Students are the next generation of media professionals. During eDay Next Gen, I had the pleasure to educate hundreds of students on the power and opportunities of open-source, and that working open-source can be big business, too.
34% of all the websites on the web are empowered by the free software WordPress. It’s a textbook example of how a community plus open source software became a market leader.
What if businesses, planet earth, and the galaxy could be operated as open-source communities? In this 30-minute talk, Sebastiaan will take you on a journey to a 100% open-source world!
And: don’t worry, there’s big business in open source!
Did you miss the presentation? No worries, I recently did a keynote, covering a big chunk of the insights I shared at Emerce eDay.
If you want to learn more about how how to work more open-source, and how open-source if big business too, this video is for you!
The day after the talk, I received an email from Laura Schmitz, one of the students in the audience. Among kind words the presentation, she attached some questions which I will answer below 🤓.
I was wondering because you said that intermediaries would not be necessary anymore (e.g. your Uber example) because all important information can be saved on the blockchain – but what is happening with them? Do we accept that a lot of people will lose their job because of this or what could they do in order to use the blockchain in their favor?
Companies like Uber and AirBnB are often given as examples for a sharing economy. In the coming years, blockchain alternatives will arise, which will have way less operational costs (most processes will be automated via smart contracts).
In the case of Uber, around 25% goes to them for facilitating the ride. Imagine an open-source community running a competitive platform, for just a 1% fee. In that case, a rider can pay 12% less, while the driver earns 12% more. With blockchain, the sharing economy can finally unfold in an open and transparent way, without ‘rent-takers’ who are continuously increasing their fees.
What might happen is that way more platforms for peer-to-peer solutions will arise.
Ultimately, I hope that we will move to a form of Universal Basic Income, where everybody receives enough funds to survive, and additional income can be generated via entrepreneurship or working on transparently operating sharing economy platforms being runned by communities.
And innovation will and shall always shift the places where we need labor; old jobs will disappear, new work opportunities will arise. It happened all the time in history. For example: before having a fridge was mainstream, it was a common job to carry ice from place A to place B 😅.
Then I was wondering, what is, in general, the potential of blockchain? Because it goes much further than just timestamping data?
Absolutely, once that value is programmable (that’s what blockchains do), the sky is the limit.
The Internet has a deep-rooted issue: trust. How do consumers know whether the information presented by websites can be trusted, and how can website owners claim ownership over their content?
Being a nerd, fascinated by open-source technology since 2006, I’m starting to see exactly how those issues can be solved by timestamping content with blockchain. Blockchain is one of the few technologies able to prove authenticity, making everything verifiable, ultimately leading to trust. It will protect the small from the big and make the powerful accountable.
The idea is fairly simple: create a unique and universal fingerprint for every piece of content, based on simple inputs such as a title, the content itself and the date. This results in a unique fingerprint, let’s call it a hash. If one of the inputs changes, then the hash changes. That’s it!
Some say it’s an ISBN for only content. I can live with that.
Now that we’ve discovered the big idea together, let’s take it a few steps further. Apart from the title, the content itself and the date, we can add other attributes to the mix. Firstly, let’s commit our hash to the blockchain and secondly, one of my favorites, adding the fingerprint of the previous revision to the mix.
Let me demonstrate what this will enable …
Your Content Timestamp in the Blockchain; let’s Seal the Deal!
Let’s see what happens if you add this unique fingerprint to a blockchain, a public ledger that couldn’t be tampered with. With our unique fingerprint on-chain, we can irrevocably prove that our piece of content existed at the moment of the blockchain transaction. Otherwise, we couldn’t HAVE that fingerprint in the first place. You see?
So, I timestamped the unique hash of my article in a blockchain, all done. I can, forever, prove the existence of my content.
But what if I want to edit it? Let’s see!
Nothing is Right at Once! Simple yet Powerfull: a Chain of your Content’s Revisions
Have you ever written an article that you did improve at a later moment in time? I do that all the time, as I always wake up the other day with ideas to improve my writing.
