Creative experiments can never really be called failures - In failing they always produce something of value.
(Quit this if you are in a hurry)
For as long as I have been on Steemit (which is very close to three years now) there has been an endless stream of both unfounded and well founded criticism of the network itself, mainly communicated via Steemit posts. Each such post has had rebukes both in the comment section and in other posts, and no matter how angry, destructive or bitter people have been these posts... these meta-posts have been a valuable part of the shaping of this place. Even in the euphoric times when the Steem was climbing voices have criticised what they saw as inequality, injustice or simply inefficiency.
In a couple of days there will be a new hardfork with new little adjustments that, as far as I can see, is making it harder for the small accounts. But all in all it is just in line with all the rest that has been happening on Steemit for years now, so I am mostly just going to ignore it, and will be trying to give my more general thoughts on the last three years here.
Steemit a failed experiment
(No worry I will not leave just yet)
For a long time the logo in the upper left corner said Steemit (beta) - now when the network has shrunk to only the fraction of what it was and all the top voters of the trending posts are called Upmewhale , Smartsteem and Therising the beta has been removed - we are now beyond beta - this is it!
So in that spirit I will list some of the things I found was working admirably in the Steemit technology and some of the things where it failed miserably.
Let's take the good things first:
The problem for any kind of currency is distribution. Having a fixed amount will not only stall the spreading of the coins, but also keep the wealth in the hands of the same people. By printing new money, the original owners' share will devalue and the use of the currency will grow faster. It is also a way to diminish too rapid growth in value, and it means greater equality among the people using the currency - at least as long as the distribution system is efficient and fair.
So distribution is next.
Distribution via social media
Many Crypto currencies have had an interesting problem: How do we spread the first coins? I realised this when making some graphic for the Nano project. They used faucet to get the money in circulation. The Nano project is a fascinating idea, demonstrating techniques that could be a way to make cryptocurrencies fast, free and energy efficient. But the distribution is constipated - would you sell a coin that might be worth the amount 1000 times?
Steemit was cleverly connected to one of the things that right now represents a lot of value in the minds of people all over the globe: internet communication: consider the wealth of Facebook and Google. The fact that writing a blogpost actually takes some skill and working time and that both these thing traditionally represents value the social media as a faucet was a brilliant idea. People earned the money, and everybody could participate!
But as an extra asset: the social media did not only create a brilliant way to add value to and spread the currency, it created something much more valuable: a cultural community.
Currencies are traditionally centred around already existing powerful entities - empires, states, trading routes - and for a reason. Money is never something in itself, it grows out of necessity. So what happened when you make a currency out of the blue? Well, bitcoin showed us that the underground culture of hacker revolutinaries was able to rally their diminutive culture around this new kind of money. Steemit did even better. It took in the things that everybody could relate to: art, life experience, sports, begging... and investing.
The next step would be when we could actually trade some of this. Buy things from each other! That would be a great next step. Unfortunately it never really happened.
So now I have come to what I think was the problems with Steem and Steemit, and in my opinion it all comes from not understanding the worth of the cultural community.
Justice and power
Every time this discussion is up someone says: You are not entitled to get any money for your blogging. Facebook, Google, Twitter, Reedit cash in without giving you anything. Steem can pay something instead of nothing. This is of course completely true. Anyone who has made art knows that the stupid pop song will earn 1000 times as much as the avant garde jazz tune. But it is also true that people in general know a piece of shit from a piece of work (hehe). This is not black and white of course, but it is a gradient where 99.9% of people can see when we go into the black.
These days on Steemit the people who earn the largest share of Steem does not deserve them. Circumventing a system that promised that the community would reward your work and talent, with bidbots and selfvoting is also to devalue that system. The inflation system still works, but the distribution principles and the cultural community is lost. And when I say lost I mean lost, because contrary to popular libertarian belief, justice is as important as money in a human society. Steemit was always hindered by its image as a fraudulent ponzi scheme, but it was also an actual community that kept giving it real value and validity. As long as the corruption was at a manageable level this was working, but in the end people get tired of seeing injustice. A falling price on Steem is of course not helping, but the fact that I and many other still posts is a sign how strong the community actually was.
Police, curators and moderators
One of the things that amused me most back when Steemit was growing into a community was the emergence of statelike structures. As I am good at recognising drawing styles and was good at reverse image searches and looking for signatures, I participated in revealing plagiarists for what was later to be known as Steemcleaners. It was possible because some fine and honourable community members (with enough SP to actually make it possible) took it on themselves to create this vigilante police force. @pfunk for one. Curating guilds like @Curie is another example.
The strange thing is that they had to invent their own modus operandi. Reports was published as posts, coordination was happening on Steemit chat etc. This reveals something that Steemit lacked. Tools for community work and democratic tools for limiting abuse.
The principles behind Steemit are simple, and I think that they for that reason have taught me a good deal about how human societies work. When violence is not a possibility, money is next in line as the primary power, and by applying almost no counter-measures to power abuse Steemit has ended as a place where it is hard to see any future for the community.
To be frank I was always here for the money. I am an artist and have been looking for a system where I could sell my works or get donations for my CC content. I am still looking, but I need to be able to trust the system. I know enough math to see where the money will be going in the future, and the exponential growth of SP in some accounts makes Steemit less interesting than fiat.
Much can be said against democracy, but it does give a certain security against power in the wrong hands and I would wish that a real democracy had been part of the technology. Voting for witnesses shows that voting can be done even if it in this version isn't really democracy.
As I wrote above I am not planning to leave Steemit, but I am pretty sure that Steemit will not be able to turn things around, and I actually think that it is because democracy and reputation never really were a priority. I know that none of this is a simple matter, and maybe the Creative coin or other of the new Steem Engine things will actually work? The tech is never the sole thing to blame. No matter, as I wrote in the beginning: Creative experiments can never really be called failures - In failing they always produce something of value.
That goes for the Steemit network too.
I will keep posting here on Steemit because I really like the people I have meet here, and because I am making free art anyway. I will also try to get people to get people to participate in the Kickstarter I am making with the first album of Phill from GCHQ