There's really nothing to gain from nay-saying a new space like this, tbh. Much better to take the attitude of "hmm, I'm skeptical, but let's see where this goes, let me try it a bit, someone convince me why X is useful." Because if you're wrong, you'll find out sooner.
Dismissing a new technology is not helpful. But I think it's valuable for people that understand the tech to debunk proposed uses of technology that are not things the tech actually does. This is closer to how I see the article.
In what I see as the current big 3 - quantum computing, AI, and blockchain - there is a parallel imaginary business world claiming things they can do that at best are misunderstandings and at worst are effectively scams to get consulting money. People who understood what the tech is actually doing should not shy away from clarifying what it does and make it harder for the snake oil salesmen to do their thing.
And when I see the discussions about Blockchain in the general public nobody asks for proof for statements like "It creates trust. It's safe, it's the future, etc ...".
So by taking a rather radical stance ("it will not revolutionize anything") you at least create a counter narrative.
Can you expand on use cases? Just interested
Fast forward 20+ years and Disney buys Lucas Arts and decides to stop paying royalties to Mr. Foster. How is this improved by Blockchains or smart contracts?
Disney wouldn't be able to undo this later arbitrarily in this example, it's just enforced by the very fact the revenues are being collected by the smart contract.
Again, simplification, but the point is these technologies actually can help with some of these issues, but not simply by taking the existing way of doing things and just "doing it better", but rather by re-imagining how payments are collected, how content is accessed, etc.
It's a larger picture for sure, and this technology is in it's infancy.
Simply stop revenue from running through a DAO. That's actually more or less what Disney did in that case ; they simply moved the books to another publisher.
But sure, a company as big as Disney could setup an alternative distribution system and market it. So presumably a DAO for publishing would not be too effective if it represented only a single publication. But if you had a DAO that distributed a large number of works, then it would get progressively harder and harder for any single company to subvert it.
In that specific situation, it would be against Disney's interests to agree to using it.
What would Disney be against that?
There is little chance that having comics paid through the DAO would make new customers. The authors have an interest in the thing considering the event we're discussing, sure, but authors rarely get to choose their terms.
Disney, as an IP holder, or publishers, currently are in a situation of power, and it would be foolish for them to pay into a new system for no tangible benefit.
I'm not intending to be snarky here, but statements like these remind me of the phrase "the devil you know is better than the devil you don't."
I have yet to see blockchain provide any tangible value, and in my opinion any future possibilities proposed like from this comment chain will almost certainly be plagued by similar (if not worse) issues.
What do you define as tangible value? I'm not a crypto bro, but I can see the potential in blockchain, specifically the building blocks nature of smart contracts. A global, decentralized, API that runs on its own "currency" and anyone can interact and build upon, that sounds pretty valuable to me.
I think this is naive as there is no version of this in the forseeable future that wont allow a court to unwind or reassign the physical rights. You'd be left with a DAO that forwarded a percentage of 0.
The author in this case has very little power to fight Disney; they could try to sue them and spend years and a lot of money to recoup the royalties and potentially fail... but that's a major burden to place on someone.
Alternatively there could be a technology that levels the playing field so that instead of Disney being allowed to act unilaterally, the burden would be on Disney to first seek a court order allowing them to halt royalties and then present it to the author, who can then choose to challenge it in court or comply.
In other words, we don't know if Disney is legally justified to halt royalties, maybe they are, maybe they aren't. But Disney is powerful enough to behave as if they are legally justified and give a huge middle finger to anyone who doesn't have the resources to fight back. The burden should be on the one changing the terms of an agreement to go through the process of establishing the legitimacy of that change, instead of the current system where the more powerful player just does what they feel like until they're forced to do otherwise.
Such technology does not exist, and none of the proposals I've heard of implement it. I'm not defending Disney at all, I'm saying that if you routed everything through that DAO one day Disney could change to not routing in that way - and we're in the same situation as today. The fallback is the court system, and that wouldn't change.
I mean you can wave your hands about some theoretical system of the future that has address this, but none of them are really actionable.
>Disney could change to not routing in that way
Yes but the point is that if the DAO comes to represent a large volume of intellectual property, then the DAO becomes valuable in and of itself. If Disney chooses one day to no longer participate that's perfectly fine, another company can come and take Disney's place and distribute whatever movies, books, music is represented by the DAO. DAOs, as they exist today, have mechanisms in place to allow new participants to enter as well as ways to kick out existing participants in much the same way a contract has such mechanisms.
>I mean you can wave your hands about some theoretical system...
This is akin to a thought terminating cliche.
Creative discussions about future technologies are valuable ways to stimulate ideas and I know just personally as a business owner I have benefited tremendously from them. If you don't find them valuable you can choose not to participate in it from the get go, but it's kind of awkward to start a discussion about the future and then turn around and dismiss the conversation as a whole.
Having said that, objecting to this kind of technology by pointing out potential problems and concerns is absolutely valuable and should be welcomed... my only objection is dismissing a conversation altogether whose very nature is exploratory and hence vague and open ended.
