Block.one, the company behind EOS development, has announced Voice.com. Dan has been hyping "Steem 2.0" for an eternity now. This is it.
How is it? No idea, mate. Thus far, we have a teaser at best. That said, it does give us some indications that Dan isn't going to make the same mistakes he did with Steem again. I appreciate that a focus is on solving much of Steem's problems:
Eliminating the stake-weighted system. To put it simply, every last bit of Steem's problems stems from this system. Some have come to accept it as a "necessarily evil", but it's just pure evil. Ned realised that, and started working on an SMT + Oracle + democratic voting system. I'm skeptical that the Oracle system was ever going to scale. Voice has an altogether different solution, with some way to verify each user as an individual. They don't say how they'll do it, but knowing Dan, the odds are on it being some overtly complicated method that'll lose all mainstream audience in the process. Some rumours suggest it'll use WebAuthn. Either way, like both Ned and Dan, I've come to accept that identity verification is a necessary step to blockchain-base social networking, even if there's significant friction.
Eliminating regressive economics. Steem's other fundamental issue is the ninja-mine that led to rampant inequality. Whilst inequality decreased for the first year or so as the initial miners sold and moved on, things are now trending back in the wrong direction, and it'll always be far worse than the most centralized autocracies today (i.e. Brunei). Added with the stake-weighted abomination, this has meant that the rich are incentivized to abuse the system and get richer.
Voice plans to solve this by holding no ICOs, no ninja mines, and distributing tokens only for social media activity. What a concept! (Just kidding, it's the bleeding obvious.)
There's one potential drawback to this approach - hyperinflation. But I'll reserve any further comments till the economics of token distributions is revealed.
Gamification. In short, turning social media into a pay-to-win system. Or, bidding for advertising, put another way. I'm really impressed with this as a sustainable demand driver. Unlike bidbotting, there's a cost to advertising yourself; but like bidbotting, there's an addictive game to play. It's not gambling either, because if you lose, you get your tokens back plus more. I can't stress how important this is - it's going to decide whether Voice has sustainable economics or not.
Addendum: I should also point out that, crucially, there's no conflict of interest between investors and content creators like we have on Steem. Everyone is selling or buying attention of some kind, and there's no other way of profiteering.
Social media comes of age. A month ago, I had written about Why blockchain social?. My conclusion was that stuff like Steem was a puerile attempt at it, whereas really, the primary benefit was tokenisation, which is something Voice seems to pursue as seen above.
You'll note that there's no mention of "decentralisation" or "censorship-resistance". Whilst a tiny, tiny niche of decentalisation purists are fawning over these buzzwords, the mainstream sees the lack of moderation as an invitation to trolls, hateful people, and other illegal content running rampant. Reading between Dan's lines, it's pretty clear there's going to be some form of moderation or dispute resolution system on Voice.
There's other stuff that's more in tune with the times, i.e. focusing on mobile, microblogging, etc.
Whether any of this works, remains to be seen.
What about Steem? Steem isn't going away anytime soon, but with the coming of Voice, it definitely has an existential identity crisis it needs to resolve. Based on the limited information we have, Steem either has to double down on catering to a tiny niche, or execute a clean slate overhaul to compete with Voice. In its current form, Steem is undoubtedly the more "pure" decentralized system, while Voice is attempting to be an actual social network.
My bias is that I want a social network, and thus, Voice is attempting to cater to my demands. I wish Steem would too, but based on the witnesses' and Steemit Inc's actions thus far, it doesn't seem like anyone wants to build a social network here; but rather a decentralized market of content even if anti-social. That's fine, and I'm sure Steem can carve out its own niche.
PS: I was being unfair. SMTs + Oracles + democratic voting is definitely an attempt at being a less anti-social network, but it seems to be low on the priority list now.
TL;DR: I'm pleasantly surprised to see Voice attempt to address most of Steem's problems and be an actual social network, but I remain sceptical of its efficacy till I see it in action.
Disclaimer: I hold a significant amount of STEEM tokens. I hold zero EOS tokens.