Pictosis: NFTs for the Common Good
Build supporting infrastructure, toolkits and dApps to enable the collaborative, p2p creation, distribution, and automatic impact-based funding of tokenized digital works.
This funding will support Pictosis in building the initial version of the platform, which will be focused on solving problems that arise from creating digital content.
The big question: Should I create?
The economic problems of the production & distribution of digital goods produce lose-lose dynamics. Digital content is easy to reproduce, the fact of which is a downward force on the willingness of consumers to purchase it. Without access controls and intellectual property protection, all digital goods would reach a zero or near-zero cost. This reduces value creation by hindering both quality and quantity of digital common goods. The fact is that the output of digital production is a digital good which is infinitely inflationary, while the input - time - are inherently scarce. Why does anyone create & distribute in a digital world? Other motivations exist besides money, of course. Many people are intrinsically motivated by the satisfaction of creative action, while others may do it for the reputation or social capital, credibility, the possibility of feedback, or the pleasure of being part of a group. Clearly, creative activity is worthwhile for many people as both leisure & labor (done for non-monetary, yet valuable, future returns).
If this were the whole story, intellectual property laws & increasingly sophisticated DRM methods would not exist. The situation is far too complicated to fully elucidate in a forum-based proposal. The fact is that digital content, like the people who produce it, is highly diverse and difficult to discuss as a homogeneous collection of fungible items. All of the motivations listed in the above paragraph - and countless others - exist; many do even within the same person.
While protection of digital content through access controls, law, and DRM can make it easier for the producers to generate revenue, thereby furthering their ability to produce, it is in many ways a self-defeating system. It either hurts the producer directly by introducing additional costs (time & money towards enforcement) or indirectly by reducing the possible impact, exposure, and subjective quality delivered to consumers. It invites ulterior motivations into the processes by enabling profitable behavior at the expense of, rather than for the benefit for, creators. It is costly, so many individual or non-profit creative entities may end up even worse than they were before in the event of a dispute with a far wealthier entity. It produces extra hoops for consumers to jump through and limits the ways in which they can use this content as input into their own production processes. In many cases, the mechanisms used to implement these protective policies, as well as the constraints specified by the policies themselves, produce large enough pressures that ultimately result in a “tragedy of the anti-commons” . In short, we trade one tragedy for another.
Whether works of authorship (journals, papers, books, magazines, newsletters, etc) of various media (art, music, animations, videos) or interactive applications (some games & software) are, digital goods & creations are by their very nature trivially reproducible. In fact, the very act of granting access is inherently an act of inflation, since access to the content is granted via transmission of the content from the server to the client. When the content is interactive, such as with online games or many SaaS platforms, this problem is somewhat circumvented due to the fact that the content is separate from the intellectual property. In these cases, the intellectual property is not the content delivered to the end-user over time: the intellectual property is the engine that produces the content in the first place. Other forms of work, however, including self-hosted, offline-first-capable software, face the risk of digital reproduction & re-distribution. One solution to this is DRM, the effectiveness of which is not guaranteed and establishes an arms-race style dynamic between the producers & consumers, wherein both sides must continuously advance and out-do the other. This is a sub-optimal solution in the sense that inherently scarce resources, such as time, labor, and capital, must be continually dedicated towards an unnecessary & unproductive competition. It certainly raises the cost of unauthorized reproduction, but, by virtue of this, it also decreases its availability & therefore the scarcity… until it’s bypassed even once. While the producers must succeed every day in fending off unauthorized access to DRM protected content delivered to end users’ devices, those trying to break the DRM need only succeed once in order to completely undermine the DRM’s effectiveness.
The problem is that no matter the details of the laws, the nature of the DRM or access controls, etc., the fundamental fact that digital goods are not inherently scarce, yet the inputs to their production are, introduces sub-optimal, less-than-ideal dynamics. Pictosis is designed to solve this.
SaaS businesses work because they can deliver value over the wire without delivering the value-producing machinery. They decouple access and ownership. This is not possible with all forms of digital goods, however. Pictosis works by adding a missing link in the digital creation process, turning it into a sustainable cycle wherein the value that flows from creators to consumers also necessarily flows back to the creators.
