Unlocking the Value of Protocols: The Power of Shared Data and Incentive Systems


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 23, 2023

4 min read


Unlocking the Value of Protocols: The Power of Shared Data and Incentive Systems

In the world of technology and innovation, protocols and applications play a crucial role in shaping the landscape. Traditionally, the Internet stack has been composed of "thin" protocols and "fat" applications, with value primarily distributed at the application layer. However, the advent of blockchain technology has turned this relationship on its head, with value now concentrating at the shared protocol layer.

One key factor in this shift is the combination of shared open data with an incentive system, often in the form of tokens. This combination has the power to break down barriers to entry and create a more vibrant and competitive ecosystem of products and services. By replicating and storing user data across an open and decentralized network, rather than individual applications controlling access to silos of information, new players can enter the market more easily.

However, it's important to note that an open network and shared data layer alone are not enough to promote widespread adoption. This is where the protocol token comes into play. These tokens are used to access the services provided by the network, whether it's transactions in the case of Bitcoin or computing power in the case of Ethereum. They serve as an incentive for users to participate in the network and contribute to its growth.

Early adopters of these protocols recognize the potential for future value and build products and services around them. This feedback loop, driven in part by speculation, can lead to rapid growth and appreciation of token prices. While speculation can sometimes create bubbles, it also attracts financial capital and drives innovation. Even when a bust occurs, it can support the long-term adoption of the technology as stakeholders work to create value and promote its success.

One of the most notable examples of the power of protocols and shared data is Pinterest. As a visual discovery engine, Pinterest relies heavily on machine learning techniques to solve challenging problems. By using computer vision, Pinterest can not only determine the subject of an image but also identify visual patterns and match them to other photos. This allows the platform to offer personalized recommendations based on a user's interests and preferences.

Additionally, Pinterest's computer vision capabilities extend beyond images alone. The platform also analyzes captions and looks at which items are frequently pinned together to create connections and offer even more relevant recommendations. By understanding the aesthetic qualities of products and services, Pinterest can provide better recommendations and enhance the user experience.

In 2014, Pinterest set its sights on visual search and acquired VisualGraph, an image-recognition startup. This acquisition paved the way for the development of Lens, a visual discovery tool that bridges real-world camera images to the Pinterest taste graph. Lens combines Pinterest's understanding of images and objects with its discovery technologies to offer Pinners a diverse set of results. By dynamically changing blending ratios and result sources, Lens goes beyond visually similar results and provides a more comprehensive discovery experience.

Building automatic object detection for Pinterest's visual search engine was a challenge that required collecting labeled bounding boxes for regions of interest in images. By aggregating this data across millions of images, Pinterest was able to learn which objects users are interested in. Real-time detection is crucial for Pinterest's visual search engine, as it allows users to search for any image and find visually similar objects or scenes in a fraction of a second.

Overall, Pinterest's use of computer vision technology showcases the power of protocols and shared data in creating a more personalized and engaging user experience. By leveraging machine learning techniques, Pinterest can generate relevant recommendations, prioritize local taste, and explore the connections between different pins. This not only enhances the user experience but also opens up new possibilities for businesses and advertisers to reach their target audience.

Based on these insights, here are three actionable pieces of advice for companies looking to unlock the value of protocols and shared data:

  • 1. Embrace open networks and shared data: By breaking down barriers to entry and allowing for the replication and storage of user data across a decentralized network, companies can create a more vibrant and competitive ecosystem of products and services.
  • 2. Incorporate incentive systems: Incentive systems, such as protocol tokens, can serve as a powerful tool to promote adoption and participation in the network. By offering rewards or access to services, companies can encourage users to contribute to the growth and success of the network.
  • 3. Harness the power of machine learning and computer vision: Technologies like machine learning and computer vision have the potential to revolutionize the way companies understand and interact with their users. By leveraging these tools, companies can generate personalized recommendations, improve user experiences, and create new opportunities for innovation.

In conclusion, the combination of shared open data with an incentive system has the potential to unlock immense value in the technology and innovation landscape. Protocols and applications play a crucial role in this process, with value now concentrating at the shared protocol layer. Companies like Pinterest demonstrate the power of protocols and shared data, leveraging computer vision and machine learning techniques to enhance the user experience and provide personalized recommendations. By embracing open networks, incorporating incentive systems, and harnessing the power of emerging technologies, companies can tap into the full potential of protocols and shared data.

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