By Roger Aitken for Forbes
Steemit, creators of the world’s fastest growing decentralized social media platform, has unveiled today what it describes as a “comprehensive roadmap” detailing improvements to its blockchain, company structure and website. As part of its plans Steemit is to migrate its servers this first quarter to Amazon Web Services (AWS), the world’s largest hosting provider.
Steemit plugs into a robust blockchain database called Steem, which distributes rewards in cryptocurrency (digital points – Steem), with real value to the users who bring the best articles, commentary, creativity, images and videos to their site.
Also of significance in their Roadmap for 2017, the rising fintech innovator that has attracted over 120,000 registered users in around six months, is creating ‘native’ Steemit apps for use on mobile iOS and Android.
Founded by Ned Scott back in January 2016 alongside blockchain and crypto pioneer Dan Larimer, Steemit currently has close to a million monthly unique visitors per month. That figure puts it with its registered users as one of the largest and fastest growing blockchain end-user applications.
It now intends to automate the deployment of its software into Amazon Web Services and Elastic Compute Cloud, providing for what is touted as “self-healing, automatically expanding”, High Availability hosting service as site traffic grows. Concurrently a “feature-heavy” redesign to improve Steemit’s aesthetics and functionality is being initiated.
As such users will soon have access to free ‘drag and drop’ image hosting, comment moderation for post authors, community namespaces and moderation (similar to subreddits), achievements (similar to video game milestones), user insignia, mobile notifications and an easy to navigate status bar.
Scott, who was a Business Operations & Financial Analyst at Gellert Global Group for three years prior to co-founding Steemit and becoming the firm’s CEO, revealed that the organization has “quarterly targets planned” for all features slated for 2017.
In addition to the migration to AWS that is occurring during the first quarter (Q1), Steemit apps are expected to be complete by the fourth quarter (Q4) 2017; the free ‘drag and drop’ image hosting and the comment moderation for post authors set for the second quarter; community namespaces and moderation as well as the achievements and the easy to navigate status bar is expected by the third quarter (Q3).
Add to that the user insignia is scheduled to be complete by Q3 and the mobile notifications will be complete by Q4, in line with the app completion.
Commenting in the wake of unveiling the Roadmap, Scott explained: “2017 will be our banner year and the community will see a ton of upgrades from now until the end of March. Migrating hosting to reputable third parties allows us to focus all of our time and attention on development of the site, software, and community – not on scaling or maintaining servers or hosting infrastructure.”
Since its inception Steemit has gone from seven people comprised of three front-end developers, two back-end developers, and two founders – to a team of fifteen.
Scott, based in the Greater New York area, added that in terms of further investment on staff and resources: “We intend to increase that headcount, further, adding additional staff around site design and development, DevOps (scaling and site reliability), product leadership, user experience and interface design, mobile application development, community outreach, and user understanding (marketing, traffic insights, retention, and audience growth).”
Censorship Resistant Publishing
On the features they are adding, he asserted: “We will make the user experience even more enjoyable and continue to build on the small town community feel, reputation building and incentivizing great, uncensored discussions.”
Their long-term goal remains to provide the “best platform for censorship-resistant publishing and store of value to the widest user base possible, in an effort to increase human freedom and accelerate the spread of access” according to Scott.
“Due to the immutable and tamper proof nature of blockchain, Steemit is completely free from censorship, meaning no advertisements can be hidden from view, nor can user comments be edited,” Scott, who graduated from Bates with a degree in Psychology and Economics, pointed out.
Alongside upgrades to the website, the Steem blockchain will receive some fine tuning. It is expected that more announcements on this will made in the future. But at the moment they are launching a dashboard view on steem.io, so that people can view the current state of the Steem blockchain. They are also launching developer.steem.io, dubbed a “world-class developer documentation repository” for rapidly building Steem Blockchain apps.
Fans of Steemit can also expect some changes to the company headquarters. While recruiting world class talent from across the globe, their employees will start to become more decentralized geographically.
It should be noted here that the Steemit organization was initially staffed in the Blacksburg, Virginia region. This allowed the small team to coordinate without specific effort, as conversations could happen in person.
“This approach is ultimately not scalable when hiring from a global, decentralized talent pool,” Scott noted. “There is tremendous value in the community and ecosystem surrounding the Steem Blockchain, and it allows us to mostly bypass one of the hardest problems a startup traditionally faces, namely recruiting top-tier talent.”
Steemit’s executive, whilst continuing to hire talented developers, blockchain and social media experts, will utilize extant internal communications methods to allow them to work from physically dislocated areas around the world.
In a further motion of decentralization, the Steemit, Inc. controlled primary account, @steemit, which holds approximately 41% of the platform’s Steem Power, will be gradually divested of its holdings in an effort to increase promotion and development of the platform while dispersing voting power. Scott indicated that this will be done in a “gradual multi-year divestment”.
Fabric: Parallel Blockchain
By the end of this year, Steemit also intends to roll out what it describing as a “cutting-edge parallel blockchain” architecture system called Fabric, which stands for Fully Asynchronous Blockchain Rendering with Independent Conformity.
This sets the groundwork for the company’s long-term growth while dramatically enhancing scalability, performance, fault isolation and modularity.
By utlizing Fabric, multiple and inter-connected blockchains can be created, each handling separate features within the Steemit platform. This nullifies any risk of a blockchain bottleneck due to single core processing demands.
On blockchain bottleneck and scalability concerns, Scott revealed to Forbes: “We want to be able to handle as many transactions as Facebook, reddit and Twitter combined. To scale all the way, it’s important to think about these challenges before it becomes a bottleneck. Steem is currently second most used blockchain by transactions, behind bitcoin.”
And, the fintech asserts that it is “the only company that is working on a legitimate solution to blockchain scalability concerns.”
Steemit Mobile Apps
Slated for the fourth quarter of this year is the widely anticipated launch of sleek Steemit mobile apps. “Our intent is to develop our mobile experience and build feature-rich, native applications for both platforms efficiently by sharing as much of the codebase as possible between the two,” Scott said.
He added: “Our research into the available developer tools for such reuse results in our belief that 80-90% of the code will be shared, requiring us to rewrite only a small fraction of the application in native Objective C (for Apple iOS devices) and native Java (for Android devices).”
November 2016 was the first time in history that mobile internet usage surpassed desktop usage, meaning that more people browse the internet on their smartphones than they do on their computers.
On this Scott remarked: “For this reason, coupled with countless requests from our community, we are prioritizing the development of sleek Steemit apps for Apple and Android users.” Watch this space.
First appeared at Forbes