Blockchain-Powered Dawn Reinvents Social Networks As We Know Them

New social network Dawn promises to change the face of social mediafrom individual-centric to pro-group, whilst also maintaining individual interest.

Cointelegraph spoke to Brenn Hill, social and UX architect at Dawn, to take a peak of the new radioactivity of the Blockchain.

Cointelegraph: Could you explain what Dawn is all about and what makes it different from other social media outlets?

Brenn Hill: Dawn is about reinventing social networks in a way that is group-centric and pro-social instead of individual-centric and exploitative.

Currently, social networks exist partly to allow you to connect with others but mostly to convince you to give the system data so they or others can sell things to you.

Many people are dissatisfied with these networks because they give us these weak social connections but are designed to be addictive and end up disrupting our actual quality relationships.

The design philosophy behind Dawn is “genuine human connection.” We want to enable users to connect and find each other online in a more organic way (through communities) and have the network to encourage pro-social behavior. Current networks are frustrating to people because the way they work tends to be most friendly to trolls and least friendly to working with others to do something productive. You can do it, but the system isn't really set up for that at its core.

Twitter was set up to send short empty bits of content into the ether and Facebook was originally set up to show off your connection to high-status campuses. Neither of these core things is pro-connectivity and pro-productivity. Neither these nor other networks are set up with the explicit purpose of having people work together and do things together online or off.

Because of our focus on communities (though yes, individuals can have their own island if they wish), we allow groups to come together and pool funds or earn tokens as a group. They can also distribute and spend those tokens as a group as well. People can be members of multiple groups and extend their networks that way according to their interests. Obviously, this is a new approach so we're going to be testing different things as the network evolves to see what works best.

Team international

CT: What's the story behind Dawn?

BH: Each member of the team has their own story of how they got here. Many in the core team have been part of the crypto community for years which is how they met.

The immediate catalyst was dissatisfaction with Steemit. There was so much potential but it was wasted, and then the realization came that we only looked at Steemit because we were dissatisfied with the other networks as well.

Almost all of our team is international and only a few of us live in the same country. We all met through different communities online and off and we all had the entrepreneurial spirit. We appreciated some of the advantages of Blockchain technology and the advantages it had in terms of transparency and being distributed. The result was that over a few iterations and ideas the team kept growing as more people saw the potential and wanted to join. We took the ideas that had been generated and the frustrations we had experienced elsewhere online and started boiling it down into something solid, which is about where we are today.

Setting up your brand

CT: It's has been stated on your website that you provide all the necessary services and capabilities for any online brand to get up and running for free. How then do you make a profit?

BH: If a person or organization creates an online brand and contributes to the community and the network, then the network makes money and by extension so does Dawn and the other network participants. Creating your online brand is free, and being able to sell things and have products or services is free. All exchanges will take place in RAY tokens and there is a small (TBD) transaction fee - in RAY - to cover infrastructure costs.

For communities that allow it, those same brands can ask to purchase advertising and so on. The key is the “allow it.” Communities will have the ability to accept or reject advertising. But if they allow it, they get a percentage of the advertising sale. Similarly, communities can open their own store either to the world or internally. We will be experimenting with different models to see what works the best. The key for us is alignment - when our users succeed, we should succeed. And when we succeed it's because our users succeed.

Validators

CT: What about your validator program?

BH: In order to build out our global presence, Dawn is selling cryptographic tokens that give their owner the permissions needed to serve as a validator node on our network. If you are familiar with graphene/bitshares/steem, then you may already know that validators are the rough equivalent of BTS/Steem's Witnesses. On Steem and BTS, they are chosen democratically......except a 51-49 just means that half of the people disagree on some certain topic.

We take this weakness and make it a strength by requiring witnesses to pay to become validators. We expect that we will have much higher up-time than Steem, as our validators are quite literally paying for the privilege of signing blocks.

Without validators, our Blockchain fails. We're all quite conscious of the fact that we need validators to truly be involved with our project and to be people who can solve problems in a pinch. We have an open ear to our validators at all times. Their success is ours and vice versa.

People who own validator keys have direct access to the team and are involved in discussions about the future of the project, different approaches to technical and social problems and so on. Being a validator means they get to help shape the future.

Off the record conversations

CT: Why the Blockchain as the underlying technology?

BH: Transparency. For both anti-censorship and anti-BS properties the Blockchain simply cannot be beaten. With Blockchain we can prove what went on the network when, by whom, but also encrypt it so that only those in the right circle of trust can read it. We also plan to enable “off the record” conversations because we respect privacy. In these cases, Dawn doesn't know anything about the communication and there is no storage, but also no transactions (no RAY changes hands).

For content distribution, we use a set of technologies to enable fast, efficient content distribution.

Our whole stack implements P2P technology natively:

WebRTC

  • Real-time
  • Voice
  • Video
  • Text
  • File Transfers
  • WebTorrent
  • Streaming-to-DOM
  • Text
  • Video
  • Audio
  • SyncThing
  • Replication

Maybe the biggest factor driving our choice to use a Blockchain was the Tendermint Blockchain toolkit and Tendermint's amazing team. Their software makes building a state of the art Blockchain relatively painless and they are really just great people. Of course, this means that we're also big supporters of their next project, Cosmos. We think the Cosmos hub is going to enable an entirely new class of connected applications. We'd like to say that we're glad to add people to the team as validators or if there are software engineers who want to get in on the action we are glad for it. Contact us!