I disagree, because you trimmed to me the most important part " none of them are actionable".
I find these conversations interesting and sometimes educational, which is great. But the hard part of such a change is generally not technological, so when it evolves hand-waving about potential future technologies and then tweaks to them rapidly becomes less interesting because it avoids the core of the problems.
Technological discussion involving mechanisms to discuss evaluating/exchanging/etc. property right that does not at least try address the fundamental practical sources and control mechanisms of those rights seems doomed to be superficial.
I may be wrong here but if power is the problem and it becomes centralized in a system such as what you're proposing there will inevitably be similar, or worse, situations than the one being discussed. This solution would only expand their opportunity to exploit.
One worse outcome would be a bug in the system like the infamous DAO failure back in 2016. So definitely we need to consider potential problems, but I can't identify any problem in principle from this sytem.
Phrased like that, sure, it sounds great — but that's because it's begging the question of how you'd dictate terms to Disney.
Once you start thinking about how that'd work in the real-world, it's obvious why it won't: no buyer needs a particular DAO and major sellers have no advantage to offering their content on a new system unless it delivers tangible benefits for them. That lack of demand and ease of replacement prevents DAOs from getting enough marketshare to be influential and, if it did, you'd either see them switch to a different platform. Think about what happened with Netflix, which had far more loyal users and much greater marketshare, and ask what reason you have to think this would be different.
The fundamental problem is that this is not a technology problem. These are large companies with a massive revenue stream to protect and strong consumer demand. Optional systems which are struggling even to be cost-effective, much less compelling, are not going to disrupt that power imbalance.
The purpose of the DAO isn't for major sellers, it's for authors to pool together their intellectual property so they can derive royalties from it.
>Think about what happened with Netflix
What... exactly happened with Netflix? They're a 250 billion dollar company that's incredibly profitable.
The thread you jumped into was talking about a major seller choosing not to pay royalties. Putting your work into a DAO doesn't change that unless you think that that's the only place the major seller could offer that material for sale … which is unlikely.
> >Think about what happened with Netflix
> What... exactly happened with Netflix? They're a 250 billion dollar company that's incredibly profitable.
How successful have they been at dictating terms to major players? The major rights-holders have been aggressively setting up their own services rather than giving that much control over distribution to a third-party. They went heavily into their own and foreign content to avoid being so dependent on continued availability of content from the major media companies.
Netflix was paying them a ton of money, too, so now imagine what happens when the pitch is a DAO which is a bit player in the market and the alternative is simply continuing to offer your works on existing popular services which don't have that problem from the company's perspective.
Now, maybe you're saying that if Foster had put his work on a DAO before Disney acquired everything he wouldn't have this trouble. That assumes that he would have found it profitable to do so instead of listing with a major publisher (i.e. someone solves the piracy and exposure problems — bootstrapping services like this is quite hard) but it's also assuming that everyone chooses to stay inside the constraints of an arbitrary system. I think it'd be more likely that, say, you'd just see the content posted on other services and if they're really playing hardball, a bunch of DMCA takedowns to anyone involved with the DAO to prevent residual sales there. There's no plausible path where, say, Amazon, Apple, etc. are going to fold their stores or that a non-trivial percentage of people are going to refuse to buy content which isn't available on the DAO of their choice.
Would that such a system worked exactly as intended on paper, I've never seen one that did.
In both cases, you end up trusting a third-party (lawyer, website, software) for its interpretation. And even then the final interpretation is upto a different third party (The blockchain VM or the courts).
The smart contract is intended to enforce provisions between an author and a publisher, and one should expect an author to understand how their property will be protected.
I think a system where I could buy an ebook NFT and that would not only grant me a license to download the ebook, but also authorize third parties to transfer the data of the ebook to me (probably for a nominal fee in crypto) would be cool. Essentially, a legal platform-agnostic torrent system as file store.
I'd be much more interesting in building a digital library if it seemed like it could both have resale value and would serve as a durable mechanism for accessing that information throughout my lifetime and beyond. However, solving that issue requires building an amount of trust that will not come quickly - we are years away from this future at minimum.
I think more people are likely to lose access to their crypto wallet that contains their books than Amazon will cut people off from their libraries.
As much as I like the vision you're presenting (and I do! there are real reader wins for that), I'd rather see BookFunnel build a full storefront. They already have their own reader/audiobook player app and keep track of books you've bought. They can transfer those books to your device of choice (Kindle, Nook, etc.), so you're not locked in. Worried about BookFunnel losing your account? None of their books have DRM. They could even make it so you can download your whole library to make a backup.
Thus far, BookFunnel is an author service company. Authors pay them to distribute their books. Adding a storefront would be a big shift, but they really could put together something great.
Of course, adding resale when books don't have DRM is essentially impossible. Which would you rather have? DRM and the ability for the merchant to remove books from your devices, or no DRM but the ability to resell the books?
