First, thank you for such an in-depth and considered set of questions/critiques! Every new person who joins the community brings a new perspective, and that's so valuable to us as we build this platform.
I think @Malkazoid knocked it out of the park in terms of his responses (I think I would have said almost the same thing, and I'm so appreciative of his knowledge and support). Since we're building a platform that is self-governed, it's especially important for the community to discuss these things freely.
Regarding discomfort with a new idea/platform/system, and particularly one that has a crypto component to it, you'd be crazy not to be skeptical given the daily drip of news (scammers, hackers, etc.). We're often so heads-down in moving toward the beta release that we aren't as visible here as we could be. But I'm a real person, our Founding team and staff are real people, and there's an inspiring group of real people in this community, who are all devoted to making Narrative a reality.
One thing that might help you feel more comfortable would be to read some of our blog posts, where we've been sharing news updates, as well as philosophical info: https://blog.narrative.network/. It might offer some more perspective on where we're going.
And finally, I hear you loud and clear that "what is Narrative" can be explained more clearly. It will be a lot easier when content enters the picture (which is the core of the project). The white paper was replaced/superseded by the spec, but we will be providing a lot more messaging content and more user-friendly explainers as we move along.
The pie chart has been updated into this graphic (which we'll add into a FAQ too). This gives a more clear picture of money in/money out.
If there are any other questions or concerns that we haven't addressed, please let me know.
Welcome to the community, and I really do hope to see you actively join the platform! We need thoughtful people like you!