Up to €175.000 for ideas applicable to trustable content on future blockchains. Apply here
Updates this week:
Trust and Content
There is a speculation bubble forming, based on the rise of the Bitcoin price. Stories of lucky people who got in early now pull in others. Everyone wants a piece of the cake. This is how bubbles evolve and why they result in damage when they burst.
Why so negative? Because what is going on is too much, too fast. Digital money and trustable finance platforms have yet to pass a real stress test. There is much refinement needed and ultimately some form of regulation. But a boom-and-bust cycle will likely just ignore such warnings and concerns.
Misleading signals are part of the problem. Tesla made headlines because the company invested $1,5 billion in Bitcoin.
Many see this as the moment cryptocurrencies are validated as the new normal. This is not the case, instead it is just a perception caused by an overrepresentation of such events in the news. Everyone in the current market is a speculator.
Different from small investors who might even borrow money to get into crypto, Tesla uses funds which it does not immediately need. In a recent annual report Tesla said the Bitcoin transaction would help to “diversify and maximize returns on our cash that is not required to maintain adequate operating liquidity”. LINK
The European Central Bank (ECB) has issued stern warnings that investors can “lose all their money” when investing in cryptocurrencies. See, for example, this ECB publication: “The future of money – innovating while retaining trust”. LINK
New industry alliance: Digital Trust and Safety Partnership
Leading technology companies established a new industry framework to handle harmful content and conduct online. It is called the “Digital Trust and Safety Partnership”.
The companies who have joined are Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Discord, Pinterest, Shopify and Vimeo. But so far the goal is simply to develop guidelines, not a rigid set of rules to fight the problem. Needs work. LINK
Wordproof: Timestamping content to verify digital articles
Wordproof from Amsterdam offers a way to “timestamp” an online article. This information is stored in a blockchain. This enables to determine who published something and when. Potentially search engines will consider such information, so that original and unique content can be displayed with preference. Interesting. LINK
Why changes to the “Identifier for Advertisers” are a big deal
Apple is in dispute with the mobile advertising industry, caused by intended changes to the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA). Apple wants to ensure that iPhone users can keep their data private, this is why the company has announced more restrictive handling. For platforms which depend on advertising this likely causes a disruption. Facebook is strongly opposed to the changes. This is another evolving debate about the future internet. Because of multiple complaints the introduction of the changes was postponed to early 2021. LINK
Promising European blockchain start-ups
A good article here, via EU startups. The list includes companies like Settlemint (Belgium), Odem (Switzerland) and DappRadar (Lithuania). The challenge is that many of these companies started during the hype over blockchain in 2018. There is a need for updated information on these efforts. In the coming weeks, TruBlo aims to reach out for updates. LINK
We recommend, for inspiration towards new ideas: “The Future 100”, a well-researched trend report from WundermanThompson, an advertising agency. The study of hundred trends is interesting as it covers so many areas, from trends in interior design to innovative tech platforms.
One of the hundred predictions is the rise of eWallets. It makes sense to be able to pay with a device we all have in our pockets, the mobile phone. One early finding related to eWallets is that users are quite loyal to the application they initially selected – similar to sticking with a bank for a long time.LINK
What are NFTs (Non-fungible tokens)?
NFT is the acronym for “non-fungible tokens”. If you heard about this, but could not really fathom what “fungible” means, you are not alone.
So what are NFTs? Let’s start with the big difference: If you get one Bitcoin it does not matter which one it is, all coins are the same. This is what the economic term “fungible” describes. Gold is fungible, too: If you get one gold coin it is irrelevant which one you get.
NFTs are non-fungible. They are unique tokens and can be used for just one, specific digital item. This can range from collectables to digital art to a piece of land in a digital world.
For example: Imagine you are playing a digital game where items can be collected and traded. You might have a helmet, a sword and a pet dragon. Each of these three items would then have their unique NFT. They would establish ownership (you can proof, you are the owner). They are indivisible, one can not sell half of the sword you have, only the full item.
NFTs can not be destroyed, the coded connection is always valid. They are in possession of the owner. In other words, NFTs enable the market to trade digital goods. While the token is unique, the price is not. Based on supply and demand the price of an item represented through NFTs may rise or fall. When pet dragons are in short supply next time, be ready. LINK
Up to 175.000 Euro for innovative ideas. Apply here
Trust, Content, Blockchain, Next Generation Internet.
Blockchain for business: Why is it not taking off?
The value of Bitcoin is rising. But the hype there has so far not helped with business solutions using blockchain. Why is development in this area so slow?
A report from MIT Sloan says:
“The biggest challenge to companies creating blockchain apps isn’t the technology — it’s successfully collaborating with ecosystem partners”.
