Blockchain on my Mind

September 5th, 2018

Oh, bitcoin… bitcoin
No peace I find
Just an old sweet song
Keeps blockchain on my mind

It’s the hottest topic in publishing today, as hot as artificial intelligence was at this time last year. And it’s certainly as confusing, as mysterious. I must have read a hundred articles by now, on blockchain and/or bitcoin and you can still color me baffled. I think I’ve got one factoid straight: bitcoin is an instance of blockchain, not the equivalent of. So we should focus on blockchain.

And now I can let myself off the hook because I’ve got an esteemed colleague who is in fact expert on the topic of blockchain. And, even better, he understands the opportunity for blockchain in publishing, and the limitations.

Bill Rosenblatt runs a New York publishing consultancy, GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies. (We also work together in the Publishing Technology Partners group.) If you look at his Copyright & Technology blog you’ll find 15 posts that reference blockchain.

The most recent post, Blockchain Comes to E-Books, DRM Included, provides a good overview of the landscape for blockchain technology in media industries. His June post at BISG is more specific to book publishing: The Promises and Perils of Blockchain Technology in Publishing. Read them together.

Kirsten Sandberg is another publishing insider who has spent a lot of time thinking about and writing about blockchain for publishing. She is editor-in-chief at the Blockchain Research Institute, which was launched by Don and Alex Tapscott. Their book, Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World, was an early entry creating awareness of blockchain’s possibilities. A two-part interview with Sandberg on “How Blockchain could Change Publishing” starts here.

If you want a scholarly publishing perspective on blockchain, turn to Alice Meadows’ Everything* You Always Wanted To Know About Blockchain (But Were Afraid To Ask).

And that is all I know.

September 8: Kirsten Sandberg has notified me of another thoughtful analyst of blockchain in the “creative industries,” Marcus O’Dair. He has a book on the way (published October 2018), “Distributed Creativity: How Blockchain Technology will Transform the Creative Economy.”