But what to do if I update my post? Should I timestamp it again? And, more importantly, is my old timestamp invalid by then?
Firstly, YES. You timestamp every iteration of your content and add it to the blockchain. So you can prove the existence of the new iteration.
Secondly, NO. Your old timestamp isn’t invalid, but it’s only valid for the previous iteration of your content.
And I hear you thinking; for many reasons, you might want to respect the history of your writing and show that it’s an iteration instead of a newly born one (for example for Authenticity, Credibility, SEO, … you name it).
That’s why we suggest that you add the fingerprint of the previous revision, which has also been stamped to the blockchain to the fingerprint of your NEW iteration (and don’t worry, there are standards for this, and it could all happen on the background, automatically).
Do you see what happens there? Yet, a fully verifiable history, with a paper trail of all your revisions, arises!
Schematically this is what happens:
And whether you keep all revisions of the content publicly available or just the fingerprint (even I make mistakes I want to cover up 🤓), you can ALWAYS prove the existence, development, and ownership of your publications. And a reader/buyer/consumer can ALWAYS check, instead of just trusting the publishers/sellers/whoever sends information/contract and whatsoever. Does that make sense to you?
If you want to show your timestamps: make the blockchain timestamp certificate visible with your content as that helps your reader/buyer to verify your content’s background. It’s not mandatory of course, but it shows transparency, eventually leading to trust. And trust is, literally always, a better idea.
Here’s what a timestamp certificate looks like:
So, to give you a brief summary of what we’ve discovered so far:
The basic inputs from a piece of content lead to a unique fingerprint of this content, called a hash;
Submitting it to the blockchain creates indisputable proof that this content existed at the moment of the blockchain transaction;
By adding a hash of the previous revision of this piece of content, you get a closed-loop with the history of this piece of content;
Showing a blockchain timestamp certificate with your content shows transparency, eventually leading to trust, but it’s not mandatory.
Blockchain timestamps in a nutshell. Pretty cool right?
Now that we’ve got the basics covered, let’s see what revolution timestamping could and should cause, starting … TODAY!
10 Smashing Reasons Why Timestamping Content with Blockchain Matters
… the WordPress and blockchain community via this tweet;
… more than a hundred professionals in media, publishing, WordPress & blockchain we at WordProof talked to lately.
What we’ve learned so far is that the reasons for timestamping content are countless and the list is evergrowing, as the field is so new.
My ambition is to maintain and grow this list to be and stay the most complete blockchain timestamp overview on the web!
Here they are, 10 smashing reasons to Timestamps your Content with blockchain:
#1 Proof of Existence
After reading the text above, I’m sure that you agree with me that timestamping in the blockchain is the most legit form of Proof of Existence you can possibly think of.
Showing the timestamp certificate proves your integrity and transparency to your readers. In fact, you make a statement, actively saying “I did not tamper with my content”. If you want to, it even publishes the history/paper trail of your content.
And even if somebody tries to erase history …
Of course, is true too. With a timestamp, you can prove that erased content ever existed, as long as you keep the input that leads to the content fingerprint as timestamped in the blockchain:
#2 Timestamps in e-Commerce Equalize the Level Playing Field between Buyer and Seller
Let’s talk about e-commerce first. Imagine a webshop, timestamping both her Terms & Conditions and the product information. And ideally, sending the timestamped version (including a link to the blockchain) to the customer at the moment of buying.
Now, imagine that there is a dispute. For example, the product isn’t what the seller promised.
T&C’s and product descriptions change all the time, often in a way beneficial to the seller. Currently, in the unfortunate case of a dispute, I as a buyer, totally rely on the seller’s willingness to cooperate. With timestamping, that changes a full 180 degrees. Both parties have indisputable proof of what they agreed to.
So, with timestamping e-Commerce content, a merchant creates an equal level playing field between seller and buyer. This will irrevocably lead to Higher Conversion. Don’t you agree?
Timestamping will be part of best practices. In five years from now, if you don’t timestamp your articles on the blockchain, you’re going to be considered a fraud, a revisionist.
