Using Digital Currencies to Disrupt Social Media Platforms

A small startup uses a digital currency to pay users for their "attention"

Wanna earn something for your attention?.

Most people use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to communicate with friends, families and even strangers.  As much as each of these platforms provides an important service allowing us all to stay connected, they’re also public companies who must monetize their platforms.

For Facebook, this includes those “promoted posts” that you see in your timeline.  Twitter is playing with numerous methods to gain revenue and advertising dollars, albeit with less success than Facebook currently.

When a user of these platforms encounters one of these revenue sources for the company, that revenue goes to Facebook or Twitter, but it’s the users’ attention that’s being bought.

This has been the model that we’ve all seen with television and it continues to be the model with the widespread use of YouTube creating 5-10 second advertising “bumps” before we can view the video we desire.

In 1971, Nobel Laureate Herbert A. Simon wrote the following – “...in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it" (Simon 1971, pp. 40–41).

This comment became the first articulation of something that has become known as the “attention economy”.

 

As defined on Wikipedia, the attention economy is an approach to the management of information that treats human attention as a scarce commodity and applies economic theory to solve various information management problems. Put simply by Matthew Crawford, "Attention is a resource—a person has only so much of it."[1]

What Facebook and Twitter are doing is to utilize the attention economy and are monetizing it for their benefit (and yes, their shareholders as well).  This is a powerful concept and is in fact, something that writers such as Goldhaber wrote about last century when they speculated that “attention transactions” could replace financial transactions as the focus of our economic system.

Does the success of Facebook and Twitter mean that the benefits of the “attention economy” will only be for companies and not directly for the individuals who are providing their attention?

Have you ever thought that the user should get paid directly for the attention that they’re giving to apps like Facebook and Twitter?

A young startup company out of Israel is using digital currency to disrupt the current “attention economy” and seeking to do just that.

GetGems is a young company that began with the vision that users, not platforms should be rewarded for interacting with advertising.  Seeing an opportunity to provide users an alternative to the “bombardment” of ads encountered on Twitter and Facebook, the company created a social messaging platform that provides rewards in the form of virtual currency, called Gemz for doing the daily things that a user does each day – watching ads, encouraging friends to sign up and just being part of the social network.

The company, created by 29 year-old Israeli Daniel Peled, found funding through bitcoin crowdsourcing (DISCLOSURE- I purchased Gemz as part of that funding) and has been working feverishly with a wide range of beta testers to solidify a social messaging platform that also allows for the easy transfer of photos, files, messages and the creation of groups for up to 200 people.  The application is available for iOS, Android and the desktop, and has users worldwide on their small, but growing platform.

The “attention economy” is with us.  Every day, we’re providing our attention for the benefits of others.  Could the potential success of GetGems and its use of a digital currency move the power of this “attention economy” back to the user?