Some Thoughts on the Future...

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I know it's been WAY too long since I've posted here. For some reason it's really difficult for me to write posts. I very much want to write more, and I've started writing many posts over the past few months, but I end up spending many hours trying to organize and present my thoughts in a clear and understandable way until I inevitably have to stop (because, you know, life happens). Then, when I go back later I don't like what I wrote and scrap the whole thing.

In any case, I'm going to try and be a little less anal critical about my writing so I can actually get some posts out there from time to time, and I apologize in advance if it doesn't turn out well...

Additionally, some people seem to take my lack of posting to mean that I'm not active on the platform, which really couldn't be further from the truth. Hive is pretty much my whole life, at times to an unhealthy degree. In addition to my full time job being based on Hive, I read as many posts as I can, manually curate nearly every day, follow a number of different Hive-related chat groups, talk about and promote Hive to apps, brands, investors, and pretty much anyone who will listen, and just think about the platform and brainstorm ideas constantly.

Which brings me to the reason for my post today. I've been really happy to see all of the discussions going on recently about the future of the Hive blockchain. It's clear that the existing system hasn't worked out the way that most of us had hoped and we seem to finally be at a place where we can evaluate some different options or directions for the platform and try something new.

The Value of HIVE

The most important thing that I think we, as a community, need to figure out, is what the primary use case / value is for the HIVE token. Basically, why would someone want to get some HIVE? (and speculation on price appreciation or anything that boils down to "to earn more HIVE tokens" aren't acceptable answers).

As an example, people might want to get bitcoin if they want an unconfiscatable store of value that they can easily transport or transfer anywhere in the world without any intermediary or requiring anyone's permission. That's a fantastic use case and value for bitcoin (in my opinion - not financial advice), and the people buying bitcoin as an investment are speculating that the demand for that use case will increase over time and that bitcoin will still be the top choice for it.

That's what we need to figure out for HIVE tokens, and then design and build off of that.

I could probably write pages and pages on the merits and drawbacks of various different options for a primary use case for the HIVE token, but in the interest of actually getting this post published I will just briefly touch on a few ways that HIVE is currently being used that seem promising.

Hive as an Immutable Content Store

One clear and simple use case is that having HIVE tokens (powered up as HP) allows you to easily publish text content provably and immutably on the blockchain. While this is a nice thing to have, I don't really think it's the big win that we are all hoping for, so I'm not going to go into it in any more detail. I could be wrong though, so if you think otherwise, let me know in the comments!

Hive as an Advertising Platform

Another use case for the HIVE token is for advertising. There are a number of Hive-based websites with a reasonable amount of traffic (at least from a specific, targetted audience) to which one can get a message out through the use of the HIVE token. It may be through paying for a promoted post spot, buying upvotes, or powering up enough to vote posts up to the front page yourself, but the opportunity is there.

Please note that I'm not necessarily advocating for this. I know as well as anyone all of the issues and abuses that have arisen as a result of these things. But I also think that there is a tremendous amount of potential in a decentralized advertising network if done properly. If we were to really focus on it and work towards addressing the issues it could present a very unique value proposition for the HIVE token.

I believe that this was also close to the initial vision and idea behind Steem when it was first created. The basic concept is that instead of paying a centralized service like Facebook or Twitter to advertise, you pay the token holders (either directly or indirectly) so that everyone shares in the value relative to their holdings.

Again, I could go on and on about this, but I think that's enough for the purposes of this post.

Hive as an Incentivization Platform

This is a pretty cool one which a lot of people, including myself, have used successfully in the past. If you have a significant amount of HP you can use it to incentivize people to do things via your control of a portion of the reward pool. Any time you see a contest or push to do something in return for an upvote, that's an example of using Hive as an incentivization platform.

The problem there is that the incentivization always has to be done through the upvoting of posts, which leads to people making posts or comments that don't really add any value as such just for the purposes of receiving their incentivization upvote. That directly clashes with the entire purpose of the content voting and rewards mechanism which is meant to "crowdsource" the value of posted content through upvoting and downvoting.

I think it would be cool (and please note this is just a half-baked idea) if there was a platform specifically made for this type of incentivization. I think of it as a different kind of Patreon where instead of paying someone money directly every month, you invest in a token and direct your portion of the "reward pool" to them.

Hive as an App Development Platform

This is the big one, and obviously the one that I have been personally most involved with. @blocktrades gives a great writeup about this in the post linked below and I would highly recommend giving that a read if you're at all interested in any of this:

Hive’s future as a 2nd layer blockchain network

There is a ton of potential here, but it's also the path with the most competition, by far. We would be going up against Ethereum, EOS, Cardano, Tron, and probably about 50 more platforms in a constant battle to get developers to choose Hive over everyone else.

The other options have very little to no competition at all and if Hive can pull one of them off well it could much more easily become the leader in its niche. I'm not trying to advocate for one or the other, I'm just trying to present some thoughts and ideas for the community to consider as we think about the future of the Hive blockchain.

Why not go with all of them?

Having everyone focused on making Hive the absolute best at one specific thing will give it a much better chance at being successful than if we have our relatively small community split between many different things (like we have now).

It doesn't mean that people can't still use Hive for other things, but if there is one specific use case that everyone agrees is the primary value driver for the HIVE token, then we can work to excel at that. The core blockchain developers can update the base layer for the needs of the specific use case, other developers can build all of the tools and resources necessary to support the use of the platform on top of the base layer, and the marketers and promoters can all have a clear message to broadcast and audience to target.

Of course, the items listed above are just a few of the use cases for HIVE that I have personally seen used to some degree of success in the past, but it's certainly not all of them. There are likely some awesome use cases that I've missed, or even a completely new idea that we haven't thought of yet. Now is the time to bring them up!

A Quick Anecdote

First, before I get to my story, I will say that I completely failed at my plan (mentioned at the beginning of this post, if you remember back that far) to be less critical about my writing and try to keep this brief. I ended up working on this post for many hours, over many days, with quite a few revisions. I guess you can't teach an old dog new tricks, as the saying goes...

Anyway, back before I joined Steem I used to read a site called Hacker News pretty much all the time. In fact, that's how I learned about Bitcoin back in 2012 and started mining it and then stopped because I'm dumb. In any case, on Hacker News people mostly just post links to interesting articles from other sites and then people can comment on the articles and upvote good comments and earn magic internet points that are worth nothing more than bragging rights.

What I found interesting, though, is that I would often just skim the article, or sometimes skip it entirely, and go right for the comments. Somehow there seemed to be experts on pretty much every relevant topic there that would comment on the articles and they usually provided much more useful and interesting information than the article itself. In particular, the comments were a good gauge on whether or not the article had good info and was worth reading or was BS (as, sadly, so many articles are these days).

In any case, I've always thought it would be awesome if Hive could be like that, and make it so that the people posting those useful comments could actually earn something of value for their time and effort. Unfortunately, so far it seems that adding value to the magic internet points has served to encourage gaming of the system more than anything else, but that doesn't mean it's not worth continuing to try new things to see if we can make it work.

Thank You

Finally, I want to say thank you to everyone who has worked to create the Hive blockchain and make it into the success it has been so far. I really can't wait to see what the future holds and I'm excited to get to be a part of it with all of you!


NOTE: All rewards from this post will go to @steem.dao (the Hive Development Fund account) to support the ongoing development of the Hive platform.