Digitalisation back

Sonja Bröderdörp: "We have to remove the barriers to entry"

Sonja Bröderdörp: "We have to remove the barriers to entry"
Photo: © ArchiTangle

After years of hype and a subsequent lull, blockchain is currently experiencing a renaissance. How can it be used for the publishing industry? We talked about this with Sonja Bröderdörp from ArchiTangle, who spoke about its usability for publishers at this year's Future Publish.
 

InterviewJens THOMAS

 

CCB Magazine:Hello Sonja, you work at ArchiTangle, an independent publishing house based in Berlin that focuses on knowledge transfer and projects with social relevance. What exactly do you do there? And what is your background?   

Sonja Bröderdörp:I am CFO at ArchiTangle and responsible for finance, sales and production. The media industry has been my home since I trained as an advertising and media artwork producer at Axel Springer. My path to becoming CFO has included a number of formative stations, from technical customer support and controlling in a medium-sized prepress company to consulting at a publishing software provider. In 2012, my path led me to the book industry - first to Hoffmann und Campe and then to Hatje Cantz, where I was most recently head of rights, finance and controlling. Together with publisher Cristina Steingräber and her brother Arne, I co-founded ArchiTangle in 2019.

CCB Magazine:At this year's Future Publish, you spoke about the potential of blockchain for publishers. For anyone who doesn't know exactly what a blockchain is or how it works, can you explain the principle?   

Sonja Bröderdörp:In simple terms, a blockchain is a decentralized database on which data can be stored permanently and tamper-proof. To this end, all entries are stored in numerous data blocks in parallel. If one copy of the data differs from the others, it automatically becomes invalid - a kind of technical swarm intelligence that makes data forgery-proof.

A blockchain is a decentralized database on which data can be stored permanently and tamper-proof

CCB Magazine:And what do the publishers gain from this?   

Sonja Bröderdörp:Quite a lot. The publishing industry can use this technology to publish content and make it virtually tamper-proof - this helps protect us against unauthorized use and manipulation. It is to be feared that the flood of falsified content will continue to increase with the spread of AI tools. With blockchain technology, content can be given a digital fingerprint as soon as it is created and signed by the creators, making it possible to check authenticity very transparently.

CCB Magazine:With ArchiTangle, you are specifically addressing the technological foundations of blockchain technology for the publishing industry. What does a publisher need to be able to use a blockchain? For which publishers is it suitable?

Sonja Bröderdörp:All a publisher really needs is the courage to break new ground - and of course the drive. There are already a number of providers that offer blockchain as a service for the publishing industry. But we are the first publisher to use BƆƆK+®, which we designed and which is an extension of our print publications in which we store additional digital content on the blockchain. The content is linked via a QR code in the books, making it available to our readers for generations to come. The aim is that if someone picks up the book in 50 years' time, the content will still be available, even if the publisher and a corresponding website no longer exist.

CCB Magazine:Can other publishers acquire the licenses? 

Sonja Bröderdörp:Yes, we also license our solution to other publishers and institutions, and there are many possible applications. The added value that publishers can achieve through this technology depends on the type of application - be it through new types of products, such as the digital original, or through time savings in rights clearance and royalty invoicing. There are also savings in production costs and logistics if updates and content are considered as digital components in the long term - as we are already doing in our architecture publishing house with BƆƆK+®. In addition, the secure blockchain-based storage of contracts - in the case of publishers, for example, copyright agreements, original manuscripts and other documents - offers enormous added value. This is where AnySafe® from our sister company AnyTangle comes into play, a blockchain-based long-term archive that helps us to protect and archive documents that must not be altered and should also be easily accessible and available at all times for future generations.

The added value that publishers can achieve through blockchain depends on the type of application - be it through new types of products, such as the digital original, or through time savings in rights clearance and royalty invoicing

CCB Magazine:In your presentation, you specifically addressed the strengthening of reader loyalty and more efficient management of copyrights and licenses. In what ways can the blockchain help here?

