Clickbait, social approval, fake news, phone addiction, these are just a few of the distractions we face every day. We live in a time and culture where the distractions of technology keep us far away from the things in life that matter most. Our time is all we have. How we spend our time is either bringing us closer to the relationships that matter most or distracting us from our values.
As a result of time scarcity — gathering people’s attention has turned into a thriving economy — just look at Attention to advertisements in the news feed, engagement times, and the quest for new user adoption has created a desperate environment between the middlemen — the platforms serving the content and the content consumers. “Every little bit of attention that users give to consuming content translates to ad dollars spent to propagate clickbait and fake news.” Says Forrest Chen.
To Forrest Chen the phone addiction trend became an opportunity to solve a problem. He wanted to allow for transparency of data sharing. Instead of people having to give up their data in exchange for free app usage and free content, he wanted to empower the content creators to be paid directly from the content consumers. His vision was to solve the problem by empowering all users to access content and deliver the content on blockchain technology so that the community profits together in accordance with everyone’s needs and values. For example, users who value their data, who want to be in control of their data need a platform in which trust is not an issue. The major problem faced by Facebook is that the users don’t trust the platform anymore.
There is an opportunity now to invest our time in “trustless” systems where high-quality content rises to the top. Users want quality content and a fair and balanced perspective of the news. They want to trust the news, but because fake news has become so advanced, it’s important that the data surrounding content become transparent. With peer to peer data transference and blockchain technology, users forego trust because they believe in the power of the decentralized system.
Mark Zuckerberg is interested. In his 2018 new year resolutions, Mr. Zuckerberg wrote that he wanted to explore the application of blockchain technology. Though there has been speculation that Facebook may release its own token, nothing formal has been announced.
Content Neutrality Network (“CNN”), was founded to address content equality. The company’s foundation solves transparency issues faced by social media with blockchain technology. For example, manipulated and sensationalized advertising campaigns and click bait news headlines which prevent high quality content from being discovered. The CNN token is a feature that any social media platform who wants to explore blockchain applications can integrate.
I sat down with Forrest Chen to ask him about the attention economy and the problem we face in deciding where to put our own attention and time.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Content Neutrality Network?
A: I started a company a while back called NewsDog. It’s a news destination that quickly grew to become the #1 news app in India and other eastern countries. We have 50 million users and are seeing tremendous growth. When the growth really took off I noticed a need for real value generation directly from the content creators and content consumers. We knew that we could solve this problem faced by the NewsDog community with blockchain technology.
We wanted to solve the problem that users of social media platforms face – they waste their valuable time and do not have real value creation from their time invested. Content Neutrality Network (“CNN”) was founded as a platform that addresses value by cutting out the middlemen and ads by allowing the consumers and creators of content to connect directly with a token exchange.
If users opt in to watch ads then they should be compensated for their time and data. We are bringing value to social media sites that want to explore applications of blockchain technology because we care about the user experience.
Q: Content Neutrality Network is one example of how you are applying your experience as an entrepreneur in the content space with your success at NewsDog, but who else is also doing this? Who is the competition?
A: “Primas and Steemit are also blockchain-based content platforms that incentivize users with cryptocurrency. Both companies have already proposed new protocols for the content industry. Both share the same content problem with their protocols. Primarily, content distribution on these networks depends entirely on user’s comments, upvotes, and engagement. While this approach might work for a single interest community, content can’t be distributed across full-service platforms based on the user’s interest alone.”
Users may have a hard time finding the content that they are interested in on Steemit since they are unable to rely on the community for recommendations on content outside of the single interest community. Steemit’s white paper mentions that if there are one million articles, the most popular one hundred will account for one-third of the total value of content. The next ten thousand will account for another third, and the rest of the articles account for the final third.”
Q: Tell me about the token feature. How can social media take advantage of cryptocurrency?
A: The native digital token of our platform is a major component of any social media ecosystem. Operating as a utility token, the “CNN” token is used as a unit of exchange between the content community on the platform and the content creators. “The economic incentive encourages users to contribute content and maintain any social media ecosystem.
Q: What about revenue share?
A: Our time is what matters most. People no longer want to give their time and data away in exchange for the free use of products. Many users, for example, would rather pay for Facebook without ads. To solve the problem, we need to look at the system and ask how could this be done on a distributed network.
We wanted to create a network where the revenue could be shared with users based on the user’s attention and time. We want to give users control over their screen time so they can focus on the things in life that matter most.
By putting trust in the blockchain technology, the transparency of data transference and low-cost point-to-point payment mechanism make the perfect combination for users. My goal is to deliver users the content they want to give them control over their data and how they spend their time. The platform is designed so that both the content creators and consumers get incentives and rewards.
Q: How do users get rewarded?
A: Cryptocurrency can be used as a way to incentive users who share and repost content. Utilizing cryptocurrency as a feature to get more distribution across networks also creates incentives for users to repost high-quality content that is suitable for the target audiences and communities.
By incentivizing users with cryptocurrency features, there’s an opportunity now to change the old business models and replace them with new ones that distribute the wealth across the network to eliminate manipulative advertisements by focusing high-quality content.