We would like to extend a very warm welcome to anybody and everybody interested in permissioned blockchains for both media (writ large) and entertainment. The launch of the Hyperledger Media & Entertainment Special Interest Group (ME-SIG) is designed to be maximally inclusive: we would like to the see the widest possible range of engineers, developers, in fact all manner of professionals, together with artists, academics, students, experts, and—of course—amateurs.
Here’s how to navigate our initial resources: following a recent, virtual meet-up in Los Angeles, the Media and Entertainment SIG has started to build a landing page on the HL Wiki where you’ll find links to our:
- Mailing list sign-up
- Rocket Chat channel (while we ponder the pros and cons of Slack)
- Proposed debut project
- And other initiatives or aggregated info that will naturally grow over time.
In simple terms, the ME-SIG will be using decentralized, permissioned HL blockchains to discuss and build user-friendly apps that respond to the relative disorder of permissonless environments, where artists’ interests are significantly harder to safeguard.
Following comparative analyses of the technical challenges (and hypothetical solutions) facing filmmakers, musicians, novelists, poets, photojournalists, etc., these DLT apps/dapps will be created for content-creators and their publishers, irrespective of location or socioeconomic status. This implies a focus upon UX/UI concerns over command-line tools, all in the name of access and inclusivity.
The ME-SIG will focus on the application of Hyperledger DLTs to media-specific and entertainment use cases. Such activity will automatically foreground topics such as decentralized metadata, digital distribution, copyright protection, royalty payments, value chains, NFTs (non-fungible tokens), tokenized content, counterfeit reduction, and registered digital ownership. By logical extension, these same themes will lead to real-world scenarios or solutions for cinematic, literary, audiovisual, and photographic publishers, to name but four.
Following the established activities of the Social Impact and Trade Finance SIGs, the TME group can then hope to:
- Collaborate with other core Hyperledger working groups and project in the areas of architecture
—performance and scalability identity
- Build user-friendly DLT ME applications on Hyperledger, focusing on UX-UI goals over command-line tools alone, thus simplifying the workflow of Hyperledger Fabric—for easier adoption by both artists and arts-related communities
- Research different protocols—to build standardization across different parties and projects
- Identify related reference architectures (business/integration or technical/infrastructure)
- Work with businesses and non-profit or NGO communities alike
- Share stories of civic success, failure, opportunity, and challenge
- Encourage the equal involvement of both early adopters and student newcomers, looking to examine careers beyond the (barely existent!) academic job market.
So what of an initial project? Here’s where we are keenest to involve colleagues and collaborators from outside the worlds of media and/or entertainment. Our initial proposal notes can be found here. It is increasingly revisited and reworked by members of the SIG. We’ve called it a “Distributed Media Curation Platform (DCP) on Hyperledger Fabric.” Please add to those notes with help, criticism, or constructive abuse! Community input is—and will remain—vital. The more we know about your desires and needs, the more a finished product will be useful for you.
The DCP will curate, document, and fairly manage media assets—eg., music, ebooks, photojournalism, gaming figures, digitized artworks, etc. on the blockchain. It will accurately establish the provenance of an asset (its past) and assure that the asset’s creators or rights holders are properly acknowledged and remunerated in the future. For this reason, the DCP is suitable for museums, galleries, labels, and publishers on one hand, while proving equally helpful to artists or content creators on the other. In both environments, the watchword will remain fairness. The following paragraphs outline a plan to build the DCP in a modular fashion, together with definitions of the relevant and manageable technologies.
- Hyperledger Fabric 2.X
- Custom UI and Player (PHP/JS, HTML/CSS).
Early curatorial enterprise on the blockchain was celebrated in 2017 by Consensys’ own Engineer of Societies, Simon de la Rouviere. In his overview of P2P distributed curation markets (DCMs), de la Rouviere quoted Umberto Eco’s equation of curation or list-making with culture itself.
The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries.
The benefits offered by a blockchain DCP, de la Rouviere claimed, are not only decentralization and related systems of accountability. They also include the “the [cultural] wisdom of a crowd sharing at scale “ and micro-transactions or tokenized payments. Both will be addressed by the ME-SIG..
There are certainly lots of existing content aggregation tools, operating with human or artificial intelligence. Given, however, that DCPs rely on both the filtering of information and an attribution of value to those selected assets, AI is (thus far) less likely to to attribute lasting or accurate cultural worth to any resulting list than a known, human entity within a relatively small and permissioned environment. Culture is a profoundly human and abstract activity, revolving around what many blockchain/DCP scholars like to term a “Schelling (i.e., focal) point” of consideration. Some DCPs that have arisen around such foci are:
- Ocean Protocol — AI data pools
- Messari — crypto projects
- Civil — journalism
- MedCredits — doctors
- District0x — marketplaces
In all cases, a relatively small and specialized community creates worth in a permissioned or walled environment, within which individuals determine a value-system. We will move along the same lines, so please help to guide our passage—and inform us of your needs in the process. Then we can be sure of building something you will want and use!
Thanks for your attention!
Professor, Comparative Literature / Musicology / Digital Humanities, UCLA