Brendan Blumer, Co-Founder & CEO Block.One
Soon the question will be “What do you have to hide?” if you don’t timestamp.
That’s a good bridge to content:
#3 Timestamps in Publishing Equalize the Level Playing Field between Writer and Reader
For content, timestamping it with blockchain equals the level playing field between the writer or publisher and its readers. This is as valuable as it is in e-commerce, because now, every form of sourcing is verifiable by the reader, instead of just trusting the publisher and its journalists in not changing the essence of the article.
Imagine, linking not to an article as a source, as that could have been changed, but to a specific revision of that article. Wouldn’t that make the web be a better place? I’m sure it does, and luckily more an more publishers will do so, the coming years.
This equal playing field is a great step forward in journalism as a whole and the battle against fake-news and revisionism, as people can verify who sends information and if it has been tampered with.
#4 Small Matters, Again!
Timestamping with blockchain is an inclusive way to prove integrity and it’s accessible for everyone. As a small player, you can enjoy the same protection as a big player/publisher.
To illustrate this: content on a ‘big’ website got found earlier by a majority of readers and search engines, then a small website. Reading news there firstly, can suggest that they published it first. A blockchain timestamp is as factual as it could be, and it leaves no room for discussion if a ‘small’ publisher publishes something first.
As a result, it matters to be a small player/publisher, again. Small Matters (so, content writers, get Rich in your Niche, again 🤓)!
#5 Proof of Authorship / Proof of Identity combined with Timestamps will change Content and Reviews Forever
Soon, it will be possible to connect identity to the blockchain account you timestamp content with. Once people can verify that they are who they say they are, this opens up a whole new world.
Solutions for blockchain identities vary from old-school KYC to the recently filed Proof-of-Co-location, which enables you to prove that you are a unique human being and not a bot.
Once blockchain identity becomes part of the status quo, the possibilities of timestamps become limitless. For example as a weapon against deep fakes, as Max Greenfield says:
With this identity, you can truly build your reputation while timestamping your content and reviews:
“Blockchain-based timestamping will separate the truth-tellers from the opportunists.”
Not only for the publisher or merchant but also for reviewers. As consumers we trust reviews, but how trustworthy are those reviews nowadays? Once having a decentralized identity is the best-practice, reviews are finally verifiable and thereby trustworthy.
Long story short, publishing or reviewing while timestamping with an identified blockchain account, is all about taking accountability:
#6 Copyright Protection with Blockchain Timestamps
Good to know: At WordProof we provide the tools to take legal action; from composing a letter, to collecting the timestamps and certificates, we’ve got you covered. In a couple of minutes, you’re ready to go. Just imagine how much of your valuable time, stress and costs that would save you!
#7 Say No to the Notary!
For what a blockchain timestamp does, a notary easily charges you $50 to $1.500. Really.
Replace the notary and save tremendous amounts of notary costs AND time, as timestamping with blockchain can be done in less than a second. A notary takes days!
#8 Be a Pioneer for a Trustworthy Internet
Building a better internet, in an open-source manner (blockchain and our timestamp standard are open-source), together! Timestamping is a pragmatic first step leading to a fully decentralized web.
Once again the quote:
“Timestamping will be part of best practices. In five years from now, if you don’t timestamp your articles on the blockchain, you’re going to be considered a fraud, a revisionist.”
Brendan Blumer, Co-founder & CEO Block.One
#9 Next Generation SEO benefits: will Blockchain Timestamps be a Ranking Factor?
Not only people care about integrity and quality, so do search engines!
Will timestamping with blockchain be a ranking factor for Google?
The valid question here is: Is a timestamped page a higher quality search result than the non-stamped equivalent? I think it is!
Tip: to have a head start once content timestamps are part of Schema.org / Structured Data / SEO, start timestamping your content today. Here’s exactly how!
#10 Blockchain Timestamps as an Infrastructure for Upcoming Regulations, like Link Tax in the EU
Once blockchain Timestamps for content are a part of Schema.org, the infrastructure is in place for more. Be prepared for EU laws, like Link Tax, as the blockchain timestamp can be used for micro-payments and licensing as well.
