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A community-powered content creation ecosystem (and “decentralized global media production studio”) could act as a multi-tiered solution to address the plague of content objectification, influence peddling, and centralization of values penetrating our world’s mass media. A network of content creation communities can produce value together using basic decentralized finance (liquidity pools) and NFT-style “digital raffle tickets.” Its inherent mechanics encourage social contact and collaboration while the network effects of a tokenized ecosystem incentivize participation. Furthermore, blockchain-backed reputation markers and DAO-style governance may allow for the continued grassroots development of such a robust cooperative endeavor.
Today, the creation of digital media, or "content," is motivated by profit. Data collection and advertising revenue are the most common means of monetization and thus, in order to be broadcasted, creators of any caliber or notability must shape their content to fit a behemoth media platform's mold in order to make a living. Audiences are accustomed to the passive consumer role and often have no direct relationship with the source of their entertainment (the creators). This profit-dominated incentive model has forced the presence of a middleman to handle interactions between creators and audiences. A middleman is often the creator’s and their community’s only means of communicating or fundraising, distancing the two parties while profiting from the interactions it mediates between them.
We compare middlemen mass media conglomerates to cartels because of their self-serving influence on society at large, including democratic processes. To preserve ad-driven profits, centralized content platforms must delete users' posts at will, drown out smaller voices, and smear yet others with social media campaigns to virally spread the influence of this cartel’s larger social, economic, and political agendas.
These media monsters, fueled by a desire for profit, separate people from one another. Most journalists, artists, vloggers, and entertainers must trim their content to fit through the platform’s intake valve in order to find success. This gatekeeping power makes creators subservient to the rules of the cartels; the platforms maintain power by aiming user engagement to be focused on content instead of the user communities.
Entertainment was once composed of community activities participated in collectively, and shared ceremoniously (and still is, in some cultures). In today's connected world of consumption, most people will never connect with those who create their diversions, and instead consume them without any notion of contribution or participation. The value potential of creative participation and cooperative ownership that could stem from the shared rewards of collaborative creativity are instead funneled back to the big media and tech corporations and their control mechanisms.
But it doesn’t need to be this way.
Web 2.0 platforms have thrived by monopolizing their niche: friends are on Facebook, videos are on YouTube, short-form thoughts are on Twitter, long-form content is on Medium, et cetera. Each niche is dominated by one established platform, answering only to the venture capital that built their monopoly, all intent on harvesting as much user data as legally possible while bypassing free speech protections to protect their bottom line. Players inside these niche platforms must adhere to the rules encoded in the functionality of the platform itself or look elsewhere to fulfill their need for online social interactions.
What Bitcoin's peer-to-peer (p2p) blockchain technology has revolutionized for the social contract of money is now being experimented with other facets of networked human interaction. Distributed ledgers (blockchains), borderless currencies (cryptocurrencies), decentralized finance (DeFi), decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have all taken markets by storm with the many benefits to the individual and society that their transparency and resilience can offer.
As of yet, the ever-expanding crypto space is lacking a protocol whose focus is to inject Web3 values into the common logos that drives the creation of content; to rehabilitate the engrained feedback loop of human cooperation that has grown absent in the age of gatekeeper content platforms. The web3 projects that do dabble in token-vested content still seem to perpetuate the legacy mass media by operating under the idea that "content is king." The space has yet to acquaint itself with what Pelenia calls decentralized media (DeMe), where connection is king.