I was having a discussion with a friend about content on Steem and they were saying about the level of quality dropping and asked if I am happy seeing a selfie or a random picture with a line of text out-earn writing that may have taken me hours to put together. As disheartening as it can be, I am kind of okay with it these days as, it has to happen.
Yes, I would prefer more high quality content and that content and that content to be rewarded adequately (and organically) for being valuable but, the quality of a particular article is not everything, the level of engagement is also something that needs to be addressed and, number of comments doesn't cut it if they are predominately, "Good post!" types. I am generally lucky, I do get decent engagement on many of my posts, so thank you for that because, it makes a difference to how I feel about my writing and provides a lot of feedback that drives new content.
However, when it comes to 'average' content quality and the has to happen issue, let me explain a little.
Finding the average between extremes
Average is a mid-point between extremities on a normal distribution, the place where the masses live. I have talked about Steem being much like a city, the blockchain the infrastructure, the Dapps the businesses and of course the users as the citizens.
For mass adoption, the city has to offer a range of experience that will be attractive to all citizens, from fine dining to fast-food, laser tag to the opera. In many instances, there is not going to be much overlap between interest groups in some sectors as those who may enjoy playing video games, might not like reading content on the latest fashion trends. It is not that they are excluded, just not interested, find it irrelevant or, not valuable.
However, in a city there is the possibility to make a living in many working sectors, just as there will be at Steem. For example, a fashion designer in New York may become extremely wealthy in a competitive industry and far outstrip the earnings of a Wall Street trader. Both can earn well doing what their skillset allows depending on market demand and a range of other factors. Steem will follow suit as it is representative of the real world and eventually, it will balance (I work on the assumption of long-term survival of Steem).
The city belongs to us
The markets will split and there will be a range of potential 'jobs' on offer that will be filled by entrepreneurs who will do their best to earn a living in their sector. They might even moonlight in other sectors to make ends meet of also. The market will eventually get to a point where there is more distribution and people will use their buying power to consume within their interest areas. However, not everyone will be able to become a high earner for a few obvious reasons.
First and foremost perhaps is that there is, skill is on a spectrum and even if one might be great at doing one or two particular tasks, if there aren't the supporting skills available, consistency in earning might not be possible. When it comes to content quality for example, the best article doesn't necessarily get the reward because of a host of factors that are 'off-article,' like the depth of network. Many write very well but engage very poorly, and rather than improve their engagement skills, they focus on other's poor content and say, it isn't fair, mine is better. Nope, it isn't fair.
Learning the craft
But, if one isn't going to learn the skills necessary to adapt to the ecosystem, and rely only on what one is already good at, it isn't fair to discount those who make up for their content quality by building a strong network. Most of those that fake this by using bots will eventually see the error of their ways as they generally do not invest into building a real network as their return is guaranteed. In time, something will eventually change in the city and they will find themselves largely isolated and alone. A common disorder of an individual with weak social connection, is a depressed psychology and at the moment, they are buying friends.
So, as the Steem city develops and fractures off into various content suburbs, the distribution of wealth, (Steem Power) will fracture also but, will often concentrate around certain areas. What thy are will depend on many things however, they will likely start to become more discerning with their tastes and, where they place their value. In general, this will create barriers to entry through skill requirements as they will place value on what is rare, hard to get, unique.
The other areas (even if rewarded well currently) that have a low skill threshold to get involved will see a large amount of lower skilled users try their hand meaning, competition for resources. This point will be driven even harder by the likelihood that in these sectors, there is not a lot of interested SP to spread. Things like memes that can be created quickly and easily become spam, will be increasingly unlikely to get rewarded. Some content suburbs will not be well off financially.
But, this is perhaps necessary for the city to function and be able to hold a great number of people because it gives opportunity for everyone to have something either of interest but also, the chance to earn, even if unlikely or the earnings are very low.
Pack up and move
One thing that makes the Steem city much more valuable than a real city is, mobility. I mentioned moonlighting (working a secondary job) to make ends meet but one major issue in the world is the ability to shift suburb, city or country for work. Steem doesn't have this problem and with enough thought, practice and development, anyone can have the potential of someone else. Even now, there are people from some poorer world regions who are earning more on Steem than from their local jobs and, there are some from those regions earning more on Steem than others on Steem from much wealthier countries.
Having a global city, even one that isn't operating effectively, levels the playing field somewhat between global effects of poverty and opportunity. When a person signs up at Steem, no one checks the passport or need know the color of their skin. And, no one is forced to reveal their identity, at least not yet.
What this all leads to though is a city that is filled with a diverse range of people, with a massive mix of interests and widely varying degrees of skill to produce and support a wide range of content areas. It is impossible to reward all content or niche equally and, that is not what we would want in this kind of system. It is about opportunity, not entitlement.
Future patrons of content
The current situation is one where those who are thinking long-term are building the resources to be able to support the content they like in the future, even if they are not currently supporting it or, spending any amount of their time there. For them, they may see that the infrastructure is not yet suitable to build their particular suburb or, the depth of citizen is not enough to populate it.
Those who are thinking short term and cashing out all they earn however, are risking that they will never be able to be a significant part of the city and rather than being able to earn or support others, will essentially be at the mercy of social services and goodwill. I wonder how many who are already in this position in the real world will hold a similar position in the Steem world? That is potentially a touchy subject for some.
Anyway, it is because of the developing of a small community into a cosmopolitan and global metropolis that I am much more accepting of poor quality content even if it is earning highly as, it is only earning highly for the moment. Even those who will power up all of their earning in these areas will be unlikely to be able to support a community of themselves doing the same later as, low-bar content will attract the most people and they will be spread too thinly.
Ghettos and gables
Perhaps unfortunately in this case is, because Steem is quite representative of the real world economies, we will see the relative affluent and slum suburbs of content form. The goal is to at least limit the gap between these two points but, that will not be dictated by the system as if it happens, it will be the people who are the drivers. Currently there is the potential to learn a great deal that will prepare one for future opportunity but again like the real world, most people will not invest themselves in.
I see there is potential for a type of 'virtual reset' for me personally, a chance to go back in time to forget what I know and relearn what I need in order to be able to not only better utilize my skills, but find areas that I enjoy using them. On top of this, I have the opportunity to help others do similar and perhaps one day, we will have a city that is much healthier with less extremes in opportunity than we currently have.
There are people who are earning off selfies now but, that will mostly end. There are people who are earning well off memes and that will mostly end. If we look at the real world and what people are really willing to pay for, it is the skill, the content that delivers something that people care about and are emotionally attached to and, the skills that solve problems people have. This isn't a hard rule of course but at Steem, it is likely going to be the way that those with talent to produce, will eventually be the ones who get rewarded for it. The funny thing is, that even the low level earners of the world are willing to pay for high end products and, will even go into debt to do so.
Accepting the now to build a future
The dynamics of the Steem ecosystem are changing and there are many iterations still to come. At times, the high earners who are doing it easily in one environment will be left out in the cold in another and, those struggling may take center stage. The city will grow and even though the code will play a large part in direction, it will be the citizens who drive the organic formation, establish new businesses and grow their own suburbs and towns. Underlying it will be the Steem blockchain and it will be powered by Steem. Holding Steem is like an energy return system that feeds back into the grid. The content itself is going to multiply and diversify and be fed by those who have the energy to power it.
This isn't going to make it into trending today although a blurry picture of some fruit might, But, for those who take the time to still read, I hope it is something to think about.
[ a Steem original ]