Blockchain and Resource Descpription & Access

While reading about RDA (Resource Description and Access), a few of the outlines struck me as having similar properties to blockchain. The move to RDA has a few keys goals that include creating metadata that is accessible in a linked data world, deemphasizing the Anglo-centric language and allowing old metadata to be re-used. These goals set up a theoretical framework and instructions based on user needs and accessibility. The idea of expanding a framework outside of an Anglo-centric background and into a more global and digital world made me question how blockchain could be implemented. There has been an increasing amount of articles on blockchain relating to education,with specific inquiries into academic journalsand peer review. However, the connection that I see here relates to metadata. RDA has a clear list of standards that deals with relationships, access points and authority records.

First, though, what is blockchain and secondly how do these concepts relate?

According to the American Library Association, blockchain was created to enable a “’purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash,’ which would become the digital bitcoin currency in 2009. The system supporting bitcoin provides proof of who owns what at any given moment; the payment history of each bitcoin in circulation; the encryption that makes it theoretically impossible to alter once a transaction is registered; the copies spread across computers, or “nodes,” that form the bitcoin network; and a “consensus mechanism” that replaces a central list-keeper so that the system can be truly independent.” (This ALA passage quotes from

In “The Evolution of Embedding Metadata in Blockchain Transactions” by Tooba Faisal, Nicolas Courtois and Antoaneta Serguieva, blockchain is explored through the use of bit coin. However, the article points out the significance of the metadata used. The authors explain that, “in our research we look at the ability of blockchains to store metadata in an increasing volume of transactions and with evolving focus of utilization.” Blockchain uses an independent database that turns information into “blocks” that are validated via timestamps and links to changes and previous records. This creates an ideal way to keep track and store information in a transparent and standardized way.

This mirrors the RDA goals of networking data rather than maintaining control on access points. The move to RDA increases access points which allows for a larger, more global standard for increased accessibility. RDA wishes to express relationships as well as increase flexibility. In some independent institutions blockchain has already been introduced into the cataloging systems. Such as  the New York art collective Blockchain Art Collective. One of the reasons that institutions like this are making the move to blockchain is for authentication issues. However, as expressed above a blockchain model can easily be implemented that follows the new RDA theoretical framework.



Amber Pasiak – Info 653 -01



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Posted in Cataloging, Knowledge Structures, Open Data

by Hugh McLeod

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