When the internet took its big leap into version 2.0, otherwise known as the ‘Participative’ or ‘Social Web’, a lot of new sectors were born. The evolution and growth of social media has created an entirely new subclass of earner, known as the content creator.
This new profession is rapidly growing and expanding to different platforms, markets, and niche’s, but it is also suffering growing pains, especially when it comes to monetisation.
Content creation is a form of production that is entirely self-adjudicated, that is to say, it is mostly up to the individual, who put themselves out there, what they want to produce content on. It has led to a rich amalgamation of different topics being explored to a wide audience that if almost entirely catered for.
“The content creation revolution starting with the availability of simple, cheap, and relatively high-quality means of producing video and audio, coupled with the decimation of the friction involved in the distribution of information on the net, made for a new ‘content creator’ class,” explains Dor Konforty, CEO and founder of HyperSpace, a blockchain-based content creation platform. “With our economy being nowhere near prepared for this new class, creators suffer with regards to their ability to properly support themselves, to contribute to the economy as equal participants in it, and to reap the rewards of their contributors.”
However, there are also limitations as to where this content can reach, and it is these limits, and the associated censorship, that is starting to irk content creators.
As part of the deal, content creators create, but they then seek platforms to broadcast; these include places like YouTube, but more and more, we’re starting to see direct monetisation platforms come forward, such as Patreon.
Like any form of work, it can only be driven forward if made viable, and thus, these platforms that offer monetisation are a lifeline to content creators. But on the other side of things, in the social Web 2.0, audiences, as well as creators, are demanding unlimited freedom to produce their work.
This is problematic though as a lot of these centralised platforms have agendas they seek to serve, as well as rules and controls that can be seen as quite stifling in a world that is increasingly becoming more open-minded and free-spirited.
A bubbling undercurrent
With this content creation sector still being relatively new, and the platforms hosting them equally so, there is still much feeling out to be done, but already we are seeing an undercurrent of dissatisfaction starting to gather.
The owner of one of the top-grossing accounts on Patreon, the author and podcaster Sam Harris, said he deleted his account and accused the crowdfunding website of exhibiting “political bias” when it banned several accounts of users on the conservative fringe, it was reported.
Harris announced this to his over 1 million Twitter followers in December last year.
“As many of you know, the crowdfunding site Patreon has banned several prominent content creators from its platform,” Harris said. “While the company insists that each was in violation of its terms of service, these recent expulsions seem more readily explained by political bias. Although I don’t share the politics of the banned members, I consider it no longer tenable to expose any part of my podcast funding to the whims of Patreon’s ‘Trust and Safety’ committee.”
It is a difficult one to come to grips with as Patreon maintained that these banned members were associated with hate groups, and thus it is their duty not to allow those types of people to use their platform for such an agenda.
However, because of the difficulty in directly correlating a person to a particular faction of viewpoint, it becomes a decision made based on an interpretation, and in this case from a centralised body, such as Patreon.
This kind of censorship has, on the other extreme, led to Jordan Peterson, a Canadian professor who frequently rails against political correctness on YouTube, saying he’s planning to launch an alternative to the crowdfunding platform Patreon.
“I’ve been working on a system to allow authors and other people who engage publicly on intellectual issues to interact more effectively with their readers and viewers and listeners,” Peterson said. “What we’re going to try and do as fast as we possibly can is to set this system up on a subscriber model that’s analogous to Patreon. It will have a bunch of additional features, which I don’t want to talk about right now, and I don’t want to overpromise because the system is new.”
Already alternative available
There is a need for platforms that allow content creators much more freedom and scope in what they are posting, but at the same time, there also needs to be some accountability. The thing is, having accountability coming from a centralised entity will always cause indignation.
Whenever there are seemingly issues with intermediaries in a sector, or concerns on centralisation and even security and transparency, the blockchain is often hauled out and tested against these problems.
With regards to a blockchain platform that offers a space for content creators to go about their business unheeded, there is a lot of potential, and already some use-cases of a decentralised content platform that has an incentivisation program already attached.
Many are aware of Steemit, within the blockchain sphere, which is a blogging and social networking website that uses the Steem blockchain to reward publishers and curators. It is a useful service as because of its decentralised nature, there should be no censorship – but that is in question because there is still Steemit Inc heading up the entire operation.
But in principle, a fully decentralised content platform allows for free reign regarding posting, and because of the token economy associated with it, there is monetisation, as well as crowd sentiment driving the content.
Many will worry about hate speech and other dangers being pronounced on these decentralised platforms, but in quite a libertarian viewpoint, this will only be as successful as the demand for it.
Because of the token economy, content creators on a decentralised platform, crowd incentivised and this work that is deemed useful by the collective will be rewarded. The hope this is that any hate speech or the likes would not succeed. But at the same time, if this style of content is successful, the question needs to be asked ‘is it the content creator who should be shunned or the public at large supporting them?’
But what the decentralised nature does offer is full accountability to the individual for what they say, and a lack of accountability to any organisation behind the platform.
One for the future
Social media companies, as well as content producing platforms, have a massive hold over the internet as it stands with Facebook, Google, Twitter, Youtube and others up there as some of the most valuable companies in the world.
However, as more dissatisfaction builds surrounding the control of individuals content, and the movement of free speech on the internet grows stronger, there could be a change in the air.
We believe that as soon as some regulatory hurdles are cleared out of the way, allowing for a framework that is fair to the creator and protective of prospective participants, token-crowdfunding will allow for novel ways to support creators and their content – chiefly by allowing their fans, especially those who’ve discovered and stick with them from their early days, to receive a stake in their future success rather than merely purchasing some proposed content in advance or tipping them post-hoc,” adds Konforty.
“More involved fans become integral to the success of the creator, also making redundant other centralised mechanisms previously necessary for success (or even the simple existence of the creator), such as major labels, advertising companies, and distributors. This is already the case for some megastars on the Internet, but as this model becomes more pervasively available, it will allow even starting artists to bootstrap themselves by the support of their appreciating communities.”
Konforty expands on some of the other benefits of this burgeoning blockchain content creation space, mentioning the added incentives for those who consume content, something that is purely a one-way street at the moment with platforms and companies syphoning data from said consumers.
“For example, at HyperSpace we incentivise the communities forming around content creators to support them in every way that makes sense: from supporting them financially, to distributing their content every which way, to finding more appreciating audiences for them. We want to provide a complete envelope of services to creators using its platform – without creators having to do anything but post their content.”
“Consumers enjoy a platform where the best creators and content on the web come to life as well as the benefit of having other users incentivised to post content they may like to the specific communities they are part of.”