Decentralization, your posts, and you... Some tips from an observer, and a creator...

3년 전


I've been making posts here for over a year. I've seen things come, and things go. I've also I hope learned a lot. I have spent a lot of time thinking about decentralization and keeping our information from being lost due to censorship. That is one of many attractive things about using the steem blockchain.

This post is something I was thinking about sharing with the community based upon observation and thinking about decentralization. I have also been considering data storage and other factors.

This post will be partially a tutorial for those of you that do not know these techniques, and it will be hopefully some food for thought for those of you that are already very comfortable posting on steemit, busy, chainbb, etc.

Decentralization


For those of you only vaguely aware of what the term decentralization means, it means essentially "Not putting all of your eggs in one basket" as the saying goes. It is spreading copies of the information into many different places so if one place, or several places go down there is always a copy somewhere else. We could view our project here like a beautiful feathery rainbow frilled hydra, with dormant heads sleeping on the ground. If the government, a competitor, or anyone lops off one of the heads then one of the dormant heads (here known as witnesses) will wake from its slumber and assume a position as an active head. Meanwhile if needed other people can deploy new heads.

In theory this prevents people from destroying it, censoring it, etc. This is one of the main reasons we embrace this concept.

It is important to keep in mind that when comparing steem to existing technologies that you are comparing a decentralized place to centralized places. What can be easy when centralized can often be trickier when decentralized. Furthermore, people can say "Facebook can do this, why can't we?" and in some cases that is true only because facebook is centralized. So if we were to copy them we would be adding centralization and weakness into steem. Some things have to be re-conceptualized into a decentralized representation of a concept. This is a lot more complex. Basically, in some cases due to being decentralized we do in fact need to reinvent the wheel.

Storage Space


The blockchain primarily stores text data in the blocks. As we write text we are creating more and more data that needs to be preserved by the witnesses. The longer the blockchain runs the larger this becomes. If we want to insure the data is copied and resilient to attack and take down then this is currently a requirement.

Things such as images, video, and sound take up A LOT more space than text. Embedding this information in our witnesses blocks they must backup would become a vastly expensive undertaking for them fairly quickly.

All of these things are actually for the most part centralized elements of your posts. This appears to be true even if you are using steemit's built in image support. This is important to know if decentralization is important to you.

Where you get this other media from can potentially be censored. Keep this in mind.

Also keep in mind it is expensive to store these things. So if you are using steemit images for your images you should consider some tricks to make it work the same but not be as costly to host for those providing the image storage. Think of the community when you can.

Centralized Aspects of Steem Posts


Every post on the steem blockchain at the moment that includes any media other than text currently has centralized elements. This means if the site where your elements are at is taken down, censored, etc that this portion of your post will be gone.

If you've been around long enough you've likely seen when steemimages went down before and most of the images on the site vanished for a few minutes and posts were just text with broken image icons all over the place. In these cases the thumbnails for the indexes were mostly gone.

There would be an occasional image that was still there. When these were looked at this was due to the image actually being somewhere other than steemimages and those sites were still up.

Keep this in mind when working with videos. I use an occasional youtube video, and I have had a few of my older posts become worthless when youtube decided to censor the videos. This is the danger of using centralized services.

Giving your post some resilience


If the message you have is critical and you need all of the media preserved here are some things I thought about recently.

IMAGES:
Consider having your images on both steemitimages and perhaps on one or more other sites like imgur.com. You could have the backup image just as a hyperlink if you prefer so it doesn't show twice (I will show how to do this) or you could opt to show the image twice. The advantage here is that more than one site would need to go down for your images that might be critical to your post to disappear. This would not help with the thumbnail since that always pulls from the first image in your post, but it would help to make sure when people actually look at your post the images you think are important are there.

VIDEOS:
Consider putting your videos on both youtube and vimeo which both can be embedded in posts here. As other sources become available they will be options as well. This way if youtube decides to censor your video the vimeo one might still be up and running. We can keep an eye on things like vid.me, view.ly, and bitchute and hopefully have more opportunities for video embedding in the future.

SOUND:
I haven't seen any sound places like sound cloud and such really working well for embedded content on steemit yet. Perhaps they will be in the future. Until they do, I recommend using youtube, or vimeo for your music rather than requiring people to leave steemit in order to listen to your music. I suspect having to leave steemit will discourage some people and they may not bother listening. If you want more people to listen, find a way to keep it in the post.

Techniques for images


I tend to use HTML rather than markdown for my images. I have found there are places where markdown sometimes fails. Embedding markdown inside of a table, or a list for example often breaks. I therefore have a tendency to use HTML for a lot of things I do. I am by no means an expert and there are things I've seen people do that I've said to myself "I need to see how they do that", but I can share with you some things that I do know.

I am going to show you TWO ways this image can be represented inside of your post:

This is the steemimages.com way that steemit uses. It defaults to markdown.

