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Fair Futures

The potential future of creative commons

This week we wrapped up our Designing with Collective Intelligence module led by Olga Trevisan and Jessica Guy.

This was a hybrid module, alongside the team from FabLab BCN we worked in close partnership with a team of students and faculty from Manchester Metropolitan University and SODA (the School of Digital Arts in Manchester).

The focus of the week was on exploring the relationship between creative industries and decentralised governance. We spent the week learning about emerging (and some well established by this point) Web3 technologies like Blockchain, NFTs, Decentralised Autonomous Organisations and Smart Contracts. During the week we undertook a project in collaboration with the students from MMU and SODA to better understand how these technologies work, how they can be applied to the distribution of creative work online and how we can apply and develop these technologies into real world prototypes.

You can check out our Miro Board here

What are these technologies?

We’ve all heard the hype around these technologies and how they have to potential to change a lot of the ways we store and transfer information, currency etc, but in all the murk you’d be forgiven for not knowing exactly what each of these technologies really were, I know I didn’t. So let me try and break it down as best I can the way I understand them.

Blockchain:

A blockchain network can be imagined as a big spreadsheet, shared among many different computers. This spreadsheet or “ledger” is used to store information, for example, financial transactions. Each time a new transaction takes place, it gets logged in the spreadsheet. Because this spreadsheet is stored on many different computers, it makes it very difficult to “cheat” or tamper with information, as each change would have to be logged on each different spreadsheet, making it virtually impossible to change information without anyone knowing, as the changed spreadsheet wouldn’t match with the rest. This makes storing information on this spreadsheet very secure.

Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs):

They are unique cryptographic tokens that exist on a blockchain and cannot be replicated. They can represent real-world items like artwork or real estate.

Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs):

These are online organisations whose governance is encoded using smart contracts. They are usually used to manage funds and are a different form of governance models, that rely on everyone having a say.

Smart Contracts:

Encoding clauses into source code in a manner which is automatically self-enforced and executed without the need for a central authority in the form of smart contracts.

Dafne+

We were introduced to to a platform being developed by faculty from SODA & Fablab BCN called Daphne+, an online community that aims to break the typical system of creative content distribution by making a more fair and equitable decentralised system for creative content creators built on Web3 Technologies.

The platform runs on a blockchain network and relies on the minting of NFTs for the creative content published to ensure genuine authorship and accreditation.

The platform is designed to allow you to manage your Intellectual Property Rights directly yourself.

It allows you to mint NFTs for the following:

  • Images
  • Video
  • Text and documents
  • 3D models
  • Software and repositories
  • Audio and Music

How does it work?

Creators using the platform are able to log creative work as being originally theirs by minting it as an NFT. This creates a unique identifying token that is is always and forever spread amongst the blockchain, allowing them to always prove they were the first one to publish that work. Minting that creative work also allows the creator(s) to be fairly compensated for their work through the use of smart contracts that ensure strict adherence to whichever distribution model you has the creator have chosen to publish under that anytime someone accesses a repository, a piece of software, an image etc. they have to abide by. Each time your creative work is purchased or downloaded, it gets logged on the blockchain network, ensuring a clear and transparent history of where your creative work has been used. The network also allows Patreon like features, where users can access exclusive unlockable content once an NFT associated with your project has been purchased.

Importing content to host on DAFNE+ will create a link between the content and the blockchain network itself. Access to content can then be shared amongst members in a team.

Content that has been uploaded to the DAFNE+ platform, can then be later minted as NFTs through the NFT marketplace.

I think the idea behind the Dafne+ platform is a really cool way of approaching the idea of intellectual property protection, I think it’s something that could make a real step in opening up and speeding up the pace of innovation.

I think it could allow people to more freedom to discuss ongoing project work as opposed to the current model, where everything is hidden under NDA just in case ideas get stolen and protected first. Whereas this distribution model, by logging and showing unequivocally that you were the first to develop this idea, it might potentially allow you to prove in court that you were indeed first if you feel that somebody has copied or stolen your ideas.

If it ends up getting off the ground and popularised by creatives as a viable alternative to distribution, I think it could make a phenomenal addition to IP law and protection. I hope that it works just as well for protecting projects developed to be open source, as I think these types of projects are incredibly important and make technology and design much more accessible.

Check out the Dafne+ Platform here

Collaborative Project - “Fascination” Life under the regime

We worked in groups to use the knowledge we’d gained throughout the week to address one of the many issues we face in the state of climate crisis that we exist in and to tried to create a product or service that uses some of these technologies to try and address this issue.

Identifying the problem and potential solution

The problem my group and I wanted to focus on was trying to combat the resurgence of fascism in the world (not the easiest thing I know, but a fun thought experiment nonetheless 😃).

After a lot of discussion amongst our group, trying to figure out how we could build a product or service that could work towards this goal and be hosted on the Dafne+ platform, we landed on the concept of creating a VR video game as an educational tool.

How it works

People playing the game would find themselves dropped in an alternative present of a well known city run by a fascist regime. They play the role of a journalist going exploring and interacting with the world, as they play through the game they would be encouraged to write down things they observed that they disagreed with or thought was odd / not right happening in the world.

These observations would get logged immediately on the blockchain and posted to a discussion forum where users could discuss, interact and share their thoughts about their different observations in the worlds they visited. Each user would have made different observations and different decisions about what they thought was right and what they thought was wrong. This space for discussion would allow people to create a space for dialogue and understanding, as we discovered that many people fall to these extremist authoritarian ideals because they feel forgotten and ignored.

People fall to these extremist authoritarian ideals because they feel forgotten and ignored.

At the end of the game players would be prompted to create a little avatar of what they imagine the leader of that regime would look like. Each of these avatars would be unique and would be minted as NFTs.

Governance

The money spent on minting and buying these NFTs would be funnelled into decentralized autonomous organization committed to funding de-radicalization efforts around the world in an attempt to curb the spread of this hateful ideology by encouraging space for discourse and discussion and other de-radicalization efforts.

Users who purchase one of these NFTs gain access to the DAO and voting rights, giving them agency and autonomy within the organisation, allowing them to be part of the decision making when determining how funds raised by the DAO for these efforts are spread and disseminated.



It was a really cool project, despite us only being able to do it over a few days and it being a little all over the place, I think we ended up with something pretty cool. You can check out the whole slide deck for it above 👆.

Overall I think this was a really interesting seminar, and I’m very keen to see how that technology develops. This kind of application of these new technologies is really exciting to me and leveraging these technologies and platforms like Dafne+ is something I’d like to incorporate into my own design practice.

I think it would make me feel more confident about sharing work in an open source way as it means that whenever I share work I can make sure there’s proper accreditation and protection of IP in a way that is immutable.

Using technologies that make sure that we can all access a freer and fairer model of creative content distribution something that I wholeheartedly agree with.