This article was written by Georgina Mauriño*
I want solutions for self-managed artists who wish to benefit from their contents on the Internet. This was my first motivation when I started to design this DApp (Decentralized Application), and I have been working on it since January 2020. I have by my side a technical and a legal advisor, and we are trying to reach at artists themselves directly to know about their needs first-hand. After some private brainstorming, we came up with with a name: SMARTISTS. It made sense as we wanted to address Self-Managed ARTISTS, and provide them with the means to securely benefit from the opportunities that smart-contracts opened for them in the Internet of Value, the upcoming web3.
But all this had started some time ago... The first idea for Smartists comes from different problems that I myself -as an author-illustrator and digital content creator- had been facing on the web 2. I had played "the game of social media" for years as an author, although I was soon aware of its downside (lots of unnecessary time-consuming / waste of time), and the results expected were rarely reached. Distraction often takes over purpose on social media. Discovering blockchain technology and then Blockstack was mind-blowing.
Because I needed the Internet for my work, and I loved all the benefits that the web had brought to my life, I found it really exciting to find a way to take back control of what I could bring to the digital world.
Nevertheless I soon became aware that this was a game-changer. I also came to realize that adoption was not going to be easy due to all the interested parts involved. Releasing power is never voluntary... intermediaries between authors/artist and their audiences may want to stick to the present status quo, and artists will find it difficult even to discover the new possibilities. I decided to learn all I could, and see if I could bring any solution by myself. After a year of research and learning, I felt ready to participate in building that brave new internet, designing a useful DApp for authors of art-contents on the web. I just had to make a final decision: which blockchain of the many I had been observing should I choose for my DApp?
Blockstack was a very special ecosystem that was born for end-users. The first thing that was built on the project was a naming system because the founders were well aware of the importance of providing users their own identity, a Decentralized Identity. I knew that rights only exist, can be claimed and enforced, if it is held by an identifiable individual. The fact that we hadn't had an identity on the web so far on the Internet of information had had very destructive consequences for Intellectual Property. Only the fantasy of having "profiles" -successful depending on the rules of "the game of Social Media"- had distracted most artists from the main point: they had lost control of their art works.
Blockstack was already providing the most mature approach to Decentralized Identity, with a user experience that a non technical person like me could already start to test easily, having access to many DApps with total control of your privacy and data. This was an essential first argument to choose Blockstack.
On Blockstack, DApps can't be evil, a second argument to choose Blockstack. I am not interested in building a solution for artists as a means to get any data or benefit from their data. My understanding of technology as a means to provide a service that can be useful, aligned with the mission of Blockstack, always with users in mind.
On top of that, Blockstack is also a community fighting for fundamental rights, which were at the heart of my project.
On July 2019, I joined the community of Blockstack as an evangelist, ready to learn all I could about the ecosystem and spread the knowledge of Blockstack in Madrid. It was great to host Meet-ups, workshops and introduce developers to the ecosystem. With all those experiences, my vision of a DApp that could serve Artists and Art-users was very much enriched.
Witnessing the evolution of the community, participating in the Governance Working Group and in the birth of the Stacks Foundation, is a once in a life experience. I am deeply grateful for this wonderful opportunity!
Today, Smartists can also benefit from all that I am learning in the Business Model Working Group along with all the wonderful resources that members bring to the debate.
Furthermore, on a more personal side, I cannot thank the community enough to have connected me with the most amazing mentor to guide me in this process.
Despite of all the difficulties and challenges of the past months, we have managed to design a first prototype for Smartists.
During the ideation stage of the project we launched surveys. Artists friends who answered and were interested in knowing about the results were informed.
Now we are also sharing our first prototype privately, in order to try and get some feedback to improve it. If you want to participate, find out more about Smartists and join us here!
To make this solution really useful, we are envisioning use-cases, considering all sorts of artists and art-users, since we are trying to connect with real future members of Smartists. You can read more about this in the blogpost: "A painter, a musician, a writer and a teacher".
To get more information about Smartists, go to smartists.net and sign up.
* Georgina Mauriño is an author and illustrator, as well as the designer of Smartists, “Bringing together Artists and Art users on the Internet of Value”.
July 2nd, 2020.