Publishing content is central to a distributed social system. Attempts at creating publication platforms have really underscored the point that we don’t need platforms, we need standards.
That doesn’t mean we don’t also want platforms which can create or view content (and associated metadata), it just means we do not want that content (and associated metadata) to be bound to a single platform.
This community may not be aware that I was invited to give a talk on this concept (and related concepts) for a conference on web3 and (open) science back in 2019. You can find the recording of that talk here “Reimagining the Science Commons”
The core principle set out is that we can organize content metadata, including a wide range of contribution types and store that metadata to create open ‘bibliometric’ records: authorship, citation, and other network metadata. In fact, i use historical study of bibliometrics as an extended example in the introduction of this article about SourceCred and dynamic games:
As I noted in my ‘proto-specification’ for MetaSkillz, i think that the MetaSys is going thrive on the richness of the data in peoples profiles. Who needs college transcripts, linkedin, or even google scholar, if i can proudly demonstrate my guilds, skills, publications, etc on MyMeta. And if someone wants to create their own applications that publish data to this web or if they want to create their or UI for looking into this web, awesome! For me the key is the shared, decentralized backend with content addressing serving a critical role in binding content to a verifiable name-space, and especially in binding references: if content addressed data contains a reference to other content addressed data, that reference cannot be changed without creating a new (uniquely identified) instance of the original content.
I’ve been scratching at the edges of this idea for years – in 2018, I wrote a draft working paper with Matt Stephenson (then a PhD student in behavioral economics at Columbia). Here are some excerpts:
I will share that document upon request but it was left in an unfinished state, and i think it was an overly complex presentation of the ideas in question. So instead of returning to a more academic formalization of the idea i’ve opted to write another ‘proto-specification’ which defines the metadata structure i envision for a simple standard that would allow for massive organic growth of the web of content.
As with the MetaSkillz proto-spec, I am building on the idea of NFT token contracts.
Publication Contract Data
plain text name: “Colored Directed Acyclic Graphs”
version number: < integer> %default to 0, but allows for items with the same name to be differentiated
<ipfs content id>%even if the file isn’t available via IPFS, this makes that content uniquely identifiable, i could be requested from the author, or even a right to access the content could be purchased via a data market: see ocean/filecoin integrations
<list of addresses>%external accounts of authors
<list of addresses>%external accounts of reviewers, think of the common pattern of thanking people for input and feedback in advance of publication
<list of addresses>%should be other addresses of other token contracts adhering to the same standard
What is interesting about this pattern is that it is very very simple. Although the publication token contract is essentially an NFT contract the “tokens” associated with it are non-transferable. You can think of it as minting the ‘authorship’ and ‘reviewership’ tokens on mint. Furthermore, the inclusion of the citations in the metadata, create natural way for content to be linked over time. It might as simple as citing a past version. Suppose i write and publish something with an empty citation list and an empty reviewer list, but then a friend reads it, gives me feedback and directly me to some other relevant writings. I could publish a new version which “cites” the previous version, the newly referenced content, and adds my friends address as a reviewer.
In the short term the network of content might be pretty sparse, but over time, if adopted, the specification would enable bottom up collaboration in both scientific and artistic enterprises. Ideally, helping to breakdown the rather artificial boundaries between artistic and scientific exploration.
Plus, i totally want to find a way to migrate my publication history into MyMeta.