in blog •  7 months ago  (edited)


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I'd be lying if I said I was able to follow all of this discussion--maybe I could have but got a headache as I tried to keep track of the 'n' permutations. However, I understood enough of your discussion to understand the value of this statement:

Instead of being a network, Steem is now a network of networks, which could imply a basic change in the expected value proposition of the Steem network, perhaps at the scale of an entire order of magnitude.

I like that. The standard formula doesn't apply because Steem has changed the model. Great. Ingenuity and perseverance may insure Steem's survival, and enable its growth.

One thing for sure...it's reassuring to have you on the team :)

I also was previously unaware of Reed's Law, and appreciate you bringing to my attention. This is an example of the value of GFN's IMHO, which economic and financial metrics don't detect directly. Value is not only economic, something I am aware is both controversial in some circles, and far too ignored.

I would trade all my possessions for lunch with my late mother. There is no way to assess a financial weight to my mom. Many, many aspects of social interactions are similarly priceless, and mere economic metrics are woefully inadequate to encapsulate the value of networks that potentiate free speech.

Free speech is literally of existential value, and there are no rational people that would not trade every farthing for fair warning of impending doom. I have often ranted about how Steem is grossly undervalued by being so focused on monetary rewards. It is other benefits of free speech which brought, and yet keeps me here, and better financial investments exist for profiteers than our interactions.

This is why I am so hopeful that SMTs, Oracles, and Communities (SOC) will have leeway nominal to rewarding interactions in currencies far more valuable than any money, and if sufficient freedom in speech and rewards for participation are availed communities going forward, I expect one or some of them to get it right enough to show the rest how to do it.

Another note on Reed's Law is that it describes potential, which is much different than actual. N^2 is how many networks can form. That many networks will not form. I cannot today predict how many networks will form of those that could, but I bet that can be estimated from examining various social networks with a statistician's eye. My seat of the pants guess is that no more than 10% of the potential number of networks that can form do, and this then reduces Reed's Law to N^.2, which is a horse of another color.

Lastly, I return to my point about society being far more valuable than it's economy. I recall a line in the bible about a bag of gold being unable to purchase a loaf of bread, and reckon this may strike a nerve about this time next year. However, while some of the networks that form in a GFN may not be directly economically productive, this does not mean they're not valuable. Reed's Law values will be understated in societal terms, and overstated in financial ones.


Thanks for the reply! You raise a number of good discussion points. Some of which correspond with my own thinking as I was reading and thinking about this pair of articles.

Difference between economic value and actual value

I think of economic value as a measurement, so in the ideal sense, I don't think there should be a difference between the two. Of course the economic measurements are far from perfect, so I agree with you that - in practice - full actual value is rarely captured in depictions of economic value, especially in the digital/virtual space.

This reminds me of Goodhart's Law which is often paraphrased as, "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure."

So I think we're in a sort of agreement that the target should be to produce actual value, not just good numbers.

Difference between actual groups and potential groups

You're right about this. This is the reason that I was thinking as I was reading these articles that both Reed's Law and Metcalfe's Law might be better seen as upper boundaries instead of expected values.

Following the logic of Metcalfe's Law is Wrong, I was wondering if n log(n)2 might be a better description of expected value growth for a GFN (applying Zipf's law to both the list of connections and also the list of groups).

This discussion as an example of a GFN

You're right about this, too. Which runs counter to my section on applying it to Steem. I was even beginning to have thoughts along these lines as I was writing it, but they hadn't gelled yet. Basically, having the ability to follow people and use categories already made Steem into a GFN. That capability is extended by communities, but it's not as black and white as I implied in that section of the article.

You're right, too, that SMTs and Oracles can enhance the GFN capability even further.

I mention Goodhart's Law at work time and time again. People still prefer to target good numbers.

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