Can Blockchain Really Save Journalism?
Talks about the need for a new kind of journalism, free from the shackles of Big Tech, and centers of political and economic power, have been prominent in the public debate. What if Web3 were the infrastructure needed for this mission to become more than a half-hearted phrase and turn into a concrete, operational reality?
Digital technologies have revolutionized the way we access and consume content. They have allowed us to be exposed to a wider range of content and to give voice to an increasing number of writers. At the same time, digital technologies have also introduced the use of algorithmic constructions that are all but transparent, raising increasing concerns about quality and freedom of speech.
Companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google have tremendous power when it comes to news dissemination. With access to a vast amount of information regarding people’s preferences, habits, political orientations, and beliefs, these tech giants know exactly which content will be more successful with different audiences. This information is not only valuable for maintaining engagement on these platforms, but also as a source of revenue.
Newsrooms rely on the information provided by Big Data –aggregated data collected by social networks, websites, apps, and smart devices– to identify the content pieces that would generate the most traction. Needless to say, this has significantly impacted the ability of journalists and writers to stay true to their identity and has deprived the public from accessing a broader array of perspectives.
Creating decentralized platforms for journalists and content writers that are detached from centers of economic and political power is essential for a truly free and democratic society, as well as for creating a healthier and thriving intellectual landscape. As we are entering a new era of the Web, the so-called ‘Web3’, such platforms are starting to emerge creating new paradigms and hopes for a better world.
The Perks of On-Chain Writing
When it comes to journalism, the main advantage that blockchain provides is its resistance to manipulation and censorship of content. Protocols like IPFS, a P2P network for storing and sharing data, allow content platforms to protect their users against platform abuses and external interferences. The content uploaded on platforms leveraging IPFS is stored in multiple locations, making it nearly impossible for anyone to censor content.
Blockchain can also help re-establish control over users’ data as it can provide users full transparency and choice over who can access their data, actively preventing companies from selling sensitive data and working on personalized ads. In turn, this allows greater protection to those that live in countries where freedom of speech is frowned upon as it will become harder for third parties to learn about the content people consume without their consent.
On top of that, blockchain allows for the elimination of intermediaries and the establishment of a direct relationship with readers through micro-dimensional payments, freeing journalists from the need of pleasing the platforms they rely on.
The rise of blockchain technology, and increasingly sophisticated protocols enabling a solid technological architecture to build on, are stimulating the growth of new mechanisms for content creation and consumption. Although we are still in its early stages, we can already see the first signs of a content revolution coming.
Blogchain, A New Platform For Independent Writers
Web3 is a particularly fertile ground for the creator economy. In the past few years, we saw the rise of countless NFT marketplaces for digital art and music that are providing artists with different means of production, monetization, and promotion of their work. However, when it comes to writers, there is still a vacuum in the Web3 space.
In my search for a new Web3 platform for writers, I discovered Blogchain, a platform that attempts to deliver a Web2 experience without compromising writers’ integrity and users’ privacy. Blockchain caught my attention not only because it is built on top of NEAR Protocol, one of the most promising L1s in the market, but for its incredibly intuitive user experience that makes it accessible to anyone.
Blogchain has managed to combine NEAR Protocol’s architecture with IPFS to create a censorship-resistant and privacy-enhancing platform that allows writers to build their own audience and retain all the benefits from their work.
Started by Capsule Social in 2020, Blogchain is close to its full launch and is currently running an initiative to support Ukrainian writers reporting about their experiences of the war by opening up early access to paid subscriptions and grants.
For other writers that are interested in getting involved in Blogchain in its early stages, there is the possibility of requesting an invite to test the platform out and start sharing content. As an early user of Blogchain, and as a writer, I can only say I’m thrilled to see this platform develop and bring writers and their audiences to Web3. It is through platforms like this that we can hope to guard our freedom of speech and establish a new agora for truly democratic and inclusive public discussions.
The writing industry is a shrinking industry, where competition is high and profits low for the majority of writers. It is also an industry increasingly liable to censorship and controlled by mechanisms that focus on ‘likeability’ at the expense of quality.
Blockchain might offer some solutions to writers battling these issues. The emergence of platforms that value freedom of speech and offer fairer opportunities for monetization is a very positive sign; a sign that things are changing, and writers are a step closer to gaining back freedom and dignity.
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