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What Ancient Egypt and Blockchain Have in Common

 6 min read / 

Blockchain is already ten-years-old, but following the cryptocurrency highs of 2017, it has only just started to capture the imagination. Older than the Android OS, it has taken time for the technology pioneered by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto to have the chance to thrive. It has had to suffer its fair share of fraudsters and wait until the innovators arrived.

The potential of blockchain is more obvious in some industries than in others. Through powering cryptocurrencies, the blockchain has quickly established its relevance in the banking industry. How it can drive change in the media industry is less obvious. People and companies alike have been quick to jump on the bandwagon of blockchain-hype. Companies that embed the word ‘block’ or ‘chain’ in their name find it easier to grow.

But here’s the thing about blockchain: it is a piece of infrastructure. No one will sustainably use the blockchain just because it is the hot new thing. It will be used because it makes the things we do every day easier and better. It will fade into the background like water pipes or the electric grid. Vital, but forgotten.

The blockchain is a simple idea. It does away with a central authority having to track and verify transactions. It spreads out information to everyone in a network. That data can be viewed and updated by the whole network. There is built-in protection against fraud and malpractice because network users validate each piece of new information. This is where the implications for a news platform are far-reaching.

Mogul News will be powered by blockchain. But it doesn’t need to be called a blockchain company. Because using blockchain isn’t about being new and trendy, it is about creating real and definite benefits for both our readers and our content producers.

When an article is submitted to Mogul News, all the data that relates to it, the sources used, who wrote it, when it was uploaded, when it was edited, will be inscribed on a blockchain. This can be viewed by anyone, establishing (to paraphrase Ronald Reagan) trust through verifiability. In a digital age, with content being produced and forgotten at an exponential rate, there is a need for an immutable record of what went on, how it was viewed at the time, and for the losers to have the chance to write their own history. Hieroglyphics etched in stone or painted in tombs, allow us to learn the name of a cat living three and a half thousand years ago (it was Nedjem) or that Ea-nasir in ancient Babylon sold some really crappy copper nearly four thousand years ago. These are just the small human stories that survive. Etched into the walls of the monuments of the past are records of not just everyday occurrences, but the events which shaped how these societies saw the world. These records give us a glimpse into those distant eras, and allow us to learn from them. In the lightning-fast period we are living through we have lost that sense of permanence. Stories and narratives can be reshaped by those who won, with no accountability. The blockchain can return to media and news the permanence offered by stone.

Building Mogul News around a blockchain also enables us to do a couple other important things. Smart contracts, where the terms of a deal are coded and stored on the blockchain, will allow transparency and predictability of payment for authors. Every author will know what they will earn when their articles hit certain metrics. When milestones are met, the funds are automatically released by the smart contract. Content creators struggle with the amount of time it takes to be paid for work, as well as the opaque nature of negotiating terms with a business. This can lead to vastly fluctuating rates, which doesn’t help a writer plan for the future. With smart contracts the process is transparent, so writers can focus even more on delivering the best content for their readers

We can also build a token ecosystem into the heart of Mogul News. Mogul Coin will be used to gain access to content and can be earned by positive contributions to Mogul News. This could mean responding to articles with high-value comments, referring friends to join in the conversation, or writing articles. Everything we introduced on Intellectual Mining in last week’s Insights will be included. People will be rewarded for the time and effort they put into making Mogul News a great experience for everybody.

Mogul News will be implementing blockchain as part of its foundation and it will be a key piece of infrastructure. But it will be an invisible one. There won’t be the need to know anything about proof-of-stake or Byzantine Fault Tolerance to enjoy the benefits of the Mogul News blockchain. It will simply be there to make the reading, writing, and editing of content on Mogul News better for everyone. Mogul Coin and smart contracts will allow us to fairly pay authors for the impact of their articles. Readers can trust the information they are presented with, backed by an immutable ledger ensures the credibility of content that users deserve.

The fundamental reason we are using the blockchain is that it helps us achieve our goal of decentralising the newsroom. The only way to provide global coverage on local issues is by harnessing the insights of people all around the world. By decentralising the process we will be able to provide readers with articles and content on everything they care about, in their native tongue. Decentralisation will make Mogul News language agnostic, solving yet another issue present in the media industry today.

In a decade no one will care whether companies use the word blockchain in their titles. There will not be such a thing as a ‘blockchain company’. Instead, the blockchain will become as ubiquitous as the internet. It will be part of the infrastructure of all new operations, as well as most old ones. The exploration of the full implications of the blockchain is just beginning, and we are excited to be a part of it.

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