Decentralized Content Creation and Distribution — A Deep Dive
500 million tweets, 95 million Instagram posts, and 720000 hours of youtube videos are uploaded daily. That are just social platforms that are used by the majority of people, but the issue is the majority of this content is managed and monitored by tech giants that can take your access away at any time.
But, before getting into different things at once, let’s see what we are going to discuss in this deep dive:
- Applications of Censorship
- Internet 🤝 Censorship
- Web3 and medicine of decentralization
- Tools of expression:
- Creaton: A Web3 Patreon
- Mirror: The Essential Web3 Toolkit
- Darkblock: A creator economy booster
- Tune.fm: A streaming platform that supports!
- Wordcel: A writer’s friend
We have been making content for a long time. It is said that the most ancient writings are from 3200 BC. That is around 5400 years ago! Some also theorize that the most ancient manuscripts, the Vedas date back to 6000 BC, which is more than 8000 years ago! Cave paintings revealed that we were around for more than 45000 years!
Humans are expressive beings. We like to express ourselves in every way possible. Even historically we have seen literature, music, folk tales, and even traditions of cultures as a way of expression. Every form of art is a form of expression or emotion. A musician feels the beats, a singer sings from the soul, and a writer lives the stories he writes.
As we evolved, we also got new ways to express ourselves. It started with Music, folk tales, legends, and even plays. With time, we improved sophistication in every domain. We started writing deeper plays, painted galaxies, and even created music that would just make you experience a range of emotions from making you dance to making you cry.
With this, we encountered that people in positions of power don’t usually like when there is an art form that criticizes them or makes fun of them. With this, a new concept was born, and it is called censorship.
By definition, censorship means: “Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information. This may be done on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient.”
In shorter words, censorship means when an authority thinks a certain piece of expression can harm their belief or power or create disturbances in their rule, they tend to either change the piece to their liking or remove it entirely from the public access.
Applications of censorship
Let’s understand this by examples and with different forms of government or authorities that have been maintaining order in human history.
Monarchy means when a king rules over a piece of land and anyone residing in those lands is under its jurisdiction. So, anyone who speaks ill of the king is either sentenced with some punishment or is asked to change the contents of the expression.
Monarchy is the oldest form of government and usually, there is little to no power struggle in the monarchy. The Royal Family enjoys complete authority and the king has the final say in every situation. Everything depends on the will of the King in this form of government. We still see some length of Monarchy in England, but in most places, there are no monarchs.
Eg. During the French Revolution, censorship laws were placed to restrict public communication and the increasing ideas of liberalism.
A dictatorship is a form of government in which one person or a small group possesses absolute power without effective constitutional limitations. This was relatively a new form of government that emerged in the late 1900s. In a dictatorship, it is the dictator who dictates the law of the country. Dictatorships are very similar to an absolute monarchy. The rule of the dictator can happen through military takeovers, rebellions, or if an elected person refuses to step down from his office.
The strongest form of censorship is observed in dictatorships. Every form of expression is either set to match the regime’s tone or is silenced in some other way.
Eg. Beginning on May 10, 1933, Nazi-dominated student groups carried out public burnings of books they claimed were “un-German.” The book burnings took place in 34 university towns and cities. Works of prominent Jewish, liberal, and leftist writers ended up in the bonfires. The book burnings stood as a powerful symbol of Nazi intolerance and censorship.
An ancient form of government was first observed in greek history. This form of government is relatively more tolerant with people able to express more and discover various forms of art and literature. As any government has, democracy also has a set of censorship problems with it. The oldest mention of censorship was observed in Greece where a certain group of people would decide how an average man should live a life, a social construct around which the freedom was allowed and what not to do in society.
Even today, we see so many governments, directly and indirectly, censoring the opposing political parties, and people who are outspoken about the state and general framework were moral and opinion policing is done.
Most countries subtly pass laws that censors users to access the internet or certain aspects of the internet. If you are interested in which countries do this, the answer is that every country does it and I would highly recommend reading this article about how they do it.
It hasn’t always been only governments censoring the general public. Religious institutes, academic institutes, and also general communities censor stuff that they find threatening to their ideology and public image. Many times, the biggest censors are social constructs and how the majority feels about certain things.
