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Evolution of Web3 Publishing: A Deep Dive into Paragraph and Mirror


Humpty and Colin chat about Paragraph, a platform revolutionizing content creation and audience engagement. They dissect its unique features, like integration with Farcaster and Arweave, overcoming limitations of Medium and Substack. They delve into customization, re-engagement, and NFT monetization, spotlighting Paragraph's acquisition of Mirror. Colin envisions a thriving creator economy, emphasizing collaboration and innovation within the platform's growing community.

Key Takeaways:

  • Paragraph is a publishing platform that helps creators build, own, and grow direct relationships with their audience.

  • Existing platforms like Medium and Substack have limitations in terms of control, monetization, and growth.

  • Paragraph offers unique features such as integration with the social protocol Farcaster and the decentralized storage protocol Arweave.

  • Creators can customize their newsletters, re-engage their audience through email automation, and monetize their content through collectible NFTs.

  • The acquisition of Mirror by Paragraph brought together two platforms with similar goals and complementary features. The collaboration between Paragraph and Mirror offers opportunities for collaboration and innovation in the creator economy.

  • Integrating with different protocols and platforms allows for improved distribution, monetization, and engagement for creators.

  • Aligning incentives between creators and collectors is crucial for the success of the platform.

  • Developers have the potential to build on top of Paragraph and create novel integrations and experiences.

  • Paragraph is actively seeking to expand its team and invites creators and developers to join the community.

The Genesis of Paragraph

In a recent episode of the Crypto Consumer Chronicles podcast, host Humpty goes into a comprehensive discussion with Paragraph's founder, Colin, shedding light on their mission, journey, and vision for the future.

In the ever-evolving landscape of content creation and distribution, the emergence of web3 technology has sparked a new wave of platforms aimed at empowering creators and revolutionizing the relationship between creators and their audience. Among these innovative platforms are Paragraph and Mirror, two entities seeking to build the web3 equivalent of Substack while incorporating decentralized principles and technologies.

From Dissatisfaction to Inspiration

The genesis of Paragraph stemmed from Colin's dissatisfaction with existing content publishing platforms like Substack, Twitter, and Medium. Colin shares their experiences with using various content publishing platforms, expressing concerns about the lack of control they had over audience relationships, limited API access, and the effectiveness of the paid subscription model. They also mention the tension between reach and monetization, and the lack of incentives for growth and sharing content. 

Motivated by a desire to address these shortcomings and inspired by the possibilities of Web3, Colin embarked on the journey to create a platform that prioritizes ownership, neutrality, and empowerment for creators. Colin started working on Paragraph (formerly known as Papyrus) about two and a half years ago to address these concerns and improve upon the existing content platforms. They praise the name and branding of Paragraph, which sparked their imagination and inspired them to learn more.

Decentralization at the Core

The platform was originally intended to be called Papyrus, but Colin felt that the name Paragraph better reflected his goal of creating an environment where people could freely express themselves and engage in conversation. Based on decentralized infrastructure like Ethereum, Paragraph aims to test several approaches for content creation, delivery, and monetization while guaranteeing durability and robustness.

He expresses their dissatisfaction with Medium's paywalls and Twitter's changing integrations, which have made it less useful for them. Colin praises Substack for its audience ownership and monetization model but notes that each platform builds upon its predecessors with new features and improvements. When Humpty discovered Paragraph, they were drawn to its constant availability to creators and openness to feedback. Paragraph's unique features include its integration with the social protocol Farcaster, which allows for increased distribution and network effects. 

Colin highlights how Paragraph uses Ethereum as an identity layer, enabling users to connect their wallets and automatically subscribe to creators they follow on Farcaster. This benefits both creators and readers by avoiding the cold start problem and providing more distribution. Colin adds that the benefits of using a protocol like Farcaster are that they are programmed to function indefinitely, unlike platforms that can change their integrations or policies at any time. 

Features: Redefining Engagement

Colin discusses the unique features of Paragraph, a decentralized platform for creators, and how it compares to traditional platforms like Twitter. Paragraph integrates with decentralized storage protocols like Arweave, allowing for optional storage and enabling developers to build novel solutions on top of it. He highlights the importance of these features, as traditional platforms lack APIs and can change or shut off features at any time. 

He highlights how important these capabilities are for producers, especially in terms of growing their user bases, personalizing their content, and re-engaging their audiences. With customisation as a primary goal, Paragraph seeks to make it as simple as possible for developers to begin utilizing these capabilities and best practices.

The philosophy of the platform is to give creators the freedom and resources they need to explore new forms of expression and revenue streams while developing deep relationships with their audience.

