Decentralized media publishing platforms are quickly gaining momentum as the world adapts and reacts to the new possibilities brought by modern technology and the Information Age. However, many seem to have differing ideas on the best implementations of content protection and distribution, storage incentives, payment systems, and which additional features are essential.
To get a glimpse of how decentralized media might look like in a few years, Cointelegraph spoke to two* of the companies developing such platforms to discuss the benefits and challenges of the individual approaches each team has taken:
Alexandria describes itself as “an open-source distributed library for sharing and preserving art, history and culture.” Users have complete control to self-publish anything, with several different monetization options.
DECENT is a censorship free anonymous tool where the network is owned or controlled by the users, allowing borderless publishing of any text, picture, video or music content. It also enales monetization of both content and apps developed on top of the DECENT protocol.
*We also reached out to R3D, although they were unable to provide information in time for the publication of this article.
Content Storage and Distribution
DECENT utilizes modified bittorrent, Tribler, to store and distribute content, all of which is protected by strong cryptography (AES). Authors pay a small fee to publish work, which is then offered as a reward to those hosting it. Media is accessed via apps, which can be custom built on the platform by developers. The initial apps will be developed by DECENT to access and rate content.
Alexandria use IPFS (an open-source bittorrent DHT alternative) for storage and distribution, and FileCoin as a token layer enabling cryptographic proof of sharing. This allows users to earn money by storing and distributing content for publishers. Users access content through a library of meta-data stored in the Florincoin blockchain, which can be accessed through custom front-ends or a web gateway.
Devon Read, Head of Project Management at Alexandria said:
“Our approach is to give artists a direct relationship with their audiences by putting them in complete control of how much their content costs, what front ends they wish to use, and even whether they’d like to offer a promoters cut to those that help share their art.”
Encryption & Security
The emphasis with Alexandria is for artists and authors to promote themselves, although users can consume content anonymously by keeping the Florincoin blockchain synced on their local machine, and using IPFS over a secure VPN. Content is not encrypted, but a decentralized DRM option will be offered to those publishers who wish to use it.
DECENT heavily promote the freedom of speech aspect of their platform, and allow users and content to remain anonymous if preferred. All content is encrypted, and protected in a way that ensures nobody can decrypt the content without first buying it.
DECENT founder Matej Boda explained to Cointelegraph:
“DECENT is from the very first moment designed with security and anonymity in mind. We implemented sort of smart contracts which ensures that nobody can access your content without paying, and that you don't pay upfront for something that won't be, for various reasons, delivered. This is cutting-edge cryptography. As far as we know, nobody else is putting so much attention into the details to design a truly secure end-to-end solution.”
In order for users to buy content, DECENT use their own token system to back a system of micropayments. These are implemented as a form of smart contract, securely exchanging data for tokens for both sides, and processing payment only once the content is successfully decrypted.
Alexandria will accept payments primarily through bitcoin (backed in-platform by FlorinCoin), although integration with NetKi and ShapeShift will allow users to send and receive almost any coin they wish. Content producers can set minimum and maximum payments and enable optional tips.
DECENT also offers the ability for independent developers to produce their own apps running on the platform. This allows for a great degree of future customization and increased utility. One example of this is the rating system for content, implementing social-network-like features, to provide a recommendation engine to users. Meanwhile, Alexandria gives content creators the ability to opt-in to a promoters program, allowing sales percentages to be offered to those who share custom links through social media or other avenues.
In addition to other implementation of decentralization for news media, record-keeping, social media, identity verification, etc., the future looks to be filled with a myriad of possibilities that could help break the mould set by intermediaries and legacy companies. But just how we get from here to there will depend on how these attempts and trials fare in the real world.