Using the Safe Network

Developer Case Study: Project Decorum

During the course of 2016, MaidSafe have been privy to a number of projects that are building on top of the SAFE Network. One such project is Decorum.

What is it?

Project Decorum is currently a research-led project, run by Harmen Klink, a computer science undergraduate at the HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht in the Netherlands.  He wants to build a social media platform, which gives the user greater control of his or her data and therefore enhanced privacy – rather than today’s model which is centralised around a few service providers.

Project Decorum is currently a proof-of-concept, which Harmen has designed in order to drive a successful crowdsale, which raised over €400,000.  He is aiming to use this investment to further develop the application, aspiring to create a hybrid of the best features of existing major applications, such as Facebook, Reddit and Twitter.  

How does it work?

The core protocol of Project Decorum is a substitute for the missing central coordinator, because the SAFE Network has been designed on the principle of a “serverless” architecture.  It consists of a set of rules that describe where and how conversational data should be uploaded to the SAFE Network. These rules predict where the replies to a particular message on the SAFE Network might end up, no matter where the original is located. This means that all applications and SAFE websites that use this protocol will be compatible with each other, making communication simpler.

On the data level all information is visible and the protocol will organise conversations in a tree structure, where every node of the tree represents a message from a user. Replies to earlier messages will create new branches. This tree structure lends itself well to be represented in a “threaded” format, which is done by many well-known forums and comment plugins. Users will build a user interface to decide what data they see and can create a new root to start a new tree for a new conversation. This can be used to create a forum, a comment section on a blog, a group chatbox, and so on.

In Project Decorum users will own their data and everyone is their own moderator through the use of personal ignore lists. In principle, particular posts or users can be put on such an ignore list. It is also possible to subscribe to one or more ignore lists run by other people. This allows for dedicated and widely accepted moderators to naturally rise up in their respective communities. Active people with sound judgement will be subscribed to as moderators by groups. These people can also collaborate to form a moderator team, and possibly accept donations or even charge for their moderation services. Multiple teams with different rules can be active in the same community if there is demand.

Why is Project Decorum working with MaidSafe?

Harmen chose the SAFE Network for his project for several reasons.  He believes the privacy and security of the platform should be the pre-requisite for any Internet application.  Furthermore the decentralised model offers great scalability and he has found it hard to overload the system.  Additionally, SAFEcoin is a great feature, because of the way it is integrated into the network and offers instant rewards.  This will help to sustain engagement with the platform, as social payments are an important feature increasingly expected by users.  It also offers developers the flexibility to expand tokenisation of other assets to create a crypto-currency to represent all kinds of assets.  

What’s next for Project Decorum?

The next steps for Project Decorum include working on designs to make them more tangible and figuring out the business model.  As APIs for the SAFE Network become available and more stable Harmen will continue development on the protocol.  MaidSafe hope that features such as the automatic reward mechanism for participants will enable Harmen to further develop the usage model for Project Decorum.

Harmen Klink, Founder, Project Decorum

“I believe having access to multiple identities is an important benefit of the SAFE Network, because it reflects the varied identities and roles we play in our personal and work lives. The network of identities forms a web of trust that can be used to distinguish legitimate users from abusive bots. When a real name is coupled to an identity, the strength of the web of trust is also used to show others the likelihood that those two truly belong together. This protects users from becoming victims from impersonification and identity theft.”

Complimenting the Granularity of Digital Consumption

Everyday millions of people around the world generate content to share with friends, family and complete strangers. Whether news articles, podcasts, videos or music, creators of these works have suffered an unfortunate disconnect from the economy as we know it due to the very nature of the digital content they share. It’s a goal of Maidsafe to offer better options for creators and consumers alike to enable a more direct way of exchanging value between them.

