Voice. Everyone should have one. That is the premise behind a new blockchain-based social network recently announced by Block.one – the company that created the source code for EOS and continues to develop it.
In a bold statement at the company’s June 1 event at the DC Armory in Washington, DC, the CEO of Block.one – Brendan Bloomer – said that the major social networks of today are designed to use their users. They use our data and our attention to make money primarily through advertising.
Voice, a new social network, is designed to correct this by bringing power and control back to the individual user, using blockchain technology of course.
The problem many – if not all – crypto projects have is that they do not exist in isolation. There are many other components that their success relies on that they don’t have the resources to build themselves. Therefore, whenever something new is introduced, there is a lot of “yeah, but”, because the scope of any given project has to stop somewhere.
The Voice social network may be the thing that everyone is focusing on, but there were a number of other elements to the announcement that dealt with many of the prerequisites to making such a project successful.
Prerequisite 1: Free accounts
In order to use a blockchain-based app like Voice, users need to create an account on the underlying blockchain platform. This costs money and is complex, so Block.one decided to offer free EOS accounts to remove the friction of getting started using Voice.
Prerequisite 2: Education with reward
In order to perform transactions on an EOS app like Voice, each user needs to hold tokens and be allocated network resources.
In a two-in-one announcement at the recent event, Coinbase spoke about the ability to earn free EOS tokens by going through a set of short educational video lessons the company has created at https://www.coinbase.com/earn/eos.
This not only helps new users get to grips with the EOS network, they also get rewarded with free tokens and thus an allocation of network resources that enable them to do transactions.
Prerequisite 3: Security with ease
Crypto tokens and accounts use public and private keys. These are complex to manage, store, and secure. The average social network user will find this far too much to grasp.
On to the stage at the June 1 event came a representative from Yubico, a company that makes and develops the Yubikey – a device that acts much like a physical key except for the digital world. If you possess the metal key to your house, you simply turn it in the lock and get access. It’s so simple that anyone and everyone can do it, including children.
Now let’s say we mirror that in the digital world. Instead of usernames and passwords (which we don’t need to unlock the front door to our house), we have a Yubikey on our key ring right next to all our metal keys. When we want to log in to an online service like the Voice social network, we simply insert our digital key into the lock (USB port) and go straight in. This is so close to the experience and ease of unlocking locks in the physical world as to have almost no learning curve.
For a number of years, Dan Larimer, the CTO of Block.one, has said that decentralised alternatives will not succeed if they are only as good as their centralised equivalents – they need to be superior. Passwordless access to your social media account qualifies as a superior user experience in my book.
Prerequisite 4: Performance
Blockchain-based social networks are far too slow for the average user to bother with.
Another announcement that was made at the June event was EOSIO 2, a much-upgraded version of the software that underpins EOS-based blockchains. The most significant update the team focused on was performance. EOSIO 2 can apparently run code 12 times faster than the original code Block.one released.
Performance is obviously a crucial feature given the speed at which people interact on social networks. If the network is slow, users will not put up with it for long.
I am a big fan of the existing blockchain social network Steem. Also created by Dan Larimer, this network distributes newly-created cryptocurrency based on the popularity of content that is posted rather than the pure hardware-based mining that Bitcoin uses.
Young people especially have no loyalty to their social networks. They will switch to whatever is hot and trending. I am confident that if Voice proves to be superior even to Steem, then the offer of a new social network that pays you (with the Voice token) to post will be an offer that the youth can’t refuse. Especially when they find out they can spend their tokens to amplify the visibility of their posts and gather more attention.
Once young people have validated the platform, they will begin to drag everyone else with them. The difference this time is that they may well stick because as they post, they earn tokens, which act like a share in the platform itself. It’s the sense of ownership that I think is missing from the centralised social networks that causes the disloyalty. That and a distrust of the big, centralised networks.
Since trust is not even a consideration for an open public blockchain that runs on open source software, we have a bag of incentives that may well have an appeal far beyond the younger generation. But there is an even bigger source of certainty with Voice – identity.
Facebook has a problem with fake accounts. There is an incentive for underground marketing agencies to create millions of fake accounts and use them to begin contacting and promoting all manner of products and services. In fact, Facebook recently revealed that it had closed 2.2 billion fake accounts.
The plan with Voice is to use a special authentication system to ensure no individual human creates more than one account. This includes only storing the digital fingerprint of the person on the blockchain instead of all their personal identity data. This ensures compliance with privacy regulations like GDPR.
Once you have a social media account you can log in to with a private key that is tied to a unique human individual, opportunities to do some unimaginable stuff open up. A couple of big ones I am thinking of are incorruptible political voting and even universal basic income.