/ ethereum

Akasha First Impressions

Akasha is a new social network that allows users to profit from the popularity of their posts. I recently discovered the Akasha project from this list of Ethereum DApps. Akasha is a new social network that is a cross between Reddit and Medium. Users can post entries on Akasha which other users can read, upvote or downvote, and comment on. Users can also create simple profiles, chat, and follow other users.

However, it also has some unique features that are enabled by its use of decentralized technologies. The two compelling features of Akasha that are uniquely enabled by distributed technologies are:

  1. Akasha creates a platform for truly free speech
  2. Content creators are rewarded in an innovative way

Akasha Creates a Platform for Truly Free Speech

In the United States, we are lucky enough to have the freedom of speech encoded into our constitution, but citizens of many other countries suffer from censorship and some are even subject to violence if they criticize their own government. By building a social network on IPFS, Akasha is a platform that is safe from censorship. Akasha stores users' files on IPFS instead of a centralized server which means that a government could not simply block access to a single server to shut down Akasha. Instead, the content is distributed across the network. It is cool to see Akasha taking a stand against censorship on their platform.

Content Creators are Rewarded in an Innovative Way

Another unique aspect of Akasha is the way that content creators are rewarded. People who post popular posts receive deposits of a token on the Ethereum platform called AETH (for now the AETH is on a test network, so it won't have real value). Presumably, in the future, this token could be exchanged for USD, ETH, BTC, or other currencies on an exchange. This gives an incentive for people to create great content in a way that Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit do not. It also gives the users a way to profit from the network instead of just providing their content for free, while Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit profit by selling ads.

Current Issues

As expected for alpha software releases, Akasha has many problems. Right now it is open for anyone to download and try out, but there are plenty of rough edges. The app is slow, for me, IPFS won't start sometimes, there is no way to search for tags, there is no way to sort posts by upvote, you can't upvote comments, etc. I think that the team will resolve these issues with time, and the alpha is pretty impressive for the stage that it is at. The biggest issue for me now is the slowness of Akasha. I think this is the result of so few peers serving content. In theory, IFPS is faster than the traditional web stack, but that assumes that there are more than a few users dispersed across the world.

Besides the technical issues, Akasha suffers from a lack of users posting, voting, and commenting to make it worth spending time on Akasha. You can read everything that was posted on the social network from the last day in about 15 minutes. I would like to help address this issue by cross-posting blog posts to Akasha. I actually see this shortcoming as an opportunity for people who want to gain a following in the Blockchain space. Unlike other networks, there is high visibility for every post on the network, because so few people are using it. Because I am just starting out with my blog, I see it as a good way to start to build an audience.

The Future of Akasha

It will be interesting to see how Akasha progresses in the future. It seems that a major competitor is another social network called Steemit. I do not know much about Steemit because I did not like that they created an entirely separate blockchain instead of integrating with Ethereum like Akasha. Besides that difference, the two social networks seem to have similar features. Steemit looks much more polished and established, but Akasha could bridge the gap in time. I am looking forward to seeing if Akasha chooses to create an ICO or DAO to help aid in the development of the software, and to help drive adoption. Overall I am really excited to see a real application running on the Blockchain instead of yet another coin or protocol.

If you enjoyed this post, please check out the new decentralized social network that I am building at fragmented.world.