Are decentralised apps the key to combatting Digital Maoism?

Nick Brogden
Are decentralised apps the key to fighting Digital Maoism?

Digital Maoism is the idea that everything on the internet should be free

Software developers and content creators are being eaten alive by the internet.

The music industry was the canary in the coal mine. Album sales for $15 were replaced by digital singles costing $0.99. These songs were also made available for free, illegally, via Napster and The Pirate Bay (among others).

While Napster-founder Sean Parker was able to laugh at the resulting carnage and move on to a cushy job at Facebook, everybody else paid a serious price.

Jaron Lanier calls this concept Digital Maoism: The idea that everything on the internet should be free. This is a huge and urgent problem.

“Culture and technology are increasingly reliant on the hive mind [of the internet]”, as Steven Johnson with the New York Times pointed out back in 2006.

Software developers experience similar issues. Many copies of expensive software are illegally pirated, and the emergence of monthly subscription models by major companies like Adobe has done little to stem the flow of piracy.

As teenagers dig through sketchy websites looking for free downloads, there is resultant data fraud and theft. It’s also a terrible incentive structure for the youth of today. As it stands, it makes sense for young people to steal all the software and content they want.

DApps — or decentralised apps — could be the alternative. As Dave Matli puts it via Hacker Noon, “Imagine a world where all of these content distribution, storage and shopping platforms could be mimicked — with all the same features — but there’s no big company that owns the platform.”

Can DApp technology save the world’s media and software from being forced into the bargain bin?

Real DApps you can use today

If you think DApps are a hypothetical concept, think again. They exist, and they are usable right now.

What if Spotify was a decentralised platform offering higher royalty rates based on transparent listening data? The team at Ujo Music is making it happen.

Also read: With token rewards and social incentives, decentralised travel networks are disrupting the tourism industry

What if journalism could be funded based on the impact and real value of work, not clickbait? Civil is making waves in this area.

Tired of YouTube dominating the video hosting space? LBRY and IPFS offer blockchain-based platforms for content distribution DApps.

Decentralised applications aren’t just the future of online technology, they are the present.

It only took five years to go from 0.4% to 5% of the world’s population being internet-connected. Today, 18 more years down the road, 50+% are connected.

There’s no reason to doubt that DApps will gain a lot of usage in the coming 3-5 years.

How to overcome obstacles to DApp development?

The biggest challenge for any person interested in DApp development is to find a team. Developers who can code DApps are scarce, and they command a high price.

It may not be any easier in the future, with big business starting to turn an eye towards this industry. If Microsoft, Apple, and others start offering their best salaries to the most promising DApp developers, it will be near-impossible for smaller companies to compete.

There is work going towards making DApp development accessible. For example the EOS blockchain is home to a soon-to-launch protocol called Regium, which lets devs create DApps via common programming languages such as Javascript and Go.

Also read: Decentralised apps are the world’s new information superhighway, an interview with Metaverse CEO Eric Gu

One hypothetical example of Regium in action would be for a book publisher to hire a Javascript developer to build a DApp for their books. They might offer a monthly subscription to the full library of books, with the user retaining all of their own data, and the DApp transparently and automatically remitting royalty payments to the authors on an hourly basis.

That is just one possibility. There are many more, going far beyond the scope of this article.

It’s clear as day that blockchain is the future, and DApp development the very high and daunting point of entry. But the barriers are coming down. You can and should be a part of the DApp community that will “cross the chasm” towards success in the coming years. The first step is to educate yourself. Let this article be the beginning, not the end, of your journey.

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