Meet DSCVR, a User-Controlled Decentralized Social Network Running Entirely On-Chain

Using DSCVR feels no different than using a centralized web application, but the platform is guided by its user community.

DSCVR (pronounced “discover”) is a decentralized social content aggregation platform running on the Internet Computer blockchain where users control not only the content, but also the platform itself. It is similar to Reddit, if Reddit’s development were governed by the most dedicated members of its community. Currently in beta, DSCVR has amassed 14,000 users since it launched in June. DSCVR runs entirely on-chain on the Internet Computer, demonstrating the growth of blockchain-based social dapps that are accessible on the web.

Critical decisions about the design and features of the major social networks are made arbitrarily and often without regard to users, leaving them feeling conflicted about the platform and their relationship to it. Users typically have no agency in determining how these platforms are composed, how user data is packaged and sold, and how matters that affect the product and the user experience are decided. This situation is characteristic of today’s social networks.

“We think we have the opportunity to build the first decentralized social network that is ready for mass-market adoption.”

Using DSCVR feels no different than using a centralized web application, but DSCVR envisions a different, decentralized future — one that puts power in the hands of the user community and allows it to guide the direction of the platform. Governance will be crucial to realizing this future, with two main concepts:

  1. Users earn governance rights. With these rights, they can make product decisions to guide the direction of the platform.
  2. Users earn rights via upvotes. Users earn rights by receiving upvotes on posts, comments, and portals they manage and create. In essence, DSCVR’s most valuable and dedicated community members will decide its future.

These rights will be represented by two tokens, each representing 50 percent of the voting rights: Social tokens and Service tokens.

Users earn Social tokens by participating in the platform and receiving upvotes. DSCVR is focused on giving users real influence over their experience. The platform’s emphasis on productive participation empowers its most constructive users, allowing the good actors to clearly distinguish themselves from the bad.

Users earn Service tokens by funding the platform and supporting its growth. Service token holders will focus on creating economic value for the platform.

As it evolves, DSCVR aims to open up this platform model with Social Fabric, an open protocol that enables users to create separate, autonomously governed community platforms that are based on the same ecosystem of tools behind DSCVR. With this goal in mind, DSCVR is architecting an adaptive social protocol from the ground up that is broadly applicable to a highly diverse set of social platforms. This will equip a community of builders with the tools to follow their own visions and create a wide spectrum of self-governed social platforms.

We asked DSCVR founder Rick Porter some questions about the vision behind the project:

What is DSCVR?

DSCVR is a decentralized social content aggregator that belongs to its community. Currently, the major social networks are controlled by massive companies that often make questionable choices. Critical decisions that drive the platforms happen behind closed doors and there is widespread distrust around the use of user data. The user is often stuck choosing between the lesser of two evils or just turning a blind eye to the questionable parts of a social platform if they want to use it. We think that DSCVR can be a new kind of social network that provides a solution to these problems.

Who are your target users?

We’d love to start as the decentralized forum embraced by the crypto community, expand to adjacent communities from there, and eventually become an alternative for anyone who uses Reddit.

Where is your team based?

Portland, OR, and Los Angeles, CA.

What motivated you to develop your service using blockchain technology?

We believe we are at a crossroads where social networks have immense power and have become the core to the way we communicate as a society, while at the same time these major social networks are often not trusted by their own users. We think decentralized technology presents the potential of an alternate future.

Why did you choose to develop on the Internet Computer instead of other platforms (either blockchain networks or centralized solutions)?

From a decentralized perspective, the Internet Computer gives us an opportunity to build a full-stack (front end + back end) application that is completely decentralized. The Internet Computer also gives us the web speed you need to bridge the gap between users who are used to centralized product experiences, yet on decentralized technology.

What surprised you most about building on the Internet Computer?

Our development process is no different than what you might find in a startup, with quick production iterations and production releases.

What benchmarks for success are you aiming for?

To be honest, DSCVR’s user base is growing so rapidly that our most immediate success metric will be scaling fast enough to support this growth. From a longer term perspective, we think we have the opportunity to build the first decentralized social network that is ready for mass-market adoption.

How do you anticipate developing and evolving your product or service in the future?

Eventually, we plan to open up our model with Social Fabric, an open protocol that allows users to build self-contained and self-governed social networks benefiting from the ecosystem of tools that power DSCVR.

What new decentralized service or app would you like to see developed within the Internet Computer ecosystem?

We are excited to see how other teams approach the challenge of developing decentralized social networks and related services. We think that integrating with others working to solve the same problems that we are will be a fascinating new paradigm that will ultimately benefit the entire Internet Computer ecosystem.


Check out DSCVR and join the conversation.

Publication date: 
08/05/2021 - 17:34

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