BONUS: Blockchain Timestamps as an Infrastructure for new Revenue Models
Of course, the Infrastructure is not only useful for laws, but also for new Revenue Streams:
Like licensing content,
Affiliate marketing via blockchain
Another interesting movement is the upcoming technology NFT’s, the Non-Fungible Token. Those are unique, transferrable tokens, for example representing an item in a computer game OR a unique, yet transferrable certificate of birth of your content or website as a whole!
Imagine the ownership of your content truly being transferrable – this enables marketplaces for content where sellers and buyers can exchange content in a trustless way.
The Non-Fungible Token (NFT) functions as a real certificate of ownership, so you can show to both people as search engines who owns the content and who doesn’t.
It’s easy, as it can happen on the background, automatically.
Your content is at risk if you don’t. If you don’t do it quickly, somebody else might do it! Also, when Google adopts blockchain content Timestamps in Schema.org, it really really matters to be among the first ones to have your content stamped! Remember the first people buying domain names?
So, as you see, content timestamped in blockchains will improve economic development, push innovation, support the implementation of European directives, and open up blockchain into the daily life of consumers.
It will protect the small from the big and make the powerful accountable.
A massively big thank you for the many reactions from to community to the tweet: “Why Does Timestamping Content Matter?”.
Let’s revolutionize the web as we know it, the blockchain era is here to stay and timestamps are the first step, ready for mass-adoption!
Amsterdam, September 2019 – I had the pleasure to be a guest at Olivier Rikken’s highly interactive live webinar. Olivier is the #1 keynote speaker in Netherlands and Curaçao on blockchain and founder of Emerging Horizons. We’ve discussed how the internet is broken, and how timestamping content is the way which leads us toward a trustworthy internet.
Thinking 24/7 about Timestamping content with Blockchain, I came across an amazing webinar from Yoast Academy with Jason Barnard, Omar Reiss, Jono Alderson and Joost de Valk on Structured Data. The huge number of valuable insights in the webinar literally blew my mind and it made me think: “Will timestamping content impact your SEO results?”
To be found in Google, Structured Data is essential. It will make the web a better place for companies, search engines and, ultimately, it will result in better user experience for everyone.
Yoast does a great job in making the implementation of Structured Data as easy as using their WordPress SEO plugin. Also in their eyes, structured data is a great way to push the web forward.
One of the questions that were asked: “Does the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress add Structured Data for reviews, already?”.
The given answer: “When we add a review schema, it will become too easy to abuse, which is something we think about a lot.”
Here are some thoughts:
Implementing Structured Data is very useful to help search engines interpret the information on your website. However, as long as it’s serving information from your website’s database, it’s easy to tamper with content (revisions, publication dates) and reviews. This hurts the trustworthiness of the web as a whole.
Although Google might be fast and decisive in penalizing fraud with for example reviews, we as a society should not solely rely on Google penalizing brands by filtering them from the search results.
How Timestamping Content with Blockchain Delivers more Trust
Via hashing, you can create a unique fingerprint out of content, called a timestamp. Adding this timestamp to a blockchain results in indisputable proof that content existed at a specific moment in time.
By anchoring critical information in the blockchain and thereby storing its fingerprint in a decentralized manner, you as a brand make your trustworthiness visible and verifiable for search engines and your readers/buyers.
Therefore, we’ve written a draft proposal for a Timestamp Standard. This is a first step in advocating for the blockchain timestamp to become part of the Schema.org standard, as the ability to prove integrity leads to a more trustworthy web.
Why Blockchain Timestamps should be in your Structured Data
We aim for blockchain timestamps to be part of Structured Data soon, as most importantly, a timestamped piece of content will be a higher quality search result than a non-timestamped piece of content.
