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Imagining a decentralised future for the digital publishing industry

What's New in Publishing 26 Aug 2020 07:55

Did you know that the Zimbabwe Dollar ended up with so many zeros that the ink was more valuable than the bills it was printed on?

How could that happen? Let’s quickly go back 7000 years.

In 5000 BC the first metal objects were introduced as commodity money replacing bartering for goods. With the introduction of paper currency and non precious coinage commodity money evolved into representative money, meaning the money itself didn’t need to be of great value but represented a claim on a commodity i.e. silver or gold that was supported by a government or bank. Representative money was then removed further from reality with Fiat money, whereby the value is decoupled from its claim on a commodity and the government solely defines its value, cemented by Nixon’s decoupling of the dollar from gold in the 70s.

All currencies (except crypto) now rely on the government’s good will, because they can influence the value and potentially collapse an entire economy by simply… printing more money.

In the world of online publishing, impressions and clicks have been the agreed system of exchange and value for advertising. In this article I wish to discuss how this system has created a deadly race to the bottom and what a future model could look like.

Personal media companies AKA social media disrupted the old by enabling creation. As the internet exploded with an abundance of content it also created poverty of attention, and where there’s scarcity there is value; value is therefore attributed to engagement.


Race to the bottom

Rigged game

On the other side of the equation, consumers have had enough of online ads. In what is possibly the largest demonstration in all of history 615 million devices now use an ad-blocker, that’s 11% of the global internet population rejecting ads on the web. When broken down by mobile users it’s somewhere between 37% and 47%, which is estimated to equate to around 2 billion people. The people have spoken and they want content!

“Rather than ten TV shows consumed by billions of people, we now have hundreds of millions of shows that cater to billions of people”

Venture Beat (“The future of the creator economy”)

Authenticity pays


Win Win

News article showing Vlogger Li Ziqi estimated annual income
Vlogger Li Ziqi has created a fortune documenting rural life with high quality video productions

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Paul Saffo
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