187 – Let’s Fix the Broken Web with WordPress, WordProof and Blockchain

Interview with Sebastiaan van der Lans from WordProof, with Nathan Wrigley

WordProof deal – if you email Sebastiaan right after you sign up and mention WP Builds, he’ll increase your WordProof account limits! Nice!

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And, in a wonderful new development, WordProof recently won $1m Euros from the European Commission to assist with the development of their technology. Again, nice!

You need to prove, and I mean prove, that you own something online… something digital, something that you created. How do you do that? In the real world, you just ‘have it’. That widget that you fashioned from wood is on your property, but that blog piece that you wrote, that document that you uploaded how do you prove ownership of it. It’s a really hard question to answer, until WordProof perhaps.

You might have heard of the blockchain, and likely you’ve heard of it because of crypto-currencies like Bitcoin. That however, is just one way that blockchain technologies can be deployed.

Let’s be clear, I’m no expert on this, but my understanding goes like this… Blockchain can be thought of as a shared system. It’s like a pool of people keeping a shared list (or ledger) of all the content and amendments that anyone in the system makes. I create a WordPress post, all the people in the system get to know about that. If I update it they get to know about that as well. When anyone else in the system creates or amends content, I get to know about it. I don’t mean ‘get to know’ in the sense of you’ll be deluged with update notifications like Facebook might provide, I mean that that it goes on in the background, silently. You don’t really need to do a thing. You just share content and updates with the blockchain.

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But why would I need this I hear you say! Well what if you write a great blog post, a piece that’s taken months to write. That post contains genuinely new discoveries, it adds something to humanity that has never been said before. You feel delighted, until, 3 months later you see that someone else is sharing your discovery and claiming it as their own. Naughty!

So you go to the blockchain that you’ve been a part of and you say, I need proof that I wrote this on a date before this other person started writing about it. The blockchain comes back and says ‘here you go’, you and countless other people can assert that you wrote it, because on the date that you did, we all got a copy of it.

But that’s not proof is it? They could all be lying, you could all be in-this-together! Well, yes the humans could, but the blockchain can’t. It’s a mathematical proof that you did write that post and all these other people can back that up too. I’d honestly love to see a lawyer take on the argument that you cannot trust maths!

All this rambling is to say that by spreading the blockchain all over the place, you get a widely distrubuted, mathematically verifiable system of proof. And that could be proof of almost anything…

That song that you wrote and saved as an .mp3 which you just heard <insert name of famous musician> playing on the radio, that PhD thesis that you wrote which proves that cold fusion is possible, that insurance document which you know you amended just days before your house was flooded, that video that just went viral etc etc. You have proof. Bullet-proof proof!


If you can put it online, you can prove that you did, and that it was or was not amended. It’s watertight, and with the WordProof system, easy to do!

This might not matter to you of course, but it matters to a lot of people and until recently, blockchain was a great idea but all but impossible to implement. Not now that we have WordProof.

WordProof makes this easy to do on your WordPress website. It enables you to assert your authorship of content, and prove when things were created and amended. You could even deploy this in your eCommerce offering to prove that sales happened, refunds occured and so on. In the future, adding timestamps might well act as a positive factor in SEO rankings!

Obviously, there’s way more to it that this and we cover a lot…

  • How do WordPress and the WordProof blockchain work… what are the benefits of combining both?
  • Why you might need to, and how you can timestamp content
  • eCommerce and timestamps
  • SEO and timestamps
  • the WordProof plugin for WordPress
  • GDPR compliance

I’d advise that you get the podcast on and hear what Sabastiaan has to say. It’s a wonderful new frontier and I’d really like to know what you make of it.

Please leave a comment down below or post in the thread over on the WP Builds Facebook Group.

Mentioned in this episode:


