Blockchain technology was conceived as a decentralized, immutable and time-evolving public ledger, through which a range of transactions could be redundantly recorded. To date, most of these transactions have been financial in nature, for example supporting the detection of attempted double spends of cryptocurrency and, more generally, enabling smart contracts where assets are allocated based on the validation of specific contract conditions. However, beyond these applications, the fundamental properties of Blockchain can also drive disruptive, high-value opportunities for digital rights management and knowledge discovery.
Knowledge curation has historically been carried out through imposed standardization of document meta-data, often arranged in centralized libraries enforcing rigid and universal classification systems. Fusing blockchain with semantic mapping technology, it is now possible to drive the formation of time-evolving, self-assembling sets of query-able documents, with no requirement for imposed classification systems or adherence to specific categorization schemas. Rather, shared meaning between the text of documents can be automatically measured by detecting similar patterns of shared rare words (semantic signatures). Representing core meaning, the semantic signature of a document is formed both from the static, publication date-fixed content of the rare words in that document compared to the time-dependent evolving context of related content.
Within the block payload, the semantic signature of a document serves as a dynamically evolving “connective glue” catalyzing the self-assembly of a document set. An evolving semantic signature is analogous to a transaction on a ledger: The presence of the semantic signature in the payload of a block enables (i) an immutable ledger of changing semantic values for a document over time, (ii) the comparison of potentially changing ledger values (Author, Title, Publisher, Publication Date, Current Semantic Signature) to support digital rights management, and (iii) rapid and systematic access to relevant content that is otherwise hidden within massive archives of rigidly over-categorized content.