Reintroducing Glass
0xDb6c
August 22nd, 2021

We love watching videos.

Videos are windows into people's worlds. Videos tell stories that inspire us, teach us, entertain us, and help us grow. It doesn't matter who you are, where you're from, or what you do. You can think of at least one video that's changed your life. That's the power that videos have.

The power to connect with us to make our lives better.

A majority of internet bandwidth is used to watch videos.

Sources: Sandvine, CommScope, Cartesian
Sources: Sandvine, CommScope, Cartesian

Video ✨should✨ be a public good.

And yet… like much of the internet it is not.

Video ownership, monetization, and infrastructure is controlled by the platforms, not the people.

Glass is on a mission to reform internet video from the infrastructure to the experience of living as a creator.

We believe in individual sovereignty, shared ownership, and decentralization.

The Master Plan

  1. Infrastructure
  2. Creator Monetization
  3. Recommenders & Moderation

Infrastructure

Glass infrastructure is built on two powerful ideas:

  • Free markets
  • Edge computing

Video files are big… like REALLY big. Maintaining infrastructure is expensive ($1B+ a year depending on scale).

Decentralized computing allows anyone with dormant resources to earn money in exchange for storage, bandwidth, or transcoding. Since these “miners” are competing for work -- the price of resources reacts to supply and demand fluidly.

The price of these resources are significantly cheaper than operating a datacenter.

Storage:

For file storage we use Arweave. Arweave enables truly permanent data storage. The upfront costs for storage is higher than a centralized cloud provider, but the price is fixed. We think on the scale of centuries.

Videos are records of knowledge and culture for future generations.

A nuanced detail of permanent file storage replicated across many computers around the world is the inability to take down content nor censor. This poses some interesting questions on moderation and copyright (see below).

Breakeven Point
Breakeven Point

Content Delivery Networks:

To load videos fast, centralized video providers will maintain a content delivery network (CDN). CDN’s are computers located spatially close to the person watching the video. Since video files are BIG, you want the distance between the file to be SMALL.

Centralized CDN’s are expensive to operate since it requires renting or purchasing data-centers in major cities.

Decentralized CDN’s reduce the costs and improve the spatial distribution of computers around the world. As web3 goes mobile and global spatial distribution becomes more important. Our current CDN savings are approximately 3X cheaper thanks to the Meson and Media Networks.

Central Server vs CDN
Central Server vs CDN

Transcoding:

The last component of internet video is transcoding. Transcoding converts large videos into smaller videos at different resolutions (6k vs 240p). This allows the video player to adaptively change the resolution of the video depending on network speed without interrupting the viewing experience.

Once again edge computing (dormant GPU’s) and free markets result in close to a 50X savings. Prior to using Livepeer, transcoding was our greatest expense.

Coordinating Transcoders
Coordinating Transcoders

Implications:

Decentralized video is a hard engineering problem. We finally have reached a point where we feel confident that the stack will scale to mainstream usage.

Monetization

Our philosophy behind creator monetization is to experiment rapidly towards an economy that sustains video creators and viewers. The primary reason for building monetization on-chain is to enable new economics by giving the community ownership over content, and allowing easy access to an entire ecosystem of decentralized finance. We’ve intentionally built our metadata formats to be highly modular, allowing us to add features and combine economic funding blocks and chains.

Source: Chris Dixon
Source: Chris Dixon

Multi-chain

We live in a multi-chain world. Each protocol has tradeoffs when it comes to decentralization versus speed and affordability. Instead of making that choice ourselves, we decided to put it in the hands of the creators.

Currently we support Ethereum and Solana.

Tips

Ethereum

Solana

Tips are an established way of supporting creators. They are also a great way to fill out the demand for a creator. Perhaps someone can’t afford to buy an expensive NFT but leaves a $5 tip to show their appreciation.

NFT Editions

Ethereum

🔜 Solana (coming soon)

NFT editions lower the barrier to entry and allowing more people to participate.

A couple weeks ago we did a livestream with the Ethereum NFT Edition. The NFT’s could only be purchased while attending the livestream. Think of it like digital merch for attending a digital experience.

We made 3.15 ETH in 22 minutes of live-streaming. As an added experiment we tested out an on-chain commission referral model.

One core consideration we think about when developing a new economic model is how do we solve the cold-start problem of not having crypto. The commission referral model makes a lot of sense because we can add an economic reward to an existing social behavior (sharing a video).

Of the sales, 15/25 NFT editions were purchased through referral links paying out 0.6 ETH to people who helped spread the word.

Reserve Auctions

Ethereum

🔜 Solana (coming soon)

Reserve auctions are a powerful funding mechanism for creators. These auctions tend to capture the highest tiers of demand for a piece of content and help artists truly find economic independence.

The Long Tails

We are on a mission to find economic models that create sustainable income at scale for creators at every stage and consistently fund creative endeavors regardless of bear or bull markets.

In order to compete with centralized platforms, we want to create an economy where the standard of living is always improving. In an ads-based economy, 97% of video creators don’t make enough money off their videos to break the poverty line. We want to play a part in making a career as a video creator more viable in the future.

We believe innovative models based on free markets between consumers and creators create a more sustainable inequality curve. They also allows more wealth to flow in the system by capturing more of the demand curve between fans and artists.

Fundamentally this requires that:

  1. the content is controlled by the people not the platform
  2. the content always finds itself in the hands of the people who find it most valuable

Efficiency in property ownership and novel ways to enable Universal Basic Income for people on the platform can lead to greater economic welfare at a macro scale.

Moderation & Recommenders

Moderation is important for every community. Centralized platforms take much of this power away from their community. We believe in transparency and self-selected moderation. Once we have found truly sustainable monetization we will then focus on application-layer moderation.

Delegated Moderation

This is still an open research question, but one model that might work is allowing someone to select who can moderate on their behalf. The moderators are economically rewarded by the protocol to act appropriately. A moderator doesn’t have to be a human actor, it could also be a machine learning model.

Egregious Content

The Arweave team has been working on automated machine learning approaches to automatically catch very harmful content.

We’re at the cutting edge -- bear with us while we tackle these problems. In the meantime, we’ll be rolling out the ability to create on Glass incrementally, while we build out a democratic way for the community to control the content.

We’re working towards unifying on-chain smart contracts with traditional (legal) licensing contracts. While technically it would be nearly impossible to bring the content down, the last thing we want is a creator getting sued.

Recommendations

Centralized video platforms opt for black box recommendation algorithms. We don’t like that. As we start adding recommenders to our economics system we’ll always opt for:

  1. explainability and transparency
  2. optionality and self-selection

Airdrop 👀

One of our core values is that our entire community should prosper.

We made 3.15 ETH on our first live-stream. We’re airdropping all the proceeds in a Mirror split to anyone who signed up before August 21. Thanks for supporting our mission!

Something AMAZING

August 23, 2021
August 23, 2021

Hiring

Glass is hiring!

We’re on a mission to change the internet

Developer Search

  • Typescript (NextJS)
  • Rust
  • Specialty with Video

Contact

hello@glass.xyz

Thank you to everyone who has given us feedback along the way. Every conversation has helped push us forward.

❤️ The Glass Team

Arweave TX
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Ethereum Address
0xDb6c1a8aF1883262aaD221A25816468ef693D4A2
Content Digest
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