Friday, May 11, 2018

Blockchain for Information Science 
Resources compiled by Mary Vasudeva
Full version available at!Ant7gJIqCBhXsSIrcboiNhHZAeqS

Use in the Library or Information Organization. As I created this pathfinder, I was thinking about how could these technologies be used in information organizations. I am brainstorming some of the ideas that this project led to.
  • What if libraries were the central source of smart contracts? A neutral place that could help users establish and set up the contracts, saving people time and money and protecting them from fraud.
  • Sharing data that people have collected, using blockchain to track and maintain any copyright.
  • User created content that can be shared through the library using one of the blockchain enabled networks like ARA (see use cases below). 
  • Information organizations could help users create their own music or entertainment to host on blockchain venues.
  • Might there be a way to use tokens in the library blockchain? How can we incentivize and reward participation? What could tokens be used to “purchase”? And what could tokens be used to “reward”?
  • What about “crowd funding” the blockchain in the library through tokens that patrons can use for library goods (see notion of library as distribution center). Ethereum might be the best approach for this.
  • Libraries banding together to produce metadata that replaces the need to pay a middleman to do so.
  • Universal system of authentication to enable universal library cards
  • Authenticated identity without using an ID or a phone bill. At our library the other day, I watched a long interaction between the librarian and a potential customer as the librarian refused to honor the phone bill that the person brought because it did not match the person’s ID perfectly. If there were an authenticated identity option, this would not happen. This would also help undocumented people check out books (see this article for more info 
  • Libraries and information organizations could also provide training and education on how to use blockchain enabled products like Tron or music services (see use cases below) and blockchain enabled services like healthcare Politdok or Medical Chain or cloud storage like Storj (and rumor has it Amazon is currently working on blockchain applications as well).
  • Library as loan central for all kinds of shared objects that could be GPS enabled and blockchain contracted (see blog post). And, think of 3D projects done at the library that can be copyrighted via blockchain and shared with other users.
For Beginners

  • Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization. (2017). Data Driven Cities 20 Stories of Innovation. World Economic Forum. Retrieved from
    • Focused on specific initiatives using technology across multiple cities, this report provides information on how to implement technology into real world uses.
  • Weller, C. (2016, Aug 24). Libraries of the future are going to change in some unexpected ways. Business Insider. Retrieved from
    • Article discusses ways that libraries might use AI or IoT in the future including offering open source library of engineered organisms that could be shared in library fashion. The blockchain could keep track of the sharing.