Eg. In India, we have various social constructs that usually censor anyone who keeps an opinion outside the public thinking. Up until recently, things like marriage and views around mental health were also discussed as taboo.
Let’s dive into how religious and academic institutes censored so many things that we aren’t aware of:
1. Religious Institutes
The most famous and notorious of all censorship done in human history is done by the Catholic church in the medieval period. Church banned a wide variety of activities from painting, reading, and practicing other forms of beliefs to even sentencing people to death for learning science and distribution of reading material other than the Bible.
The infamous story of Galileo and his findings of how Earth revolves around the Sun and not the other way around almost got him killed. The church still censors a lot of stuff to this day, but because of the internet and relatively free laws, people can access information that isn’t approved by the church.
It is not only the Catholic churches that censored people, many religious groups did the same, as any conqueror would destroy the place of worship that they would find in the region they set out to capture.
A recent example would be how the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan. It is relatively easy to understand why religion would censor anything, but the interesting concept is, that academic institutes also censored a large chunk of information from their students.
2. Academic Institutes
Academic censorship means cutting off a different variety of topics and discussions in a classroom and exposing students to only a certain form of knowledge and opinion. This sometimes also includes excluding education in fields of biology and nuclear physics for regular students.
This is an ancient practice where sometimes models of the social construct are taught to students at a tender age so that they follow them in their life without thinking and exploring other philosophies in their lives. The best example of academic censorship is the censorship in England where the newer generations are abstracted from the colonial history of the Country.
Internet 🤝 Censorship
The emergence of the Internet was thought to be the solution to freedom from content censorship. But, in reality, we see the censoring of opinions and art all the time. Social media platforms like Meta and Twitter have to comply with a certain rule book where they make every user accept those terms before posting anything to their platforms. Also, they have the power to delete anyone’s account at any given point in time. The social platforms that were envisioned to have freedom of speech slowly started having selective freedom of speech where you must follow the “Terms of Service” or you would lose your profile.
The platforms also have to constantly change their policies depending on the country and government. This means if a ruling political party decides to censor the opposing party, or they don’t want the opinions and publications of opposing parties to reach the majority of the public using the platform, they can just do that. The famous and controversial election of Donald Trump proved that partnering with Facebook boosted his campaign and changed the opinions of the masses that used the platform. To read more and understand what happened, I highly recommend you to give this article a read: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/us/politics/cambridge-analytica-scandal-fallout.html
The internet is thought to be free for all and an open technology that everyone can access. In reality, tech giants indirectly “own” the internet with their platforms, services, and data analytics. The solution to this problem? Well, we are also looking for it.
Web3 and medicine of Decentralization
Decentralization basically means there is no singular authority that decides on what should be done in a product or a service, rather it is giving power back to the masses. The primary aim of web3 and decentralization is to create a system in which there is complete ownership of expression. Currently, whatever you publish on a platform, is managed and monetized by the platform, which means the first person to earn from your art is the platform, and as clichè, as it sounds, web3 solves this. Web3 is based on the idea of rewarding users and creators while cutting out the middleman. So, there are some tools that cater to this exact issue, and let’s explore some of those
Tools of expression
While researching, we found a bunch of tools that enable creators to easily monetize and distribute their art without the fear of getting censored in any way. Let’s dive into some of them:
Creaton — A subscription-based content sharing platform
Creaton is a decentralized subscription-based content sharing platform where creators will have full ownership and control over their content.
Think of Creaton as a “Decentralized Pateron”. Just like Patreon in which a creator can upload their content — articles, photos, or videos — to the site, and their fans can follow this content, typically for a fee — Creaton does exactly that but with the help of NFTs.
Now, why NFTs?
- NFT is essentially an acronym for Non-fungible Tokens — which means unlike other tokens such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, each unit is unique.
- Creators own the NFTs. Every piece of content a creator shares is minted as an NFT. When subscribers look at it, they can’t simply download it.
Creators have full autonomy in that they can choose to upload public content or exclusive content that is only meant for subscribers.
The Product Teardown 🧩
Let’s understand the various parts of products one by one:
- On-boarding and Sign-Up
Onboarding and Sign-Up
While making accounts in web2 applications, you can sign-up in 2 ways:
- Set your email and password.
- Use social logins — Login with Google or Login with Facebook.
In Creaton, you can sign up using your wallet.