WordProof plugin


Sebastian speaking at WordCamp Europe 2019

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Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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Welcome. So the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news it from the WordPress community. Welcome your host, David Walmsley, Nathan Wrigley.
Hello there and welcome to the WP Builds podcast. Once more, this is episode number 187. Entitled let's fix the broken web with WordPress word proof and blockchain. It was published on Thursday, the 9th of July, 2020, my name's Nathan Wrigley, and a few others, little bits of housekeeping just before we begin, I would love for you to be able to share WP Builds with your WordPress colleagues and friends.
Probably the best way to do that is on social media. You could use the Twitter handle at WP Builds. Or you could share our Facebook group, essentially, if you want to share anything that we produce, I'd be really, really welcome. There are some buttons underneath the podcast player on each episode that you might use.
Another option would be to go to WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe as a page where we have lots of links to keep. Abreast of the content that we produce. There's a couple of newsletters to sign up to. There's a Facebook group that you can join. It's 2000, nearly 2,700. WordPress's it's very polite and well managed.
Should I say there's also links to podcast players and so on and so forth. So that's WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe. I think, which I mentioned each week is WP Builds.com forward slash deals. It's a 365 days of the year. Always on page of things a bit like you might find on black Friday. So coupon codes from plugin and theme developers.
And as far as I know, have not removed one of them. So if you see it on that page, it's very likely to be sticking around for the foreseeable future. So if you're in the market for something this week, please go to that page, click on the link and you will assist us to keep the WP Builds lights on.
Another way that you could help us keep the lights on is to go to WP Builds.com forward slash advertise. If you have a product or service and you would like to help us put it in front of a WordPress specific audience, we can do that for you. And one of the companies that have done that is AB split test.
Do you want to set up your AB split tests in record time? The new AB split test plugin for WordPress. We'll have you up and running in a couple of minutes. Use your existing pages and test anything against anything else. Buttons, images, headers, rows, anything spout is it works with elemental Beaver builder and the WordPress block editor.
Check it out at AB split. test.com. Okay. Another thing to mention just before we get stuck into the podcast is also the fact that I'm doing a weekly series with Sabrina Zayden. It's all about getting your plugin recognized. As I mentioned, AB split test a mini to go, I'm helping to promote that. And Sabrina has got her speed guard plugin.
It's a. Probably about a 10 week journey we're on to week four. And the intention is to go from no knowledge to a little bit more than no knowledge during those 10 weeks about how to successfully launch a plugin. So if that's something that you're interested in doing, you might like to find out some of the mistakes that we made on the way, and some of the successes as well.
It's live 2:00 PM UK time, every Tuesday, and you can find it at wpbuilds.com forward slash live. Okay. The podcast today is a really interesting one. I feel like. So really new area. I'm speaking this week with Sebastiaan who is representing word proof now. It feels like this episode has come out with just the right moment, because this week it was announced that the European commission has granted word proof or 1 million euros in funding to take this initiative and develop it some more.
So what does it do? Well, the idea is it's to protect your content, to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, that something that you claim is yours is in fact yours to claim that it was amended on this state. You can prove it. And it's all done with the blockchain technology. Now, I'm sure that you're familiar with technologies like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
So it uses the same technology, the blockchain technology, but in the case of Bitcoin, it's all about currency and keeping a record of financial transactions. But he could be repurposed for anything. So for example, it might be able to, to be used by you to say, I wrote this content, that blog post was mine, and I can absolutely certifiably prove that I wrote it on this state.
That song is mine. That PDF is mine, and I can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is. Written on this particular date. And so this could be really useful. Absolutely. Loads of examples of how this might be useful. Obviously the European commission view, this is very useful as well. And so Sebastiaan is on the podcast today to explain how this all works.
And my. While you might wish to deploy it. I would say that there is a little deal at the end. He offers the listeners to the WP Builds podcast, a bit of a way of getting extra credit. Should you decide to adopt this? So listen out for that right at the end. Hello. Welcome to the WP Builds podcast. Thank you for staying with us.
We've got an interview for you today and from the Netherlands we have. Now I'm going to try not to butcher this Sebastiaan Vander loans. Perfect. Hey, pleasure to be here. Thanks. Now, this is, this is a podcast episode that has been many, many months in the waiting. I met Sebastiaan very briefly at word camp Europe in person, and we decided that he would come on and then through a series of, I think probably missteps on my part, the calendar got.
I got canceled and then various other things happened. the COVID-19 virus got in the way, but we're here. no worries. Yeah, we made it before we begin. Yeah. I can see you. We record only audio, but you are, you are stood in an office, your office, which is at the minute, completely empty. How how's it going for you currently?
I it's it's good. I, I started the agency in 26 with a cofounder that's 25. People's called funnels. And they're all working from home at the moment. Myself. I run a work proof. We had a team of five, but we are all working for him. So we are, used to work from home. And when we do interviews or stuff like this, I have the benefit of an empty office.
So yeah, different times, but good times. Yeah, well, in many ways, it's quite nice to have such a large amount of space. It's a very, it's a very spacious office and this is only you occupying it, which is lovely. it's, it's, it's pure. Yeah. It's luxury in a way. Yeah. Yeah. We're talking to as Vastin today on a number of topics, but I think one of the ones that we'll delve into first off is a topic, which I am absolutely certain will be of great interest to a lot of you, but also probably will be a bit of a one Oh one.
I imagine that many of you will have heard of. The blockchain. You're probably going to be associated, associating it with things like Bitcoin and various other cryptocurrencies, because that's kind of how it all began, but it would seem that there are technologies underlying the Bitcoin. And so on that that can be deployed in all sorts of other interesting ways.
And Sebastiaan has set up a, a startup called word proof. And I would urge you at this point, if you are able to, to go to word proof.io, you might even want to pause the recording because you might get more value out of this chat if you've gone and seen what that website is all about, but what, what is, what is word proof and why anybody need anything to do with the blockchain, with their website?
