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.
In an earlier article, I wrote about how to timestamp content with blockchain, and the open standard to do so. This article focusses on the countless reasons WHY to timestamp your valuable content, and why you as a consumer should want every content you consume to be timestamped.
Here hotlinks to 10 smashing reasons tot timestamp your valuable content:
- Proof of Existence
- Timestamps in e-Commerce Equalize the Level Playing Field between Buyer and Seller
- Timestamps in Publishing Equalize the Level Playing Field between Writer and Reader
- Small Matters, Again!
- Proof of Authorship / Proof of Identity combined with Timestamps will change Content and Reviews Forever
- Copyright Protection with Blockchain Timestamps
- Say No to the Notary!
- Be a Pioneer for a Trustworthy Internet
- Next Generation SEO benefits: will Blockchain Timestamps be a Ranking Factor?
- Blockchain Timestamps as an Infrastructure for Upcoming Regulations, like Link Tax in the EU
- BONUS: Blockchain Timestamps as an Infrastructure for new Revenue Models
Before we dive into the reasons why it matters, let me first give you a brief introduction of what a blockchain content timestamp is.
First a short intro: What is a Content Timestamp?
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!
As input for this article, I consulted …
- … the current userbase of WordProof Timestamp;
- … 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:
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:
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?
And, as Brendan Blumer said in 2017:
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:
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.
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.”Ashe Oro
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:
Timestamping your texts and images is a pragmatic way to building an archive. Once somebody copies your content (quality content DOES attract copy cats), building a timestamped archive is THE way to fight plagiarism. Protect your valuable content, automatically: Learn here how creative studio Blom & Blom protect their creative work.
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!
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!
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
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!
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.
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.
And last but not least, the grand finale …
Timestamping your content with blockchain is …
- It’s very cheap, get started for free in the automatic trial, or Do It Yourself with WordProof Timestamp (that’s both free and open source!). If you want it to happen automatically, it’s VERY affordable.
- 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!