At the end of February, the WordPress community gathers in Miami for WordCamp Miami. For WordProof, it will be the first time we physically present our solution in the United States, as I’ll be speaking at this wonderful conference. The main topic will be how WordPress and blockchain can lead to a more trustworthy internet.
The event was held at Florida’s International University. Here’s the video of my talk:
How would you compete with a CMS with tens of millions of users, and tens of thousands of contributors like #WordPress?
You simply CAN’T!Sebastiaan van der Lans, founder WordProof.io
Full transcript: From WordPress to Blockchain, the Future is 💯 Open Source
There is only one thing in life that creates tension: wanting things to be different than they are.Push notification from Headspace, the Mindfullness app.
This resonated with me.
There are things I want to be different then they are, but the good news is:
I’m among the BEST people in the world to achieve this.
The people in the WordPress community.
Firstly, let’s have a look at 30 years of the internet. What did it bring us?
- With Google we find information,
- Facebook and LinkedIn for people,
- Airbnb & Booking for living,
- Uber for transport.
Everything is perfectly organized, and user-friendly packaged!
Can we have a big round of applause for the internet?
But, at the same time, the internet has deep-rooted issues.
- Tech giants, like Uber, Misusing their monopolies, exploiting its drivers.
- And Social media? It was designed to use its users. Just look at the business model: our content, our data, our attention. These are all incredibly valuable things, but right now it’s the companies, not the users, that reap the rewards. In 2018 alone, Facebook sold our attention to advertisers for a stunning $55bln.
- In content? We suffer Censorship, Plagiarism, Revisionism and Fake News
Today’s question is: How to take back control?
- Firstly, we look at what open source communities are capable of.
- Spoiler alert: we, who think, act & work open-source, will have great competitive advantage the coming 10-25 years
- Secondly, I’ll share with you what I work on; WordProof.io.
Miami are you ready?
To kick things off: 3 things we as communities are capable of.
Step 1: Democratize Publishing
- Remember this? It’s our mission at WordPress.
- The best way to explaining it is by describing the opposite: Censorship.
- Being a content creator became a job nowadays.
- For example on YouTube, if you have millions of views or a special niche, you could make a business out of it.
- Every minute, over 300 minutes are uploaded to YouTube and moderation became hard.
- Advertisers don’t like their ads next to specific content types and report it.
- YouTube yearly generates billions in ad revenue.
- To avoid advertisers from running away, YouTube actively shuts down channels.
- Overnight, content creators lose their channel, their bread, and butter.
This happens on a DAILY base.
- As a content maker, I have to TRUST YouTube, for not deleting my bread and butter.
- I have to TRUST Facebook, in not deleting my social accounts. What happens if Mark Zuckerberg sells shares to Iraq? Are gay people like me still welcome?
- I have to TRUST Google, in not reading and selling my email. But off course I trust Google because their motto was “Don’t Be Evil.”
What is a solution to censorship? A platform that’s hardly censorable?
WordPress. Of course!
Its open-source, decentralized, and a textbook example of how a community is a market leader!
What we learned over the last decade – Dries worded it beautifully – is that open source is the only way to build a pro-privacy, anti-monopoly, independent web.
If you would describe WordPress’ ecosystem, it would look like this:
- Value creators, all of us, on the left.
- Value extractors, the users, on the right.
- No centralized entity in the middle, mostly just us.
- We all have our benefits and reasons for using and contributing.
- That’s why we’re are all here.
- It’s a well functioning ecosystem, a flywheel.
We’ve built an inclusive market leader, the best technology available for anybody.
Open Source Code + Community, Democratized Publishing.
- With an ever-growing market share of 35%, you can say: mission accomplished!
- But you COULD also say: what a pity for the galaxy that we JUST focus on publishing and e-commerce, right?
Step 2: Democratize Finance
- There are many problems with finance, hyperinflation being one of them.
- Let’s have a look at one of my favorite open-source experiments: Bitcoin. With bitcoin, value can be transferred from one person to another in a 100% open-source manner.
- In the US, Bitcoin is not too popular and that’s a good thing. It’s not really a solution to a problem we have, which indicates there is a stable currency; the dollar.
- Here’s an article from the NY Times, about how Bitcoin saved a family in Venezuela.
- What’s our inflation rate? Around 2% a year.
- What was the inflation rate in Venezuela? 3,5%. Not on a yearly base, but daily!
- This means that $1000, at the end of the week, is $779, at the end of the month $300, and at the end of year, it equals $0.
- Keeping money in the local currency is financial suicide while holding dollars is illegal. Bitcoin is their escape.
Nowhere is the amount of local Bitcoin transactions as high as in Venezuela, making Bitcoin arguably the fastest growing bank in the world.
In Venezuela, Bitcoin shows how open source technology, and community, can democratize Finance.
So with Bitcoin, a blockchain application,
- value can be transferred from person to person, and …
- that value is programmable.
This sounds like building blocks for a 100% open-source future, doesn’t it?
Let’s see, can we push it even further than just finance?
Step 3: Democratize Everything
Let’s have a look at technology companies. They all kind of look the same.
- You have value creators and value extractors.
- In the case of Uber, you have drivers over here and riders over here. They send transactions via this centralized entity.
- Shareholders on the top extract 30% of all value from the ecosystem.
The problem is that you have misaligned interests:
- The users and the beneficiaries are not the same people.