The internet is a amazing place, but at the same time, there are some issues on the internet. I would say the internet has a deep rooted issue and it's trust 29% of Europeans are kind of suspicious studio, internet and 86% of the follow for fake news at least once. So what we try to do is bring in a layer of trust to the internet.
That's the bigger picture. And, what work proof does is timestamping content on a blockchain. Bitcoin was launched in, 28, 29 or 2008, 2009, but already in 1991, blockchain was invented and published. the idea was published and it wasn't timestamping documents on a blockchain, but to kind of protect or prove that a specific document or existed in a specific moment in time, simply how it works is you have the documents.
You create a hash of it. And, most of you might know how hashing works and otherwise it's on our website. it's, it's just a function in BHB or a whatever programming language. There's an input that leads to an output. That output is always the same, but if you change a little bit on the input, the hash totally changes.
So if you have that hash, you can prove that this thing exists. So what we do is we put this thing. In a blockchain, like you can have a Bitcoin transaction in the blockchain. And with that, you can prove that a specific piece of content existed in a specific moment of time on the blockchain was initially invented for this, you know, interrupt at that point, if that's all right.
just let's clarify what this means. So, We've got this notion that you can let's say take a document and whatever the content of that document is, can be summed up in a, an, a smaller amount of data. You can sum up the entire contents of that document down to the, down to the letter pixel level. If you like it.
Any Viet variation, from the original will lead to a S a different smaller amounts. So I suppose a good way to think about it might be if you take a huge repository of information and use zip it up bookkeeping. Yeah. Yeah. You've sort of squashed it, but there's a way with a function, a hash function to, to, to, to output a model smaller code.
And that code represents the state of that document. And if. Anything in that document were to change, then the hash would change now, trusted to know does the hash change like, so that it's unrecognizable to the first one. In other words, if it's, I don't know how long these hashes are, but let's say it's a string of 20 characters or something like that.
Yeah. Is it like one character that that's different? If the, if there's one character in the document that's different or is it completely on indistinguishable from the previous act? In other words, a cursory glance. You're able to say, Whoa, hang on. The process is irreversible. Cool. So, if you have a Excel sheet with hundreds or thousands of cells and you only change one, it totally changes.
so it's, it's an, it's an irreversible process. So you hard to can't reverse engineer. What the impact is. But can you, if you were to look at those two hashes, you know, make a visual check, so let's say let's take the example of your yeah. Excel spreadsheet, hundreds of thousands of rows you make. So yeah, you, you hash that and that's great.
And then somebody goes and changes one cell and you hash that, but you compare them two hashes. Do they look quite yet similar with just minor nations or are they totally different? Not at all. Right. So for example, if you have, my name is Sabastian alarms, add a space or remove a space it's totally different.
Are you, you can't see, if there's a change in itself, but you can't see if it's only a name or a full bookkeeping insight. It's totally irreversible. Okay. And so just sort of moving this on a little bit, one of the things which occurs to me that we haven't yet mentioned is, is this idea of kind of storing this.
this data in some kind of public ledger, some, some way of proven because obviously, you know, if I have a spreadsheet and I change it and I just keep that hash on my computer, there's no kind of trust gained at all. I've just modified it and I could quite easily lie to you. So where does the trust come?
How does the, the notion of what are you in? Is it, where is it stored? How do we, how do we get access to, how do we, how do we make use of it? The thing, a blockchain is just a database, but then protects it with hashing. So it's, it's a database, but it's in sync with each other. Maybe it's a, the best to explain how Bitcoin works with Bitcoin.
For example, three, they all, are. Having a copy of the database. The one has Stan Bitcoin. The other has two Bitcoin. If the one with 10 Bitcoin wants to buy a laptop from the one with a two, they say, Hey, I have, three more Bitcoin for you. Can you, and I want to buy the laptop you have to offer.
Okay. here are three Bitcoin. Then we both have to say, Hey, do we accept this transaction? Hey. She has 10. so we make it a three minus three is seven and, two plus three is five. Okay. We all agree, that this transaction is possible and we transferred the laptop and the Bitcoin is transferred. So we all three update our database, our ledger with, okay.
Now she has five. He has five and that's it. So it's, it's a database, but all parties disappointments in a network. Agree on the state. And for example, when the one with two tries to buy a laptop for three. it's impossible because the, the amount of Bitcoin is insufficient. So the participants in the network won't accept the transaction.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I mean, it makes perfect sense. The, the query that I have, let's say in the, in the very simplistic scenario that you just presented there, where there's three people. What if, what, what, what is the requirement in terms of. proof before that transaction is approved. So in this scenario, there's only three, right?
So presumably three out of three need to be, need to be switched on confirming this data before that transaction is acknowledged as a true, as a true representation of what was supposed to happen. But what if, what if that third. What if one of them was, let's say switched off permanently. It was never, there can, can transactions fail.
Well, because there's just not enough people in the pool confirming these transactions. is there any way for, for that to sort of fail or is there a yeah, well, let's leave it at that for now. Yep. That can happen. So there are many different blockchains. Bitcoin is the most famous blockchain because it's the, yeah.
The first one that got in the mentoree media, with Bitcoin has tens of thousands of notes. So that one won't go offline. We're proof works with, with blockchains. We will add support for Bitcoin soon, but we work with, Ethereum soon. I'm with EOS IO. All those, blockchain softwares are, have hundreds of hundreds of notes, protecting the network.
So we're kind of tapping into infrastructures that access. Right. Okay. And so the, the analogy that we we've been talking about so far, Bitcoin, the Bitcoin blockchain is simply for Bitcoin. It's all about the, the coins moving left and right and so on. But you're saying that there are freely available public repositories, public ledgers that you can tap into and push any kind of data that you like in there.
So is that right? Have I misjudged that. All blockchains have their economics. So for example, on business going, if you do a transaction in Bitcoin, you pay a little fee depending on how busy the network is, how fast you want to do the transaction to be done. so based on that, there are economics. All Bitco or all blockchains have different economics.
