Response to Blockchain Technology Is Our Chance To Rebuild The Internet In A Way That Benefits Creators

Response to Blockchain Technology Is Our Chance To Rebuild The Internet In A Way That Benefits Creators

Submitted by Daniel Harris on Friday, 14 August, 2015 - 11:50.


This is in response to George Howard's post at

When I hear REM's Cuyahoga I always feel the hairs on the back of my neck raise up. Something about it being such a calm and peaceful way to say "you are all wrong and I will leave you and you are not even worth speaking to". But in our case I don't feel making a new country is what we really want to do. To "begin again" would be a foolish thing to do. The "Internet" is fine just as it is, thank you. Because the Internet is just an open protocol called "TCP/IP" and it's quite wonderful. We don't need to scrap it and build a new one. We need to build on top of it. It is the foundation of our next era. So, perhaps you'll call me nitpicky but, actually, we really need to be, else we're all going to be saying the same thing but all thinking completely different ideas. Really what you are talking about is in the realm of the Web and not the Internet. Strictly speaking the Web sits on top of the Internet. Blockchain technology sits on top of the Internet. The Internet is fine and cool. What we need to do is build great stuff on top of it.

About the blockchain, we still need gatekeepers, don't we? Are we just going to swap one set of gatekeepers for another set of gatekeepers? Are all these "blockchain" service providers all using the same blockchain? And are they interoperable? Can I have some of my catalogue on one service provider and some other catalogue on another service provider? Can I mix and match? Can I move my data between service providers? Am I stuck with a service provider? How can I move from one to another? If I make one assertion with BSP (Blockchain Service Provider) can I read this assertion from another BSP?

And blockchain isn't the only way to do this. It's a great back up ledger. But what concerns me is that the doesn't seem to be a discerning design process around this. We still need the applications, the interfaces and the policies. Where the "use cases"? Where's the requirements specifications? Ah, to heck with those, let's just use the blockchain. It may well be the answer but I'm still concerned that it's a moving and rather opaque beast. I've never been fond of bandwagon jumping. One technology is rarely the answer. I don't even know if it's an open protocol. Here are some Kendra Hub features:

What I really want as a human being, is to be in control. I want to own all the master records and metadata. I want to decide where they are hosted. I recently moved all my IMAP email from Google Apps to FastMail. I am so pleased I did this for many reasons. But the process was pretty easy. Why? Data Portability! Why? Because both service providers spoke the same language: IMAP. Have any of the BSPs thought about data portability or interoperability or open protocols? Will musicians be able to move from one to another seamlessly. Will I be able to host my own application, own my own master records and integrate with current service providers and CMOs/PROs? That's the Kendra Hub plan. Will I be able to use my application to talk to other applications and agree/negotiate rights assertions.

Are you aware of Ted Nelson's work on "transclusion"? Over simplifying, in the beginning there was Ted and Tim working on hypertext but Tim's World Wide Web won out – most likely because it was easier to use. Transclusion is "the inclusion of part or all of an electronic document into one or more other documents by reference". So, in our speak, when a fragment of a creative work (sample) is inserted into another creative work (song) the ownership metadata is there too. We've built a system in Kendra Hub whereby you can have samples within samples within samples. And then we can create a list of exactly who's doing what in the song – and list all the performers and song writers and owners.

I've been working on Kendra Initiative for 15 years. Most of our concerns are about interoperability between service providers and applications. Because, let's face it, musicians need to trust their service providers no matter what technology (blockchain or not) they are using. Musicians also need to know they can move from one service provider to another. So, another concern of Kendra Initiative is data portability.

Off topic note: The reason the Internet isn't shut down is because it is worth more to big businesses (and hence government) to have it operational than not – but only just. Free speech and story telling is tolerated because the payoff is that powers are more effectively able to control us – just. And then sometimes governments turn off the Internet or specific services when they get irritated. So, the Internet isn't our "right". But we are lucky to have it. And it may, just possibly, enable us to balance the power books if we play the right strategy.

Cheers Daniel

Kendra Initiative • Fostering an Open Distributed Marketplace for Digital Media