DeSci for Web3 Builders – The SCI’s Newsletter

“As various stakeholders recognize the importance of open science and as DeSci emerges as the leading movement to implement open science principles, it is reasonable to assume that DeSci’s success will contribute significantly to the validation of the entire web3 ecosystem….

DeSci tools are inclusive by nature, locking open participation to individuals from all backgrounds, socio-economic status, and geographies. Combining the open nature of DLT with science, DeSci promotes the development of cross-border standards and best practices for applying web3 technologies to scientific research….”


“Etica finances Open Source science

Get new revenue streams for your Open Science organisation or your DAO.
A decentralised and permissionless crypto currency that allows to finance your open source research without the need to monetize Intellectual Property….

New revenue streams for Open Science organisations


Whether you are an Open Science organisation, a Dao or an independent researcher, you can benefit from Etica
You get financially rewarded within weeks, as opposed to years for the traditional system
All proposals shared within Etica are immediately available for anyone to use without patent restrictions…”

Does the Peer Review Process Need Blockchain? – NEO.LIFE

“Another major change in scientific publishing could come from the same blockchain-based infrastructure that’s enabling the rise of the rest of decentralized science. Washington University faculty member and VitaDAO core contributor Tim Peterson proposed his own peer review alternative, called The Longevity Decentralized Review (TLDR), and is assembling a team of editors to begin reviewing papers on longevity and aging….


TLDR works a lot like Reddit: First researchers post their work publicly, either directly or to numerous so-called “pre-print” servers like bioRxiv or medRxiv. These have been around for several years but became much more influential during the COVID-19 pandemic because of the speed with which they could bring research to other scientists. Reviewers get paid by the TLDR site, which is funded through charitable donations and from anyone who would like their manuscript peer-reviewed. VitaDAO is one of the TLDR backers, offering $VITA tokens for peer review of longevity-related projects of interest to VitaDAO. It’s anybody’s guess whether this will result in meaningful income to reviewers, but it’ll be more than the zero dollars and zero cents they earn now….”

Absolutely Terrible Textbook Publishing Giant Pearson Wants To Make Everything Even Worse With NFTs

Pretty much everyone who has ever gone to college hates educational publishers. There’s an oligopoly of just five giant publishers, and they long ago learned that they are in the best market ever: the buyers of their textbooks (the students) have no choice and are forced to buy the books if their professors assign them — and more such books will get sold every semester that the professor requires it. Therefore, textbook prices are insane by any imaginable standard. And, for decades, they kept getting highermassively outpacing tons of other goods. For unclear reasons, the never ending march upwards in book pricing finally seemed to hit a ceiling around 2016, and prices seem to have somewhat leveled out since then. This chart from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics is really pretty striking:

And, while publishers claim that the shift to digital textbooks (partially accelerating by remote learning during the pandemic) has resulted in a decline in student spending over the last five years, the College Board’s latest estimates are still that students will spend an average of $1240 per year on textbooks and supplies. That’s… a lot.

While there are some considerate professors out there who take into account the cost of textbooks (and a very rare few who will only require open access textbooks), most don’t seem to much care. They assign the books they want, the students are required to buy them, and so the publishers just keep raising the prices. Of course, the other way that students try to save money is by buying used textbooks. The savings are not always that significant, but when you’re talking about such large numbers, it can still make a huge difference.

Pearson, the largest of the Big 5 textbook publishers, also has a longstanding reputation for being particularly evil and uncaring. A decade ago, we wrote about how it had sent a single DMCA notice that resulted in 1.5 million teacher and student blogs being deleted. The company also was a key plaintiff in suing a startup that tried to offer free alternatives to super expensive textbooks (the lawsuit was eventually settled with the startup shifting business models, before it was acquired and its cheaper textbooks were shut down).

But, the most evil thing we’ve seen Pearson do was, back in 2019, when it announced it was so annoyed by the used textbook market digging into its never ending profits, and that it was going to switch all its textbooks to non-resalable digital textbooks. For the books it did print, it was going to try to shift to a rental only system. You pay for the textbook for a semester and then you return it. To Pearson. Who can resell it.

Since then, digital scarcity in the form of NFTs has come and gone as the new hotness. And while I still think there’s something interesting about NFTs (and am still working on a big paper about the pros and cons of NFTs), Pearson, in a manner only it could find reasonable, is embracing NFTs… to fuck over students even more.

The print editions of Pearson’s titles — such as “Fundamentals of Nursing,” which sells new for £57.99 ($70.88) — can be resold several times to other students without making the London-based education group any money. As more textbooks move to digital, CEO Andy Bird wants to change that. 

“In the analogue world, a Pearson textbook was resold up to seven times, and we would only participate in the first sale,” he told reporters following the London-based company’s interim results on Monday, talking about technological opportunities for the company. 

“The move to digital helps diminish the secondary market, and technology like blockchain and NFTs allows us to participate in every sale of that particular item as it goes through its life,” by tracking the material’s unique identifier on the ledger from “owner A to owner B to owner C,” said Bird, a former Disney executive.