International container shipping is an example: If implemented, containers could one day pass through customs faster. But this will only happen once many shipping compannies and port authorities adopt the technology.
Early blockchain projects for business are in a catch-22 situation: They need a network to be valuable.
For the study researchers studied over a dozen live blockchain applications including TradeLens, the IBM Food Trust, the Grass Roots Farmer Cooperative, We.Trade, KoreConX, MediLedger, Santander (bond issuance and settlement), SmartResume, WineChain, ANSAcheck, Rapid Medical Parts (3D printing of parts to convert sleep apnea machines to hospital-grade respirators), Stellar (payments platform), and Xbox royalty payments (compensating content creators).
So, everyone is waiting for the first big success to open the gates.
Key takeaway: Should you plan a blockchain project consider how it could be picked up fast by many users or many members of one particular group. LINK
A way to timestamp documents
Wordproof offers a way to add verification options to online articles, through “timestamps”. Using a hash value which is then stored in a blockchain this creates a “birth certificate” for content. The company offers a module which can be added to WordPress for this purpose. For starters, there is a free plan. Plus, there is a video showing how timestamps work. Video
Clubhouse would like to access your contacts
“When you join the fast-growing, invite-only social media app Clubhouse — lucky you! — one of the first things the app will ask you to do is grant it access to your iPhone’s contacts. A finger icon points to the “OK” button, which is also in a bolder font and more enticing than the adjacent “Don’t Allow” option. You don’t have to do it, but if you don’t, you lose the ability to invite anyone else to Clubhouse.”
This sounds like the next privacy and what is surprising is that it starts the way other such issues started: By an eagerness to gather data – without making it clear for what reason. Why would my doctor want to join Clubhouse? Let him decide. Why is this strategey of collecting all those names a higher priority than a rock-solid user experience? LINK
Facebook reports rise in content takedowns
In the last quarter of 2020 Facebook took down 6,3 million posts to enforce against online bullying and harrassement. The number has rissen from 3,5 million takedowns in the third quarter of 2020. LINK
12 ways to build trust for tech companies
An article published on Forbes lists up 12 ways to gain trust. Among them: Transparency, showing that privacy is important by example and “privacy by design”. Blockchain is listed as the enabling technology. LINK
In 2020 consumers spent $13 billion on non-game subscriptions, up from $9,7
The market for paid content, in various forms, is growing. In the past it was very difficult to make money this way, but this has changed. Figures reported by Sensor Tower say spending has increased by 34% in one year. if LINK
Fifty million content creators
“There are currently over 50 million creators on Youtube, Instagram, Twitch, TikTok, and other social media platforms. Two million of them are full-time, and they earn six-figure salaries by creating content daily or weekly. And that massive distributed content creation engine means that about 90% of the video, audio, photo, and text-based content consumed today by Gen Z is created by individuals, not corporations.”
Via Forbes. This is a from mid-2020, but notable. LINK
Frequently Asked: Is it possible to apply to multiple NGI projects at the same time?
It is not possible to get funding for the same idea from different NGI projects. Here is our advice: You can apply to several open calls, provided your idea fits into the focus of the call. But once your idea gets accepted in one call, you have an obligation to cancel participation in the other. A short notice is sufficient to do so.
Frequently Asked: How much funding is available per applicant?
Our 1st open call has a total budget of 950.000 Euro. Independent jurors will select the ten best projects. These projects will receive up to 75.000 Euro. After six months, the best two projects have a chance for an additional 100.000 Euros to extend their projects even further. How much an applicant can receive is subject to the legal status (single researcher or company). Our FAQ page has all the infos: LINK
Blockchain 50, 2021 (Forbes)
Forbes magazine published an updated list of relevant blockchain companies this week.
Quote: “Bitcoin’s 2020 surge grabbed the attention of C-suite executives worldwide; not only are companies employing the technology underlying Bitcoin to perform tasks such as reconciling invoices and verifying product provenance, but dozens are now holding Bitcoin as a treasury asset.”
Many large companies on the list, with a wide range of use cases. Some are after financial gains, others work on better workflows based on blockchain (e.g. logistics). So, two fundamentally different approaches.
This mix of motivations is making it very difficult to judge how far blockchain is making inroads into the fabric of workflows, in reality. We need to have a bit of patience whether the projects will last. LINK
Apple intensifies the focus on data privacy
The impression right now: Apple expects user privacy to become a reason for consumers to switch from one offering to the other – or even to stop using a platform that is not transparent. As a result the company is strongly pushing towards more privacy.