This same image can be referenced using html as follows:

You may be wondering why I am telling you this. It is because I noticed a few things. A) I noticed that our images are increasingly centralized and this can be a vulnerability to censorship of part of a post. I assumed people might not know this and would appreciate being informed about it. B) One of the techniques people can use can cause the people that host steemitimages.com to end up storing a lot more data than they need to if we just help them a bit.

If you copy and image that is already on steemitimages.com (even if it is someone else's post) and paste it into your post. That uploads a completely new COPY of the same image to steemitimages.com. It thus takes twice as much space to store this. If something is really popular and this is done frequently then a single image could end up being stored many times over.

So if you are using an image that is already on a steemit post consider right clicking on it and choosing COPY IMAGE LOCATION, or something similar to that depending upon which browser you are using.

Then paste that URL into your img src= HTML or the markdown if you prefer. This way you are still showing that image all over the place but the storage requirements are only for a single image. Is this required? Not at all. Yet it is considerate when thinking of long term storage requirements to support our community.

I've learned some things about using these links. Let me show you what my footer looks like at the bottom of each of my posts when I copy it.

Notice there is an extra https://steemitimages.com/0x0/ at the beginning of the URL and then there seems to be an extra URL? This is something steemit seems to do when grabbing images from posts. It prepends https://steemitimages.com/0x0/ before the image link you copied. You can actually delete that extra part if you want, it will not matter in terms of what the people see, but it does reduce extra characters in the URL in the text of the blockchain block. This can easily just be an OCD issue and it is not critical that you do it.

In Closing


Decentralization can be a very new style of thinking. It is easy to try to compare what we do in a decentralized environment to the normal centralized environments that are virtually everywhere else. We can fall victim to thinking that just because it worked in other places that it is easy to do here. That is not always true. We can actually expose our steem community to vulnerabilities if we become reliant on centralized services for anything critical.

This means when we are using centralized services out of necessity that we also should keep in mind that they are centralized and if the media beyond the text is also critical to preserve then we likely want our post to reference that same media at multiple sites rather than just one. Consider this you taking the extra steps to decentralize the content of your own post.

Furthermore, I went over some techniques for reducing image storage space for those that are storing images for us and part of our community. While it is not a requirement, it is considerate, and it does make storage take longer to be an issue for them in the future.

Thank you for your time and consideration for reading this post.

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Does this really matter? After 7 days your post is dead anyway.

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I get responses after 7 days and many of us are writing for more than just money, so yes preserving it matters. If money is your only goal then perhaps it doesn't matter. Money is a benefit, but not the most important thing to me here.

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I often provide my old links to helpful posts

  ·  3년 전

@dwinblood
I have started thinking about this recently with the possible growth issues that steemit is beginning to face, as well as aspects of blockchain that I became educated in during the bitcoin Segwit debates.

On the one hand, technology and storage capacity continues to grow, but on the other, decentralization and blockchain utilization require and continue to require increasing amounts of storage. The more you decentralize something, the more copies are made, the more 10 fold resources of storage space are consumed. What does this mean for the future? Its good for storage device and harddrive manufacturers......but they are a centralized entity that centralizes and accumulates wealth.

Then there are thoughts about the magnifold increase in electricity consumption due to decentralizing (copying and spreading) blockchain usage. If a blockchain is 10x more decentralized, its processes use 10x the electricity. And that means 10x the polution.....potentially.

So decentralization frees us on the one hand, and shackles us on the other!

Nevertheless, good thoughts and encouragment in regards to image/sound/video storage. I save onto a clipboard the links of images on steemitimages for any that I think I will be using in future posts.

Take care,
Peace!!

Whenever I find myself trying to explain the revolutionary aspect of blockchain technology, the attribute of decentralization, hand in hand with the unchangeable nature of the data, is the main focus that I try to convey. Not that I fully understand it.

It has always astounded me that technology has advanced to the point that such decentralization is even possible. And I'm thankful for your reminder to not take that for granted. But I also cannot help but think (hope?) that future advances in technology will solve these storage and processing issues you describe.

@dwinblood thanks for sharing these things it's really helps me lot:)

There is a decentralized video platform in the works. You can read about it here.

Steemq

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Thanks. I thought view.ly is another one.

Great information again. I asked myself while reading if I should be posting short descriptions of what is seen to go along with the image or video, but that seems kind of silly if the picture/video is available. It may however, at some point in the far flung future when internet archaeology of the early 21st century becomes a field of study in its own right, be much appreciated. I do like to think of how posterity will view a post, but that might be overkill.

Valuable info, ...as always.

Thanks for your informative wisdom.

I hope that in the future steemit will be able to host videos it would be a great addition to the platform and reduce the need for third parties. Thanks for the post

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Steemit itself won't. That would add far too much space to the blocks. Though view.ly is a project that some community members are working on using IPFS (Interplanetary File System) to try to implement a video hosting system we can embed into steemit.

