Userfeeds & why the web needs a new information ranking system

There is a battle on the web for its most valuable and scarcest asset: attention. Maciej Olpinski, co-founder and CEO of Userfeeds, sums it up in his recent post:

“Your attention is immediately exchanged to dollars through advertising and the data you leave behind improves [platforms such as] Facebook. But the costs of seeing bad quality information will be absorbed by you. Potential consequences of that exposure will often be hidden and delayed in time. […]
Everyone benefits apart from the ‘attention suppliers’ [i.e. users]. The platform gets the data. Content producers get eyeballs and traffic. Both of which are instantly monetized. Users, however, receive a short-term dopamine boost from consuming low-quality content (which is often designed to by emotionally engaging, confirm their previous beliefs, stimulate outrage) but don’t recognise the long-term opportunity costs associated with it. […]
As an early information society, we still don’t recognise dangers of letting other people with opposing incentives to put images and thoughts in our heads at no cost.”

The problem is that the majority of content on the web is ranked — and user attention directed — by opaque and intransparent algorithms, controlled by monopolistic platforms. It is obvious that the system of likes, stars, up-votes and algorithms is broken and has led to a crisis of trust on the internet.

So Userfeeds is re-thinking how information and content ranking on the web should work. The team is aiming to empower content publishers and communities to deploy transparent algorithms and create aligned incentives for publishers and users by using blockchains and verifiable tokens to rank content. The benefits and risks of ranking content are distributed across all participants vs. the benefits only going to the controlling platform. Read more about the details here.

Our Thesis

If Userfeeds can succeed on its mission to create a more transparent and better information ranking system for the web, to align incentives and bring back symmetry to online relationships between publishers, advertisers and users — it could then become an independent ranking layer that other applications get built on top of (i.e. new voting systems, search engines, social networks, data sets or content streams).

We’re excited to be backing Greg, Maciej, and the entire Userfeeds team in Warsaw, and are joined on the journey ahead by Fred Ehrsam, co-founder of Coinbase and Piotr Smolen of Dataventures.

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