Is This The First Digital Blockchain Autograph?
As more and more book collections move from physical to digital libraries, the issue of autographs and provenance can get a bit muddled. But there may be a solution. My father, Richard Manney, was a famous book collector and this got me thinking about the progression of online collections.
When my friend and co-promoter of the H+ meme, Russell Rukin, bought a Kindle copy of (R)EVOLUTION, he realized we were in a unique position to experiment. What if there was a way to prove an author signed a digital copy at a given place and time and that “signature” could either stay with the original e-reader or was potentially transferable and saleable, just like a real life signature? And what if we could be the first to do it? Russell proposed adding an electronic dedication and autograph to the e-copy .txt file and dropping it into the blockchain using the company, www.proofofexistence.com. I jumped at the idea of preserving a digital autograph in the book’s blockchain forever, thereby keeping up with the shifting progress of digital book collecting.
What is a “Blockchain?”
A blockchain is a decentralized database/transaction ledger that can record all digital transactions — like bitcoin spending — surrounding an item, whether it be a book, artwork, a service, etc. It’s being called a paradigm shift for technology because the blockchain would allow for all “trusted” third parties, such as processing companies, banks, notaries, etc., to be eliminated. It’s a “trustless” system meant to be a safer, easier and cheaper way to buy and sell products and record anything. It’s a way to link information across a number of people, without that information having to go through any other intermediaries, yet being safe and anonymous. You can find a lot of information regarding the blockchain by Googling “bitcoin” and “Satoshi Nakamoto,” the anonymous creator/popularizer of the blockchain.
I posted about our blockchain experiment on my social media sites and you can see by the response to this idea that it allows for a larger discussion about this changing technology in terms of science, art and other creative industries. Coincidentally, the blockchain and its potential to change society will be central to the (R)EVOLUTION’S sequel, (ID)ENTITY.
So how did we use the blockchain to do this?
First, Russell sent me the My Clippings.txt file from his Kindle. I added it to my Kindle, typed into it as a note on the title page:
Then I sent it back to him, where he added it to his Kindle.
Then I dropped it into the blockchain using proofofexistence.com and paid a nominal bitcoin fee.
It’s not hard. It’s just conceptual. It’s about proving that this digital dedication and autograph was written by me and given to Russell and verifying it in a medium that is accurate, distributed and does not rely on so-called “trusted third parties” to verify. There are many ways of skinning the digital autograph cat. This is just one that utilizes a brand new technology that we feel will be used for almost everything verifiable in the near future.
PJ Manney Social Media
Facebook (Bitcoin and the Internet of Money page):
Facebook (PJ Manney author page): https://www.facebook.com/766578653373598/photos/a.966909956673799.1073741828.766578653373598/977457635619031/?type=1&theater