This week Apple published a digital brochure called: “A day in the life of your data”. The story is about a father and his daughter spending a day in the park. How much data is shared and how is this data used? This is relevant user information, but of course with a PR twist. There are direct jabs towards Facebook and other platforms. LINK
In addition: Last week Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke at CPDP21, the EU Data Protection Conference. He took a strong stand against private data being used without transparency. Tim Cook on privacy
Facebook introduces new pop-ups asking for permission to use data
The business model of Facebook is in peril should users around the world change their views on sharing usage data. Recently the company introduced a new pop-up screen in their app on iPhones. Users are asked for permission that their data is used. It is one step against the the plans of Apple and Google to change the way how user data is handled. Expect to see this battle heat up further in 2021.
In terms of reputation Facebook is not in the best position: “Fortune recently released its list of the World’s Most Admired Companies. Apple, for the 14th year in a row, sits at the top. Facebook isn’t even on the list. Seriously–there are 332 companies listed according to their reputation, and Facebook isn’t one of them.” LINK
The next 50 years in tech?
Benedict Evans writes a really good technology newsletter, with helpful analysis of what is going on. His key question is always: What does this mean? In addition, every year he puts together a presentation deck. Here he asks: What is next? This years presentation is called: The great unbundling. It is a long presentation, but full of data and analysis. The last chapter discusses what is going on right now: Privacy, trust, regulation of so far often unregulated internet platforms. Worth your time. LINK
Note: This is a copy of our newsletter. Every week we write a brief overview of relevant news from the field of trustable content, blockchain and related topics. This newsletter will provide you with updates from the project. In addition, we will provide you with short updates on what is going at the crossroads of trust and technology.
Let us know about topics you are interested in. You can reach us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TruBlo Open Call # 1 started
The objective of our Open Call #1 is to invite academic teams, researchers, SMEs and startups to define and implement small scale research projects on two topics:
Trust and reputation models on blockchains
Proof-of-validity and proof-of-location of content
Topic one targets innovative applications, demonstrators and technical approaches which increase the level of
trust in user-generated content. Topic two is about new mechanisms towards transparency and trustworthiness of
The call is open until March 19, 2021, at 17:00 CET.
After that we proceed in two phases: For phase 1, a total of ten projects will be selected to conceptualize a research project for one of the two focus topics. There is nine months time for this work.
Then, in the next phase, two projects from the original ten will be retained based on their quality. These two will get another six months (and additional funding) to elaborate on their concepts.
The total funding available is 950.000 Euro.
A note on that: The maximum amount of funding each beneficiary may receive during the TruBlo open calls is subject to the legal status of the applicant. Documents describing the details can be downloaded on the TruBlo website.
If you want to participate and have questions please use email@example.com to get in touch. Also, if you know individuals or teams who would be interested in participating please pass on this information.
EDMO: United against disinformation
TruBlo cooperates with the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO). EDMO started its activities on 1 June 2020. The organisation will serve as a hub for fact-checkers, academics and other relevant stakeholders to collaborate with each other and actively link with media organisations, media literacy experts, and provide support to policymakers. LINK
Google to open a center against harmful online content in Dublin
A new “Google Safety Engineering Center” will be located at the site of the Google European headquarters. It is the first team focusing on this issue in the world for Google. Europe, according to a Reuters news report, has taken the lead in developing new rules for digital platforms. One key demand is that digital platforms take more responsibility to remove harmful content. LINK
Twitter starts Birdwatch, a community-based approach to tackle misinformation
The idea is to let users flag tweets with misleading information. The new offering is currently in a pilot in the US. You can follow the project, it has its own Twitter accountLINK
Twitter: Could the next Twitter be decentralised?
Twitter, again. A group of technology experts has published a review of various available technologies which could enable decentralised social networks. This a step forward for the so-called “Bluesky” project, which was initiated by Twitter last year. Bluesky is still in the very early stages, currently, the company searches for a team leader. The work has the support of Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey though. In tweets, he stated the hope that decentralised technologies solve some of today’s communication challenges.
Backstory: In late 2019 Twitter announced to fund a small group of experts to explore whether a social network could use decentralised technology. Now a report is available. The paper is an interesting read, providing an overview of what technologies could be used. The report discusses how to support key features of a social network, such as discoverability, moderation and privacy. It further covers how such new platforms could make money. The technologies listed include ActivityPub (in use at Mastodon), Solid (initiated by Tim Berners-Lee) and other approaches. Download the report here: LINK
Video: The subtle aspects of how we form trust
What is this thing called trust? Can we define it? In order to create new technology, we should go deeper here. Rachel Botsman is a leading expert on the topic. She is the author of a book called “Who can you trust?”. Our link leads you to a public talk she gave at the DLD conference: “The currency of trust”. LINK