- In fact, profit is the only thing that bridges them together.
Nobody really cares about the health of the platform:
- Riders just want to get from point A to point B.
- Drivers just want to get paid.
- Shareholders are just looking for profit and growth, they don’t care about users.
No one really cares about the health of the organization.
In 2014, Dan Larimer released this idea of decentralized autonomous communities. Open source organizations running on a blockchain. Many in the blockchain space believe that these DACs will compete and ultimately replace Facebook and Uber.
If we take Uber, you still have a driver and riders, but the central component is completely replaced with open source code.
All participants form a community.
Now, anyone could contribute to how that company operates, and through tokens,
every user – driver and rider – is a bit of a shareholder. This aligns the interests of all parties involved.
You have it:
- transparent, auditable, trustworthy,
- anyone can check anything,
- and it’s 100% inclusive, meaning anyone can contribute.
How does a centralized entity with only a few shareholders compete with an open-source organization with potentially millions of people waking up every day using and improving the platform?
It’s the same question as: how would you compete with a CMS with tens of millions of websites and tens of thousands of developers and contributors like WordPress?
You simply can’t compete with communities!
With WordPress, we prove how powerful open-source code and community really are.
With blockchain added, we have the opportunity to redesign doing business as a whole:
- Communities will rebuild social media, where Facebook won’t extract $55 bln a year, but where all value stays IN the community.
- Communities will rebuild ride-sharing, where shareholders won’t extract a 30% margin, so drivers will be paid more, while consumers pay less.
Now, we can bring our community ideals beyond publishing, beyond finance, to every organization.
Does ‘it make sense to you?
WordProof, Timestamping Content on the Blockchain
Let’s talk WordProof a bit!
Blockchain will become part of Best Practices.
In 5 years from now, if you don’t timestamp your articles on the blockchain, you’ll be considered a fraud.
If you don’t put your content on-chain, you’ll be seen as a revisionist. What do you have to hide?
And timestamping content is exactly what WordProof does.
We’re realizing an open-source Timestamp Ecosystem!
Really our mission is to bring a layer of trust over the internet:
- What I read is real, and I can verify who wrote it.
- What I create is mine, and I have proof.
- In disputes, I am protected. I have leverage.
This must be true for content, social, e-commerce, and every other corner of the internet!
Although many of us work with open source software, our readers and buyers still need a massive amount of trust in us, not being evil.
To fight fake news, revisionism, fraud, plagiarism, disputes in e-commerce, what you REALLY NEED is being able to prove that you didn’t temper with your database to scam OR MISLEAD your consumer/reader.
Shifting from “Don’t be evil”, to “Can’t be evil”.
Timestamping content with blockchain is truly the missing puzzle piece for a trustworthy internet.
How WordProof works?
With timestamping, you make a unique fingerprint of content, a standardized hash. This hash will be placed IN the blockchain with your account.
See it as a certificate of birth! Now, you can prove that you had that piece of content at that specific moment in time.
Let’s have a look:
- Here you see a timestamped piece of content
- The green dot indicates that the content didn’t change since the last timestamp in the blockchain
- Under a post, a link can be placed to the timestamp certificate, giving the tools and explanation to check if the timestamp is valid.
- As a publisher or webshop, it’s optional to show the full history of a piece of content.
- And here you can see the revisions, inclusive green and red marques, showing how the content changed over time, like news, or product terms or terms and conditions.
- Here you see it, GIT-style.
In a few years, consumers will be suspicious if you don’t timestamp content, products, orders. What are you hiding?
Since our launch at WordCamp Europe, almost 200K pieces of content have been timestamped, and more than 40M pageviews with certificates are served!
Our vision is a full and open ecosystem, with on one hand tools for CMSes.
We started with a WordPress plugin as we are part of the ecosystem for 12 years.
On the other side, we lead standardization with Schema.org and work with ISO, to make sure search engines and social media can verify the integrity of any form of content, and later might even do ranking based on timestamps and ID.
Once search engines recognize this open way of showing your integrity, it really makes sense that you were among the first ones who timestamped it.
See it as buying amazing domain names 10 years ago.
With WordProof, you can timestamp manually with a blockchain wallet, but that’s still quite complicated.
We have an automatic timestamp service for you which you can set up in 5 minutes, and as we want as many people to start using it, there’s a free plan.
For visitors of WC Miami: if you sign up for the free plan in 72 hours from NOW, you’ll get our most extended plan for free for 6 months, as we’d love to hear as much user feedback as possible. Go to wordproof.io/miami.
If you stop with any free plan, all stamps will, of course, stay valid forever, without relying on WordProof, as it is fully decentralized as it SHOULD be.
My advice: Stamp at least your terms and conditions, your most popular and best-ranking content.
So, I’d love to invite you all: let’s get this timestamp movement in motion. In an open-source manner, we can bring integrity to the world of publishing, creativity, and e-commerce.
And the bigger picture: as a WordPress community, our superpowers and values have the potential to improve this full galaxy.
Through WordPress and blockchain timestamps, we can shift to a trustworthy internet!
Let’s Fix the Broken Web, Together!
Here are the slides, with over 20 clickable links to sources and further information on the topics I’ve covered:
Until then, here you’ll find a podcast where we cover many of the topics already. Michelle and I recorded this episode of WP Coffee Talk earlier this year. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we do!