Logical next steps for the adoption of blockchain timestamps in Structured Data:
Add hashes of content timestamps and its revisions to Structured Data (objects: WebPage, Article, and Product);
Add hashes of a timestamp review to Structured Data (object: Review);
Timestamped content is content which verifiably hasn’t been tampered with. Publishers can take accountability for it by connecting their identity to the blockchain account they timestamp with.
Does Timestamping your Content with Blockchain help your SEO?
The right question here is: does timestamping content improve the quality of a search result? And does that make it a potential ranking factor for Google?
It should be:
Firstly, if the full history of a piece of content is transparent, I as a reader have the guarantee that the content hasn’t been tampered with.
Secondly, if someone connects their identity to the content, that form of accountability puts reputation in the game.
Thirdly, it makes us less reliant on Google. After all, every search engine will have access to the verifiable truth timestamps bring! It democratizes the superpower and access to truth that only Google has at the moment.
Structured Data as a ranking factor is what the panel in the Structured Data webinar agreed on.
The arguments above make me confident that adding Content Timestamps via blockchain to the mix will improve SEO tremendously.
So, let’s push the web forward with timestamps and Structured Data, together!
At WordCamp Europe 2019, I was invited to share my thoughts on WordPress, blockchain and a 100% open-source future. Giving a keynote on this topic for 2.500 open-source enthusiasts was amazing.
In my opinion, open-source technology is the only way to build an inclusive and free society. Or, as Drupal founder Dries Buytaert states: “I believe Open Source to be the only way to build a pro-privacy, anti-monopoly, open web”.
Keynote From WordPress to Blockchain, The future is 100% open source
What if businesses, planet earth, and the galaxy operated with the friendliness and openness of the WordPress community? We conquered the CMS market, why not take over everything else?
In this 30-minute talk and Q&A, I take you on a journey to a 100% open-source world:
These questions have been asked during the Q&A. The bold numbers refer to the time in the video where the question is being asked and answered:
28:27“What happens if somebody steals your content?”
29:14“Is there a way to prevent people from stealing?”
30:03“What is your take on decentralized WordPress hosting?”“With WordPress and blockchain, we might be able to build and host uncrackable websites, soon!” – @delans on decentralized WordPress hosting
31:14“Which blockchain do you use and why?”
32:24“How can I as a developer get started with blockchain development?”
33:05“What is the environmental impact of the blockchain WordProof uses?”
33:58“How could a Decentralized Autonomous Corporation start? What is the WordProof business model?”
34:53“Is it possible to automate timestamping?”
36:17“What part of the content is part of the timestamp?”
I used a quote by Matt Mullenweg on the ecosystem: “For every dollar that Automattic makes, twenty or twenty-one dollars are made by the other companies in the WordPress ecosystem”. That quote is from this interview (full transcript);
The day of the keynote, marked a special day for me and the WordProof team, as it was our initial product launch: WordProof Timestamp v1.0.
WordPress & blockchain makes WordProof
Since the start of 2019, I work full-time on WordProof; a tool to timestamp your content within a blockchain. This helps you to prove authenticity, proof existence and thereby protecting your valuable content.
The day before my presentation, Matt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress) said on WordProof: “It’s the coolest thing on WordPress and blockchain I’ve seen so far”.
Being an entrepreneur, working full-time in the open-source space for more than 12 years, I see a lot of parallels between WordPress and blockchain.
I actually see WordPress as a prove that blockchain can work. With blockchain technology, we can bring the principles of transparency, openness, and collaboration to the world of finance, and doing business as a whole.
With timestamping your content, you can prove that you didn’t tamper with it, and you can prove at any moment in time, that you published that piece of content, a proof of existence, which is a great start to protect your valuable content.
In this article, I explain to you exactly how to timestamp your content in a blockchain.
The makers of the WordProof Timestamp plugin, with which you can manually timestamp your content, also offer a way to timestamp your content automatically, without the hassle of working with a blockchain wallet.
Here’s how to onboard yourself in minutes:
Get a WordProof Timestamp key, which you can simply paste in the WordPress plugin. After a simple configuration, all new content and content edits will be stamped automatically.