Blockchain for the Graphic Design Industry

On the previous forum I started this thread that was ignored or lost in the shuffle. I’m reopening it on this forum because I think this is one of those technologies that will rule us if we don’t rule it.

Every industry has the opportunity to re-imagine the way they would like to interact with their business partners, customers, and even healthy competitors. Blockchain can give struggling industries new opportunities to reinvent themselves. Here’s some ways graphic designers might be able to use block chain to improve their industry:

Embedded institutional knowledge.
Streamlined and free estimating.
Instant buyer and bidder offer comparison.
Digital authentication.
Intellectual property rights enforcement.
Contract settlement.
Usage restrictions.
Global decentralized labor unionization.
Verifying experience of the designer/service provider.

Here’s a quick intro:

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I keep hearing about blockchain in relation to Bitcoin, but I haven’t really looked into either. I have no particular interest in Bitcoin, but the rest of what you mentioned, sounds like something where I need to get up to speed.

It may have been invented for bitcoin, but people are just starting to recognize it’s potential beyond financial services. Bitcoin is merely the first domino to fall in an endless chain that will disrupt and reinvent the entire business world.

Hopefully the open source community develops it faster than Adobe can monopolize it for graphic design workflows.


I think blockchains are revolutionary for all industries where centralization is a problem.

For example if you live in an unstable country, your money in the bank is not safe, because the government can devalue it by inflating it, or even freeze it completely. This happens all the time.

For the graphic design industry there are some usecases that are relevant.

Payments of course is another great use. Issuing an invoice and getting paid virtually instantly without the ability for anyone to stop payments or take cuts is great.

I think registering and then transferring ownership of digital assets is a good use, because right now we rely on centralized, expensive and cumbersome government offices to manage rights, which is not good.

Verifiable reputation management is also a good idea, but we’re going into certain edge cases.

The rest I think is hard to justify.

The key to making all the other business transactions work with blockchain is to incentivize 3rd party computers to verify transactions. There is a number of ways to do this.

Bitcoin incentivized verification services by making bitcoin “mining” part of the potential reward. When a miner finds a serial number not in circulation, it’s just like finding a gold nugget. In the “gold rush” process of mining, there’s multiple verifications of transactions from all the miners. I just don’t know how they will incentivize verification services once all the serial numbers are found and no more are put in circulation.

The most generic way to incentivize verification of any business transaction is to pay people for their computer services. If I’m not mistaken, that’s the business model of Ethereum, the second most popular use of blockchain. Unlike bitcoin, Ethereum verifies more than just financial information. It may solve the future incentive problem that bitcoin will have. If bitcoin is digital gold, then Ethereum is digital oil.

Another way to incentivize verification services specifically for the graphic design community is to provide free benefits for verification services that graphic designers value. This could be things like job hunting leads, free institutional knowledge, free legal services, and free estimating services. There could even be a unique currency like “graphic design credits” attached that double as both a proof of wealth and proof of merit.

The beauty of using blockchain is that users don’t need to know the business. Only their computers need to know the business. It’s as simple as downloading the verification software. Remember the scene in the Matrix where they downloaded information directly into people’s brains? It’s like that, except it’s your computer (instead of your brain) that gets the information and then goes to work for you while you relax or play golf. The only thing you pay for is the electricity that keeps your computer running.

There is not much out there on the intertoobs that I’d want in exchange for opening my machine to be used as part of, basically, a botnet.

It wouldn’t have to be the computer you use for anything else. It could be a designated computer with nothing on it but the verification software. I think most current bitcoin mining is done on designated computers.

If I understand Ethereum correctly, people will get paid for raw processing power in nothing else. But aside from money, anyone who benefits from the service of middle men could probably benefit more from block chain. The only people I can imagine wouldn’t benefit from it would be people who don’t use middlemen or contracts in any of their transactions.

Bottom line, most people will eventually trust machines to be more accurate, more thorough, and less corrupt than people. That trust will only increase as verification networks become more decentralized.

Ah, the rub there is I don’t trust machines to be accurate at all. Behind every computer is a programmer. A fallible, possibly corruptable human. As more control is relinquished to the machine the more I will tend to distrust it.
At least they are working on it. but still…

If there were only one programmer and the code were proprietary, that would be a problem.

The whole point of open-source is that you have more independent eyes on the program. This greatly minimizes the chance of inaccuracy and corruption. And you have more people with a vested interest in improving the program. This is why it’s important to develop it open source before some monopolizing corporation like Adobe does a proprietary version and sneaks it into some workflow software that every graphic designer will be required to use.

