Distributed blockchain technology has been around for a relatively short time, but its distributed nature has the power to keep data and information out of the hands of censors who seek to create a “secure” and “flawless” version of the story.
Blockchain is unlicensed and literally owned by anyone. So while we can not save Alexandria’s libraries of the past, we can ensure that the future is well equipped with the tools necessary to preserve historical records.
Here we will look at some of the ways in which nonfungible tokens (NFT) and blockchain technology have been used to store archives, the possible collapse of such technology and what the future holds for a blockchain based storage system.
NFT and archive
While many current uses around NFT deal with digital art, there is another side to unchanging symbols that is only just beginning to be explored.
Archiving storage can be a costly and time consuming endeavor, but NFTs can serve as a fundraiser to support archive development.
For example, fashion designer Paco Rabanne is selling NFT to fund his physical archives and support his brand.
Furthermore, the technology itself can be used as a means of storing information.
Archangel, a pilot project of the “Trusted Archive of Digital Public Data” at the University of Surrey, has done just that. From 2017 to 2019, the university was able to create a test system for blockchain archives that used distributed financial technology (DLT) and NFTs and moved “from an institutional emphasis on trust to a technical emphasis on trust.
The Cointelegraph reached out to Foteini Valeonti, a research fellow at University College London and founder of USEUM Collectibles – an organization that advises museums, policy makers and cultural organizations on NFTs – to talk about the role of blockchain and NFTs in archives.
Valeonti said blockchain technology could be a way for museums to “leverage their inherent capabilities for source and metadata compilations. So in the end, each museum exhibit will have only one unique identifier across different institutions, projects, and all sorts of different information systems. ”This could be a way to track which museum owns what and who owned it last.
Last year, it was revealed that the Hobby Lobby Empire’s family had collected 17,000 ancient Iraqi items stolen during the war. This violation of the security of ancient artifacts shows that in times of war and instability, the right (or wrong) person can come and steal valuables from a cultural identity.
The difficulties involved in recovering stolen items shed light on the problem of how cultural objects are often poorly classified. Valeonti added:
“Storing unique data on its origins could help solve a number of information science challenges facing the cultural heritage sector.
To preserve war records
Digital media are vulnerable to propaganda aimed at denying the blame and claiming that certain events have either happened or not, while people fall into the rabbit hole of constant misinformation in the propagandists’ attempt to invalidate the experience of those living in war-torn areas.
In the case of the current conflict in Ukraine, there has been a major change in the way cryptocurrencies and blockchains can be used to help preserve Ukrainian culture and record people’s experiences of the war.
The Meta History Museum is one distributed project that maintains real-time records of events from the current war. First, they sell NFT to raise money for war funds by exhibiting Ukrainian artists around the world. The money is then used not only to fund data collection but also to support Ukrainian troops. To date, the Meta History Museum has raised 270.37 Ether (ETH) or $ 611.953 as of this writing.
The Meta History Museum collects events on Twitter, such as bombings or bombings from the war, from Ukrainian government officials and international organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or BBC News as “a place to store war memories. In support of the efforts of the Meta History Museum, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov tísti“While Russia uses tanks to destroy Ukraine, we rely on revolutionary blockchain technology.”
In times of war, it is necessary to have a system in place to protect those at risk. One of these systems is the Hala Sentry system, designed to record unchangeable data on Ethereum on bombings, bomb threats and incidents that could lead to the deaths of thousands and the destruction of entire cities.
It does this by providing “interfaces to data from its sensors, human audiences and strategic partners, as well as information from open media.” While this has the potential of using automated systems to record wartime history, it makes the data and air raid reports unchangeable. People can check and see what is happening at any given moment, even if news channels or people are blocking information about certain events.
The project has also been a success, with the Hala Sentry system saying that “according to a preliminary assessment, the system reduced lethal air strikes by about 20-30 percent in areas under heavy bombing in 2018.
Is there a disadvantage?
As a new technology, blockchain technology still suffers from some growth pains in terms of development (size is a big problem) as well as space rules.
As stated by Valeonti, “NFT technology is still in its infancy, especially when it comes to registration.” She added that now most of the information available for data storage is stored partly in distributed storage and partly on central servers. Archangel pointed out: “A centralized model of authority simply doubles on an institutional basis for trust.
The adaptation of technology and Web3 must be further expanded to ensure that it can handle the vast amount of data and information needed for a thriving archive to thrive. Blockchain simply does not exist, according to Valeonti, and the development of technology must take place first before the hardly used technology is trusted with invaluable information.
In addition to trust, another factor that puts blockchain technology at a disadvantage is anthropologically driven mainly because the copyright claims on artefacts have a strong cultural presence over the use of a collection of artefacts.
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, “Cultural institutions, including museums, libraries and archives, play an invaluable role in preserving, protecting and promoting the collections of indigenous and traditional cultures, such as artefacts, photographs, sound recordings, including films and manuscripts that document community life, cultural practices and knowledge systems. ”
It is the role of these agencies, firstly, to protect the artefacts because they do not belong to them, and secondly, “where the collection agency needs to maintain membership records, online tracking data and other activities that collect personal information about regular visitors. in accordance with the requirements of the Privacy Act, “in addition to maintaining a private agreement with the parties concerned in any sense.
For example, the American Indian National Museum in Sutherland, Maryland offers private tours of its artefacts but only displays artefacts approved by the Native American tribes that allow the museum to store its people’s history.
Valeonti said that “a distributed storage solution that would automatically make all images and assets accessible to everyone would not be an option for the vast majority of museums that have restrictive copyright policies, either because there are other parties – such as artists – who hold the copyright to their artifacts or because they can not make their artefacts accessible in open access – for example, they cannot afford to lose revenue from a photo license. “
Another issue with using a blockchain-based distributed storage system is one that many cryptocurrency hodlers can relate to: privacy key protection. Valeonti explained that “an important obstacle, in my opinion, is the inherent inflexibility of blockchain technology.
“Unless you use a centralized storage platform, if someone loses their password, all their assets will be lost forever.
As such, who gets to control the seeding? Who will be responsible for ensuring that the seeding is in the right hands? Valeonti added that “there have been studies that suggest possible solutions, but it may be some time before we see such inventions applied live on leading blockchains.”
How to fix this for the better
As difficult as the program may be, there are tangible ways to use blockchain, DLT and NFTs to protect data and archives.
Valeonti suggested: “What museums can do is participate in this discussion and help shape the future of Web3. She also said that cultural organizations should be at the forefront in the future – as technology changes, the world of archiving and archives must change with it.
Valeoti and her colleagues at UCL are exploring these challenges of “distributed storage security, metadata integration and off-chain metadata permanence” with the UK National Museum. It’s a great example of blockchain and libraries that come together to change the way they use and archive.
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