Here we are at the end of an intense year for the Steem blockchain and ecosystem, despite the bear market.
I thought this might be a good moment to go over a Steem retrospective for 2019. As you will see, it will be quite a lengthy one, and I only focused on a few major aspects. I urge you to contribute with more details in the comments section, because this will be shared on social media and people outside our ecosystem will be able to see how much has happened on Steem during the past year. If you'd like to spread it further, please do!
You might remember we didn't start the year 2019 very well. There was an uncertainty in the air about the future of Steem, after the decision from Steemit, Inc. to lay off roughly 70% of its employees, announced at the end of November 2018.
But the Steem community reacted immediately, strongly and I believe decisively by offering to help in any way and, that most likely turned the spirits back up.
Soon after, talks about creating a Steem Foundation, involving community members, started on Discord, and the first discussion finalized with creating a Steem account for it.
Where is the Steem Foundation at this point? From the reports I've been reading from them from time to time, it looks like there is a Board of Directors for the Steem Foundation, they are close to creating an account at a bank in the US, after @aggroed consulted with lawyers about the best choices, and the marketing group seems to be quite active via the so-called marketing rambles. Here's the link to the latest from December 15th.
Let's get back at the beginning of 2019 and see what happened at Steemit, Inc.
Immediately after the layoffs at Steemit, Inc. from the end of 2018, they entered a "survival mode", during which reducing costs and adding new external income sources became paramount.
Right at the beginning of 2019, Steemit, Inc. started to experiment with ads on their steemit.com website. Throughout the year, they improved their ad system, as well as increased the income generated by ads, to the point where they stopped their monthly programmatic selling of STEEM, which they had in place to support expenses. While they mentioned the sale would be paused for a month, to see how things will be going, their last trackable programmatic sale of STEEM goes back to August. Looks like they are doing good now, with the additional ad income and the reduced costs.
About reducing costs, this was the main focus of Steem, Inc., during their survival mode in the first part of 2019. The cost reductions were not aimed only for their own expenses, but for the entire ecosystem.
With the implementations of MIRA and RocksDB, as a necessity to reduce costs but also thinking in perspective about future potential scaling issues, Steem blockchain became much cheaper for node providers, thus favoring decentralization, if more people and especially businesses will choose to have their own nodes, public or private.
Thanks to MIRA, we will likely be able to reduce the amount of RAM being used in our Steem node by 50% and the nVME usage by 100%! Instead of using nVMEs, we can switch entirely to generic network backed SSDs. This should reduce the costs of running a node to a fraction of what it used to be. Best of all, this dramatic improvement didn’t even require a hardfork.
Also in the first part of 2019, the condenser (the code behind steemit.com) was split into two parts: one that handles financial operations which was moved on the domain steemitwallet.com and one that handles the social aspect remaining on steemit.com. The main reason behind this split is explained here.
Did I mention Steemit, Inc. management changed at the beginning of the year? At the top, Elizabeth Powell took the place of Ned Scott as Managing Director of Steemit, Inc.
The company remained more close to the community throughout the year, communicated more, was leaning more towards collaboration and sharing responsibility and looks like became financially stable again, without making use of STEEM selling in much of the second part of the year under her management.
Andrew Levine, who took her previous role as Head of Communications & Advocacy, was quite active, and besides the regular updates on the steemitblog account, started a new account for marketing (on) Steem, where he had a series of interesting interviews, with people from Steem and from outside it.
Onto "leaning more towards collaboration and sharing responsibility", around the summertime Steemit, Inc. involved others in the responsibility to choose who to delegate the stake of the account they control, @misterdelegation, created to help projects which bring value to Steem. And a transparent application process was published to make things clearer. A Delegation Committee was formed with 3 members, @aggroed, @starkerz and @eonwarped, to analyze and submit proposals to Steemit, Inc., which has the final decision.
Ok, enough about Steemit, Inc. for now. Although there's more to say.