This would give safe harbor for whoever wants to validate my NFT to serve the file to whoever has a valid license, which allow for greater diversity and quantity of hosts.
Ethereum (which I see as the start of Blockchain beyond Cryptocurrencies) started in 2013. That's almost 8 years ago. At some point you gotta show receipts.
NFTs, or something similar implemented without blockchain, may be an interesting niche market, but I don’t see how it could revolutionize publishing. As of today, it looks like many creators who try NFTs don’t earn even a penny.
A lot of revolutions happen when a niche gets bigger and bigger until eventually it's really big. It's pretty early for NFTs and they seem more likely to revolutionize the art market than the publishing market, but these don't seem like great criticisms of NFTs to me. It's small now, and most creators can't make money on NFTs, but those same criticisms would apply to any of the past revolutions in publishing before they happened.
There's just so little funding right now for areas like short fiction. Is it really so unthinkable that NFTs could become the primary funding source for it? Or that in the future something like "new meme development" could become an important, profitable type of publishing, whereas now we just assume that it's done for free.
To be fair, I do think it's more likely that Substack revolutionizes publishing than that NFTs revolutionize publishing, but I think they both have a shot.
For authors who regularly publish short fiction, I'd imagine the patronage model (Patreon) to be a bigger deal than NFTs. Maybe it's a lack of vision, but I just don't see a lot of people wanting to be able to claim "I own the first edition of Story X by Author Y."
So at some point having a blockchain ledger on your PC means you have CP on your computer! Would that be basically end of blockchain as we know it?
"Attestation for kernel patches" https://lwn.net/ml/workflows/20200226172502.q3fl67ealxsonfgp...
The more fundamental problem is adoption: you're talking about things which most people have convenient access to, so there's very limited demand for new distribution systems and that means that anything which doesn't give the rights-holder the ability to yank content will largely be ignored. The number of people who are going to tell their kids they're not watching a Disney movie until it's available on a blockchain is a tiny rounding error of the number of people you'd need to make those blockchains viable.
True, this needs to be addressed before I can get what I want. In the case of media it's got to be either on-chain or strongly coupled so that once published, an artifact remains available even if comparable artifacts are produced. It probably won't happen top-down, media giants are keen to keep their content in their walled gardens. Journalism might be a good fit to start with.
A long-term durable copy requires ongoing money storage and transfer costs which have to come from somewhere but most people aren't going to pay to host something they can't use (due to encryption) or already watched / copied, and anyone trying to sell content is not going to use a service which allows unlimited unpaid distribution.
One underappreciated aspect of blockchain tech is the ecosystem it provides. Creating a useful building block is very hard. In addition to the risk of hacks and bugs, simply developing useful software that is efficient within the constraints of a blockchain stack is difficult and time consuming. However once a building block is battle tested and useful, it dramatically increases the utility of the entire system. See Uniswap and how it enables anyone to create a market, and how its AMMs are used in a huge number of other systems.
It would not surprise me if one of the experimental toys in blockchain related to publishing establishes a niche. It’s very hard to predict how this space will go. I wouldn’t count it out.
How so? "Cryptographer David Chaum first proposed a blockchain-like protocol in his 1982 dissertation ... The first blockchain was conceptualized by ... Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008"
Just a few popular ones right now: Layer 2 solutions with smart contracts (Optimism, for example), zkRollups, Stateless smart contract-based chains, proof of stake validation, chain sharding, proof of storage, proof of X (many new consensus algos with various uses being developed).
The list goes on. If crypto were the internet, we're not even at the NSF-net days imo
It could be that the aspect of publishing that will be disrupted is the sense authorship itself. Perhaps blockchain will facilitate the ability for a single work to be generated by a large number of authors, with each contributor being compensated accordingly.
Once they've done that, services like Draft2Digital _right now_ will put their ebooks out into stores all over the world and split up the royalties for them.
Blockchain solves how to move information from one owner to another.
Mathematically copy is an easier problem to solve than move. Physically, move is easier.
Only if that information is completely contained in the blockchain, and even then only in a de-facto way.
- $ESSAY: https://j.mirror.xyz/uVGCCwwm3k341lPpxaJmHTZROESVse9Pe_rmbiu...
- $VALUE: https://coopahtroopa.mirror.xyz/b3_zJsOv8vvvJsaOKyCM-KcCeA_z...
- $GENERALIST: https://generalist.mirror.xyz/1T0h7VGDcECJuifK4TPDfRoUQ3zaO_...
- $NOVEL: https://emily.mirror.xyz/0AFENlMKv9amUC1OJIZY26udpISw_raXkoE...
(Disclaimer: I am on the Mirror team.)
Someone can put up a Kickstarter and say that "people who pledge at level X will have their name in the acknowledgements. Pledge at level Y and you'll get your name in a footnote in one of the chapters."
In fact, I think there _have_ been Kickstarters for books where the author offered to write high-pledgers into the story in some fashion.