I am a person who is very fastidious when it comes to my groceries. So sometimes I have to forage through multiple supermarkets to find the exact brand and produces I want, to ease my first-world-problems type of cravings, for instance 4+2 palm-oil-free vegan donuts. And when I do happen to come across those things, I pay (way too much) at the end of my hunt, but I pay. Yet when my quest leaves me empty handed because someone just bough the very last set of 4+2 palm-oil-free vegan donuts (YES YOU! I will find you sooner or later, my nimble-donut-fingered archfoe!) — I don’t pay a single cent. Now imagine those supermarkets would charge you money every time you enter, just for walking into their store, 10 bucks straight — just for that. An utterly outrageous thought, right? Just as insane as walking into a store, taking whatever you like and then refusing to pay because you will “spread the word about how awesome the products are”.
Every time you take something from someone that isn’t a gift, you pay up or you’re considered a thief, it’s how the world works. My point here is, economics is based on the simplest principle of all, that any five-year-old will understand —
“You give some you get some”: quid pro quo.
What started with simple systems of barter since the beginning of humankind, evolved into sophisticated systems of various forms of trading and markets over hundreds of years, but many of the rules of the trade, in fact, didn’t change all that much. With the onset of money, first as coins, then paper bills and now credit cards and online banking, we have come to accept money as a “quid” for the “quo”. Yet our traditional system of money and trading has been getting increasingly disrupted in recent years by a ground-breaking technological advancement.
It all started with the idea of triple entry bookkeeping (see the work of Yuji Ijiri, Ian Grigg, as mentioned in Jeffries 2017 — I highly recommend reading this article) and evolved into the phenomena we now know as blockchain technology — and with it: cryptocurrencies.
One basic principle behind these new networks is decentralization. What decentralization means — or should mean — is more power to the people (and fewer abuse by the top 1% of the powerful). And by people, I mean everyone, not just a select, privileged and filthy rich elite. The idea(l) behind decentralization is more autonomy on the individual, and more democracy on the community level. But back to trading: If you want to acquire something of a specific market value, you must purchase it in exchange for fiat or any other currency or means of exchange. And I do not use the word “money” here, because since Bitcoin was introduced, money does not equal $, ¥ or € anymore. After all, Andreas Antonopoulos called crypto “the internet of money” (see Antonopoulos 2016) for a reason.
No matter how disruptive and innovative blockchain and cryptocurrencies are, a lot of the basic economic principles that were valid and considered best practice pre-Satoshi (i.e. before 2009), still apply. I am by no means an expert when it comes to economics and trading, but I can tell you the same thing any first grader knows:
If you want to get something of value from someone, you have to give them something of value in return.
However, big companies have found sneaky ways around this. If we’re being frank here, they’re basically stealing your property from right under your nose without you even realizing it.
Sound scandalous? Yes, it does — because it is!
Don’t believe me? I will give you an example and chances are you’ve used their services at least once today already: Google, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram (and yes many of those belong to the same company) and the like.
But what exactly are they stealing? Very simply put: information.
Who you are, what you like, what you do, who your friends are, where you are and where you go, what you eat, etc. In short: anything they can possibly find out about you — which, given the advanced state of the web 2.0 nowadays, is pretty much everything. For the advertising world and the big players out there, the immeasurably valuable user data is priceless. …Or isn’t it?
It is no secret that all the major corporate groups and companies try to get their hands on as much user information as they can, to be able to design their advertising and their products according to the results of evaluating humongous amounts of user data. The reason behind this is blatantly obvious: maximizing their profits at minimized cost. The first part is achieved through customized ads and getting people to buy their stuff, the second part is achieved because the data they collect comes from millions of users all over the internet, all of whom don’t even know that their preferences and habits are indirectly transformed into profits.
And none of which will ever end up in those users’ own pockets. On the contrary, they will probably spend even more of their hard-earned money buying products from all the custom ads they see everywhere on social media etc.
Therefore, I say, let us not be fooled any longer. If someone wants your data, you should decide who can and cannot access it (it’s called privacy, people, look it up) and more importantly: you should be reimbursed. And currently, the ones who collect the data are being payed instead of the people who actually provide the data. Don’t let anyone make money off you without profiting from it: who wants to be a data-slaves to big corp? Let’s instead be smart about it! But how? Fortunately, blockchain and crypto companies have come up with some amazing ideas to solve that problem: direct user incentivization.
That means, if you provide something valuable to the network, you will get something valuable in return (usually native cryptocurrency rewards) directly through the platform.
So, let me finish by mentioning some concrete examples of projects who are doing exactly this: rewarding you, the user, for sharing what was rightfully yours in the first place. Such platforms/ projects, that reward you for creating content, providing data or simply using their platform include for example: Steemit, BAT, CAT, NAS, etc. But I want to give a special shout-out to another great community-based project, which I have been involved with for some time now.
I love the concept behind Presearch because you don’t even have to actively create content to get rewarded for participating (since not everyone has the opportunity and capacity to continuously generate valuable content for a platform). Presearch is a decentralized and community driven search engine project, that rewards its users with what’s rightfully theirs: If you click on an ad that a company placed with Presearch, you get your share of that ad revenue ($PRE). Currently it’s still a search tool, but they are diligently working on a full-blown search engine, which should be ready to launch next year. Presearch rewards its users for searching the web, just like you would with other search engines. Only, you actually get something in return for using the platform. Simple as that!
Am I a bit biased because I’m a crypto aficionada, who really believe in this project and this awesome idea and thinks we absolutely need more competition for monopoly corporations like Google and Facebook? Yes. But that doesn’t change the facts: if you provide a platform, company or service with something valuable, like content or personal user information, you should — nay — you deserve to be reimbursed. Anything less, is larceny, in my book.
So my advice to everyone is: GO GET WHAT’S YOURS! Huzzah!
Jeffries, D. Why Everyone Missed the Most Important Invention in the Last 500 Years. Medium article: Jun 23, 2017. https://hackernoon.com/why-everyone-missed-the-most-important-invention-in-the-last-500-years-c90b0151c169 [last accessed 05/01/2018]
Antonopoulos, A. M. 2016. The Internet Of Money. A collection of talks by Andreas M. Antonopoulos. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 1st Ed 08/30/2016