As the digital world became more relevant to the average Internet user, it also became more apparent that the ecosystems of digital creations do not work within the current structure of our economy. The freedom and ease that the Internet brought to sharing data to this day avoids most of the physical and political boundaries of the real world however, taking it further into a Safe Internet, this freedom and ease becomes even stronger and alters the dynamic of sharing content even moreso. The public key infrastructure used in the Safe network in combination with the granularity of network transactions allows for creators to have much more opportunity to earn compensation. The option to tag publicly shared content with a public watermark of the original owners Safe network ID will give people options for raising funds from consumers on a programmatic, peer-to-peer basis. Micropayments are extremely useful for consuming and especially digital content and because Safecoin network payments allow for millions of transactions per second without the fee structures associated with credit cards and Paypal, using the network will be a huge opportunity for individuals looking to share original content dynamically.

Lets look at one person who seems to be one of the only major artists experimenting with alternative distribution and payment systems, Thom Yorke. Thom is a popular musician most notably known as the lead of Radiohead but also creates solo content. He recently released a solo album using BitTorrent’s Bundle service and previously released a Radiohead album with a Pay What You Want (PWYW) model. Imagine if for Thom Yorke’s next experiment, he used the Safe network to host and distribute his songs. He would have the ability to utilize a number of compensation models. Without having to use any third party application or service, he could use a similar model based on PWYW where consumers opt into suggested rates based on their satisfaction. Alternatively, he could try third party services which allow him to charge by the second up until a maximum cost per user for streaming or he could even simply do a fundraiser before creating the content while keeping donation options open to consumers. It’s worth highlighting that the Safe network has a built in up-vote system that suggests a small donation based on content popularity enabling PWYW by default. If the content is widely consumed, the network will suggest a smaller donation while more niche content will have a larger donation suggestion to support the creator.

Since the cost of distributing content on the Safe network is minimized to the cost of uploading the content to the network, the original creators are less burdened and can pass the savings to the fans or followers of their work. Additionally, applications built for content aggregation or more specific payment structures can be compensated separately so there is no need to take a percentage of revenue from those using the service (neither creators or consumers for that matter) or plaster with advertisements and sponsors. Exactly 10 percent of all Safecoins in existence will be allotted to application developers where applications earn network tokens based on usefulness to others.

This system not only empowers content creators but it also has a very real potential to transform how we perceive and handle intellectual property moving forward. As we have found in recent history that a system as open as the Internet doesn’t quite conform to IP regulations (well, except for those pesky centralizing servers) and therefore we should instead try to solve the issue surrounding IP rights with a different strategy. First of all, recognizing what the issue actually is clarifies many misconceptions on how to move forward. Corporate record label and movie production organizations aside, many creators have a difficult time earning a proportional amount of income for the value their work provides to individuals. With a system like Safe, data holders are given more flexibility with how they accept payment while consumers receive a much more fluid experience in giving back to the original creator for content they appreciate.

The cost of the original creator’s upload of a file being so minimal in combination with having an optional watermarked filing system for authenticity underlines the importance of fan appreciation of intellectual and digital content. Consumers will be much less inclined to download a free alternative copy if access to the original costs the equivalent of, say, one cent per 30 seconds to stream with a maximum of one dollar per user (all future access could be free). Maybe in that kind of environment where the price of access is practically zero, making such costs optional to consumers would be a viable strategy so that fans and followers could have more freedom to judge for themselves the value. Once the line between creators and consumers is finally direct by default and individuals on both ends have more freedom of choice, this will enable the conversation of intellectual property to be able to shift towards a more productive outcome.

The Safe ecosystem will transform the dependence on centralized institutions for Internet publication, propagation and access. The more an individual supplies resources to the network and earns Safecoin for contributing, the easier it is to justify paying those earnings forward to others supplying valuable content whether it be educational or entertainment. Watching the Safe network emerge into it’s own sustainable economy will be a really exciting phenomenon to witness, especially with what it can teach us about evolving economies by removing barriers and the extra costs typically associated with them and instead working with more dynamic and granular systems for value exchange.