MK EXCLUSIVE: The Blockchain is Transforming the ‘Attention Economy’

Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert

Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert

“Attention is a resource—a person has only so much of it,” as Matthew Crawford succinctly put the notion that human attention is a scarce commodity. Blockchain applications in this Attention Economy space have put such principles into action: Brave, Steemit and Synereo.

Brave has designed a browser to improve the ad experience and help internet users earn more with its “Basic Attention Token”. (BAT) Steemit offers a social blogging platform with its own native digital currency, Steem. Synereo, with the help of its native token ‘AMP’, has developed an agnostic value-transfer layer for content distribution platforms.

Most recently, the Tel Aviv-based Synereo released its first product, the WildSpark Beta, which allows content creators, curators and audiences to join together to create and promote content, and earn ‘AMP’, the platform’s digital token. The platform works when users “Amplify” content.

“Amplifying means teaming up with a content creator and becoming their partner,” writes Synereo in its blog. “After choosing the desired amount of AMPs to be invested in a piece of content, [WildSpark] generates a unique link, associated with your account, which you can then share on social networks or otherwise distribute as you see fit. If more people use the link and ‘Amplify’ the content, the curator responsible for content discovery gets a share of the contribution.”

The Wildspark Beta is an Internet meta-layer for equitable, decentralized content creation and distribution. “Allowing a platform-agnostic monetization model can radically shift the balance of power in favor of content creators,” said Anderson McCutcheon,

“Allowing a platform-agnostic monetization model can radically shift the balance of power in favor of content creators,” said Anderson McCutcheon, Co-Founder and CMO of Synereo. “Creators no longer have to be entirely dependent on the model provided by the platform and can invite fans to support them directly, regardless of where the content is published.”

CEO Dor Konforty adds: “We aren’t competing with YouTube for hosting the content — we are introducing a way for curators and creators to monetize their existing activity, outside of the platform itself.”

Synereo, which raised $5 million in a 2015 crowdsale, and whose digital token at the time of writing trades at USD 62 cents makes no secret its goal of bringing down mega-corporations like Facebook and Google.

“We’re not rewarded in any way for creating all this value, for organizing the information on the internet as it is today,” Konforty recently told CNBC.

He added: “We’ve created this game where everything eventually flows up to the creator but anyone who’s part this value chain by being a curator by finding audiences that are interested, gets rewarded.”

Social news service Steemit, a blogging and social networking website atop a blockchain database called ‘Steem,’ was founded in 2016 by Ned Scott, as well as BitShares founder Dan Larimer, who later left the project.

Creators of posted content on Steemit, which is saved in a blockchain, receive tips for posts and comments with the native digital token currently trading at $1.73. Authors whose comments and posts are upvoted receive cryptocurrency monetary rewards. People can also be rewarded for curating content. Reputation on Steemit is managed by upvotes and downvotes to incentivize etiquette, like Reddit.

Steem’s blockchain and transferable tokens allow account holders to transact and interact atop the database. Steem’s consensus method, delegated proof-of-stake, stems from BitShares. In this system, “Witnesses” are elected by Steem stakeholders, and block producers receive a portion of rewards per block, while the rest goes to authors and curators.

Brave is a free and open-source web browser based on Chromium web browser. Founded by the Mozilla Project co-founder Brendan Eich, Brave is designed to block website trackers and internet advertisements. The Brave Browser also released its own crypto-token, called the Basic Attention Token, so creators and audience members can receive value for their online activity.

“User attention being an indefinitely preyed upon good has led to ad blocking, which is reducing the funding which supports the free web,” Mr. Eich told me for industry publication Crypto Insider.

As the Brave CEO stated in a press release: “We aim to privately monitor and anonymously confirm user intent at the browser level, which allows for the development of rich metrics for user attention. Attention is measured as views of content and ads in real time, and only in the browser’s active tab. The Attention Value for the ad will be calculated based on incremental duration and pixels in view in proportion to relevant content prior to any direct engagement with an ad.”

Brave, Steemit and Synereo are showing the way forward for ‘Attention Economy’ businesses and participants thanks to their unique implementations of blockchain technology. It is likely the development and release of native crypto-tokens – like AMP, BAT and Steem – that attracts users to such platforms.

Justin O’Connell is a financial technology researcher focusing on blockchain. He founded the companies Gold Silver Bitcoin and Cryptographic Asset, as well as helped to launch the largest Bitcoin ATM software provider in the world. His work has appeared in Bitcoin Magazine, Coin Desk, Crypto Coins News, Hacked, Merry Jane, NASDAQ and VICE. 

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