So Ethereum that's number two. At this moment, they have a gas fee. It's it's, it's kind of the Bitcoin model of fee that you pay for the ones who have the lectures and ELs. It's kind of, it's kind of different there. You have to say, Hey, I buy a percentage of the token. So for example, I have 1% of all the tokens that gives me access to 1% of the processing power of the network.
Interesting. So, in that way, it's kind of having a house and lending it out yeah. For, for renters. So, we're pro works, for example, with the EOS one, we have access to a small percentage of the network, which is enough. We're doing hundreds of thousands of timestamps on a daily basis. Is there anything before we get into the exact use case scenarios for something like WordPress, which is, which is, I suppose, what I really want to talk about, is there any scenario in which this isn't Bulletproof, are there any, are there any kind of edge cases in which somebody could come along and say, well, hang on a minute.
No, no, no, no, no, this, this really isn't proof. Are there any. Like configurations of people using the pool or people, consuming a significant proportion of the pool or anything like that, that can make it unstable and not quite as Bulletproof as one would hope if you, Theoretically there are, but if you look at the top five or top 10, blockchains, it costs you millions to dollars to just change one aspect, and then it will always be visible to anyone that, that, specific thing happened.
So practically, I would say no, theoretically they're the dairies, but it's, yeah, it it's, it's not significant. I remember. And it's always called it by F and it's always auditable by everyone. Yeah. I remember back in the day, the, the notion that if somebody were to get 51% of the, of the, the power, if you like a Bitcoin than in theory, they could do all sorts of, of nefarious stuff.
But the, you know, the, the intention being that, the more people that use it, the less likely it is that anybody's going to have that compute power, online at any one time, maybe, maybe nation States, but that's about it. It's certainly isn't going to be me or you. and still then it's. Transparent on the blockchain what's happened there.
Yeah. So, it would absolutely, it would hurt the ecosystem so much. That's yeah, the incentives are aligned in a way that it won't happen. I don't see it happening. And if it happens, it's so transparent that, that's there, there will be good actors saying, okay. We pick up from the 0.1 block before yeah.
The malicious act versus spending. And then we continue where we left. It is possible to solve it, fork these, these blockchains in such, you know, you can re reverse time, and restore normality in a sense. Yeah. In a way, and then some people agree or some people don't. And what we did have we're proof is really bringing the benefits of blockchain without all the heart forking and the what, what, what we did is, we made an Academy it's called work proof kind of be, it will be launched by the end of June, and it's really.
A technical deep dive of what blockchain and timestamping with blockchain is. So, once it's live, I'll send you the links so we can put the video. Yeah, that'd be nice. Thank you. so, okay. Let's say for example, we're building our WordPress websites and we have a, we have a need for something, you know, one of our clients, or maybe even us realized that it would be really significantly useful to have some proof that, that things that we created, we did in fact create at a certain point and we have ownership of them.
I can imagine all sorts of use cases like lawyers or people who simply want to just say, just assert that this content is mine. You know, this is something that I wrote on this date. You didn't write it two days after I did, because I wrote it. Where, where is this blockchain? Where actually does it exist?
Am I consuming like significant, Portions of my hard disc drive. Is it, is it sitting on my WordPress server eating up the memory? How does it work? How do we stop it growing and growing and growing. If everybody's got to have the same identical, share of it, that's how Bitcoin started. So you have the people using the network and you have the people, creating the security and doing the transactions itself.
The users they say, Hey, I do a Bitcoin from me to you and then pay a small fee and a small fee is going to the store so-called miners. so that's part of the economics. What I sat on a weatherproof, we work with kind of staking mechanisms. So we kind of rent a part of the network. And when you rent it from the people who have to ledger.
So on my WordPress surfer, there's no, there's no blockchain running on my own computer. There's no blockchain running. It's all. Yeah. It's, it's all light. Okay. That's, that's that's music to my ears. Cause that was one of the concerns that I've always had is that it would, you know, as these, as these things grow and grow and more people come on.
Boy, I'm going to be giving away whole gigabytes just to, just to keep up with the, the current state of the ledger, but no. How does it work for PR for Bitcoin? For example, you could have done that, but then you had the chance of receiving those fees as well that people do for the transaction. So, if you do that, there's an incentive, a possible incentive that you get.
For using that amount of computing power and energy. Okay. Well that makes sense. You know, it's a bit like a storage company in the real world. You keep people's stuff safe, you get paid for it. Yeah. In a way. And that's what blockchain is all about. It's about, or on blockchains, you can have tokens. And, some people from blockchain did X movement.
They truly believe that every money and every business will move to a tokenized model. So you can align all incentives. Right. we're prove makes it very easy. We just do the timestamp use case from 1991. We're blockchain was invented for, we bring just that small first blockchain benefit through to world of content and commerce.
That's what we entity. So my guess is at the moment virtually nobody that's listening to this podcast will have deployed any kind of blockchain technology inside or in any way attached to their WordPress website that, but, but clearly, you know, you've set up this startup, and word proof exists, but, I'm kind of interested to know what the real world scenarios are.
So if you could possibly delve into actual use cases where you think. This is significant. This is something that you really, really could make use of. It's not a trivial edge case. That's going to be applicable to like one in 10 million users. Now this could be, this could be all of us. Yep. I do three use cases.
We really started as a copyright tool to prove that you made content at a specific moment in time. Then we'll dive a bit into misinformation. and how timestamps can be a solution to fake news or misinformation. And then we dive in, search engine optimization and how it could help and solve problems there, because that might be the most interesting and interesting part to most people.
although ms. Misinformation is interesting as well in this crazy, 19 times. Yeah. Wait a blockchain time stamp. Yeah. Prove that content existed in a specific moment in time. That's that's the adjustment. So, for copyrights claiming that you made something at a specific moment in time, it can be used.
For example, there's a creative studio in Amsterdam. They're called bloom and bloom the use case on our website and they make a beautiful design, a lapse, and they made beautiful photography, beautiful content. And they're a team of. two or three and they make beautiful stuff. But what happens all the time is that web shops and people on eBay are copying exactly their content.
