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How Can Blockchain Technologies Benefit The Publishing Industry?

Updated: Mar 4

It is being said that traditional publishing is dying, and we can all think of countless newspapers long gone out of business after failing to establish a digital presence that would resonate with the new generations. As Don Graham would famously tell Jeff Bezos when he took over his paper, The Washington Post did not need another newspaperman but an owner who understood the internet. So let us explore blockchain in publishing.

Bblockchain technologies and publishing. Illustration. Created with DALL-E.
Bblockchain technologies and publishing. Illustration. Created with DALL-E.

With books, authors aspire to become bestsellers, but what does best-selling mean? Sure, a product that is popular and sold in large quantities… How about quality then? Selling one unit for two million dollars should be equivalent to selling two million units for one dollar each. Wu-Tang Clan did this with its album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, sold for two million, resold for four million.

The problem with any limited edition, especially those that are digital where you could theoretically make unlimited copies, is trusting the authentic one you own is as limited as you were promised it would be. This is no trivial issue; to solve it, we need the immutability of blockchain's public ledger. NFTs and now Ordinals could help here, inscribing data into actual Satoshis (0.00000001 Bitcoin).

The main difference between NFTs and Ordinals is that the former are still stored mostly off-chain, whereas the latter are not and simply make a clever use of the available metadata space. Think of it as a colored coin: it will have a face value for being the smallest unit of Bitcoin's denomination, so we can call this its residual value, plus the value added of the content this Satoshi is "filled" with.

In summary, both NFTs and Ordinals (Bitcoin NFTs) serve to certify non-fungibility, but does this mean there is no place for them in mass marketing? Well, I would not say so. Perhaps the author does not wish to sell a limited edition, but he can certainly mint limited promo codes to reward those followers who have reshared the most posts, achieving extra visibility at a competitive price.

In some situations, you will not be writing for the money but because it is the right thing to do. If you are a whistleblower, your documents might make it into the public domain, but, once there, whether they will remain accessible for the public to see or be suppressed by censorial gatekeepers depends entirely on the distribution tools you plan to use. Are you sure they are decentralized enough?

Depending on your risk profile and the sensitivity of the leak, something basic as the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) might be a decent start. With IPFS, all files are given a unique hash that makes them tamper-proof and allows them to be stored at a multitude of distributed nodes. In the absence of centralized servers, no servers are called when you need to "retrieve" the file; the file's hash is key.

Lastly, your jurisdiction might have a legal deposit library like the British Library that will require you to submit a copy of any publication in the United Kingdom or Ireland to their own repository for both print and digital formats of books, manuscripts, journals, newspapers, magazines, sound and music recordings, videos, play-scripts, patents, databases, maps, stamps, prints, and drawings.

Diamonds are inert and might be forever, but blockchain is organic and has the capacity to self-repair, becoming just as durable so long as nodes keep replacing each other like body cells. Its longevity is not hard-coded into a set of predetermined biological constraints but the tokenomic incentives of the project, which are largely based on the principles of behavioral game theory.


This is an opinion piece written by Matias Monteagudo, Co-founder of Mellifex, a blockchain technology software company, and Co-author of "Banking Unchained".

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