Innovations for Creator Empowerment

  • Farcaster Integration: Amplifying Distribution and Network Effects

  • Email Automation and Workflows: Streamlining Relationship Building

  • Collectible Content: Monetization Through Unique Offerings

One notable feature is email automation and workflows, which allow creators to send automated emails to subscribers after they sign up or unsubscribe, facilitating relationship building. Another feature is collectible content, which turns any post into an NFT and allows creators to charge for it or limit its supply, providing an additional revenue stream and enabling fans to own a piece of the creator's work. Humpty shares their personal experience of moving from traditional platforms to Paragraph and earning revenue through collectible content. They also mention Mirror, another web3 platform, and discuss their past interaction with the Mirror team regarding potential acquisition by Paragraph. 

The Mirror Parallels

In a surprising turn of events, the conversation shifted towards Mirror, another web3 platform with similar aspirations in the publishing space. Recognizing synergies between the two platforms, discussions ensued regarding a potential acquisition, ultimately resulting in an asset purchase agreement. Despite operating as separate entities, Paragraph and Mirror share a common goal of redefining the dynamics of content creation and consumption in the web3 era.

Colin discusses the origins and differences between Paragraph and Mirror, two platforms built on web3 technology with similar goals of creating a Substack-like service. Paragraph was designed to be accessible to non-crypto users, while Mirror initially targeted web3 natives. Colin explains that they collaborated with Mirror after discussions with their investors at Union Square Ventures, who also invested in Mirror. Colin sees potential for both platforms to coexist, with Paragraph focusing on brand accounts and Mirror on personal blogs. They plan to engage with creators on both platforms to inform future product direction and determine if maintaining separate products is necessary or if they can be combined into one.

They discuss the acquisition of Mirror by Paragraph, clarifying that it was an asset purchase rather than a full acquisition. They emphasize that Paragraph has the momentum and visibility in the Web3 space, making it a desirable choice. They also explain that the process involved productive discussions about potential benefits for both parties and thorough product and legal due diligence. They touch upon the importance of aligning incentives for creators and collectors in the Web3 space, with Paragraph seen as a step towards creating economic value for content collectors. Colin believe that this economic value can motivate collectors similarly to how likes motivate engagement in traditional media.

Colin discusses the potential of Paragraph and Mirror in the crypto space, focusing on patronage, speculation, status, and collection as key areas of growth. He explains that patronage can take the form of economic support or signaling, and speculation can occur through secondary markets or referral rewards. They also touch on the importance of status and the desire to be an early collector, as well as the potential for collectors to act as curators. Colin notes that collection could be low or high friction and expresses excitement about the potential for utility in the Paragraph ecosystem, such as token-gated access to future drops or events.

Vision and Opportunities in the Web3 Space

Colin believes that in today's world, where many people quote or build upon others' ideas, this feature could be valuable in recognizing the original creator and potentially compensating them. Colin also mentions the excitement of creating "content Legos" and the potential for new avenues of distribution and monetization.

The Paragraph platform currently offers a highlights feature, which allows users to collect and share parts of posts, but other features such as XML integration for closer engagement with creators and users are still in development. The strategy behind integrations is to meaningfully improve one of the three pillars of content creation, distribution, and monetization. He mentions the successful integrations of Farcaster and Arweave, and the potential for future integrations to increase the impact of the Paragraph platform.

Looking ahead, Colin envisions a future where Paragraph serves as a catalyst for innovation and collaboration within the web3 ecosystem. With a focus on patronage, speculation, status, and collection, the platform aims to incentivize creators and collectors alike, fostering a vibrant community driven by shared values and mutual benefit. As Paragraph continues to evolve, Colin invites developers and power users to join the conversation, shaping the future of publishing in the decentralized age.

Colin discusses the vision for developers who want to build on top of the Paragraph platform. He mentions that there are two main requests from developers: the first is to build on top of existing content, which is feasible today with various products and tools; the second is to create content programmatically. Colin expresses excitement about the potential for a headless editor or content creation system, allowing developers to self-publish on their own blogs or use tools like Obsidian. 

He acknowledges that this is a bigger effort and they haven't figured it out yet, but the goal is to have most parts of the stackable to be looped in by developers for novel integrations. He also mentions that they are hiring and looking for conversations with power users to determine what a great publishing platform might look like in the future.

Forging the Path Forward in Web3 Publishing

The adventure of Paragraph and Mirror serves as an example of how web3 technology can completely change how content is created and distributed. These platforms open the door to a more equal and powerful environment where creators flourish and audiences interact honestly by embracing decentralization, ownership, and innovation. Paragraph and Mirror are leading the way in the web3 revolution, influencing the story of publishing's future.


Paragraph website: Paragraph

Paragraph on X:    

Paragraph channel on Warpcast:  Paragraph 

Colin on X:    

Colin on Warpcast: Colin @ FarCon (@colin) on Farcaster 

Humpty expresses excitement about the potential growth of the Paragraph platform, which aims to help creators build close relationships with their audience and monetize their content. With the recent fundraiser and addition of Mirror, the team plans to expand and operate at a larger scale, inviting talented individuals to apply for jobs and encouraging creators who haven't joined yet to do so. Colin expresses gratitude for the opportunity to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for the space on the Crypto Consumer Chronicles podcast.

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