Articles - Blockchain Specific

  • Epstein, J. (2017, July 30). When blockchain meets big data, the payoff will be huge. VB. Retreived from
    • Epstein puts together big data with blockchain with a side serving of AI to forecast big things for data management in the future.
  • Dhillon, S. (2018, Feb. 1). How blockchain can transform the future of entertainment. Forbes. Retrieved from
    • Dhillon suggests that blockchain can provide significant benefits for digital use, which can have direct applicability to information services. According to Dhillon, Blockchain can be developed to solve problems “surrounding content access, distribution and compensation, managing assets and digital rights; and financing”.
  • Ginsberg, D. (2017, Nov. 22). Law and the blockchain Blockchains for the Information Profession. Retrieved from
    • Ginsberg explores the possibility of intellectual copyright using blockchain and specifically how law libraries might use blockchain to authenticate primary sources to ensure that the source is the most recent and authentic version.
  • Higgins, S. (2017, Mar 31). Arizona governor signs blockchain bill into law. Coindesk. Retrieved from
    • This short text describes the adoption of blockchain in Arizona for electronic signatures. This is a big step towards incorporating blockchain into the mainstream of legally accepted options.
  • Hoy, M. (2017). An introduction to the blockchain and its implications for libraries and medicine. Medical References Services Quarterly. 36.3: 273-279.
    • Hoy explains how blockchains work and then highlights how they might be implemented in medicine and in libraries. In libraries, he suggests they will be useful for verifying journal articles, for digital rights management.
  • Inamullah, M. (2018, Feb. 2). Blockchain as a Service: 23 Million Reasons to help advance the future of blockchain. Hackernoon. Retrieved from
    • This article does an excellent job of highlighting some of the problems with blockchain (electricity usage, for example) and then explaining how these problems might be solved. It also advocates for the development of Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) programs to come in and “backwire” an institution or even an individual into the blockchain, so that the user need not have great knowledge of how it works. This might be an excellent opportunity for information organizaitons. 
  • Kulik, T. (2018, Feb. 12). How blockchain just may transform online copyright protection. Above the law. Retrieved from
    • Explains just how the blockchain can be used to protect copyrighted materials by creating a secure chain of records showing who used what when. Provides examples of companies that are providing that protection.
  • Mamoria, M. (2017). How blockchain can build communities completely free of hierarchy. The Next Web. Retrieved from
    • Mamoria compares blockchain to a tribe where everyone involved knows everything about everyone else. Trust is enabled in the blockchain through the agreement of thousands of strangers and a little bit (a lot!) of math. This structure is enabled by decentralization and without hierarchy.
  • Porteanu, M. (2018, Jan 15). Trust beyond the present. Association of Professional Futurists. Retrieved from
    • Porteanu asks how we can develop trust in new technologies like blockchain and AI. This is an important issue for information professionals who do not want to blindly adopt technologies without thinking about their possible misuse.
  • Volpe Center (2018). What blockchain could mean for government and transportation operations. U.S. Department of Transportation. Volpe Center.
    • The focus of this article is on how blockchain can be implemented with transportation agencies, but it’s a good example of how blockchain might replace anything with databases, contracts or anything that someone wants proof of. 
  • Zysman, J. & Kenny, M. (2018). The next phase in the digital revolution: Intelligent platforms, growth, employment. Communications of the ACM. 10.1145/3173550.
    • Zysman and Kenny explore how intelligent tools will work together to create a more autonomous world and ask how do we measure the consequences of this inevitability. 
  • Epstein, J. (2017). The CMO Primer of the Blockchain World. Never Stop Marketing. Retrieved from
    • This book is focused on blockchain use and marketing, but it provides a good introduction to blockchain and why we should be paying attention to them. It’s also a good primer for how blockchains build trust, and libraries and information organizations might find that useful.
  • Lea, T. (2017). Down the Rabbit hole: Discover the power of the blockchain.
  • McAfee, A., Brynjolfsson, E. (2017). Harnessing Our Digital Future: Machine, Platform, Crowd. New York: Norton.
    • Chapter 12, The Dream of Decentralizing all the Things, explains blockchain, describes several use cases and explores pros and cons with its use outside of the cryptocurrency realm.
  • Price, M. (2017). The complete guide to understanding Blockchain.
  • Swan, M. (2015). Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy. O’Reilly. Retrieved from
  • Tapscott, D. & Tapscott, A. (2018). Blockchain revolution: How the technology behind bitcoin is changing money, business, and the world.
    • Foundational book about how blockchain works in businesses.
Gateway or Portal Sites on the Internet
  • ISSIP International Society of Service Innovation Professionals
    • Developed by tech innovators IBM, Cisco and HP as well as multiple Universities, the focus of this web portal is on how technology can innovate to create success in the service economy. Libraries could be at the forefront of these efforts given their emphasis on service. The site emphasis the cocreation of value through the provider and the user. Good site to see what efforts are ongoing. The site includes a selection of publications about technology in the service industry, links to special interest groups for education, IoT, service design, communities of interest and local chapters. Also includes webinars, educational opportunities and white paper links. This is a good site for seeing how AI might work in multiple service oriented applications.
  • Blockchain education Network,
    • Essays on blockchain, how to’s, current events and links to the blockchain education network. 
  • Chain Letter. Blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and why they matter.
    • While primarily focused on blockchain and its relationship to crypotcurrencies, it’s an excellent source for updates on blockchains progress
  • Week in Ethereum News,
    • Site consolidates many blockchain related stories which mostly focus on cryptocurrencies from around the web. Many of these are highly technical but the section of “ecosystem” often has more lay person choices.
  • AWS Cloud Products
    • This website is mostly for developers, but is an excellent site for information professionals hoping to build IoT or AI applications for their libraries.
  • ACM Special Interest Group on Artificial Intelligence
    • Those interested in both academic and industrial applications of AI will find this site useful (this group can also be “joined”).  It includes quarterly newsletter on AI, career information, events and conference listings, access to the ACM digital library and a blog.
  • Innovative Your Partner for Library Success,
    • Innovative is a company that tries to help libraries envision technological solutions to problems. This site includes potential solutions, products and services available as well as case studies and white papers.
  • Microsoft AI Blog
    • Huge resource for AI tools being developed and used.
Specific Web Sites
  • of the ACM,
    • ACM focuses on Computers and technology and provides up-to-date information across the field. Their site includes access to their journal, blogs, research and practice.
  • RMIT University Blockchain Innovation Hub
    • Australian run site provides information for beginners, research articles and information on events related to blockchain. Most of the information is business oriented but projects to do with publishing and copyright suggest some use for information professionals as well.
    • Website is funded by IMLS to provide information about blockchain technology and use in libraries to help support city and community goals.
    • Content distribution through blockchain with a decentralized network, encrypted and secure, elimination of 3rd parties, timestamped data records useful for online and independent publishing (libraries could work with such a network for self-publishing) and allows for apps to be built on top of the application
    • Could Decent remove publishers all together and thus reduce prices for library purchase?
  • SiliconANGLE
    • This website focuses on advances in emerging technology with a strong emphasis on AI. It’s a business focused website, but it provides a wide range of curated articles on emerging technology, including a section devoted to upcoming tech events.
Online Journals
  • Communications of the ACM,
    • ACM focuses on Computers and technology and provides up-to-date information across the field. 
Organizations, Associations
  • ACM, 
    • ACM is the dominant organization for computing topics with curriculum, research and publications. 
Keywords/Phrases/Subject Headings
  • Blockchains (AI or IoT) and 
    • Distributed ledger
    • information professionals
    • metadata
    • libraries
    • data centers
    • OCLC
    • Copyright
    • Digital first sale
    • Rights management
    • Self-publishing
    • Open platforms
    • Interplanetary File Systems (IPFS)
    • Community based collections
    • Sharing economy
    • User generated content
Webinars and Tutorials
Use Examples
Getting Started

So. . . now you understand blockchains and you want to use a blockchain system. Where to begin?
  • Do You Need a Blockchain, 
    • Wust, K. (2017). Do you need a blockchain? Retrieved from This article explains blockchains advantages and provides a caution to jumping on the blockchain bandwagon without evaluating your need.
  • Ethereum Project
    • Ethereum project is an open source programming platform for blockchain development. Ethereum allows you to build your blockchain and issue tokens. It also allows you to “crowd fund” using tokens, which could be a very viable approach for libraries.