Also towards the beginning of the year, one of the Steem community leaders, as well as top witness, @blocktrades, proposed to Steemit, Inc. to implement a Worker Proposal System on Steem, later known as Steem Proposal System (SPS) or Steem.DAO. The proposal was accepted, work done by blocktrades team and paid by Steemit, Inc., and SPS was included successfully in hardfork 21, in the second part of the year. There are several interfaces to see and interact with SPS. This is the one I like the most, developed by Dmitry Baimuratov (@dmitrydao on Steem): https://steemproposals.com/proposals
Hardfork 21 also included highly debated changes of the economic model on Steem at the time, known as the Economic Improvement Proposal (EIP), and a few other changes. The aftermath effects seem generally positive, and if it will be good for Steem, it will be good for all stakeholders.
I raced ahead a little too far into the year, but it was a good opportunity to talk about HF21, once mentioned.
Let's get back to February 2019.
During the time Steemit, Inc. was in survival mode, important projects like Hivemind Communities and..., again, Smart Media Tokens, were postponed.
They, like others, needed SMTs or something like that to reach their goals with Splinterlands. However, they didn't want to wait any longer.
They found another guy, @harpagon, who had already built a side-chain. They formed a partnership to create what we know today as Steem-Engine. That happened back in February 2019. Right then, all one could do was create a new token governed by a smart contract on this side-chain.
But time flew by, Steem-Engine developed further after more devs got involved, mining via staking another token was added, SCOTs were introduced, tribes were created and grew. To name a few milestones.
I had the curiosity at some point during the summer to make a comprehensive retrospective of the Steem-Engine updates that @aggroed gave us to that point. Here it is, just in case you want a more in-depth coverage of the initial evolution of Steem-Engine:
Steem-Engine is now at the verge of releasing version 2.0 on the main website and NFT support is around the corner. Soon-ish there will be the option to raise money for projects via Steem-Engine.
Let's go back to Steemit, Inc.
After they finished their work for hardfork 21 (that's quite some time before the actual hardfork), they switched their attention back to SMTs. A large part of the work on SMTs was already done before they entered the survival mode.
After postponing many times for various reasons, Smart Media Tokens were finally ready... to test. With the realistic target to have them on the mainnet by March 2020. That's because they need a hardfork, the most complex Steem will go through since its conception. That's why Steemit, Inc. slated the longest test period for them as well.
He made a presentation at Steemfest 4, in Bangkok (actually two, but one was to showcase Hivemind communities). @vandeberg and @gerbino presented a SMT wizzard at Steemfest, which allowed anyone, without any coding skills to create a SMT.
Since then, Hivemind Communities were in closed beta for a while, now they are open and can be accessed by anyone here.
And since I mentioned Steemfest 4, would you like to see all presentations from there, with easy timestamped links? You can find them below:
So, let's see... we talked about new leadership at Steemit, ads, cost reductions and tackling future potential scaling issues, we talked about Steem Foundation and Delegation Committee, we covered Steem-Engine, tokens and tribes (well, tribes barely mentioned, sorry about that, they deserved more), we talked about SPS, EIP, hardforks, even condenser/wallet split, SMTs and Hivemind communities.
I feel something is missing... Ah, right! The DApps! :)
You can't say only a few worlds about the DApps on Steem. That barely scratches the surface.
But I will do exactly that.
Year 2019 marked the birth of the video and streaming app called 3speak.online, which from the start focused on the deplatformed and freedom of speech.
At "the competition", DTube created their own blockchain in 2019, but also stayed on Steem.
In the gaming territory, Splinterlands crushed it, continuing to perform fantastically even in this prolonged bear market. But it wasn't the only popular game launched on Steem this year. NextColony.io and DrugWars.io joined the fun. I believe there were some betting games as well, but I didn't follow.
I'm pretty sure I didn't include all relevant DApps and their major evolutions. But tomorrow is New Year's Eve and people around me started to look funny at me. Maybe I should stop here... But feel free to add anything I missed in the comments section.