This is an encrypted currency. Like a real coin, it is a representation of value. Unlike a real currency, you can not keep it.
To help you relate, we have anthropomorphized.
This movement of every coin – and the movement of every currency like this – is recorded in a constantly updated and shared ledger.
This ledger is called blockchain! Have you ever heard of it?
People are very enthusiastic about the use of blockchain. Mainly to make money. Bitcoin was the first! Then came Ethereum!
But a constantly updated ledger can have other purposes. It can be good for contracts! And trace where the food comes from!
Maybe journalism will also save?
The clamor around technology has led to incomprehensible applications.
Civil Media Company was introduced at the beginning of this year both as a multimedia platform and as a network, to be owned and managed by journalists and citizens interested in tandem. It was an exciting proposal. His technology (powered by the blockchain!) Would be stirred by dozens of independent editors, his machines create a new utopian model, free from the clutches of greedy businessmen or politically compromised publishers who threaten to undermine the works.
"We believe that the business model driven by advertisements is slowly killing good journalism – which is in itself a fundamental foundation for free and democratic societies," wrote one of the founders of the company, Matt Coolidge, in one of the many, many, many blog posts that have been written trying to explain Civil. "So we are introducing a new model."
Fundamental to the model was an option for readers: they could buy in Civil, with a cryptographic token specific to Civil, which would be somehow free journalists take advantage of "self-government" and "permanence", wrote Coolidge. With this funding, Civil would be able to exclude advertisers, clickbaiters and all the other bad actors so often accused of ruining journalism.
Civil brought his currency to the market in September for a month. In the end, it was less than the minimum number of chips he had hoped to sell over six million dollars. Of the approximately $ 1.4 million tokens that the company sold, approximately 80% was bought by ConsenSys – the blockchain software company that has signed Civil first. It was as if an Olympic weightlifter said that, at a minimum, he would be able to clean and shake 400 pounds, and then he could not move the bar more than an inch from the ground.
Civil representatives said they could help solve two media crises: one of trust and another of financial sustainability. Both, they hypothesized, were in the power of the blockchain to heal.
First financial sustainability: the editors of Civil (17 so far) are welcome traditional business models (like subscriptions, paid with dollars) and many, like the Colorado Sun, Block Club Chicago and Popula, an "alt-daily" with a worldly mentality, I chose to do it. But as citizens were convinced of the value of Civil as an editorial platform, they were able to join the network by purchasing token Civil. These would buy them a little bit of control, making them, essentially, shareholders. They could "tip" journalists with tokens or token portions, request stories or even suggest the creation of entire newsrooms dedicated to specific topics. As news organizations grew stronger – apparently, with the entry of reader-readers-citizens – others bought tokens, the value of the tokens would be increased, and the whole community, journalists and readers would thrive.
At the same time, civil representatives said, the much deplored if the problem of trust in journalism was almost perennial and even possibly invented, would be solved by the intrinsic function of blockchain technology as a database.
Vivian Schiller, former president and CEO of NPR and head of Twitter news, is now the CEO of the Civil Media Foundation, the organization charged with "supporting the principles of the network." She wrote, in a blog post, that Civil's websites would have an icon in the upper right corner that would function as a journalistic equivalent of the "Good Housekeeping seal of approval".
"We have a plug-in that allows you to sign your work," said Mathew Iles, CEO of the Civil Media Company, which is separate but connected to the foundation. "This is important: we will be able to show people that you actually wrote it ".
To be clear, the crisis of faith in the media did not arise from the confusion regarding the disputed identity of the authors of the blog posts. This was one of the many examples in which Civil suggested that if the concerns of the journalists themselves (approx the interference of publishers or the sudden erasure of digital archives), the wider problem of trust in the media would be facilitated.
"We think that by launching Civil, someone who thinks that the press is the enemy of the people, these people will suddenly go" oh I see the light "? Of course not," Mrs. Schiller said, before the sale of the token began. "But here's what we can do: if Civil is successful, it will allow people who are interested in trustworthy journalism, it will be a signal to them for which journalistic organizations meet the criteria."
Oh, and Civil would also become a social Network, one that would have opposed the power of large technology companies. Mr. Iles said he spent years watching Google and Facebook manipulate and take advantage of their media partners. "The first time I started to conceive Civil, I saw it as a Open editorial platform that had to be decentralized, "he said."Social media with rules."