In many open source models, where contributors come and go and where their contributions are more publicly visible, they are better able to take their “credit” with them. Open source models also rely on undetermined revenue-mechanisms that are not necessarily proportional to the value of the product. The attribution problem is greater in private organizations, wherein credit external to the organization is primarily attributed to the organization itself & where contributors only receive credit internal to the organization. This credit is not as visible or portable; when contributors leave, it is more difficult to prove the value of their contributions and it is more difficult to communicate them specifically.
Open source contribution platforms do make positive steps towards improving the digital commons by providing visible & portable attribution mechanisms. But the attribution is somewhat primitive and based on metrics that are not always accurate proxies towards the value-added. Pictosis NFTs provide granular, portable and verifiable attribution accounting.
Since digital goods are trivial to replicate, especially those in the digital commons, we must rely on a method other DRM, copyright, or simply “putting it on the blockchain”. While there is a market for cryptoart because members of the community care about the ownership & possession of the NFT as a license. Some have argued against the value of NFTs since it is trivial to copy the digital artwork. Fans have of course responded with the observation that the copy of the artwork does not copy its history, the consensus around it; NFTs maintain provenance.
While this may be true for cryptoart right now, as NFT capabilities grow more sophisticated and as the need to solve the tragedies & anti-tragedies of the digital commons for other forms of content grow in urgency, provenance alone is not enough. Creators, innovators, knowledge sharer, inventors, all need a way to sustain themselves.
Pictosis provides NFTs that:
- Can exist off-chain with self-enforcing configurable policies.
- Automatically generate revenue for their creators based on sophisticated and non-homogeneous metrics of impact on and off chain.
- Support governance & collaboration methods from simple to sophisticated, with attribution and distributed issuance capabilities built in. This enables a single platform for all creative needs.
- External integration points where independent NFTs can connect to one another to build more sophisticated digital systems and interoperability. This is how Pictosis NFTs evolve into Non Fungible Systems.
With this grant, we will specifically build out the above capabilities necessary for the web 3 publishing house, such that authors will be able to use this to create, collaborate, and collectively earn for their contributions. With this, the first book we will publish on Pictosis is the Hitchiker’s Guide to Token Engineering.
For the TE Commons
With Pictosis’s MVP functionality, TEC members can curate books and signal those be published as “TE Commons”. Such a TEC publishing house then could define the rules around how revenue from content engagement can e.g. flow back to the reserve of TEC. The initial rules are always defined by creators.
With decentralized communities like TEC, knowledge management is a big challenge. Pictosis can provide a collaboration-centric, incentivize knowledge sharing & production platform for the TEC.
Further, the technical design of the NFTs/ Non-Fungible Systems contribute to the collection of applicable cryptoeconomic patterns that can be applied in other projects.
Pictosis can support the release of interactive, sophisticated content including courses & applications, smart books, and even inter-NFT networks within the larger Pictosis network.
Expected duration or delivery date (if applicable):
We expect this MVP to take 4 months to complete.
Team Information (For Funding Proposals)
Myself (Tannr) for technical development
The other two founders are Lalo & Xavier (more on their experience below).
Sebnem, who leads the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Token Engineering work, for book customization functionality.
Shermin Voshmgir for defining & designing the publishing house functionality.
Skills and previous experience in related or similar work:
I have worked on NFT standards design & protocol development in the Blockchain space. I have experience with formal verification and have gone through the TMG1 as well. I have also used cadCAD already for preliminary models of portions of this system.
Our cofounders are veterans in the blockchain space as well; Lalo has led community operations for projects for years & Xavier is a well known cryptoartist who is a cofounder of Aavegotchi and the wildly popular Crypto Drinks art campaign that recently launched.
Funding Information (For Funding Proposals)
140,000 (in stable coin)
Ethereum address where funds shall be transferred:
More detailed description of how funds will be handled and used:
80,000: Development of the MVP, which will be spaced out over milestones.
20,000: Integrating with cyber-physical publishing & distribution channels
20,000: Customization features (book chapters, bundles, special editions)
20,000: Advanced customization ( early adopters who want to publish video, audio, and other text-based content)