They're placing an order in China. Okay. You've copied this. Try to sell with their content. Yep. For them, it's kind of painful. And they say, Hey, eBay is, someone's copying our content, but they say, yeah, if we don't have a official letter or whatever, we can't help you. Sorry. If they had to hire a lawyer for maybe he or she needs two, three hours to write a letter and, it's, they can't afford a lawyer to help them there because you have to build the, our guy, she went through, writes a letter.
With a timestamp. If you just make, at the moment of publication, you make a, a timestamp on it, you put it in a blockchain and you write the right letter. You can, and really prove that you, had that content before the ads, the ads on eBay was published. So I'm in the back office of were approved. You can download letters for free, you just say, Hey.
This, this, this side copied my contents. this was my original content, create a letter and you can send it. And what happened by then in a matter of two hours, our guest sends a letter to eBay, which they created in five minutes and two hours later, the ads were taken down. So, with blockchain timestamps, it was for them possible to, yeah, take down the copycats.
That is fascinating. I did not realize that there was sort of like a point click UI here. Okay. because I haven't seen the UI, I'm going to just ask some basic questions around that because I'm interested to know what the actual process looks like. is this then in some way, connected to word.
Presses media library. So let's say for example, in this case loaded a PDF of a lamp, right? I've got, yeah, yeah. Made a, an architectural plan. If you like of my design for a, for a, a lamp. And you've got all the measurements and all the materials are outlined on that. how does it work? Do I upload it to the media library?
Do I need to click buttons or is it a bit like when thumbnails are created, does it work proof, just go in and timestamp things automatically and give me a metal box of that data. How does it look. We have a set of wizard and a what the set wizard does. It asks you what custom post types do you want to timestamp automatically from now on?
So you could say my posts, my pages, but also my media must be timestamped at the moment I upload. Got it. That's it. And there's also a feature to timestamp the old posts, the old pages and the old, the all media types or products in case of Victoria, right? Presumably there is some distinction between things that were previously created that you're attempting to timestamp.
In other words, I couldn't timestamp something that I wrote in 2015 and claim the timestamp to be at 2015. Would it be timestamped at now? Exactly. Yeah, because the moment that. That's really approving moment is the moment of the blockchain transaction. Right. So you can have your database can always, yeah, I get it.
You can only assert ownership at the time that you click the button. Anything you can't rewind the clock here and kind of, yeah, that would be a, that'd be a glaring hole in the system. And another whole, you touched it briefly. There is. You can claim existence, but not really the ownership. Got it.
Interesting. Cause I can timestamp stuff from someone else. Yeah. So that's an interesting part. Yeah. Okay. That was, that was a misstep. I chose the wrong word. That, yeah. Good. Thank you. That was it. It's interesting. It's the thing is so new and that's why we made the word proof Academy as well too. Yeah.
Explain we're perfect. Ketamine will be around 10 movies from two to five minutes each explaining what is hashing. What's the difference between a blockchain and a database? Why would your time center terms and conditions? How would a SEO and Bookshare timestamps, how would that work? really. In detail, explanation of atrophy.
Yeah. The one thing that's interesting that you mentioned that this was done on a custom post type basis. So let's say for example, I'm creating this podcast episode. This podcast episode is made up of a whole bunch of content. So there's this text there's there's the audio, there is an image now I'm not going to attempt to copy out any of this because it's.
Publicly available and it's fine, but let's say it was actually the audit component that I was, that I was really mindful of, of, of timestamping. In other words, I'm maybe I'm a songwriter and I wish to assert that I wrote this song and it sounded like this on this date. Right. Can I, can I go in on a sort of granular level and say actually only, only do the audio aspect of this custom post type or does it just do the whole thing, and then you've got to unpack that.
later and, and assert that the whole post, therefore the audio must have been part of that as well. It's stupidly simple in a way you can, it timestamps what you upload. So if you do a MP3, it will timestamp the MP3. If you do a video with both audio and, and, an image. You will your timestamp, that deck, that document.
and it, it depends for a use case. So for example, if you will do an image yeah. You don't have to timestamp in most use cases every, after your resize of the image, but only the original only the large one. Because from that moment, you can prove. That you had that specific, contact and that specific moment of time.
Okay. I can see this being really interesting to a lot of our audience because I know a lot of our audience I've had, issues with copyright there. That text has been taken that their entire courses have been copied and sold on. And really it's a, it's a difficult battle. What I'm interested in is so the, this, this timestamp is created how easy.
And how widespread is it now for, for people who actually pursue this in law? So lawyers and, and I guess the police, in some cases, how easy is it for them to, to take this timestamps seriously? You know, are you basically just giving them a hash and saying, you know, Deal with that or is there, is there now sort of more widespread acceptance that this is, this is the way it's going to that Deloitte is increasingly understand this.
Can they work with this or is it still kind of in the realm of nerd needs to explain to lawyer how this actually works? For example, Europe has whole task, first task forces working full time on blockchain implementations, timestamping certification, stuff like that. It's. There there's no, outspoken regulation, but there are cases, where timestamps were used and succeed.
and, especially in Europe, it's a big thing there. You have the ESBI it's their whole task force is around. Hey, how can we bring blockchain? And because for them, blockchain is bringing integrity and I'm transparent way. Right. so it's, it's not a nerdy thing. So we're in sort of an evolutionary period.
We're in a period where the technology exists. We're now. Beginning to deploy it and people are beginning to understand its significance. Yeah, this is absolutely fascinating. Okay. So we've, we've dealt with the, the publish copyright and we've dealt with possibly your second point creating content, although maybe we didn't, I don't know, but, carry on.
Yeah. And one thing, because we, we had a lot of, questions from, because we do a lot of research. For example, recently we did a research under a lot of big publishers using WordPress, and one of the things they asked, Hey, can you add a way to monitor if my content is copied, so not sampling, but also finding so discoverability, that's not really blockchain.
But if we discover it, we find it and we have the tools, the letters, and, timestamps to make the case. So that's an addition based on research that will be added later this year. Yeah, that is interesting because, well, the discovery is the hard part. I know people that pay significant amounts of money for what I mean, ostensibly their SEO tools, but they are tools that which, which discover duplicated content all over the internet.
