Content "on" a Blockchain

by Titusz Pan

It is important to realize that the fundamental architecture of open and immutable blockchains is not designed as storage for media content. The public blockchain technology and its security model require all participants to communicate and replicate all data to all participants, which quite rapidly becomes infeasible as the network grows. Competition for storage space on a globally replicated, highly secure and immutable blockchain will create market conditions in which transaction costs become prohibitive for most of the participants. We currently can see this happening in Bitcoin network.

Still there might be some use cases to be explored for storing small and high value textual contents directly on a blockchain. There are also blockchain-related technologies that specifically address content storage (Storj, Sia, Filecoin, MaidSafe, Ethereum Swarm) . These technologies are related in the sense that they either extend existing blockchains or make use of decentralized peer-to-peer networks, cryptography and/or incentivization. The main difference with these systems is that they do not fully replicate the data to all participants in the network for practical reasons.

It is our opinion that major innovation of blockchain technology for the content community comes into play when we perform transactions that are associated with content. Such transactions could be payments for content, license rights assignments or simply reputational ratings. In either case, these transactions don’t necessarily require storing the content itself on the blockchain. What this use cases need instead is a representative token that gives us an agreement on what it is that we are transacting.