You still trust the machine far too much.
Have you seen what Adobe is already doing to the font industry? For the last 6 months every font I’ve tried to buy has had to be purchased through Adobe. They are already “blockchaining” font ownership.

I don’t particularly have a problem paying for fonts when necessary. But I’ve always found it really absurd that designers can’t get their stuff printed unless the printer also owns the fonts they use. FYI the pdf format does not work well in large format. It isn’t made for it.

Ethereum contracts had fatal flaws in the past resulting in millions of dollars lost.

However, there haven’t been any flaws or hacks for almost 10 years in the core bitcoin protocol. So if you timestamped something in Bitcoin, you can be damn sure it’s reliable information.

PrintDriver, I don’t think we have any choice but to trust machines. It’s not so much a choice between trusting machines vs trusting people. It’s more a choice between trusting centralized networks of machines and people vs trusting networks of decentralized machines and people. Monopolization is the former. Open-source development is the latter.

iraszi, I hadn’t heard of the Ethereum glitches. I hope they fixed them. I think the idea of paying computer owners for verification services will eventually be reliably widespread by one blockchain solution, if not Ethereum. But even if the graphic design community/industry doesn’t rely on a generic verification services such as Ethereum, the graphic design community could develop it’s own specialized/customized blockchain solution with online open collaboration. I think that’s how bitcoin was developed on the P2P Foundation website.

There are likely many reasons to be concerned about cryptocurrencies (erratic bubbles, subsequent collapses, lack of regulatory oversight, etc.), but concern about reliance on computers, software and algorithms isn’t unique to them alone. All financial transactions beyond the physical exchange of actual cash exists only as electronic numbers moving from one set of databases to another.

The main computer difference with the way cryptocurrencies handle those transactions is how those electronic transactions take place and are recorded and stored, which I can’t really say is any better or worse than an electronic transfer from one bank to another. I’ve heard people argue that the blockchain approach is actually more robust and secure, but I’m way too ignorant about the subject to be anything but skeptical.

Maybe burying bricks of gold in one’s backyard is the only way to ensure one’s financial future with any certainty. :wink:

The blockchain approach is the antidote to the problem of too much power in too few hands. Even the technical glitches are more likely to get fixed in an open-source blockchain than with a proprietary solution.

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For what it’s worth, I just ran across this:

I’m unsure what, if anything, these hacks, heists and compromises have to do with blockchain. It does point to a serious problem with cryptocurrencies, though.

The hacks are due to a lack of security on the companies that hold the money, not on the blockchain technology.

Think of blockchain as a way that more 3rd parties can monitor the transactions. The transactions are made more secure. What’s not made secure is what happens to the money after the transactions.

Also think of the blockchain transfer service as an automatic courier for the transactions, with more eyes monitoring the courier service. It’s no different from if you use a courier to withdraw cash from one bank and deposit it into another bank. If that second bank gets robbed after that deposit is made, the courier is not to blame for the bank robbing.

For the graphic design industries, the contracts are more important than the money transactions. You don’t hear about people stealing contracts like you hear about people stealing money. If there were a blockchain to settle graphic design contracts, money verification doesn’t even need to be a part of that transaction. It could be a separate transaction such as a paypal transaction.

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I’m not that crazy about cryptocurrency. I have a tiny investment in Ethereum. I passed on the opportunity to invest in bitcoin when it was less than $1 USD per coin because I didn’t want to be a part of what I knew was going to empower a black market. I’m still reluctant to invest in bitcoin because of the anonymity. Aside from bitcoin, there’s too much competition for alternate cryptocurrency holding it’s value down. It’s kind of like banknotes before banks became centralized and a federal currency was established.

If a cryptocurrency has other contractual information (besides money) attached, it’s taking advantage of what blockchain is best used for. Money and other verification services are not mutually exclusive. Check out what Kodak is doing for intellectual property with block chain:

Their stock had almost hit rock bottom from a 4-year decline until they made the announcement early this month.

College students get it. Hopefully art college students will get it too, before they get owned by the technology again.

I hope I never get to say “I told you so…”
Far too many people out there, especially millennials who know no other way, are far too willing to embrace the technology without considering the deeper risks.
The IOT is a case in point. RFID chips another.
Personal space has been seriously eroded. Yet more and more, it’s allowed under the guise of convenience or implied security.
Any crypto-anything can be hacked in some fashion, usually to the end-user’s detriment. Some things have hacks already built in.
I’m not saying go back to horse and buggies. Just be a little more prudent about what you relinquish control of, and to whom.

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