Even though I had seen it touted in my Twitter feed, by many of the influencers who made Twitter enjoyable for me in the early days as early adopters of that innovative social media platform, and I had read articles in Business Insider, the New Yorker, TechCrunch, and the cryptocurrency news sites such as Coindesk and others about BitClout, I had not taken the time to explore BitClout's blockchain-powered social media platform in great detail nor joined the platform myself until over this last weekend. While there is still much to explore and a whole community of creators to get to know, I already can see tremendous potential in the model that the community has created of decentralizing our social connections and merging the creator economy and value economy into a unique platform experience. This post will explore what I think some of the possibilities are for the future of BitClout's technology and how it will disrupt how we think about value creation in the internet age.
Oh and since I am on BitClout now come join the community and FOLLOW ME ON BITCLOUT HERE!
What is BitClout?
BitClout is a proof-of-work blockchain-powered social media platform; this means it is decentralized from any central entity like a company such as Facebook or Twitter and owned by the users of the platform itself. In BitClout's own documentation they say:
BitClout is a new type of social network that mixes speculation and social media, and it’s built from the ground up as its own custom blockchain. Its architecture is similar to Bitcoin, only it can support complex social network data like posts, profiles, follows, speculation features, and much more at significantly higher throughput and scale. Like Bitcoin, BitClout is a fully open-source project and there is no company behind it-- it’s just coins and code.
Also like Bitcoin, BitClout has its own cryptocurrency called BitClout ($CLOUT) that you can buy with Bitcoin or $USD. You can use this cryptocurrency to do a number of things on the platform such as buy assets like Creator Coins, grant Diamonds (tip creators), etc. Each user on the platform gets a creator coin associated with their identity on the blockchain. As people buy your coin, the price of your creator coin goes up and as people sell your coin, the price of your coin goes down. This creates a form of social currency that can be traded like on the stock market. Other uses of creator coins include creating member-exclusive content, sponsored posts, distributions and engagements, contests, etc.
However, the last thing outlined in BitClout's introductory documentation is the most interesting to me and what got me thinking about the possibilities I'll talk about in this post:
Just like Bitcoin, anyone on the internet can run a BitClout “node” that serves the BitClout content, and every node on the network stores a full copy of all the data. This means that anybody can build apps on top of the BitClout data without the risk of being de-platformed, and they can even create their own feed algorithm...In the same way that you can move Bitcoin from one wallet to another, BitClout makes it so that you can move your “clout” in the form of your followers, posts, creator coin balances, etc anywhere as well. Thus, in some sense, BitClout is decentralizing social media in much the same way as Bitcoin is decentralizing the financial system.
The Open Possibilities of Decentralizing Social Capital
The second half of this post will explore the open possibilities of decentralizing social capital, i.e. what are the other platforms that could be built upon this blockchain that are hinted at above.
- Creator communities looking to "breakout" in certain established industries. Two that immediately come to mind are musicians and authors. One of my favorite eras of rap music history was the era of mixtapes and Datpiff.com's heyday. I could imagine $CLOUT being used to reward artists for their work and producers and DJs for their contributions to that work. It would put the value a musician's work creates back into the hands of the artists and cut out centralized distribution companies (record labels) and their channels (Spotify, YouTube, etc.). Similarly, authors could use this technology to re-create an Amazon Kindle/Goodreads like platform but that correctly monetizes the creators of the content.
- Financial services plays such as social credit platforms and angel investing platforms. Without hopefully sounding too Black Mirror or like the experiments around social credit systems in China, there could be utility created in disrupting our current credit systems for systems that take more into account the value our daily social connections associate with our credibility and financial reliability. Our personal relationships are the ones that know us best and can possibly be a barometer of trust in credit situations. AngelList was one of the most innovative financial platforms for investing in startups and introducing a whole new class of investors to these disruptive companies. $CLOUT could be used to track investment potential and financial value in marketplaces for apps, crypto-developer projects, distributed autonomous organizations (DAOs), and more traditional companies.
- Athletes wanting to OWN their brand and GET PAID. The recent Supreme Court rulings related to college athletes being able to get paid for their image and likeness was what made this one stick out to me as a possibility here. Athletes rely a lot on their brand and communication with their communities of fans for both support and to show how much value they create for an organization they go to work for. A platform for athletes built on this technology would allow them to own the communication with those communities of fans directly and utilize their $CLOUT in salary negotiations with leaders of organizations. Another great example would be MMA fighters and the current wave of discussion around fighter pay in the biggest MMA organization in the world, the UFC. The league's newest fighters often cannot afford to solely do MMA for their careers and have to rely on other jobs to support the finances necessary to train. This would give them the power to change those circumstances while simultaneously build their brand.
- Professional work platforms that re-align corporate value structures directly to the value individuals employees create. One of the things I have always wished was a more valuable feature of LinkedIn was their endorsements features. Similarly, I have always wished there was a better way of correlating someone's traditional achievements (degrees, certifications, etc.) with their actual work output, behavior and ability to contribute to a company. $CLOUT could be a way to create these connections and bring a true 360-degree social capital view from previous company experiences of the value of your work from previous peers, subordinates, and superiors within organizations. As people are looking to bring you into their company or project they can use your $CLOUT, recommendations, previous work, etc., as a much better form of "reference letter" or "work history" than could ever be included in today's modern-day professional resume and marketplace.
These ideas and many more excite me about the future of BitClout's blockchain technology and the potential of decentralizing our social experience on reshaping the value and creator economies. What do you think are some interesting use cases for this technology? Are you on BitClout? Do you anticipate the social network in its current iteration staying afloat or do you foresee another application UI being the dominant application in this social blockchain ecosystem? Leave your comments below or come follow me on BitClout and let's have a discussion there.