, everyone can see it, its transparent, its indelible, it's not going anywhere. So from an activism perspective, Steemit is extremely powerful, extremely powerful. Because it preserves the integrity of your data.
Ben: So just before we move on, I have a question about that. Like, logistically how is that possible? How can a social media platform - are they targeting keywords? Obviously they're not having people monitoring every post, how could a social media platform interfere with certain types of activism?
Suzie: Well -
Ben: I guess I've opened a can of worms!
Suzie: It's a big kettle of fish but we'll go there. If the program is a PRISM partner, for example Facebook, then various law enforcement agencies have essentially a backdoor to that database. We have to remember, every social media platform is a database and any database administrator who has access to that can modify or edit or delete or withhold or stage - as we would say in the IT world - the data that is in that database.
They can say, this will be viewable to the public at 2pm or at 4pm, or they can hold it or delete it or whatever, edit it. They can manipulate the data. But on the blockchain, that data is not being manipulated. From the point that it is posted, it is like an indelible impression. And it's transparent, which means it can be accessed by anyone, it becomes public information and any edit that is made to that data is then logged, so you can see this is what was posted, this is the edits that were made to that post, its just completely about the integrity of the data is the way that I would describe it, it preserves the integrity of the data.
From a journalist's perspective, we are seeing shadow banning of domains where software like Facebook or other web services will prevent users from seeing - they will limit the impressions, the number of impressions that a domain can receive which means how many people's machines it can appear on, literally how many people's computers can access the information. We've seen timeline manipulation, particularly on Twitter. It used to be that your timelines were in a time linear order and the people that you follow, you will see their posts in the order that they were made. But Twitter and Facebook discovered that there was a lot of money to be made in controlling what was on your timeline and what appeared at the top and what appeared at the bottom and what didn't appear at all. And these are all problems that are completely solved by Steemit.
Ben: Wow. And so just to be clear we're not speaking about a particular political agenda, it's more just any radical media would be - like it's not a Republican or a Democratic agenda that we're talking about, right? It's more of a corporate agenda?
Suzie: So something really interesting for you, something that I've been studying for the last few years and that I've been subjected to, is something called fusion centres in America. Fusion centres are like a hub, not just for law enforcement agencies but also the private intelligence agencies and also the civic infrastructure. So everyone from the town mayor to the police station down the road to the bank on the corner in the town square that there might be a protest at. This is like an information hub and these fusion centres are very much involved in social media manipulation and in controlling this type of information. So there is this whole post-9/11 War on Terror world, infrastructure that has been set up to monitor our information live and to manipulate our information. And there is a whole bunch of legislation that has been passed particularly in Western countries around the world to facilitate them doing this. And they equate some types of information activism - they treat it as if it's terrorism. Even though its Suzie in the suburbs in Auckland organising an action to free Schapelle Corby in Australia for example, we get treated as if we are some crazy terrorist organisation and those counter-terror resources are used against us. But in studying the fusion centres there's been some really interesting disclosures in the States and one of the disclosures is that one of the fusion centres was spying on pro-life activists AND pro-choice activists. So this is where you have two groups of citizens that are on complete opposite sides of an issue, one pro-abortion and one anti-abortion, and both of those groups were being monitored, surveilled, having their data manipulated and suppressed by these fusion centres.
Ben: So the problem is they're radicalised and they want to challenge that
Suzie: Absolutely. So what these intelligence agencies are actually trying to do is stop any change. Whether it's left-wing change or right-wing change. They exist to maintain the status quo. So anything that looks like it could destabilise the status quo is what they will go after regardless of which side of an ideological issue you are on.
Ben: Wow, that's fascinating..
Suzie: It's dangerous. It's dangerous to human progress. Because think about the Suffragettes. This is exactly the type of thing that would have been used against them. So we've just yesterday had the centenary for the Suffragette movement. And those women, they were beaten in the streets, they were arrested, they were vilified, they were prosecuted, they were divorced! But they made a very important social change which we are still celebrating 100 years later. So what this system of control is doing is it is suppressing the ability of humans to make progressive change in our society and that's why it is so dangerous and why it is so wrong.
