Web3 Blogging - Decentralized Content Platforms
12.07.22 Web3, Blogging
Team Snickerdoodle Labs
By Andrew Strimaitis

Decentralized Social Blogging in Web3

Elon Musk’s controversial acquisition of Twitter has sparked lively discussion about the platform’s future and more importantly, about the rights of content creators online. From the inception of online blogging at the tail of the 20th century to the ubiquitous social media platforms of today, demand for internet content has skyrocketed over a surprisingly short period of intense innovation. Due to the ubiquity of smartphones and personal laptops, posting and consuming content has never been so pervasive or relevant. 

Social blogging was popularized thanks to both its technological simplicity and its low barrier to entry. In today’s technology sphere, bloggers have two options: 

  • They can elect to write and publish social blogs on a personal webpage.

  • They can host their content on a popular blogging or microblogging platform. 

These platforms, which include well-known options like WordPress, Blogger, Medium, and Twitter, make up roughly half of all blogging activity online. These platforms flourished alongside the Internet, limiting technological complications, offering captivating user interfaces, and kindling reachable sources of expression. However, even with higher scalability, encryption complexity, and reliability of services, these products continue to face scrutiny: social tracking and ownership of individual content means that users technically don’t own their own information that they volunteer on these sites. 

Web2 Platforms

The fundamentals may have drastically evolved, but so have the demands of the user. Consumers now wish to continue maintaining their online identities without sacrificing ownership of their content. Given the popularity of the space and the opportunity of addressing these issues, Web3 decentralized alternatives have begun to emerge and flourish online. This article will delve into some of these alternatives, outlining both technological differences and perhaps monetary differences between the platforms.  

Mirror.xyz — Web3’s Answer to Medium


Mirror.xyz provides both writers and viewers alike an intuitive yet decentralized platform for social blogging by storing content on decentralized nodes on the Arweave protocol.  After successfully composing and editing their content in preparation for submission, users will digitally sign and pay a small transaction fee via their digital wallet to upload their content as a node onto the protocol. [1] Users can view the data contents of their transactions on Arweave upon completion, validating their access to their source information. [2] [3] Due to the ever-changing landscape of social content, this would allow individuals to retrieve their information even if pre-existing issues were to affect the blogger’s access to their original posting.  

Outside of technological differences, Mirror also operates with significantly different economic choices. 

Many Web2 platforms pay verified writers via “partnership programs” which incentivize popular authors to regularly upload material that tracks an increased viewership on their website.  In contrast, Mirror allows readers to personally fund authors by allowing individual posts to be minted as NFTs.  After minting, readers can choose to purchase these posts and therefore select who on the platform becomes a top earner. [4] Like the recent popularity boom for NFT artwork, NFT blog post ownership records in the associated digital wallet can be viewed transparently. The original author can easily track the collector count on the blog posts home page on Mirror, providing an on website location for tracking writer profits and breadth of circulation.

Web3 Platforms

Mastodon - The Web3 Twitter 

Mastodon, which pitched itself as the “decentralized Twitter,” operates with the ActivityPub protocol as its method of storage on a permissionless network. On first glance, the resemblance between the two sites is uncanny. But other than trading Twitter’s proprietary white and blue color pallet for Mastodon’s black and purple, both include: 

  • Similar homepages with aggregated posts from following profiles and popular posts;

  • A profile page with basic post functionality and identical information display;

  • Similar search functionality;

  • Identical verbiage (follow, post & reply, media, explore, etc).

However, the similarities stop there. Due to the more immediate-response nature of microblogging, activity on both platforms involve server activity that requires more direct functionality. Like other Web2 platforms, Twitter hosts the storage with company tools and funding. However, Mastodon requires users to operate these servers in order to keep the platform functional. [5] In order to operate as a decentralized platform, Mastodon operates through its users’ acting as host servers.  After account creation, users must identify and select a server to log into.  While users are allowed to watch and follow accounts from multiple servers, they can only post on selected servers to which they are hosted.  [6] [7] [8]

Like the technological importance of implementing Mirror’s method to blogging, the main upside of Mastodon is maintaining user posts and information. Given how the popularity of social media platforms can easily fluctuate  (depending on a multitude of factors including company bankruptcy, lack of user interest, and government censorship), digital ownership of information becomes a desirable trait that would allow users to easily migrate between platforms. 

In Mastodon’s case, tracing back your information on its protocol storage would allow users to post between different servers if they ever wished to migrate. Additionally, server ownership between users is another advantage of the platform.  Regardless of political or ideological alignment, social media platforms began to receive heavy criticism of censorship towards certain users. The benefit of user-run servers is to join a server that aligns to rules established by the owner, allowing you to easily migrate to a different host that better suits your individual preferences.  In other words, people who don’t like the rules could just join a different game. A good alternative example of this is Discord, where the communities have rules that are established by the users within the community itself. 

Elon Musk’s recent acquisition of Twitter has led to a rise in Mastodon’s popularity and a possible paradigm shift on social media.  Much of the future of both platforms will come down to a simple question: are these users willing to try new technologies that require a higher barrier of entry?  Mastodon may present operational challenges for less tech-educated users, but frequent user interest will improve the platform, educating the user base and improving on technological complications, like the Web2 platforms that arrived before.

“ Much of the future of [Web3] platforms will come down to a simple question: are… users willing to try new technologies that require a higher barrier of entry? ”

-

Deso Protocol — Web3’s Approach to Social Credit / Social Valuation 

While the previous two technologies are quite comparable to existing Web2 platforms, the Deso Protocol, previously known as BitClout, combines several ideas across various technological and even political ideologies. [9] Advertised as the “decentralized social network,” the platform views and operates like competing social media platforms and also operates with a decentralized back-end. Each user owns their own Creator Coin, a minted token on the Deso chain that is attached to that user's profile and is used to identify it within the ecosystem.  [10]

Every user on the platform is given a valuation that follows the same formula of standard valuation with cryptocurrency: users can buy coins off another user's chain which create a total valuation of that person’s net DESO worth. However, that individual’s net DESO worth is also affected by that individual’s real-world actions. For example, a controversial figure making a massively negative social decision will make their DESO currency plummet in value. This system of assigning a net worth to each person follows a similar design philosophy to the social credit scores assigned within countries like China, since an individual’s daily words and actions become scrutinized resulting in a fluctuation of their on-chain valuation.  

Given the economic impact of technology companies over the last few years, BitClout is a fascinating invention.  Social credit scores often receive negative criticism given how they inhibit individuals from participating in certain facilities, while individual net worth via crypto chain tools would often provide the same negative aspects.  The largest impediment to joining, like all of the previously mentioned Web3 technologies, is the higher barrier of entry.  Therefore, joining this platform early will provide key insight if individuals feel that this system seems natural or unnecessary. 


“ The fundamentals may have drastically evolved, but so have the demands of the user: consumers now wish to continue maintaining their online identities without sacrificing ownership of their content. ”

- Andrew Strimaitis, Senior Software Engineer, Snickerdoodle

Conclusion 

The spectrum of praise and criticism that Web3 technologies have received over the years centers on their ability to evolve beyond an ideological invention and be implemented to improve existing companies.  Mirror, Mastodon, and BitClout have all offered new perspectives on existing products, allowing the social media space to experience a legitimate upgrade.  Even if these specific products fail to take off, they will undoubtedly inspire direct descendants that will operate with a similar idea or tech stack to create an even more user-friendly experience. 


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