Step 1: Connect Wallet
Click on the ‘Connect Wallet’ button in the top right corner and follow the steps.
If you don’t have a wallet yet, don’t worry. You can create one for free.
You can choose Metamask as it’s super easy to set up.
How to set it up?
- Metamask: Follow this easy guide to set yourself up with a brand new crypto wallet
Step 2: Create a Profile
Once your wallet is connected, you can create your profile by clicking on the “Profile” button in the top-right corner and filling in the necessary details.
Note: You can still navigate through the platform without creating your profile, but to subscribe to a creator you need to create a profile.
Note 2: Since Creaton is decentralized, you need to pay gas fees while creating your user profile or creator profile since these actions are transactions on-chain.
Step 3: Good to go!
Now, you can subscribe to your favorite creators.
Onboarding as a creator
Step 1: Sign up as a user like above.
First, you need to sign up as a user. Follow the same steps that were used above.
Step 2: Setup Creator Profile
Go to Sign Up As Creator and fill in your necessary details.
Step 3: Done! Now go create your first post
Now you’ve signed up as a creator. Now, you can post your content to the public or exclusively.
The subscription model is very simple.
Creators earn money from the very first moment a fan subscribes to them. For this, they use Superfluid to transfer cryptocurrency in a streaming fashion.
Three features of the Superfluid Protocol:
- Superfluid is a new token standard, with the power to describe cashflows and execute them automatically on-chain over time in a non-interactive way.
- Superfluid flows are programmable, composable, and modular.
- All flows are settled at the same time, based on block timestamps.
Let’s say a Creator sets a subscription price of USD 20 per month. When a fan subscribes to this Creator, the fan’s account sends $0.000007 to the Creator every second!
Isn’t that exciting?
This process and stream are managed automatically by the Superfluid protocol.
And this method helps both the Creators and the Subscribers.
Creators don’t have to wait for monthly revenue distribution, and Subscribers do not spend their money all at once.
Creaton will be the way in which creators can own their content while monetizing it.
We are super bullish on it.
Any conversation about decentralized content creation and distribution tools does not end without Mirror.xyz
Since securing its seed round of $10 million in June 2021, the platform has been rampant with adding features.
Before we talk about that, what is Mirror?
As per Mirror, “It’s the go-to tool to share and fund anything.”
So, let’s look at what all can it do?
The Product Teardown 🧩
Mirror has divided its tools into 3 categories:
Mirror enables you to create entries composed of media blocks like images and videos.
Along with that, you can include Mirror’s crypto blocks — Crowdfunds and Auctions.
Users can write articles with images and videos and a ton of embeds while owning that piece of content since it gets published through their wallets.
In the image above is the editor. Users can add a title to their post and start writing.
They can add images and videos as media blocks while also adding crypto-economic blocks like Crowdfunding or Auction.
There are two tools here:
As per Wikipedia, “Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising money from a large number of people, in modern times typically via the Internet.” Mirror is just doing it in a decentralized manner with cryptocurrencies.
With Crowdfunds, anyone can raise funds for an idea or a project. This block is essentially a smart contract on Ethereum. Your supporters deposit ETH in the block to fund your idea in exchange for tokens. As per Mirror, the token represents “proof of patronage and a stake in the potential success of your project.”
For example, John Palmer decided to crowdfund his next essay Scissor Labels.
This was a unique experiment. He didn’t publish Scissor Labels for free, and nor did he put the essay behind a paywall. He did something in the middle: raise funds to produce a new essay in exchange for tokens that signify ownership.
And that’s how $ESSAY tokens emerged.
Here’s how it worked:
John set a goal of 10 ETH to fund his writing.
He raised 10.49 ETH.
He got 63 Backers — that means 63 people funded this endeavor.
If you contributed 1 ETH, you received 1000 $ESSAY.
If you contributed 0.5 ETH, you received 500 $ESSAY and so on.
John retained 35% of the total token supply.
A Split means ‘going Dutch’ just in reverse. That means your payments get split between multiple entities automatically.
A split is a payable smart contract that distributes value to multiple addresses on Ethereum.
To know more about what Mirror.xyz accomplishes, please visit:
We have NFT-fied everything. From images and songs to selfies and art. Soon, there won’t be anything that does not exist as an NFT. It’s inevitable.
