The goal of Token Curated Registries (TCR) is to incentivize token holders to curate some content. As you all know, in the case of the FOAM POI map, the goal specifically is to encourage an accurate, objective, and up-to-date POI registry. As a token holder, you may be encouraged to do so with the belief that through proper curation the value of the FOAM token will increase; however, the value of the FOAM token can only increase through increased demand.
Increasing the demand of FOAM tokens can only occur if there is some economic benefit for some set of users to use FOAM tokens. In the current model, this can only occur if someone has economic benefits from listing or increasing the weight of a POI. For example, if the FOAM map becomes widely used due to its quality curation, McDonalds may want to be listed on this map for the visibility it provides the company and the revenue generated from the visibility. I refer to this as the advertisement model because the goal of this use of FOAM is to increase revenue for a given business at the expense of the quality of the POIs. Quality of the content must not be optimal in this model since these specific POIs are biased towards consumer manipulation (they didn’t arise naturally from the FOAM community). Quality can be degraded not only by the presence of a POI but also by the weight a POI is given (boost). If McDonalds over-weights their POI, FOAM holders will be encouraged to “look the other way” since it increases the demand for the token. If the community shoots down McDonalds’ proposal, it will discourage other companies in the future from making similar biased POIs, decreasing demand for FOAM. In short, the current economic model encourages some amount of bias in the dataset.
An alternative approach to increasing the economic utility of FOAM is to sell access to the POI data. In this model a company that wishes to use the quality/unbiased content from FOAM can buy access to the data that has been curated by this community. For example, a developer building a restaurant search engine can build their app on top of the FOAM POI registry, taking advantage of the quality and up-to-date content. The developer can monetize the app and therefore generates revenue by effectively leveraging the FOAM POI dataset. In return for access to the quality dataset, the app developer will be required to burn some amount of FOAM, giving value back to the FOAM community curators. Note that in this model, token holders are encouraged to keep the dataset unbiased since revenue is not generated from any specific POI but from the quality of the dataset. Since apps can leverage the dataset in different ways, the FOAM platform will be encouraged to add more content for each POI (images, hours of operation, virtual tours, etc). Therefore, the licensing model is symbiotic with the goals of the FOAM platform.
How do you charge for data on the blockchain?
The only problem that remains is a technical one: how do you charge for data that is freely available on the blockchain? Although the registry actions are recorded on the blockchain, the POI content actually lives off-chain in a centralized database (example). Now before you grab your pitchforks consider the benefits of storing this data in a centralized DB:
- Listings are modifiable without incurring gas costs. If the data were in IPFS, the pointer to the data would have to be modified, requiring an on-chain transaction. Here, the listing can be modified instantly by FOAM DB by accepting a signed payload with the listing updates (feature request )
- Access to the FOAM DB can be gated. A simple model today could require the current Web3 client to have some FOAM in their account (similar to granting access by API key). In the future, there could be API rate-limiting unless a certain amount of FOAM is burned by the requesting account on a regular basis (subscription model). The current required fee could be governed by token holders.
In a separate discussion I think it’s useful to talk about ways to prevent potential censorship or data-loss from the centralized FOAM database.
The current revenue model of the FOAM map encourages biased content by seeking advertisement revenue. Alternatively, we can charge for access to the underlying FOAM dataset for businesses leveraging the curated dataset. This approach seeks to align FOAM’s economic model with the quality of the platform.