Ben: And so can you tell me just a little bit - you've shared a little bit - you've obviously brought a really large contingent of alternative media journalists over to Steemit and I'd love to hear just a little bit about your vision, what you've shared with them, why it's been so successful, the types of content that people are interested in creating... you're really sharing a vision for the future of journalism so I just was curious for how you see this unfolding?
Suzie: I think I was building on the work that some other really awesome people have been doing, like we know people like Keiser Report were already on Steemit and that's a fantastic show if you're interested in blockchain technology or Bitcoin, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert, their show is on RT and it's now available on Steemit. H.A. Goodman was already there, The Outer Light, who is a really cool, awesome truther that I love in New Zealand has a very popular show and he publishes on Steemit. But once I got involved and I realised that this had the potential to provide income to a class of citizen that has any income opportunity actively suppressed. So if you're an independent journalist you just expect that you're going to broke, destitute, and this is potentially an end to that. The types of money that people are already making is sufficient to put bread on the table, is sufficient to keep the lights on. That in itself is extremely powerful. For a group of people who is used to resource depletion to actually be able to provide for themselves is a really big deal. So what I did, is I realised that if we want to start this snowball effect and get the masses onto Steemit that we needed to go after people who had large established audiences on the legacy platforms. So people like a friend of mine Lee Camp from RT, from Redacted Tonight, he has whatever half a million or a quarter of a million of Facebook subscribers, a really large dedicated following, but his content was not accessible anymore through Facebook. These people with half a million Facebook followings and they are lucky if they get 6 likes on a post because people simply aren't seeing the content. So I brought him over, I brought Elizabeth Lea Vos from Disobedient Media over, who is my colleague from my DecipherYou series studying the Snowden documents. She is an amazing, amazing journalist who has been cited by some huge platforms like The Nation in the last year and done some really important work. So both Elizabeth as an individual and Disobedient Media as a platform came over. And I also brought Caitlin Johnstone who is a fantastic Australian journalist. If you follow Julian Assange or WikiLeak's timeline then you would definitely have come across her work because she is pretty regularly shared by them. She is an opinion writer from Aussie and she is very on the button with hot topic issues. I would describe her writing as ruthless but its ruthless in the cause of peace. She's an antiwar activist so its always trying to protect other people and society as a whole so I absolutely love her work. And we've just continued to reach out and bring as many people on board as we could. So it seems to be having an effect already but I think where we are in 3 months, in 6 months or in 12 months will be even much further beyond where we are right now.
Ben: I agree. So another thing I just wanted to address, its something you'd brought up in a separate conversation we'd had was about some of people's concerns about Steemit and not understanding the financial aspect, feeling like there was a trick involved or that they were gonna... I was just wondered how you're dealing with people that really have no experience in cryptocurrency or blockchain and helping them understand the fundamentals of the financial aspect of it. Does that make sense?
Suzie: Yeah, sure. I was just thinking, it's really interesting for me, I've spent a lot of time in previous years debunking smears against whistleblowers, truth tellers, independent journalists, so I'm forever studying the narratives that come out to discredit someone who is doing something good. And I'm already starting to see with Steemit what the narratives are going to be that are used to smear Steemit. If you're going to create a platform that is the Facebook killer, you can guarantee that there is going to be some narratives that come out to smear you because there are some billionaires that have a vested interest in the status quo that will not be happy to see hundreds of thousands or millions of users flocking to Steemit. So far, all I've come across is that people are calling it a pyramid scheme, they're suggesting that you actually won't get paid out, or they're suggesting that this is all to enrich a few individuals at the top and the masses will lose out in the end. To that I would say a few things. First of all, Facebook IS a system that enriches a few individuals at the top. So even if all we got out of Steemit was transparent posting and no censorship, that would be a massive improvement on where we are at stuck with Facebook and Twitter and Google and You Tube. So even if that were true, which it isn't, even if it were true that it was just enriching a few individuals at the top, as far as I can see that's what we have already have anyway with the legacy platforms. Secondly, there is actually no financial requirement to invest in Steemit. So you can choose to invest in it just like you can choose to invest in any cryptocurrency, or in any stock or investment platform whatsoever.