But, there is a fundamental problem here. Every NFT content is accessible to anyone. Take Beeple’s $69 million NFT artwork for example. This masterpiece is just a few clicks away from being easily copied and downloaded. While it’s important to propagate accessibility here, it’s important that people control access to the content they create and own.
You realize what’s this all about, right?
Non-gated NFTs will not support the creator economy.
Here’s why: Owning a non-gated NFT is like owning a painting from Picasso. You bought it for $50 million but the whole world can see it, access it, and use it. You paid the creator (let’s say Picasso was alive) but the whole world can still copy it. You just got away with ownership rights.
Alternatively, a gated Picasso NFT is worth $50 million-plus. How so?
The exhibition revenue when the owner rents it out, or some royalty every time it’s displayed in an article. And sure, the rich getting richer off their investments isn’t anything new, but the artist and the early investors profiting at the same time is.
Imagine an artist gaining fame as his career progresses. Both the artist and the early believer in his art receive profits from his NFT sales in perpetuity.
Gated NFTs will therefore create and support a bigger creator economy.
And that’s exactly what Darkblock is helping with.
Darkblock is a control panel for decentralized content using an advanced DRM (Digital Rights Management). Creators choose how each NFT is sold, rented, distributed, or unlocked. They get to choose royalty structures, and inherence scenarios, all while making sure their creations won’t be copied outside their scope of purposes.
Darkblock has come up with a decentralized version of Digital Rights Management (DRM). It’s called PeRM (Personal Rights Management).
In true decentralized spirit, Darkblock said, “No one person will control Darkblock. The users of the protocol layer will govern the platform, echoing a form of Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO). New rollouts of software, the ability to embed work on other sites, or what features to apply to content will all be determined by the creators and patrons of the space. “
How it Works
- Create a Darkblock
You can create a Darkblock which is a layer on top of your NFTs that makes it unlockable using Darkblock’s Web App or their API.
- Monetize your NFTs
As the owner of the Darkblock you may choose to sell or rent your NFTs.
You can easily view your Darkblocks via Darkblock’s web app, by embedding their player on your site, or via their Android TV app.
Tune.fm is a tokenized music economy that enables artists to get paid directly for every second streamed using JAM tokens.
It enables artists to publish their music for free, while listeners pay directly using a fungible token issued on Hedera called “JAM.” This payment model cuts out several costly intermediaries found in today’s music streaming business models
On platforms like Spotify, there are too many intermediaries that take a cut from the revenue of the artists. In the end, the artist only receives 10% of the total revenue promised to him. That’s bad.
Tune.fm solves this.
Now, let’s look at Wordcel and how it helps to give sovereignty to creators.
Wordcel: A writer’s friend
Wordcel is a decentralized publishing stack on Solana that enables writers to publish their articles directly on-chain. The key differentiator here is, that you can actually see your work on-chain as proof of Post. So, in the future, no one can modify, delete or change the contents of the post, except for you. Wordcel is also different as it is built as a protocol and not an app, so you directly interact with the blockchain. Wordcel is currently rolling out their beta and if we get one, we would definitely love to write about it, on it, and go on-chain with our blogs.
This is how Wordcel works, but how does it solve censorship?
Wordcel enables a creator to have complete ownership of audience and content, so whatever you publish, you own it. Also as it directly goes on-chain, it’s impossible for anyone to delete or change it. This solves the problem of changing the contents and addresses censorship head-on.
Some more tools we encountered but couldn’t cover:
There are a lot of tools and projects that are focusing on decentralized content creation and distribution. Here are some tools and projects you can learn more about -
- Flixxo: It is a community-based video distribution platform based on decentralization.
- Privi: It is a collection of decentralized apps that aims to take the power away from the elites, and distribute it to the world.
- Audius.org: It is a music streaming platform that connects artists directly with their listeners. Artists can create their content and own it.
That’s it, folks! We loved to research and try out so many tools that help creators and their followers monetize and own their artform. If you found this deep dive amusing and would like to discuss more on the topic feel free to reach out to us at Lokesh Gaikwad and Yash Chandak.
How Internet Censorship Affects You (+Pros & Cons)
Web3 Exclusive NFT content platform. Creaton helps creators earn revenue for their work through cryptocurrency & NFTs…