Originally published on 26 Feb 2020
To provide more interaction within Steem Basic Income (SBI), we are continuing our interviews with prominent members of SBI! We hope to bring a greater sense of community, get to know our members, and gain a better understanding of why Steemians are choosing to be a part of SBI.
From a young age, @ecoinstant continues to be very interested in the mechanisms of sustainability, and loves being a part of several teams working on promising projects, including the marvelous Steem Basic Income!
I am extremely happy to share this interview! I know TCPolymath as one of the Admins of Steem Basic Income, and as an SBI Discord moderator myself, I have read many witty comments from him.
Recently, the talk around the entire blockchain is about how things have changed. I reached out to TC and asked him some of his thoughts on the current issues and how they had caused him to change.
@tcpolymath: When I first came to Steem I really believed in the SP thing. I've been both an author and a publisher and I really fell in love with the idea of a large community of people all of whom have influence over the direction of content, basically building a community of people who care about each other's work. I put in what was, at that time, a pretty big chunk of money, and set about working to build that community by supporting people who I thought would be good members of it.
I spent a lot of 2018 on that, and I still think it would have been a great idea, but between Hard Fork 20 and the gaining of mind-share by the plan that eventually became the EIP and Hard Fork 21, it became very clear that wasn't a direction that anyone with power on Steem was particularly interested in going.
I'm still not sure just what it is that anyone here wants out of content; they seem to want it to magically attract enough people to pump the value of the coin without anyone ever doing any work to encourage it. The idea that you could attract quality content just by down-voting all the other stuff doesn't seem to be going very well.
@ecoinstant: I originally reached out to you for an interview about your Mesopotamians project (and SBI), and found your Reverse Dolphin article talking about powering down. I thought that was a very compelling author support model you had going, coupled with the power of SBI.
@tcpolymath: When it became clear that particular vision wasn't where Steem was going, I would probably have just powered down and left, except that I had in the course of things been attracted by Steem Monsters. At that time the game was in a very clear down period, and market prices on cards were extremely appealing, so as my power-downs happened rather than going back into BTC to sit around doing nothing, they went into cheap cards.
Then over time they because less-cheap cards; the game added more features, Peakmonsters added more third-party features, and eventually I started building third-party features myself. And that's been fantastically successful. For the first time in my life I'm dealing with customers beating down my door for a product instead of having to chase them, and it's pretty great.
So my Steem income keeps growing, and my Steem-based assets keep growing, primarily because I stepped away from Steem Power and blogging, and started doing other things. Meanwhile holding SP has been something of a disaster, and looks to continue to be, so I feel lucky to have gotten out when I did.
@ecoinstant: I remember reading your ‘reverse-dolphin’ post, and hindsight looks like you correctly spotted the trend.
Now if you have stepped away from posting and SP, where does that leave you with SBI?
@tcpolymath: I consider Steem Basic Income to have been an unofficial internship for running a Steem-based service. That's always something I was interested in, and I was a support volunteer for Minnowbooster for a while. I had been asking a bunch of detailed questions about how SBI worked, and I think between those two things Joseph decided to ask me to do support work for SBI. Minnowbooster was at that time a very frustrating environment, where the whitelist volunteers really wanted to take on more responsibility and were repeatedly rebuffed, and eventually unceremoniously let go.
SBI was the exact opposite environment: Joseph welcomed and encouraged my desire to understand the system better and participate in making it work. He was willing to let me take on more responsibility, and also to develop my long-dormant programming skills. I hadn't written code in 20 years before starting to write Steem apps, and being the low programmer on the totem pole at SBI was a great way to get back into it without pressure and with encouragement, even when that was just trying to understand Holger's code enough to track down the occasional bug. So I've developed some loyalty to SBI and to the other team members, and doing support there now is no longer the workload that it was before automation was complete, so it's easy enough to stick around and lend a hand.
@ecoinstant: Steem-based service, I really like that phrase and I am working on something myself right now. From your post and comments, I take it that you still consider STEEM a good blockchain to 'do stuff' with - do you think that customjson is the 'wave of the future' while the blogchain aspect just sort of rots?
@tcpolymath: We've got a blockchain that can store and retrieve large amounts of text, which is a very powerful thing, and we're not using it to its full potential because the first app on the chain renders all of that text as blog posts by default. Custom JSONs are great but even the new longer ones are more limited than they need to be. Three-second block times and the ability to store arbitrary data for a variety of purposes ought to make Steem the king of blockchains.
Other more popular chains are encumbered by features that are really just there because they seem cool, rather than because they're functional. We've been seeing that over and over with EOS smart contracts and RAM allocation lately. Steem's data-management simplicity could make it much more flexible and powerful if it were let loose. Splinterlands, Steem-Engine, and others have shown what it's possible to do with just custom JSONs, but if "posts" weren't required to be actual posts, but could be posts for people who wanted them and customizable data storage for others, that could be vastly multiplied.
@ecoinstant: Very interesting idea there, I will have to ponder that for a while....how to unchain the post....or delimit the custom json.
So Death to the Reward Pool is something you have proposed, do you think that projects that are based on it, like SBI but many many others, should give up? Or look toward other possible futures that would presumably fix something? Or .... what do we do?
@tcpolymath: As long as the top witnesses and the Steemit developers continue to think curation rewards do what the white paper says they do, despite four years of contradictory evidence, I don't see a lot of point in the reward pool. It doesn't lead to rewarding content that attracts an audience, so it's basically people fighting over their sense of entitlement to what will eventually be nothing at all. I'd be sad to see SBI go, because it is a good attempt to repurpose the voting system to do something that's actually possible, but I don't have hope that the core system will ever work because the people who make decisions are unwilling to admit they have a problem. It's a legitimately hard thing to accomplish, and there's no shame to not getting it right the first time, but when you continue pretending that you must have gotten it right if only people would behave properly, that's counterproductive.
@ecoinstant: great mic drop! Is there anything else you want to add, anything you want to make sure appears in the published version?
@tcpolymath: Not particularly.
@ecoinstant: Excellent. I think you tied the bow quite nicely, thank you!