Cover photo

Coordinated Community Creativity

A practical example today, not a hypothetical vision of the future.

First, we do a little TL;DR:

  1. Digital environments blur the line between content creators and consumers, accelerated by user-generated content and generative ai.

  2. Fan-created content, like fanfiction, showcases vast creative energy and potential for collaborative projects.

  3. Co-creation is appealing but complex to implement, needing new strategies for effective collaboration in entertainment.

  4. Blockchain technology supports these efforts, managing contributions, rewards, and intellectual property efficiently.

  5. The Basepaint project exemplifies community creation, where artists co-create and monetize art via NFTs on a blockchain platform.

The lines between creating and consuming are blurring, driven by the rise of social media platforms and immersive online worlds powered by user-generated content. Generative AI will grow this wave, removing technical barriers that enable more people to cross the chasm from consuming to creating.

It's a fascinating trend. It will change the landscape of entertainment – it already is. It will change the way legacy entertainment and content brands think about involvement. And it will give more room for grassroots creator economies and related brands to flourish.

As consumers, when we discover something that resonates deeply with us, we naturally want to engage more deeply with it.

My go-to example for this display of creative energy is fanfiction. Millions of words are written by fans to extend the story universes they care about. There is no reward, just pure acts of passion. It's wonderful, but it's also a signal of underutilized creative energy.

Co-creation seems conceptually exciting but can be complicated to translate into practice. Given the blurring lines of consuming and creating, many entertainment segments must overcome this complexity. Co-creation and community participation will be essential to sustainably generate engagement and retain attention in a crowded content world.

Crypto networks and blockchains are useful tools for orchestrating this kind of collaboration and co-creation. The tech can handle reputation, reward mechanics, value capture, splits, and ownership rights.

It's valuable to watch the crypto-native projects that emerge in this category. These initiatives and teams can move without being restrained by legacy business models and strategies. It's just open space.

Such projects are worth exploring in their own right, as they're forming net-new areas of entertainment and content.

But, they can also serve as interesting proxies for what other, established parts of the entertainment sector can use as the baseline for their own playbooks.

We previously explored memecoins and intangible value and the Doge meme as proof of concept for "IP as platform."

Let's do the same with coordinated community creation.

Basepaint launched last year and is an example of a microcosm of community co-creation. It's a shared space to create art and runs on crypto rails for orchestration. Here's how it works:

  • The community creates art on a shared canvas for 24 hours.

  • To contribute, you need a brush (mint a brush NFT). A standard brush allows you to paint 100 pixels per canvas.

  • The canvas locks and the artwork becomes an open edition NFT available to mint for 24 hours.

  • 90% of the profits are distributed between the artists, proportional to the number of pixels they painted on the canvas. The rest goes to maintaining the protocol.

There's additional scaffolding and mechanics like leaderboards, special artist brushes, and community voting on color themes. As I'm writing this, the community is working on the "Day #264: Sunflower City" canvas, and it currently looks like this:

You can check it out yourself here. It works in real-time, so you can watch the artist's cursors move around the canvas while painting and discussing in the sidebar chat.

Here's a selection of previous canvases:

(PS, Continue reading to find out why two of the pieces are highlighted.)

The themes painted regularly reference other parts of the crypto space and culture, including the Ethereum upgrade, the Bitcoin halving, and "Higher" (a Farcaster-native headless lifestyle brand).

The different pieces are highly intricate and detailed. On average each canvas will have 4-500 contributing artists. Holding the two previous sentences together should make it obvious why this is a fascinating experiment.

It's a living, breathing example of coordinating distributed and fragmented creative energy aimed towards a common goal and resulting in tangible units of creation.

In total, the works have generated 365 ETH (roughly $1.15M) so far, with the top paintors earning $30-40K each so far.

But there's more: The artwork from Basepaint is licensed as CC0, meaning it's released into the public domain. As an act of support for Basepaint (and the proliferation of crypto culture broadly), a project named Nouns Factory is selling teeshirts with Basepaint prints.

(We explored the Nouns movie in a post late last year. Nouns Factory is a project out of the same headless brand).

I ordered a couple of teeshirts a few weeks ago. Maybe you recognize the prints?

It's also an interesting full-circle moment: One of these teeshirts displays a basepainted Steamboat Willie. In January, I wrote about the Steamboat Willie IP transitioning into the public domain and what that means.

And here I am, writing this piece a few months later, wearing a Steamboat Willie teeshirt that was co-created by 463 artists onchain.

Funny.

The Basepaint project is fascinating in isolation, but also proof that it's possible to use onchain mechanics to coordinate community creativity.

It's interesting to imagine what these mechanics could look like if woven into the ecosystem of established IP, for instance. 

They could serve as a way to let passionate consumers travel along the participation spectrum, cross the line between consuming and creating, and create novel engagement loops.


Please reach out on Farcaster (@brg) if you have any thoughts, ideas, feedback etc.

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