So it would be like Facebook, but journalism, but on the blockchain?
"All cryptoeconomic public blockchains are indeed social applications," said Iles. "You need a group of people to agree to run it."
So: Civil is a media company that supports but also is a group of connected editors that is also a blockchain-based social network supported by tokens purchased by journalists.
The technology that underlies the cryptocurrency is complex, but because it has been advertised as the next big thing in recent years – teenagers have Coinbase Wallets and various semi-normal people quickly grew richer with Bitcoin and so they became less fast – it seems that even the least sophisticated financially of us should have wrapped our heads on the whole phenomenon.
People who are in a strong position to understand what Civil is doing – either because they are experts in blockchain technology or because they work for one of their editorial offices – have openly admitted that they do not understand how the organization works. The rate of such statements increased only with the sale of Civil tokens in September.
The collective confusion might have something to do with the way the Civil token (called CVL) is meant to work.
"People who want to buy CVL tokens are token buyers, not investors," Mr. Iles said this summer. "The consumer token is fundamental to us because what we are essentially doing for the person is the distribution of a cryptocurrency that is primarily on how to use it to make a network work. "
Basically this means: the purchase of CVL is not intended to make you earn money.
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (which introduced blockchain technology to the world) and Ethereum are raw materials – such as gold, float in value, regardless of whether they are used or not. CVL tokens have been designed to function as consumer items. In practice this means that Bitcoin and Ethereum have even tried the pundits to make a purchase in the hope of getting rich quickly. Civil asks people to buy for the privilege of enthusiastically participating in the management of a blockchain-media platform.
Or, as Mr. Iles said: "We also think that we will be able to show people that it's more fun, it's more rewarding, paying for the news using CVL tokens instead of cash."
But many people are not willing to pay normal money for journalism.
"Listen, sometimes we are asked, are we too early?" Mr. Iles said. "And the answer is absolutely yes, but you will always be too early or too late."
Less than three thousand people were willing to buy tokens. The sale has certainly suffered from how complicated the purchase process was. John Keefe, a writer from Nieman Lab who wanted to invest in the project, described his experience in the article "How to buy in the blockchain of future journalism (in only 44 steps)."
Catherine Tucker, an MIT economist who paid close attention to the increase in the blockchain, said he thought Civil had a targeting problem.
"Ultimately, the ideal customer is someone who knows cryptography well enough to pass the token purchase test and is concerned about journalism enough not to worry about the token being limited in its use," he said. "I suspect this is a small intersection of the population."
Journalists who manage civilian newsrooms continue to express trust in society. Larry Ryckman, the editor of the Colorado Sun, expressed his confidence and optimism in Civil several times in conversation a few days after the sale of the failed token in mid-October.
At the same time, he said, "We at Colorado Sun have never considered the value of tokens necessarily. We they were paid in dollars and our readers interact with us in dollars. "
At least one former employee believes that Civil was never built to succeed in the first place. Daniel Sieberg, one of the company's co-founders, who left in July, said the token was fatally imperfect.
"It's basically a locked box," he said. "The token is worthless.The simple fact is that the token is not necessary."
During the waning days of the sale, Mr. Iles said he did not feel chastised. He remained bullish on the future of Civil. He said he felt that the sale of tokens had been a misstep, because the organization had established a arbitrary value on the token. Above all, he said, the company could not explain itself clearly.
"For me this is a big one, therefore, frankly", he said of the imminent failure of the sale. "Just because we have potentially established a higher price than what the market was willing to endure at the moment is not a referendum on whether or not we reach a critical mass, it just means that we will potentially overcome now."
It is not yet clear how Civil's plans to alleviate the confusion of people in order to achieve his mission. But the company is downsizing, thanks to a further $ 3.5 million loan from its original investor, the blocker software company ConsenSys. (Civil will also offer reimbursements to frustrated individuals who want to return their tokens.) A new token sale is under way, even if the details have not yet been released.
However, there remains a problem: people do not buy in blockchain unless they can make money. There is no evidence that people want to use it to "fix" journalism. There is no evidence that anyone really understands how it would work.
For now, Civil is essentially just another multimedia operation with venture capital funding. The money that subscribes to it, from ConsenSys, remains, you know, normal money. The company uses a blockchain technology under the hood, Including a plugin for its publishing software. But technology remains difficult to understand and, for the purposes of any news consumer, irrelevant.