I mean, I kinda have to hand it to Mr. Bird, the former Disney exec. Usually, these kinds of execs at least try to hide how fucking evil and greedy they are. Andy Bird doesn’t give a shit.

So, here’s the thing. The power of NFTs to track resales and allow the content creator to participate in later sales is often touted as a benefit of NFTs. But, the reason it’s seen that way is because when done for digital artwork it benefits the artist, who sometimes has to sell their works pretty cheaply upfront.

This, is not that.

This is a company that already has jacked up prices to ridiculous levels on a captive market that is effectively forced to purchase at whatever price the publisher sets — and now wanting to “diminish the secondary market” and to track and take a cut of any future sale.

That’s not the power of blockchains and NFTs. When people talk about the useful aspects of those technologies (to the extent there are useful aspects) it’s to enable greater ownership, not less. It’s to enable greater independence from giant corporations, not more. The reason NFT resale bounties work is because everyone feels that it’s fair, and it creates a seamless way to further compensate an artist who most buyers want to support. Not to funnel more cash to a giant, greedy, evil company that is already sucking students dry.

What Pearson is looking to do is to make everyone hate Pearson that much more.

Pearson says NFT textbooks will let it profit off secondhand sales – The Verge

“It’s not clear how, when, or if NFTs might show up in Pearson’s catalog. But they could mark a new stage in a long-standing publishing war. Thanks to legal concepts like the first-sale doctrine, physical book buyers typically own the media they’ve purchased outright, and they’re allowed to sell it without the original publishers making money. But ebooks have complicated that calculus. Any digital transfer creates a new “copy” of the work, and third-party secondhand ebook sales (along with other secondhand digital media sales) have faced serious legal challenges as a result….

Nothing prevents Pearson or any other major publisher from letting people sell ebook licenses using non-crypto DRM. In fact, third-party sellers like Tom Kabinet and ReDigi have been trying to create digital secondhand markets for years. But publishers have been generally hesitant to open the door to digital resales, especially as they’re trialing methods that give book buyers even less control, including subscription services like Pearson Plus — which Bird described glowingly during the earnings call.

So what’s changed? Possibly nothing. Pearson hasn’t committed to NFT textbooks, and Bird doesn’t lose anything by spitballing about the future value of a buzzy (if recently flatlined) new technology. A cut of a resold textbook is probably still less lucrative for Pearson than the subscription model it currently favors. But NFTs do seem to have a psychological effect — they make people feel like they own something, even if the ownership is fairly abstract. Textbook makers might see this as an opportunity to push digital markets in a new direction.

This might be a mixed bag for students. On one hand, some resale opportunity is better than none — which is what people often get with ebooks. On the other, a publisher-controlled resale market will almost certainly be tilted to favor the publisher. Library ebooks have self-destruct conditions that require buying new copies after a certain number of checkouts, for instance, and an NFT ebook could have a similarly limited number of resales. On a more abstract level, it short-circuits a real legal debate over whether people should have the right to control their digital purchases. And it adds yet another incentive for publishers to make buying physical textbooks as unpleasant and difficult as possible because, from their perspective, they’re just losing money on them….”


Pearson plans to sell its textbooks as NFTs | Publishing | The Guardian

“Textbook publisher Pearson plans to profit from secondhand sales by turning its titles into non-fungible tokens (NFTs), its chief executive has said.

Educational books are often sold more than once, since students sell study resources they no longer require. Publishers have not previously been able to make any money from secondhand sales, but the rise of digital textbooks has created an opportunity for companies to benefit….”

Pearson planning blockchain, NFTs for educational books to earn on resales – Ledger Insights – blockchain for enterprise

“During an earnings call this morning, Andy Bird, the CEO of learning company Pearson said it’s looking at non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as a way of earning additional revenues on the sale of second-hand books. A Pearson textbook can be re-sold up to seven times.

“Technology like blockchain and the NFTs allows us to pass through every sale of that particular item as it goes through its life,” said Bird. He mentioned the possibility of participating in downstream revenues.

That’s because many creators of art and sports NFTs take a small cut of the re-sale price, often around 5%. While NBA Top Shot sales of NFTs may have surpassed $1 billion, the vast majority of that money went to individual NFT holders in re-sales. But Dapper Labs, the NBA Top Shot rightsholder, made money on initial NFT sales and every re-sale.

However, re-selling NFTs in a purpose-built app differs from physical textbooks sold locally. The transfer cost is built into the NFT’s smart contract in the digital world, so it’s almost impossible to sidestep. In real life, one can sell a book without scanning a barcode with the embedded NFT. And students are naturally penny-pinching, so they might be keen to sidestep a 5% tax….”

Pearson (LON:PSON) Sees NFT, Blockchain Helping Making Money From E-Books Sales – Bloomberg

“The chief executive officer of Pearson Plc, one of the world’s largest textbook publishers, said he hopes technology like non-fungible tokens and the blockchain could help the company take a cut from secondhand sales of its materials as more books go online. …

“In the analogue world, a Pearson textbook was resold up to seven times, and we would only participate in the first sale,” he told reporters following the London-based company’s interim results on Monday, talking about technological opportunities for the company. 


