by Sudhir Ahluwalia | Negosentro.com |
Authors often struggle to get the attention of a publisher. Requests for publication are required to be routed through literary agents who pre-review the material before passing it onto publishers. Getting a reputed online or hardcopy publication interested to publish an article is tough. Editors are overworked. Decision to publish or not to publish is highly subjective. The consumer of content has no say in the process.
The mushrooming of blogs, e books, youtube videos and music reflects the highly skewed demand supply scenario. It is hugely weighted in favor of supply. Every month we produce 8 million songs, 2 million new books, 16000 new films, 30 billion blogs, tweets and videos etc. (Kevin Kelly, 2016)
Free content on the internet has impacted bottom line of traditional publishing houses, music label producers, media houses, film and television content publishers. Technology has disrupted content distribution. Self publishing, Indie publishing, e books supported with digital marketing has made publishing and content distribution hugely competitive.
There is a flip side to this too. While there is surfeit of free content available on the web, lack of curation, absence of quality control has impacted content quality. It is easy to plagiarize content now. Years of work or a popular song number can be customized and re – published by an unknown individual in another part of the world. Protecting an individual’s intellectual property is difficult.
While most content available on the internet is free, quality material does command a premium. There are multiple self published best sellers. Many top hits have been scored without going through a label or a media house. But challenges of security, intellectual right protection, unfair pricing continue to plague both publishers and content creators.
A group of Slovakian and East European technologists have taken to innovation to solve many of these problems. They are building a unique block chain based open source content distribution platform. This platform will, when fully operational, provide an alternate content publishing and distribution platform.
Data distributed using blockchain technology is impossible to trace. It does not reside on a single server but is distributed on multiple devices spread across the planet. It therefore becomes impossible to trace it to a single IP.
Blockchain based content publishing can be a boon for content providers and publishers who are looking for a fully secure untraceable publishing platform. It will be a boon for content creators and publishers in areas where free expression of thought is not permitted. It will not be possible for the State or any individual to censor, firewall and content control content published on such a platform.
Blockchain technology is associated, in the mind of the public, with bitcoin. The technology is also notorious for its extensive use in the so called Dark Net. Dark Net was that of the internet where secure illegal transactions were conducted using sites that could not be hacked or discovered. This capability is now being leveraged by Matej Boda and team in publishing.
The prototype of the platform is ready and is undergoing testing. The innovators of the platform are calling it Decent. (www.decent.ch). It allows any form of content audio, video and text to be uploaded and downloaded securely. It can be used by authors, other content creators and publishers alike.
There are though limitations to the technology. Data on block chain is distributed across multiple systems spread across devices across the world. This makes the process of uploading and downloading slow. This is a serious limitation. Content owners and publishers both need fast upload and downloads. I regard these to be teething troubles though. A new use case of block chain technology has been developed and the issues of speed will be resolved in time.
Matej Boda one of the Founders of the Decent platform explained that the it is built on open source technology. He expects that basic platform to go live shortly. Application builders can use the platform to create applications with functionality and design specifications suited for specific use.
While Decent.ch is a not for profit company, the startup is seeking to follow the Linux open source business model to garner revenues. The first software sale is set for September 2016. Matej expects application builders to participate in the sale. Decent intends to incorporate a for profit company in Switzerland later in 2016 under which revenues and profits from these sales will be booked.
Content creators and publishers will be free to price their content on the platform. Content will be priced in Decent tokens. This is based on crypto currency – bitcoin. The tokens can be converted into currency of choice. Content uploaded on the platform will be available for review for consumers to rate. Rating should help the creators and publisher in fixing the price of the material uploaded.
The platform will not take a commission on purchase or sale of content. The features of customer rating and no commissions can be potentially disrupting to publishing behemoths like Amazon and others.
It is not just price that will make the technology disruptive to content publishing and distribution. The open source nature of the platform will make it open to innovation. Applications will help consumers access the core capability of the platform. Will this be a new Linux operating system for the publishing industry or a technology solution that the likes of Amazon will wait to mature and then seek to acquire. Till then, I will keep my fingers crossed.
Sudhir Ahluwalia is a business consultant. He has been management consulting head of Asia’s largest IT outsourcing company Tata Consultancy Services, business advisor to multiple companies, columnist and author of upcoming book on herbs-Holy Herbs. He has been a member of the Indian Forest Service. His webpage is: www.sudhirahluwalia.com