Ben: Also you can buy stock in Facebook.
Suzie: Correct. Then if Steemit takes over and everyone leaves Facebook then your stock is going to go through the floor and you're going to lose money, and that is just the nature of investment. It's not something that is particular to Steemit. That risk is associated with any investment. So as far as I can see, Steemit is no more risky than any other investment in any other social media platform but it has huge benefits in the form of the transparency, lack of censorship, ability to... I mean, on Steemit, my timeline contains only the work of the people that I follow. No ads, no other junk. There's no AI algorithm deciding that I should see Steemit posts about toasters on my timeline or whatever else and inserting that there. It's native, unadulterated content of my choosing. And that's extremely powerful.
Ben: How do we know though that that will remain that way?
Suzie: Well we don't. Simply, we don't. Twitter used to have that. Facebook used to have that. Steemit - well I guess from an architectural perspective, I could put you in touch with someone who knows a lot more about the back-end of Steemit than I do. I think it would be against their ethos. The hundred witnesses that form the control mechanism for Steemit are mostly crypto-anarchists from my understanding -
Ben: Yeah I've noticed that!
Suzie: Yeah, and are very unlikely to be selling us out. One of the discussions I had was that they already have multiple mirrors for the platform up so if the Steemit domain goes down it's accessible from multiple other domains already but also it's open source and if the system goes down they can simply reboot it elsewhere and it will always exist in its form. It can't be taken down in the way that a traditional website can. Interestingly, I recently wrote an article about the huge Dutch-Russia hacking scandal and for the first time I actually wrote directly onto Steemit and used the Steemit domain to circulate it around the world and it was huge in Europe, it got to number one and beat out some mainstream media articles. And I knew for the first time in years that my article wasn't going to go down. My domain wasn't going to go down. My hosting company wasn't going to pull the plug. I didn't have to worry about people clicking on my link and not being able to view it. I knew with 100% certainty that everybody would be able to consume the content that I was circulating. And for me that was a really big deal. Because historically when I've written pieces that are politically significant, my hosting company has mysteriously pulled the plug, my domains have gone down, people haven't been able to access my content, these are issues that I've faced for years and Steemit took care of that in one fell swoop. Which has motivated me to continue publishing directly on the platform, rather than my own blogs, even though my own blogs have large followings that I've built up over years. The integrity of Steemit is sufficient to incentivise me to publish directly on the platform and that's another really powerful aspect of what it provides to independent journalists.
Ben: Amazing. Well I really want to thank you for reaching out to me on Steemit. I feel like this site - you know sometimes you get drawn to something and you just get a really positive hit on it, and you're like oh I want to get involved in this, then the layers start unfolding and you realise, whoa... this is for me, coming from a music, social media perspective, deepening into that, seeing artists, songwriters, supporting their families with Steemit earnings and going deeper into the side of how radical this is for the world of alternative journalism. I feel so grateful to be connected to everyone in this community and thank you for all the work you're doing connecting people and sharing this.
Suzie: Thank you for what you're doing, you're just absolutely amazing. I'd just leave you with one thought and that's that Steemit can change the world of individual people at a financial level but with the discussion we've just had about the mechanisms of social control that are being used to inhibit social progress around the world, this platform could actually help to empower, literally, humanity as a whole rather than just us as individuals. So it's pretty incredible for that reason.
Ben: Amazing. Thank you so much. If you're not on Steemit already, it's free, it takes about a week for them to approve your account but you join up at Steemit.com, you can find me on there, @benleemusic, Suzie your tag is @suzi3d.. follow us both, we're both posting daily content, we'd love to follow you back and see what you're posting too. Come be a part of this amazing experiment. Thank you Suzie!
Suzie: Thank you so much for having me!
Transcription By Suzie Dawson
Official Website: Suzi3d.com
Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!