In my previous article in the series, I highlighted the importance of context when evaluating solutions. Now I would like to start with a specific context, identify the problem, and look for specific solutions.
Let’s consider the case of Jeremy, a fictitious content creator who focuses on cats and dogs. Up until 2019, Jeremy had a healthy business and a fruitful relationship with his audience. His business model depended on Google, he would publish his videos on YouTube, and get some revenue from the ads on his videos, and his website used google ads to generate even more revenue. In addition to that, Jeremy was funded by several enthusiastic followers on Patreon.
Jeremy was making enough money to sustain himself and his business was promising with the growth of alternative media, until one day he took a stand that google did not like. He started talking about politics and in 2020 he also talked about the Covid psyop. As expected, Google and Patreon did not like the change in his direction, and eventually evicted him. In the same week, he got banned on Facebook and Twitter as well. Suddenly Jeremy lost all his archive on YouTube, his website was full of links to non-functioning videos, and he lost all ways to connect with his audience on YouTube. Jeremy was forced to rebuild his business in a new way, so he sat down and started writing the requirements of his new business:
I must own my content, and no service provider should be able to delete it.
I must own the relationship with my audience, not depend on a social network to provide it.
I must get funding directly from funding sources.
I want to use social networks to grow my business, not use my business to grow social networks.
Being a realistic person, Jeremy understood that it might take time to achieve what he wants to do, he was willing to compromise only if that would serve his long-term goals. At the same time, he was aware that although he wants to maintain his independence, he must engage in some type of ecosystem that respects independent people.
The technical solutions that Jeremy would use might differ from what another similar content creator could use. For example, When Jim, another content creator facing the same problem, proposed to Jeremy to use BitChute and Odysee, Jeremy realized that both services can delete his content from their index, He highlighted that Odysee’s CEO says that they are VC backed, and they plan to be the successor of YouTube. Jim insisted that Odysee is an alternative service and it supports individual creators, so it is in everybody’s interest to support them. Jeremy thought about it and said that he would support them by sharing some of his content on their network, so they can use his content to grow their site, and he can benefit from their delivery network. Anything more than that would require a direct agreement with Odysee, which is what he would be willing to negotiate after he rebuilds his site. Jim believed in Odysee and BitChute as the solution to the problems of YouTube, but Jeremy reminded him that YouTube was all about independent creators in its early days, and advised his friend to be careful, while wishing him good luck.
Marc is another content creator, he runs a successful gaming channel on YouTube, and he promotes the blockchain as the final solution to censorship. After a long discussion with Marc, Jeremy came to the understanding that using the blockchain provides no real value to him, as he wants to own his content not put it on somebody else’s blockchain. Besides, he wants to focus on hosting his content, not on hosting a blockchain that includes other people’s content, in the meantime, he would copy some of his content to systems that use a blockchain to benefit from their delivery network and to support them and reach out to their community.
Linda, Jeremy’s cousin, wanted to help Jeremy with monetization, so she suggested a list of monetization services and Patreon alternatives. The list included many companies that Jeremy never heard of before, but none did meet his needs, he was determined to have a direct relationship with his supporters, and the only middleman in that relationship can be a payment processor, not a subscription or monetization service. He told Linda that he wants to accept credit card payments, both directly and via PayPal, and he would add payments by cryptocurrencies later to the new site.
Although Jeremy wanted to build a new site, when he came to me to discuss it, I convinced him that his old WordPress site is good enough and can support him for the next 5 years. Jeremy concluded that his site was the only thing that worked well for him, and the problem was that he focused on improving YouTube and Patreon's sites more than on improving his site.
Jeremy asked me whether I knew somebody who successfully achieved what he wanted to achieve, so I showed him corbettreport.com, the site of James Corbett. James has proven to everybody that you can own your content, you can own your relationship with your audience, and you can build a sustainable business as an independent researcher and content creator by depending on yourself and your audience.
“James Corbett is an exceptional person, and his success might be an exception,” Jeremy said and requested more examples on the success of this business model. I suggested Jaysanalysis.com, the site of Jay Dyer. Jay has also proven that a single person can make a living and be popular while talking about not so popular topics like theology and philosophy on the internet.
Both James and Jay leverage existing social networks to achieve their goals, and the relationship is a win-win relationship, while Jeremy’s relationship with YouTube was a lose-win relationship, YouTube has won a lot by advertising on Jeremy’s content, while Jeremy lost everything he built and became a cyber refugee after being purged from YouTube.
Jeremy’s idea about decentralization was insightful to me. He thought decentralization means that everybody can become his center of attraction. Everybody can build his community. He told me that promoting specific non-decentralized alternative social networks is like promoting recentralization, not decentralization, therefore he would not put permanent links to Facebook or twitter or Odysee or BitChute on every page of his website unless those sites put a permanent link to his site on every page in their sites.
I do not agree with all Jeremy’s decisions, and I do not advocate them for everybody in every context, however, I think all those who want to build a decentralized internet would benefit from Jeremy’s ideas, and build on them.
The Unweb Developer