Reorganising value on social media using cryptocurrency

A first look at the Props token and the Rize app.

We already live in a time of democratised media. Creators, for the most part, can produce and upload whatever they like online. However, conventional platforms fall short in their misaligned concentration of value. Users are creating value for platforms, but not seeing proportional financial compensation for their output.

Props aims to fix this. Props is a new cryptocurrency from live streaming app, YouNow. It’s effectively a token that has fiduciary value. Creators will have the opportunity to earn Props tokens on any platform that uses them, rewarding them for creating value for the platform.

For many, Props may be their first encounter with Cryptocurrency. By nature, all blockchain technologies are highly complex. Props intends to be accessible to all users. The app has been designed to ensure that all users, no matter of their previous experiences with cryptocurrency, can access the platform.

Creating proportional value

In this context, value has two meanings. Value initially refers to the finance of the platform, or its ‘wealth’. It also represents the social understandings of what makes a platform, and its content ‘valuable’. Whilst in previous iterations of social media, these two would be separated from one another, with the financial value having little relation to the social value, presenting an unfair balance, Props intrinsically links them together.

By using cryptocurrency as a form of financial value on a platform, it is possible to reward everyone equally. Whether you’re an investor, purchasing tokens with the intention of capital gain, or a user, receiving tokens for creating and participating in content. Everyone benefits from increasing the platform’s value, both financially, and socially! Receiving tokens is an incentive for users to continue to create, and engage with the platform.

Many existing social media sites create the illusion of public entities, whilst maintaining their privatised power structures. In the first few months of 2018, we have seen the issues associated with monetisation of platforms. YouTube is perhaps the most current example. The ‘adpocalypse’ scandal late last year prompted discussions of what content should, and should not be monetised.

Small creators in particular have seen their ability to use the platform to earn a living repealed, with higher goalposts assigned in order to reduce the chances of spam content being monetised, and distributed illicitly.

Props evidently comes around at an interesting time. Right now, there is no real direction for platforms, with monopolised power structures, that will prove viable to small creators. YouTube initially used algorithms to decide what content is appropriate for monetisation, however creators found that didn’t work. Props provides a structure in which those who are making good content will gain status, and those who aren’t will lose it. As the status system is tied in to the financial system, this will also allow creators who make great content the opportunity to earn a fair share of the value they create. There’s no middle man in the deciding of value, it’s between the creators and users.

The Rize app. Discussing the platform with creators Casey Neistat, The Foley Three and Emma McGann.

The app

Rize will be the first app to utilise the Props Token. It’s a live streaming app, rewarding users for interaction with Props tokens. This functionality is not present in app. Regulatory approval, and other intricacies mean it cannot launch in this public beta form. Props have currently been replaced with a non-fiat token, giving users a taste for how they will be rewarded. The community is excited to see how cryptocurrency can reward their creativity.

On Rize, you are able to host a room, and have 3 other guests come in and join that room. If you’re an audience member, you can also chat with up to two people in a separate stream. If you like what you see, you can reward people with coins. All of this activity compounds into tokens everyday, rewarding you for your activity.

I have been using Rize for just over a month, as part of a closed beta of YouNow partners, Investors and other invitees. I’ve become familiar with both the community, and the app itself. I’ve been able to see how this platform will work to both expand communities, afford new opportunities, and, inevitably, reorganise wealth on social media platforms.

The app is really simple to use. It has a fun, accessible vibe, making it attractive to all audiences. The danger with cryptocurrency is its tendency to overcomplicate. Although the cryptocurrency element isn’t live yet, it has been neatly integrated into the platform, meaning that for those new to blockchain technologies, it is not at all overwhelming. It’s easy to get straight on the app, start a broadcast, and prompt a discussion.

I briefly spoke to YouTube creator Casey Neistat, who explained his lack of enthusiasm for other live platforms. He described how other live platforms are ‘boring’ in their one-way narratives, wherein audiences are left with very little opportunity to participate in the content. Rize is different in its approach. It’s not intended to be a one-way dialogue from creator to audience, but rather a platform that encourages conversation. Audience members are encouraged to talk to one another, and broadcasters are able to interact more intimately with their audiences.

Rize and Props are also both open source, meaning developers can build experiences into the platform potentially adding new dimensions to the app, and bringing a plethora of use cases to Props.

My concerns

Whilst Rize is a really great app, it’s not ready for prime time yet. It’s still very much a beta, with regular crashes, connection issues and the resounding lack of Props integration at launch. Casey Neistat cited this reason for refraining to share it with his audiences yet.

In this beta phase, the community in app is very much a mirror of the YouNow community. Creators from that platform are being incentivised to come join Rize. Whilst this is great, I have concerns over the app’s ability to create an original, fresh community. Rize is extremely different to YouNow, in its concept. As such, I believe it’s imperative for it to create a distinct, and vibrant community, and for other creators to be given a fair opportunity to create meaning on the platform.

Conclusion

I’m extremely excited for Props, and for the concept of Rize. However, I am spurred on by the conversations this platform may cause with regards to the disproportionate balance of value on social platforms. It’s empowering to see high profile creators take lead on this, supporting these types of platform. Whilst Props is the first, it is likely there will be many revisions of the cryptocurrency based rebalance of social media, and that’s certainly not a bad thing.

If you’d like to join Rize, click here. And don’t forget to follow me in app, my username is: ‘alex’.

Disclosure

It was difficult to write this article. I firmly believe in the concept, and wished not for the article to read like an advertisement, and for it to read as a first look at an exciting future technology.

It should be noted that I am an investor in Props. As such, any perspectives taken from this article should be considered through the lens of someone with a stake in the platform.

This article is entirely my opinion, and my understandings of the platform. For an official look at the Props Project, please take a look at this article.