“The move to digital helps diminish the secondary market, and technology like blockchain and NFTs allows us to participate in every sale of that particular item as it goes through its life,” by tracking the material’s unique identifier on the ledger from “owner A to owner B to owner C,” said Bird, a former Disney executive….”

A blockchain-based infection tracing and notification system by non-fungible tokens – ScienceDirect

Abstract:  SARS-CoV2 pandemic is heavily affecting our lives. Many actions have been undertaken to slow down its expansion and, among the others, contact tracing applications are the less invasive to monitor the spread of the virus. The idea behind contact tracing is to track contacts between people by the exchange of identifiers, not linked to individuals, exploiting the use of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to estimate the duration and proximity of contacts. The data collected in this way is used for the sole purpose of notifying a potential contact with an infected person without revealing their identity and location. This paper presents a contact tracing protocol based on blockchain technology that exploits smart contracts for reporting contacts at risk of contagion. The novelty of the proposed solution is the use of Non Fungible Tokens (NFT) to guarantee user privacy through a decentralized approach, equipped with a reliable non-proprietary notification mechanism that allows public access to anonymous infections data.


A mapping review of literature on Blockchain usage by libraries: Challenges and opportunities – Muhammad Safdar, Saima Qutab, Farasat Shafi Ullah, Nadeem Siddique, Muhammad Ajmal Khan, 2022

Abstract:  The Library and Information Science (LIS) community has started discussing some possible uses of Blockchain (BC) technologies in solving library-related problems and increasing the overall efficiency of libraries. This study aimed to systematically collect and review the relevant literature to comprehend the scope of BC for libraries, its benefits, as well as the challenges, and implications related to its use. The authors explored six reputed databases (Web of Science, Scopus, LISTA (Library, Information Science and Technology Abstracts), LISA (Library and Information Science Abstracts), IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), and Google Scholar) to conduct this review. This study was conducted using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. After the final data extraction, 21 documents were considered eligible for the systematic review. A systematic review of the selected works indicated that the usage of BC in libraries ranged from record-keeping to processing payments and ensuring security and transparency. Some of the opportunities that can be hunted from BC were the elimination of corruption, enhanced security, improved efficiency of services, and better time management. Literature also indicated that a lack of awareness of technology, unskilled staff, and financial constraints could impede the adoption of BC by libraries. It is hoped that this study would provide a holistic overview of BC technologies for libraries, thus improving the effectiveness of the decision-makers. This study is first that collected (systematically) and reviewed the literature on BC usage in libraries. The review will help educational institutions and library professionals understand the usage, challenges, and benefits of BC for libraries.


ACE Publishes Findings From U.S. Department of Education-Funded Blockchain Initiative

“Today, ACE released a report outlining the outcomes and best practices that have emerged from the Education Blockchain Initiative, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Education and included the Blockchain Innovation Challenge. The $900,000 competition sought bold ideas to reorient education and employment around learners and ultimately funded four projects that explored how blockchain technology can empower learners with more control over their educational records and create more equitable opportunities for economic advancement….”

Transforming Scholarly Publishing With Blockchain Technologies and AI: An Interview with Darrell Gunter – The Scholarly Kitchen

“My view is that we are in the stone age. If you look at AI and semantic search — it hasn’t taken off. Folks are still using a standard boolean search. AI can be used in so many different ways. Blockchain is very early days and has so much great promise. Unfortunately, it is equated to cryptocurrency, but it’s not about that at all. 

This is my caution to publishers. You don’t want to be Telerate. Telerate had 100% of the market before Bloomberg. Bloomberg had better analytics, better customer service, better user experience. Unfortunately, the Bancroft family took a multibillion-dollar bath with Telerate. A lot of publishers are very hesitant to try Blockchain. Someone will create a better mousetrap that will make publishing so much more effective than it currently is. 

I remember speaking with a librarian in 1999, as we were rolling out ScienceDirect, who insisted that the internet would go away and print would resurge. We’ve had so many panels about whether ebooks will ever come to fruition. In this industry, we make the error of ignoring so much new technology — it’s great to challenge it for efficacy — that debate is always worthwhile, but any new technology shouldn’t be dismissed outright….”

SDSC’s Open Science Chain Awarded $500,000 NSF Grant

The Open Science Chain program at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego has been awarded a $500,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for providing a secure method to efficiently share and verify data and metadata while maintaining privacy restrictions necessary for the reuse of the scientific data.

Jourchain: using blockchain to avoid questionable journals | SpringerLink

Abstract:  Scholarly publishing currently is faced by an upsurge in low-quality, questionable “predatory/hijacked” journals published by those whose only goal is profit. Although there are discussions in the literature warning about them, most provide only a few suggestions on how to avoid these journals. Most solutions are not generalizable or have other weaknesses. Here, we use a novel information technology, i.e., blockchains, to expose and prevent the problems produced by questionable journals. Thus, this work presented here sheds light on the advantages of blockchain for producing safe, fraud-free scholarly publishing.