TL;DR: Next week, Synereo will officially announce the first application of the Attention Economy Layer (AEL) toolkit, employing real AMPs and distributed storage technology to establish a decentralized content market on top of existing Internet services. This post seeks to explain the context in which the AEL is deployed.
As our long-time followers know, Synereo’s primary mission is placing the value generated by Internet denizens in their own hands. In the long term, our vision entails assigning full ownership and control of social networks to users themselves, on a technologically-decentralized platform. The race towards decentralized infrastructures, however, as important as it undoubtedly is, is meant to serve a higher goal; for Synereo and its community, decentralization is first and foremost a means to create a liberated, freer and fairer internet.
To achieve this goal, Synereo has designed a three stage roadmap, whose first step is the decentralization of the way User Generated Content (UGC) is published, distributed and monetized. We believe that UGC is the cornerstone of a future P2P media market, and for it to flourish and compete with existing outlets, a new and fairer UGC business model has to be established – one that empowers independent journalists, artists, and bloggers, rather than the platforms tucked between them and their audiences.
With our first release, Synereo establishes a new, decentralized Internet Meta-Layer – the Attention Economy Layer (AEL) – on top of the existing, centralized content and distribution markets.
This layer allows content creators to monetize their works without them having to rely on, and pay exorbitant fees to, the centralized entities their content resides in – while also compensating curators for their work in distributing content to areas of the net where it is appreciated. With this, the economic ground to finance independent, original content will be laid on top of the existing landscape; sparking ingenuity and helping consumers find what they need, when they need it, by virtue of a new economy that provides incentives to industrious curators.
Before elaborating on the nature of the AEL below, and to better understand the model brought forward here, we want to take a moment to further analyze the current UGC landscape and how Synereo’s proposed Attention Economy Layer purports to augment it.
The UGC Landscape
The UGC lifecycle comprises three main actors: content creators, publishing original videos, music, pictures and texts; curators, identifying high quality content and matching it with appropriate audiences; and consumers, who like all of us, turn to the Internet for entertainment, education and research.
These three actors – content creators, curators and consumers – engage in a Confined Attention Economy, mostly contained inside two Arenas: The Content Hub Arena (CHA) and the Content Distribution Arena (CDA).
The Content Hub Arena (CHA) constitutes media hosting services like Youtube, SoundCloud, Imgur, and the like. Although employing some social media functions, such as subscriptions, notifications feeds, and comments, platforms closer to the CHA spectrum serve mainly as hosting services. As such, players in this arena derive their profits from their position as intermediaries between content creators and consumers. YouTube, for example, offers video hosting services, and in return co-opts the traffic generated by the creators’ content for advertising purposes.
The Content distribution Arena (CDA) constitutes of a small number of massively used social-networking providers such as Facebook and Twitter, region-specific networks such as VKontakte and renren.com, and direct messaging applications such as WhatsApp and WeChat.
In contrast to the the Content Hub Arena, actors in the Distribution Arena gain their utility from the generic nature of their platforms, addressing the widest audience possible to create optimal network effects. In this respect, the CDA and CHA are complementary in their function, so that the CDA is the main venue on which content hosted on the CHA interfaces with the end-consumer. As such, players in this arena derive their profits from their middleman position between curators and consumers: every link “liked” or shared on Facebook by your friends, for example, constitutes a curation activity – as they provide you with content you may be interested in, through various interest groups and social structures. This allows Facebook to create interesting, unique feeds, attracting consumers’ attention, which is then sold to third parties.
The turnover generated this way finances the heavy centralized infrastructures needed to uphold this industry, while massive profits accumulate in the hands of a handful of platform operators. The creators and curators who fuel this market with content, on the other hand, are generally expected to participate pro-bono; the cyberspace’s neo-feudal lords grant us the space and the tools, and graciously allow us net-peasants to enjoy our ongoing servitude on their platforms without any expectation of sharing in the monetary value created.
This mode of operation, beside being quite exploitative towards UGC creators and curators, also leads to a sub-optimum performance of the UGC market, since very little incentive is provided to facilitate the efficient flow of content.
In order to disrupt this monopolized market, and to provide a business model capable of compensating content creators as well as curators, Synereo introduces the The Attention Economy Layer, or AEL, stacked above the Content Hub Arena and the Content Distribution Arena, creating a liberated content network above the existing, confined architecture.
Synereo’s Liberated Attention Economy Layer (AEL)
The Synereo AEL transcends the separation between the different platforms through which content travels from creator to consumer, and establishes a platform-agnostic chain of users linking and distributing content among them, compensating value-creators along the way accordingly. [Going forward, this solution will evolve into a decentralized content delivery network in its own right. More on this in the section below.]
Based on a crypto-monetary model, the AEL enables curators to Invest a customizable amount of AMPs in promising content, before funneling it from the Content Hub Arena to the relevant network segments of the Content Distribution Arena to match it with the right audience. The AMPs aggregated in this way are then distributed among the content creator as well as among curators who have created the highest amount of added value. Additionally, content creators can set AMP bounties on their content to further incentivise curators to assist in content/audience matching, creating a demand for AMPs on the creator side.
This way, a new economy is created, enabling users to employ their curation skills to profit from the successful distribution of UGC, while granting creators a form of passive income. This attention market, Piggybacking on the existing centralized and monolithic structures, provides the incentives necessary to improve the overall quality of User Generated Content, and to optimize the flow of content from creators to their appreciating audience.
Phasing into Beta
With the first round of user tests successfully completed, the circle of alpha test users is currently being expanded.
The next iteration of Synereo’s product will soon reach MVP status and be released to a wider audience as a closed beta. We will unveil this product next week, including a first glimpse of its UI, utility and projected release dates.
Until then, you should know that even while in Beta, Synereo’s Liberated AEL will already employ real AMPs which you can use to Amplify content, reward creators, and cut a profit from successful acts of curation. On the technological distribution front, we have user identities stored on a decentralized network, with the social graph implemented similarly as the next step.
With information gathered through the AEL toolkit, and network effects bootstrapped relying on existing networks, Synereo will be able to hit the ground running with its decentralized social networking app – already populated with users, their social graphs, their identities and histories – all securely stored on the blockchain, privately owned, accessible and controlled by them only.
This is Synereo’s first step on the path leading towards this goal. A path paved with applications providing immediate use, offering functioning, real-world distribution solutions that utilize AMPs and provide them with tangible backing, much before our end goal – a fully decentralized internet, owned by its denizens – is achieved.
We appreciate your attention,
— The Synereo Team