And obviously if that duplicated content began with you, that that's, that's a useful tool, but I think it's quite costly to do that currently. I didn't know it was in your. Isn't it was in your WordPress plugin. That's fascinating. Okay. Sorry. Carry on. No, it's not in the best of the plugin, but it's a request we often get from publishers.
So it will be in the plugin. The API is to do stuff like that are quite expensive. So that won't be that that part is the product will be more expensive than the timestamping itself, but it's coming in a user friendly way. Okay. Okay. Right. Sorry. Yeah. Where did we get to. the misinformation part because, you can timestamp contents with a blockchain address, but it will be really interesting.
And for example, Europe is doing a lot of efforts, but a lot of blockchain startups are doing a lot of fibers in identity so that you can connect your identity to a blockchain timestamp. And once you do that, you can really claim ownership of the content you publish. You can say, Hey, it's me. Publishing it instead of, just anonymous timestamps, anonymous timestamps have value because they can do the proof of existence.
But once you tie identity to a timestamp, you can claim ownership and with ownership comes accountability, if you want. Okay. We have, and then we have thought of a whole open source ecosystem with, we call it test six Terra. So you have Sarah. Zero is no identification at all. Then you have, there are six that's full fledged government, identity, education and everything in between.
So you've got to think of, with LinkedIn social verification, which is. Got him, the shirt as you are the person that you have Twitter, you can have multiple Twitter accounts until just saying, Hey, this is my email. So they're kind of a terror level system from zero, no identification until full pledge governance identification.
And from that moment, what you can do is saying, for example, in social media, you can say, Hey, intense contents may be there. Because fake news, for example, what we say is fake news often it's Justin, sometimes it's trolling and trolling is bad, but still, we must not say, Hey, you can't stroll because that's censorship and censorship is bad as well.
Hmm. But, and the other had, yeah, fake news in many guises, it's just an opinion of a group of people. So for them, it's the truth. So the, the, the big danger or the thing with fake news is not that it exists, but an opinion going mainstream, that is where the risk is with misinformation, with a blockchain timestamped ecosystem and identity tight with, you could say, or you could even as a government and forced by social media or by search engines only if a person.
Thanks accountability with level four or five or six, it's allowed to go mainstream. So on social media, for example, if their content and opinion or trolling, whatever, that is, there's no accountability taken. There's no identity type. You can see it, your friends can see it, but your friends with friends, can't, they, you can say, Hey, if you connect it to Twitter or, a light verification.
It can spread to friends of friends. But tell me if you have a government identification it's cans, it's done go to the headlines of mainstream media. Yeah, fascinating. What an interesting concept has this been a view have you had about this? So obviously everything that you're describing is technically possible.
you've sort of tried to, to achieve this, you know, have you been in talks with any of these kinds of social networks to sort of describe how it might fit in their platform? not really to the social media, because from the blockchain space, social media platforms, new social media platforms and Uber competitors are arising at the moment.
because one of the, mostly the incentive is about, Hey, you have Facebook Facebook, two $55, $8 billion in advertising revenue in 2018 alone. This value, shouldn't go to shareholders, but should be distributed to the participants due to people using the social media. So often that's the drive for the incentive model, but that's a step out in this story.
People are getting aware of ADU through to Cambridge Analytica due to every misinformation around, . people are getting aware that, bullets are manipulating that, that Facebook is not a safe, really a safe place, more so people are getting aware. And solutions are being created at the moment.
For example, for identity, you have self sovereign identity. You have a identity of a decentralized identifiers. There are initiatives recognized by the w three, consortium, all making open source or defining identity in an open source way, because. There shouldn't be a business model around identity on the web.
So it's really about standards are forming at this moment. and the pieces will fall together in the coming years. It's a really nice model that you described there. I think that will appeal to a lot of people listening to this, you know, they're in, they're in. WordPress because of its open source nature.
And it's really refreshing to hear you actually say those words, you know, it's not about the profiting of shareholders and so on. It's about creating the technologies and opening them up. And just, maybe it was about five minutes ago, you mentioned a, an API that you created to enable certain aspects of this technology.
Have you, have you been open sourcing? All of this is that the intention is to make all of make the technology, which underlies all of this available to everybody. Should they wish to. Integrate it into that, excuse me, systems. Yeah. W what we did is the best way to work with, from a technical point. The best way to work with, with blockchain is with a blockchain wallet.
So you have kind of a secret key. And with that key, you can interact with a blockchain, so that that's called your blockchain wallet. So the most technically. Good way is to have a blockchain wallet to, install the we're proof timestamp plugin, which is kind of an interface between the blockchain wallet and your website.
And from that moment, you can timestamp manually. It's like putting your fingerprint or autograph every time you publish content. So that's fully open source and available at our GitHub where, and what we saw is for journalists, for example, it's, it's hard for them. To handle with that technology. So what we did is we made a, and that's so far as to surface with a free plan as well.
a way to timestamp magically at the moment of, at the moment they publish. Yeah. So, that, that the AP yeah. Itself is not open stores, but you can use it with a blockchain wallet, which is. Technically from the purist in blockchain space, the best way to do it, that's fully open source. Okay. Yeah. The, the, the sort of the nature of this, it feels like this is the way the world is going.
You know, you've certainly in certain parts of the world, let's say Europe, it feels like, where we're heading towards a requirement to have the ability to, to prove things and to be, let's say. well, GDPR comes to mind, these kind of things. Do you feel that if we were to have this conversation in five or six years time, much of this would have become mandated?
Do you feel that things like blockchain will become utterly required before publishing content? Well, maybe not required, but far more widely, deployed than it is now. in other words, have you seen a lot of growth and interest in this. Absolutely. let's go a bit more, radical here because GDPR, GDPR is interesting thing.
We made a plugin, the GDPR compliance, WP, GDPR compliance, and GDPR. There was a lot of, People were not liking GDPR because it was, in a way forceful and you have to do this and you have to do that app. So a lot of entrepreneurs and organizations did like GDPR, but the intention of GDPR, I think is a beautiful one.
