Decentralized Social Media: How Do You Really Build One? | Hacker Noon


CEO of Koinos Group, creators of the Koinos blockchain

In this episode of the Koinos Group podcast, I discuss integrating smart contracts into social applications with the founder of gFam. I’m always eager to speak with entrepreneurs and developers about how they’re thinking about leveraging blockchain technology so that we can ensure that Koinos delivers exactly the tools they need to succeed.

As the developers of Koinos, a platform designed to power free-to-use applications that are decentralized through smart contracts, you’d think we would “just know” what developers want from such a platform. Unfortunately, that’s just not how it works.

Customer Feedback Matters

Just like with any business, there is simply no substitute for engaging with your customer (in our case application developers) and not just understanding what they need, but understanding how they view the world.

In order to build a vibrant and growing ecosystem, the people building the platform and the people building the applications on top of that platform have to have aligned visions of the world so that even when everyone is off building their own individual product, everything is ultimately working together to create a more valuable whole. If, for example, we are building the platform in one direction, but developers are building their applications assuming that we are building in a very different direction, then both the platform and the applications will ultimately suffer.

gFam: Monetizing Content

As Adam explains, gFam is an application intended to enable great storytellers to monetize their content. It uses XRP and Coil to enable audiences to reward their favorite content creators through tips and micropayments.

One of the challenges when thinking about how to leverage smart contracts is the incredible range of things you can do with smart contracts because technically, a smart contract is any code that is executed by a decentralized network. Now, the only good reason to leverage a smart contract is where the execution of that code would benefit from decentralized consensus, but in my experience, that heuristic doesn’t provide developers with especially helpful guidance.

Instead, I find it more helpful to think of the opportunity provided by smart contracts as being able to create and distribute fungible and non-fungible tokens to end-users so as to make them stakeholders in your application, but not shareholders in your company.

That being the case, the first two smart contracts any developer should understand are those that enable them to create fungible and non-fungible tokens.

As I explained in my previous post, Retiring Off Crypto;

The fungible tokens will generally function as a kind of in-game currency, and the non-fungible tokens will generally function as digital collectibles (unique in-game items). Note that I am using the term “game” in the broadest sense of the word. Another way to think about these assets is that when properly integrated, they can turn any application into a game while providing people with opportunities to acquire a stake in the various products that they use in a frictionless manner.

Magic Internet Money

But one of the things developers have to look out for is a tendency to assume that because smart contracts enable you to create “magic internet money,” that the whole value proposition of the application should revolve around enabling people to make money. But I think that’s a HUGE mistake.

That mental model of blockchain integration will cause the developer to make a series of decisions that will ultimately attract the wrong type of user and result in a less valuable application.

Again, it goes back to STAKE, not money. The value of money is that it is liquid, you can cash it out. People should want to acquire your tokens because they give them special “powers” within in your application that they value even more than they value money.

Unique Value Propositions

That’s right, an application still has to have a unique value proposition. Smart contracts are not magical in that sense. You still have to provide an application that people love to use because it offers them something they can’t get anywhere else.

By eliminating fees and enabling developers to work in the programming languages they already know and love, Koinos will make this easier than ever, but the app still to deliver unique value. Smart contracts simply create an unlimited number of ways that developers can monetize their unique offerings and incentivize their users to add even more value to their ecosystem.

We covered a TON of ground in this conversation so if you’re interested in getting a better understanding of applications can benefit from smart contract integration, definitely check out the video linked above.


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