Sonja Bröderdörp:creatokia has set a milestone in terms of reader loyalty, with the clever use of NFTs to create digital originals that can be combined with exclusive additional materials and participation in events. The platform cleverly combines the advantages of Web2 and Web3. As mentioned above, we are breaking new ground with BƆƆK+® and providing complete files on chain. This means that they can be made available anywhere in the world without restriction and are tamper-proof, which opens up completely new possibilities for scientific publishing, among other things. Permanence means that access errors such as "404" are a thing of the past.

CCB Magazine:And what about copyrights? 

Sonja Bröderdörp:The development of standards such as the ISCC, the International Standard Content Code, which is about to be ISO-certified (ISO/DIS 24138), is particularly helpful when it comes to copyrights. This standard is open source and generates a content-based fingerprint of the file - regardless of whether it is an image, text, audio or video. Every piece of content that is registered on the blockchain by the rights holder can be given the option of exploitation at the same time - an opt-out for use as AI training material is also possible in this way. Ultimately, this also opens up the possibility of direct billing via smart contracts, but there are still a few steps to go before then.

CCB Magazine:You mainly describe the advantages here. Where are the dangers? 

Sonja Bröderdörp:Blockchain technology itself poses no threat. It would therefore be a mistake to shy away from its application, which would mean that the technology, with all its benefits, would not catch on and we, not only in the publishing industry, would miss a great opportunity. In our view, now is the time to finally put this groundbreaking and deeply democratic technology into practice.

There is no reason for publishers to postpone further the internal use of the technical advantages of blockchain technology in terms of authenticity, verification and permanence of content - especially in view of the rapid spread of artificial intelligence

CCB Magazine:Many people associate blockchain technology primarily with the implementation of new micropayment systems. How can publishers earn money with this? Do you get more out of it in the end?

Sonja Bröderdörp:I'm glad you asked that. Because blockchain should not be reduced to micropayments. The technology can do much more. Depending on the protocol, a wide variety of transactions can now be initiated, for example to store entire files in a forgery-proof and access-proof manner, which enables the development of new product categories. In purely commercial terms, the efficient use of resources described above is extremely beneficial to the earnings situation. Of course, it remains to be seen whether we will generate more through the use of new technologies. However, we believe that our common goal must be to act more efficiently and, above all, more sustainably through innovation in order to ultimately be in a better position - also financially.

CCB Magazine:With ArchiTangle, you are also working on ensuring the authenticity of content in the context of AI and blockchain. How can the blockchain be used specifically for this? What role does AI play? 

Sonja Bröderdörp:Authenticity is of course a huge issue in the media industry. One keyword is the increase in deep fakes. As mentioned above, it is to be feared that the flood of falsified content will continue to increase with the spread of AI tools. Trust is one of the most important currencies of the future here and blockchain technology can make an important contribution to this. For example, digital fingerprints of original data can be stored on a public blockchain immediately after creation, and all edits are recorded in the same way, making manipulation transparent. Of course, this also applies to AI-generated content, so that users - if the platforms on which they are published allow it - can view this information and possibly compare content. We can therefore even say that blockchain technology has become even more relevant thanks to AI. 

CCB Magazine:If you were to make a final prediction, how important will blockchain be for the publishing industry in a few years' time? And what role will the development of AI play in this?

Sonja Bröderdörp:There is no reason for publishers to postpone the internal use of the characteristic technical advantages of blockchain technology in terms of authenticity, verification and permanence of content - especially in view of the rapid spread of artificial intelligence. As with all innovations, we need to remove the barriers to entry so that blockchain technology in all its facets can make an important contribution to the profitability of companies - including the publishing industry. It would be a shame if it takes a few more years for the new concepts to be accepted by the majority of users. Our optimistic forecast is therefore that, in the short term, companies and then - probably with a time lag - end customers will use blockchain as a technology as a matter of course, directly or indirectly, in a few years' time.

Category: Innovation & Vision

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