I would like to see a realistic, adult discussion on the economics of safecoin and the MaidSafe network. I’ve been following the discussion on the Google groups development thread, and I feel that there are a number of topics that we should debate seriously. It’s better to do that here than on the development list.
There were obviously some things that didn’t go too well during the crowd sale; for example, the early selling out of Maidsafecoin available for purchase with Mastercoin. I was highly skeptical from early on that Mastercoin was up to the task, but we’ll save that for another discussion. I feel that the Maidsafe founders have earned some negative karma with early investors already, so it will be important for them to demonstrate some responsibility towards the remaining ones who were able to successfully invest.
Here is my major concern. There is talk of making storage on the network unlimited and free for everyone. This invites a tragedy of the commons and a devaluation of safecoin. Why would I need safecoin if I can have unlimited storage for free? Contrary to what some people claim on the development list, storage is a scarce resource. Information is not, but storage certainly is. In order for someone to offer space to the network, they need to leave their computer or NAS device powered up, in most cases by consuming non-renewable energy. Neither spinning platter disks nor flash drives last forever, and there is both an acquisition cost and a depreciation. There is also the cost of network bandwidth, which I don’t see going to zero anytime soon.
I don’t feel that anyone who is in favor of free, unlimited storage has adequately defended their position. Most of the arguments I’ve heard are naive and childish, along the lines of “Imagine what it would mean to offer free storage to people in the third world,” or “We’re doing something totally unprecedented here and shouldn’t rely on the principles elucidated in textbooks written by long-dead authors.” I bet if a piano were falling on your head, you wouldn’t dismiss the law of gravity just because it was conceived by Isaac Newton.
Anonymous, encrypted storage seems like the killer service offered by the Maidsafe network, but I know that there are other types of services under consideration. Which of these services do you feel add economic value to safecoin and the Maidsafe network?
Given the fact that Maidsafecoins are already trading significantly under the IPO price, I’d say that critics of Maidsafe’s economic policies (like mmason from the development list) are not the ones who need to justify their positions, by reference to long-dead authors or otherwise.