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Blockchain and the Information Professions

Introduction, Speculative Applications, and Research Materials
Scholarly Articles and Conference Papers

Blockchain Is Already Here. What Does That Mean for Records Management and Archives?
Bhatia, S., & Wright de Hernandez, A. D. (2019). Journal of Archival Organization, 16(1), 75-84
From the abstract: An overview of blockchain or distributed ledger technology for archivists and records managers. It is necessary for both to become familiar with the basics of the technology, along with its benefits and shortcomings, in order to make informed decisions regarding blockchain systems and/or their use in managing record authenticity.

Off the Chain: Blockchain Technology—An Information Organization System
Dolan, L., Kavanaugh, B., Korinek, K., & Sandler, B. (2019). Technical Services Quarterly, 36(3), 281-295.
From the abstract: Blockchain is currently being used across several industries due to its unique features: tamper-proof records, authenticity, transparency, and elimination of third-party brokers. These features offer potential for applications in libraries, archives, and museums as well.

Introduction to Blockchain

A Very Brief History of Blockchain Technology Everyone Should Read
by Bernard Marr | Forbes
Blockchain’s story in a nutshell. Covers beginnings, some recent developments, and the directions the technology is moving in. 

Demystifying the Blockchain: A Basic User Guide
by Philippa Ryan | The Conversation
A “tech-free” explanation written in Q&A style. Ryan often thinks in terms of digital currency but does touch on other possible applications.

Blockchain Explained: A Visual Guide
by Maryanne Murray | Reuters
Another quality introduction to blockchain technology that employs animations and graphics to help make concepts stick. Includes a brief look at future uses. 

How Does Blockchain Work in 7 Steps — A Clear and Simple Explanation
by Jimi S. | Good Audience
Chains, hashes, immutability, and more are covered in this simple walk-through of the technology, its parts, and their functions.

In the Information Professions

Blockchain Reaction: How Library Professionals Are Approaching Blockchain Technology and Its Potential Impact
by Carrie Smith | American Libraries
Five information professionals discuss what library workers should know about blockchain, how libraries might improve their patrons’ understanding of it, and what impacts the technology could have on libraries themselves. Glossary of terms accompanies.

Decentralization & Blockchain: Possibilities & Problematizations for Libraries
by Jason Griffey | YouTube
Lecture from a series on librarianship in the 21st century delivered at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. Griffey considers the value blockchain could bring to information management and library services as well as potential obstacles to implementation.

Blockchain 3.0 or Web 3.No?
by Debbie Ginsberg | AALL Spectrum
Offers a look at what the technology could mean for legal professionals, law libraries, governments, and educational institutions.

Does Blockchain Have A Place In Museums?
by Natalie Lemle | Culture Track
Explains how a decentralized ledger system could be used to increase security in transporting objects between institutions, track donations and their impact, and determine an object’s provenance.

UK National Archives to Test Blockchain Tech for Official Record Keeping
by Lester Coleman | CryptoCoinsNews
​The National Archives — official record-keeper and publisher for the UK government and for England and Wales — is now using blockchain as a way to verify the accuracy of documents.


Why Blockchain Is Hard
by Jimmy Song | Medium
What blockchain is and is not. Song cuts through common misconceptions and hype surrounding the technology before turning attention to challenges that have slowed development and the speed of adoption.

Quantum Supremacy Doesn’t Mean Blockchain Is Doomed
by Sean Stein Smith | American Institute for Economic Research
Responding to recent reports of progress in quantum computing, Smith, a visiting Research Fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, argues that these advances do not spell blockchain’s doom and that they will ultimately strengthen the technology.

News and Resources

Stanford Center for Blockchain Research
The Stanford Center for Blockchain Research site organizes and shares syllabi from pertinent on-campus courses, MOOCs, conference information, and blockchain-related news.

Blockgeeks is an educational platform offering discussion boards, guides, and asynchronous courses in blockchain development and the technology’s intersections with law and business.

Blockchain News
A news service specializing in blockchain technologies, cryptocurrencies, and the culture and personalities surrounding both.

The following selection of videos might help provide a better foundational understanding of blockchain, some of its key features, and its possible impact. 

Understand the Blockchain in Two Minutes
by Institute for the Future

Asymmetric Encryption
by Simply Explained

Public Key Cryptography - Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange
by Art of the Problem

Smart Contracts
by Simply Explained

Blockchains: How Can They Be Used?
by Simply Explained

Why Blockchain Matters More Than You Think!
by ColdFusion

The five platforms below represent some of the most common open-source avenues through which individuals and organizations are experimenting with and utilizing the blockchain technology. 






Rohas Nagpal has profiled each of these and several others at