Hey, the inhabitants of Europe are not savvy enough. To protect their own data. So we make the organizations responsible for taking care of the data. So that privacy in a way, yeah, it's a human, right. So we've done bring it back with GDPR. And once you, see is. GDPR people said, Hey, GDPR and blockchain, they're kind of opposed because with GDPR, you must be able to erase everything.
And with GDPR, it's about permanent storage, so it's not possible, but there's an opposite movement saying, gee blockchain is the only way to create GDPR with, for example, into wallets, you can have a token or a Bitcoin, but you can also have your name or your age of stuff like that. And what you can do is give.
A web show, for example, and the moment you place an order, you can give them the consent to use your address as long as they need your information. So for example, to send you to products or when there's warranty, but after death, they don't need your address. So you pull back the consent of your address.
So in that case, the web shop doesn't work with a centralized database with user information, but only with consents, they have access to. So what should happen in five years from now is that every form of a centralized database with user information in it is a punishable event. The only allowed collection of user information, it's an.
Set of consent, but the user should always be able to put that back and pull it back. And that's what blockchain is the infrastructure for in an open source way. And that's why governments are enforcing it really interesting. And I must say completely novel to me. I had no idea that that kind of thing was even on the horizon.
That's fascinating. Would that be. Boy, that's got my mind worrying. Would that be, would that be something that I would have to take all authority of or, you know, let's say for example, that I've purchased something from, I don't know, a carpet shop and I get my carpet and they no longer need my address.
I'm happy. Everything's done. do I need to, will the technology kind of automatically no about this sort of, I don't know, let's say for example, delivery successful, some kind of token goes back, right? Remove the ability to, to see my address, or is this something that I will need to be mindful of and, you know, individually, right.
Carpet shop, they don't need my address. The Amazon, they don't need my address. The, the shop that I bought a widget from last week, they don't need my address. How, how, how will this even work? That's just so interesting. The the, the great thing is they're all protocols in the making with the W3C consortium.
And in this case, it's calls for five credentials. So in your wallet, you have, for example, your certificate from the university. That that you physically are, successfully. yeah. So, that certificate can only come there when it's goes signed or co-created by the university itself. So, they provide it the government or the local government provides your driver's license.
they, the government provides your passport. It could all be in that wallet. And you could tell you could, dish consents to specific parties, but an another interesting concept there, story to that is, for example, your passport or your driver's life, right? Your date of birth is there. And when you go to a liquor store, for example, and you want to buy alcohol, you have to prove that you're above 18 or above 25, but for them it's not necessary or date of birth because yeah, you've done one.
And to know how old you are, that's kind of a data leak. If they see what your date of birth is right there. The only thing they need to know is. Is Nathan older than 18 or is Nathan older than 25 binary? Yes. The data you can yeah. All possible stuff like that will be possible in the future. That is so interesting.
Yeah. And it kind of feels to me at the moment that it's, it's difficult to even describe what this might look like. And, but then I'm thinking to myself, well, if I went back 30 years and explained that I would be able to send, messages akin to letters by typing on a keyboard and clicking. Kicking send, you know, if I could communicate on video calls with people on the other side of the planet in real time, that that would, they would just be like, no, no, no, it's just complete fairy tale stuff.
And yet here we are, you know, this, this feels like the, the beginning of something really significant. And it feels almost like the, the way that technology has been abused and the way that, we've got so many. So many databases with so much information about all of us stripping out that information, that the stuff is only needed when it's requested by somebody, with the authority to need it.
And with the approval of me to see it, that's just fascinating. I'm really compelled by this. Do you, do you think this will be easy? So the perfect example could my grandmother. In 10 years time be able to sort of interact with this or are we still going to be, you know, nerds only? No, no, no. In less than five year, everyone will in, will interact with this.
And a good comparison is for example, you know, what a database is, but your grandma, she probably doesn't. No, no, no. And that's not a problem. what blockchain lacks at the moment is great UX. You don't need to understand the technology to successfully use it. That's how the internet works today. Right? that's why it's so well adopted, for example, the, the radical statement.
Hey. As having a centralized database with customer data in it should be a punishable event. It makes sense to nurture, but to nobody else in the world. And it shouldn't, that we'll all move to the background and that's what we did. And we're proof as well. You just, you know, to benefits, Hey, I want this, I need this and it should work.
That's it all under the hood. And, so we're proof is a use case without the financial stuff, without the speculation, without the cryptocurrency, blah, blah it's without the bullshit, we bring you the benefits of blockchain, in, in your WordPress site. And you don't have to know that it's blockchain under the hood.
Right. I have a, I have a question which kind of maybe has been dealt with already, but one thing about all of this is if everything is decentralized, is it possible for me to. Is it possible for me to lose my identity? I mean, actually lose it. And the reason I'm asking this is because we've heard many stories about people who've literally lost their Bitcoin because they are raised their hard desk or, you know, they trashed it or something like that.
And, and so that, that thing, which in the real world, because it's centralized, my bank has my money. Or at least they have a notion of having my money that decentral, that centralized nature of it means that I can sleep at night and I don't have to worry about my money because somebody else is worrying about it in terms of Bitcoin and replace Bitcoin with identity, my identity that I can assert because it's on a, it's on a blockchain somewhere.
Is it possible for the whole, the whole thing to burn down because I'm careless. It's the first step into blockchain identity. We'll work with identity providers. So still a government has to provide your passport to have it in your wallet. It can be a governance, a government, but it's kind of also be LinkedIn, for example.
So there still need to be identity provider. And before it goes mainstream, it must have fallbacks for stuff like this. There is though a way to fully decentralized identity, but that won't be adopted in the coming years, but technically it's possible. We won't dive into that because it will take another hour.
