Will blockchain usher in a new era for journalism? And how can the two mesh together in a way that makes sense for newsrooms around the world?
Po.et launched in September 2017 with the goal to start building technology and tools to help empower a free media landscape, leveraging the power of blockchain to help creators.
Speaking to Journalism.co.uk, chief executive Jarrod Dicker explained Po.et is an open-source "freedom-fighter initiative" currently focusing on enabling content creators to show persistent value and build reputation.
Before joining Po.et, Dicker led innovation at the Washington Post, where he worked to build new products and bring them to market.
"I became really obsessed in the last tenure at the Post with the value of content.
"Media consumption is larger than ever, in more places than ever, yet it's harder than ever to make money and bring value.
"At the Post, we would constantly tell our readers you should pay for our content because there's value in our content, yet the consumers don't necessarily say no, but they're not listening.
"I think it's because we're at a crossroads where media needs to prove that it's valuable to the consumers and worth paying for again, even though it's centuries old."
Po.et in integrated with Wordpress, Medium and Drupal, and one way creators can use it is to stamp their work to the blockchain whenever they save or publish an element of it.
This offers proof of existence, evidence that a particular piece of content was created at a certain time, which can help both verify the story at a later date and ensure that independent writers or photographers for example can prove their ownership over their content.
"We think of discovery as virality, because that's just how we've been trained. But there's a lot of creators in the world that don't have a brand tied to them, that are independent, that can't take advantage of discovery because of relationships or because of security. If they put their idea out there, how do they know that it will come back to them?"
This is one of the issues Po.et aims to help solve. Additionally, its efforts to help build reputation for creators, in a style that could be similar to Uber's ratings for example, could also help connect publishers with reputable freelancers in other parts of the world without them having to expend considerable additional resources to verify them. Creators can also use Po.et to automate their licensing process.
Unlike Civil Media, an organisation building a marketplace for newsrooms on blockchain, Po.et focuses on transparency, and "how you can see the background information to help you make a better decision," explained Dicker.
"All this is basically on a protocol layer. This is an extremely ambitious way to put it, but it's true. If you think of Po.et as the new internet, it is on a protocol layer. Built within the protocol is the ability to build reputation, to build value, have creators post information, be able to syndicate that information and build this new library of the world's creative assets.
"Then there are companies that are going to leverage Po.et and build on top of it, similar to HTTP."
One of these companies is Inkrypt, a service that helps journalists host their content across different personal devices as opposed to a single server, helping to protect the journalists from censorship.
Inkrypt is the first media and technology company to build on top of Po.et, but the team hopes many others will collaborate in the future.
"We are building Po.et as an open-source layer so anyone can come in and start building on top of it. And the goal is to start building technology and tools that help re-empower freedom of the press."
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