Steem will not be embedding media other than text into the blocks as far as I know it. Yet, we can build decentralized services that work the same.

So it won't likely be steemit that solves this but you'll still be able to use what people come up with on steemit.

I would like to see them working with view.ly, and bitchute which are both working on decentralized video services. View.LY is trying to do this with IPFS. Bitchute is trying to do this using torrents.

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Nice I will check them out, as long as it is decentralized :)

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The solution
A decentralized video platform for creators, by creators. Creators build their tribe of dedicated fans, and receive Patreon like support trough frictionless micropayments and subscriptions. Creators can also sign sponsorship deals that are in-line with their fanbase best interests—with the on-chain escrow and no middleman.*

Source: https://view.ly/

Wouldn't this pose conflict with the model steemit is using, unless steemians watching your videos here are also subscribed to your channel on view.ly

I might have misunderstood it though :)

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Yeah that could be the wrong one. I may have actually been thinking about STEEMQ

https://steemit.com/steemq/@furion/steemq-a-decentralized-video-platform-for-steem

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Thanks for sharing, I will keep an eye on it.

interesting dilemma; clog up the blockchain with our media, or trust that the second source doesn't go down.

Now I'm going to have to research whether all blockchain nodes are witnesses; looking under the hood at things I understand on the "magical" level (I know they work, but not exactly HOW they work ;> ).

Can there be too many witness nodes?

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Only the top 19 are considered active. All the rest are backups.

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might be time to take my annual look at the white paper lol.

but it does raise the importance of knowing who the witnesses are and casting your vote for those witnesses with the capability of running the platform smoothly

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Capability of running the platform smoothly is #1, and #2 in my opinion is witnesses that represent the community in the way you want it represented.

I removed my votes from witnesses for example who flag things they don't like which are not spam, plagiarism, or abuse.

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time to review my current votes, ttyl

yes, I am glad I finally met Jerry! ;-) Thanks for an informative post. These are important ideals to think about.

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yes, just a joke, regarding our previous discussion on the subject.

:-D

I'll stop calling you Jerry, now.

Thanks for writing!

Great info on not plugging up steemimages.com with duplicates. I keep a text file with the links to pictures I've used before for repeating in newer posts.
It's fast, simple and doesn't use any of my valuable bandwidth.
Thanks

You bring up a very interesting point, @dwinblood. The size of the witness node storage space could exponentially increase with duplicate media; heck with enough growth.

To this end, I look forward to the development of view.ly and the likes to fruition and intend to get more involved in the process. Looking into what a Steemit Witness entails, it is seemingly fairly resource intensive and would be offset by significant at whale (maybe dolphin) level income.

Thus creating yet another centralization dilemma. Whales can afford to be witnesses. Make your witness votes count, community. Enjoyed the read, thanks for your continued contribution.

Thank you @dwinblood for this very thorough and educational post concerning this important topic. I believe decentralization is the key to unlocking the potential of more highly evolved human organizations on our planet. We are witnessing the beta stage right now, and teaching ourselves the nuts and bolts through these blockchains. Data storage is the challenge. I'm considering all the points that you make, and will make it a point to de-centralize my digital footprint as much as possible.

Thank you for this post, actually it is a wakeup call. Storing data, writeup and the decentralization of it is a good tool to help us have all what we have laboured to create overtime at any particular instance. I also learnt a new thing from here.

Notice there is an extra https://steemitimages.com/0x0/ at the beginning of the URL and then there seems to be an extra URL? This is something steemit seems to do when grabbing images from posts. It prepends https://steemitimages.com/0x0/ before the image link you copied. You can actually delete that extra part if you want, it will not matter in terms of what the people see, but it does reduce extra characters in the URL in the text of the blockchain block. This can easily just be an OCD issue and it is not critical that you do it.

heh about decentralization, i really can't wait to start using view.ly for my video shows, i'm really tired of youtube shit...

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Steemq is actually what I was thinking of when I wrote view.ly.

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I understood that Steemq is not anymore and instead it will be view.ly (developed by the same people)

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Okay then perhaps I was right. If it is the same people that makes sense why it was in my mind.

Would you take a look at this and tell me what you think? Looks like a viable solution to the YT censorship stuff? You're a better techie than I obviously: https://steemit.com/video/@heimindanger/introducing-dtube-a-decentralized-video-platform-using-steem-and-ipfs

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It seems pretty cool. I just resteemed a post from @furion related to viewly. It has no fees. Currently has a 100Mb size limit unless you are cross posting from youtube. Yes, that is correct... it can convert your youtube video to viewly and get it off of that censored setup.

Dtube sounds promising as well.

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Cool, thanks! Working on my videos, pretty much teaching myself video editing right now. I don't know how long it will be until I get a finished product, but I am looking at the hosting options now.

yes it.s very beautiful

Good post :) follow