But the ID, I tried to do it in five sentences. It's proof of co-location. So when you have a picture of my face, it's a unique one in million unique profile. If you have a picture of your face, it's a one, a million unique profile. So when I use my face as kind of, when I use my face as well, As a password in a way.
Yeah. And you use your face as a password. We can be both on the picture and I can say, yes, this has meant Nathan, you could say, yes, this is Sebastiaan. And within that way we could create as the combination of your face first, it's the social relations. You could create a unique identity. Which you can also restore because it's not on blockchain, but the personal relationship.
So for example, when five of the people around me acknowledged that I am me. Okay, I can restore it. There you go. Okay. This is scary because you don't want to use faces and you don't want to use biometrics, right? But technically stuff like this will be possible, but it has big downsides as well. So let's not dive into it, but there's so much going on any the store space.
And I fell in love with bits going in 2013. Why? Because I would work press while we learned. Open source technology, bless a community can be a market leader where tenfold bigger than the number two CMS in the world, which is also open source. And we're 20 fold bigger than the number one, for a proprietary yet so far.
So we're pressed showed the world that it's possible for Bitcoin or for blockchain. To go mentor him as well. At least that's how I see it. I would urge everybody to go to a word brief, like I said, at the beginning, go to word proof.io and check it out. You know, there's a there's pages about how the ecosystem works and what all the features are and, and indeed the pricing and so on and so forth.
And then there's a resource center help center API, decentralized hosting, and a blog as well. go check it out. It's just such a remarkably interesting. Interesting. Like really, at least to me anyway, really interesting subject. is there anything we missed out? Is there anything that, which when you began recording this, 45 minutes ago or so you thought I must must mention that before we finish.
If so, please. Yeah, let's do the SEO parts, but I'll keep it short because for example, One of the, and I've talked to a lot of SEO search engine optimizers and what they say, Hey, it's still a problem in Google is if you just change the date of an article, you will end up higher in the search engine.
Google still isn't able to fix that. So with a blockchain, you can prove that you didn't. So what we're working on with the guys at Joe's, for example, is making the blockchain timestamp. Bart of schema, adult arc, or stretch your data to prove in an open source way that you didn't temper with your data.
And so there are more problems with search engines for what, timestamps can be solutions. So, and it's not a far cry. This is not the future is this, this is spending today with, if you start time stemming from that moment. You have the proof that specific content existed in that specific moment at the time.
So if you timestamp today and Google will recognize it in a half year from now, it still matters that you timestamped today. Interesting. Now say that again. Google will recognize this in six months from now. Okay. No, I, that's not, that's not a problem, but that's not a promise. We can't say that because for example, they, they did, and they will never say that we, that they use timestamps.
Might never say because they will never say, Hey links have an impact on Google ranking. They won't do any official declaration on it, but they're there. The timestamps are a fully open source. There's no trusting we're proof needed for a search engine to use the open source timestamp to verify if there has been temporary.
With content on a website. Got it. Okay. Well that makes sense to me. And yeah, like you say, it may never be something that Google declare, right? Well, it may, maybe a year from now it becomes an actual, you know, part of what Google are requiring us to do maybe two years, whatever. Yeah. I mean, never say never.
Right? this is. Utterly fascinating. So my, what my piece of advice would be anybody who has been provoked by this into thoughtful rumination, and is thinking, boy, I really want to know more about this. Where's the, where's the best place that we can reach out to you, you know, are you on the Twitter? Do you respond best to email?
Tell, tell us all the places that we can get in touch. We do we're proof.io. So that's where you find information about the product. There's a preplan. And for the, you asked me to do an offer for the listeners. There's a preplan with a 104, two timestamp, 100 old articles and 10 pieces every month for free, but they send me an email right after signing up.
I'll make it a bigger plan for a year for free because, w we're not about earning money, where about proving the use case at the moment. So, That's where all the WP Builds listeners on Twitter. I'm at the launch, D a L a N S. And we're proof. IO is a handle on Twitter as well. And, with any questions, please reach out to us.
We are here to learn together. We are here to work with the community together. yeah. That's that's basically it. Yeah. Thank you so much, honestly, a deeply interesting and kind of fee staring into the future topic, which we don't often do. So that has been remarkably interesting. Thank you so much.
You're welcome. And yeah. W w one of the things we will announce soon as one of the, I, yeah, I'm not sure if I'm allowed to say it yet, but the, one of the biggest SEO companies in the world, based on the user's basis, Might be part of, we're approved soon, so let's see what happens. Yeah. Okay.
Okay. Okay. That's interesting. So whenever this goes live, whenever that may be, we might have more to might have more, to, more to discover. No doubt. It'll be on the, on the blog. The, well, thank you so much for chatting to me today. yeah, take care. Hey Cara. And yeah, we always end the talk with let's fix the broken web together.
So yeah, I echo that comment. Well, I hope you enjoyed that. That to me was a really fantastically, interesting subject straying into all sorts of new areas. That in all honesty, I hadn't really considered before the idea that the blockchain could be deployed to protect your own content, perhaps even to boost your SEO is something really, really interesting to me.
I'll be sure to be looking into this more in the future and perhaps you would do too. If you want to find out more, you can obviously go to WordPress. Dot IO and discover what Sebastiaan and his team have been up to the WP Builds podcast was brought to you today by AB split test. Do you want to set up your AB split tests in record time?
The new AB split test plugin for WordPress. We'll have you up and running in a couple of minutes. Use your existing pages and test anything against anything else. Buttons, images, headers, rows, anything. The best part, it works with elemental Beaver builder and the WordPress blog editor. Check it out and get a free [email protected].
As I said at the top of the show, we produced quite a lot of content each and every week, come back and join us next Thursday. We're a podcast. We've got the record coding of the word, WordPress weekly news on Monday that comes out at 7:00 AM, UK time and 2:00 PM UK time alive, WP Builds.com forward slash life.
We've got the live version of the news where I'm joined by some notable WordPress guests. Do you remember also that. 2:00 PM on the Tuesday, same URL forward slash live. You can join Sabrina Zayden on myself, talking about our journey, getting users to use our plugins. Anyway, I hope that you join us for some of that.
I'm going to fade in some cheesy music and say, bye bye for now. .

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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