Robert, these are all great questions. For efficiency, I'm going to copy/paste your questions and format them with Blockquotes followed by my answers.
Since you posted this, I hope you're open to questions/discussion.
Frankly, I don't see the connection between blockchain technology and social networking. In "The Evolution..." you state that "What makes them special with regard to social media, in my opinion, is the potential to reduce invasive advertising, such as what you see on Facebook, increase the level of personal data security, as opposed to what you have on Facebook and Google+"
True. No special technology needed to perform any of those functions. The focus of that article was to give some historical highlights on the development of social media that have led up to the current spate of blockchain-based media sites like Steemit and Narrative. I left a lot out that I could have included. It is by no means an exhaustive discussion.
You also state that these blockchain enabled sites "create an atmosphere of freedom that allows users to earn rewards based on their contributions, unlike every social media site ever created until now."
Again, this has nothing to do with blockchain technology. Revenue sharing programs of various kinds have been around a long time.
Again, good point. Blockchain technology certainly isn't a necessary component for revenue sharing, which has been around for a long time. And I've tried several of those revenue sharing websites including Yahoo! Voices. Most of them are terribly non-lucrative. They're not lucrative primarily because the revenue sharing model is based on a fixed value. Those sites typically share revenue from their site-based advertising, which typically follows one of three models - PPC, PPM, or traditional display advertising pay-for-space. In all of those cases, the amount of revenue an author can make per article is limited to the amount of revenue the advertising brings in for the website that hosts it.
What makes cryptocurrency different is the potential for appreciation. Due to the nature of cryptocurrency, there is built-in volatility and natural price fluctuations. Therefore, the amount of income an article can make is, theoretically, unlimited. Taking Steemit as a case study, if you were active two years ago, you could have earned $100 or more on a single post. The same post today will probably net you, at most, $30. Assuming the right market conditions, that post you earn $30 on today could appreciate into hundreds or thousands of dollars later as the price of STEEM rises in value. Another bull market akin to 2017 could see those Steemians active today, posting daily, earning small rewards for each post, watching their wallets' values go up exponentially even if they stopped posting. No non-blockchain-based revenue sharing model has ever had that feature. Why? Because they paid in fiat money, so the economics was based on real-world economics. Each blockchain-based social media website develops its own micro-economy based on the features of its cryptocurrency.
So, while revenue sharing has been around for awhile, it hasn't been worked quite the same way. And ... no social media website has ever employed it, to my knowledge, until now.
In fact, rather than adding value, I think the emphasis on blockchain technology detracts from the appeal of these platforms. When the average user approaches a social media site and sees a pitch extolling the virtues of cryptocurrency and blockchain, I suspect that many (most?) will simply leave.
I agree. Focusing on the features won't sell the platform. Focusing on the benefits will. Classic sales psychology.
More importantly, I think devoting resources and energy to blockchain technology - which as far as I can see, provides no advantages - diverts attention from the things that will be required to make these platforms successful.
I'm going to have to appeal to the crowd on this one. Distributed ledgers clearly provide an advantage, in my opinion, or none of the global consulting companies would be spending billions of dollars to develop their own for their own uses. No one spends that kind of money on a passing fad, certainly not companies that built their reputations on sound business practices.
Logistics companies have been shipping products around the world for decades using the same transportation tools, for the most part. But they are now testing blockchain technology and finding that it streamlines their processes and makes them more efficient.
Is there a lot of hype around blockchain technology? Yes. And a lot of it is irrational. But there's a lot of irrational thinking that goes into stock investing too. That doesn't mean Wall Street is irrelevant. The entire global economy says otherwise. Blockchain technology is simply a vehicle.
I've worked for several venture-funded startups, and I have been a technical advisor for a couple of VCs. One lesson I have learned is that a startup needs to have a laser focus on one or two critical success factors. And frankly, in terms of building a successful media platform, I don't see why blockchain technology would even be in the top ten things to think about.
If you just want to build another social media platform, probably not. One of the major selling points of blockchains is the distributed governance mechanism that cannot be accomplished any other way. At least, that I'm aware of. When Satoshi Nakamoto took several existing ideas and combined them into the first blockchain, he included features that before were never matched. They all existed separately, but no one had combined them to make them work together before. One of those features was a decentralized way to validate transactions that didn't require one party trusting another to make all the decisions (commonly called "centralization"). It's a brilliant feature. Since then, variations of it have sparked new and innovative ways to conduct business. And they have led to new business models. Will these survive? Only time will tell.
Perhaps to bring home the point, I also read your article "What You Should Be Doing on Narrative Right Now." I notice that you talk abut a number of features of Narrative, good and bad (and just different) - but never once do you mention blockchain technology as an advantage.
Yeah, because my audience is assumed to already be using it. I was speaking mostly to folks on Steemit and other blockchain-based platforms who are beginning to migrate to Narrative. They're already familiar with the technology.
Why should a social media platform incorporate blockchain technology?
It shouldn't, necessarily. What you're missing is that I am a content writer for fintech companies. I specialize in authority content. To demonstrate how to present deep knowledge of a topic and attract the type of customer I'm looking for, I need to be able to show them how to do it well. That's why I write about these topics on my professional blog and spread them around to the various platforms where I cross-post to reach new audiences. I'm just speaking to my audience.