Unfortunately I wasn’t around Reddit in the Aaron Swartz days, but I’m told things used to be a lot better back then. Before there was censorship and shareholders to please, there were real discussions about anything of interest. Anything. There was something for everyone, and subreddit mods had a lot more control over the content of their slice of reddit. But this isn’t a post about what Reddit was, or has become.
The writing is on the wall for reddit, as it has been for facebook, as it’s starting to be for youtube. While these platforms enjoy huge traffic volumes today, they are persuing policies that are hostile to their most important users: the creators. By systematically monetizing traffic with ads or data collection, siding with huge corporations and governments on censorship, and focusing on the consumption side of internet use, I believe these platforms will become significantly less relevant over the next decade.
What will replace these shareholder-owned tech giants’ walled gardens and monopolies will be wave of decentralization. The network effects are not to be understated, but once popular youtubers, social media influencers, and bloggers realize that they can both own and monetize their content without being at the whim of large corporations without a phone number, they will move. And once the creators move, the consumers will move. We’ll move to a new, shared, decentralized platform, where creators and consumers interact directly without the need for a cut-taking middleman.
Right now, IPFS, STEEM, and other decentralized technologies are young, sparsely deployed, and unproven. But these are the protocols that will shape the future of connectivity for millions of new users in the developing world. The teams working on these protocols are envisioning a new web where information isn’t owned and controlled by an authority, but rather is stored and spread by all participants. Regardless of the original source of a piece of content, as long as someone somewhere has that content, then it remains accessible on the network. If large swaths of the network are unreachable, nearby copies of required data may be available, thus keeping the information flowing.
Despite being in early stages, I think seemit could be the next reddit. While far from achieving a critical mass and enticing defectors from reddit, I see the future here because of the previously stated reasons: steemit is decentralized and can’t be ensored, externally monetized, or taken down. It moves the reddit-like platform to the next logical conclusion of decentralization. It takes us beyond the main problems that are ruining reddit.
Steemit also feels a lot more personal; it’s a small town where you get to know people, and it encourages participation and original content (and it feels like your OC is less likely to get lost in the wind).
Time will tell if it takes off, but I’m trying to do my part to contribute.