Hello Steemians, my name is Andrew Levine, and I’m Steemit’s Content Director. In today’s post I want to tell you a little bit about who I am and what I’m doing as Steemit’s Content Director. As someone who has been part of the Steem community since the very beginning, I understand the important position that Steemit Inc has in the minds of Steem users as well as the curiosity people have with respect to how the company operates.
Like many in the cryptocurrency space, the formative moment of my adult life was the discovery of Satoshi Nakamoto’s whitepaper. Maybe it was the 2008 financial crisis, maybe it was my long time interest in economics and investing, but I was immediately gripped by the revelation of the new possibilities created by a system which could create money without a central bank.
Though I followed along with the space, tried mining some Bitcoin (very little), and even integrated a litecoin clone into my startup (GiverHub) back in 2012, I had difficulty getting passionate about any particular protocol. While the technical accomplishments were fascinating, it was difficult to envision how any of these protocols would directly influence my life … until I found Steem.
Becoming a Content Creator
Though I had become a lawyer, gone into real estate, and started my own company (and ended it), I had always wanted to be a content creator. I began shooting video in college and began writing blogs in law school. After law school I experimented with doing standup comedy and shooting short films.
I’m actually still quite happy with those efforts--even though they are super embarrassing--and despite the fact that they achieved no success whatsoever. In fact, I am now grateful for that lack of success. It forced me to keep experimenting with different art forms and media. This process led me to acquire a wide set of skills with respect to content creation that have been hugely beneficial during my tenure at Steemit.
Insights From Failures
There were a few reasons why I don’t think those efforts bore much fruit. The first was certainly that I was an amateur. The second was that it was difficult to see the end goal. I wanted to discuss interesting topics. I wanted to explore deep concepts. The internet seemed like such a promising tool with respect to finding people all over the world who found those same concepts and topics interesting, but that didn’t seem to be how the internet was evolving.
Because there was no trust mechanism built into the internet, people really only felt comfortable interacting with people they already knew (and trusted) in the real world. Because there was no value mechanism built into the internet, content creators felt the only way to “succeed” was by creating content that got millions of views which would then (theoretically) enable them to sell some ads. None of this was especially appealing to me.
It is only with the benefit of hindsight that I understand what I was experiencing throughout that process. After all, it was through this very process--through the failures and the successes--that I was able to understand what was happening to the content economy and the internet more broadly.
Then, one day, I was introduced to steemit.com. That was almost 2 years ago now.
I suspected it might be exactly what I had been looking for and proceeded to journey down the proverbial “rabbit hole.” What I discovered down that rabbit hole wound up exceeding my expectations, something I began to discuss in videos that were graciously rewarded by other Steemians.
What followed were the most productive months of my life. Powered by Steem, I created more content in days than I had created in my entire life. I could write volumes about that time. About the communities that we formed and the amazing people I got to know--many of whom I still consider friends. People like @kevinwong, @lukestokes, and @donkeypong, to name just a few.
Eventually many of us met at the first ever SteemFest. If you’d like to get a glimpse of what that experience was like you can check out the following video I made at the end of the first day. Look closely and you’ll see some now well-known Steemians like @nanzo-scoop, @mrs.steemit, and @allasyummyfood, all of whom have continued to accomplish so much in this space.
Soon after SteemFest I began working with Steemit as their Community Liaison and even got to visit the team in the mythical “office above the lawnmower store.” Over the course of the next year--due to the fact that I was the only non-engineer on the team--I was given the opportunity to work on a wide variety of tasks; basically anything that wasn’t worth an engineer’s valuable time.
As Community Liaison I viewed it as my responsibility to ensure that the voice of the community was heard inside the walls of the company. But once I was inside the company it became clear that--as is the case with most successful startups--there was much more that needed to be done and no one within the company wore just a single hat.
It was the most challenging year of my life, and while challenges inevitably come with a certain amount of stress, I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had for anything. During that time we were often faced with the dilemma of whether to work on a problem, or talk about working on a problem, and often times we had to choose the former. Through these trials I saw first hand the caliber of the individuals I was working with at Steemit. These are the kindest, most diligent, most intelligent, hardest working, people I have ever had the privilege of working with and now think of as friends. I can't help but feel incredibly honored to be a part of this incredible team and community.
Doing v. “Tawking”
As a team, I’m proud to say that we are “doers” not “tawkers” (to quote Nassim Taleb), but we all agreed on the important need to dramatically improve our communications with Steemians and the public. That being said, we weren’t going to do this in a way that impeded our ability to produce great code. It’s not an accident we have the fastest, most transacted blockchain in the world. It’s not an accident Steem has the most real applications (i.e. applications real people actually use on a regular basis). And it’s no accident that steemit.com remains far and away the most used application on a blockchain. It’s because we have amazing engineers who are empowered to keep “doing.”
We had to develop a system, grow our staff, and get all the necessary pieces into place that would enable us to give the kind of insight into our engineering operations that people want and need, without consuming a significant amount of engineering bandwidth. Building and overseeing this apparatus, as well as contributing to it, is my main focus as Content Director.
Unfortunately that took time, as there just aren’t that many people in the world capable of understanding what we’re working on, understanding the unique position our company is in, and capable of writing in an articulate fashion about what we do. I’m happy to say that we’ve made significant strides in this department which I hope is evidenced by our increased posting frequency. I fully expect that our output will only increase as we move forward.
Priority #1: Steem
The main reason I haven’t been communicating much through this blog over the course of the last year was that I felt there was just too much work to be done behind the scenes. Like all of us who work at Steemit, I deeply believe in the transformative potential of the Steem blockchain protocol. I love creating content more than almost anything else, but Steem is a technology that will be a paradigm shift for all content creators. That’s why, for the past year, my #1 priority was doing whatever I could to support the development of that protocol, even if it meant I didn’t get to create content under my personal account.
I am happy to say that our content creation apparatus has sufficiently advanced to the point where there is space for me to create my own content and engage more directly with Steemians. My #1 priority remains accelerating the adoption of Steem by entrepreneurs and developers and I still believe that my work at Steemit is the best way for me to do that. That means that I will likely not be using this account to broadcast photos of my cats (that’s what instagram is for :) ), but instead use it as another venue through which to do my job. That being the case, I will be declining rewards on my posts.
My goal with this post was to give you a sense of who I am, what I’ve been up to, and let you know my plans for this blog. My hope is that it will be another way for Steemians (or non-Steemians for that matter) to gain a deeper insight into what we’re working on and how we view the space, as well as provide another channel through which you can engage with the team. I genuinely believe that the next year is going to be even more exciting than the last, and I look forward to communicating with you all as we move through these transformative times together. Thank you for reading.
Content Director, Steemit