One of the largest criticisms lobbed at blockchain technology is that it’s not really useful for anything beyond making sure it continues to exist. Almost every single implementation adds an extra, power-heavy layer on top of systems that don’t actually need it to function.
Video games are being made that leverage the blockchain. They’re almost without exception irritating grind-fests. Attempts to add NFTs to games, for unique digital items, have been reviled. So reviled that similar efforts without blockchain integration have to specifically say they avoid the technology. So it’s time for yet another industry to decide that blockchain is the perfect vehicle for making more money.
Blockchains for blockheads
Pearson, publishers of textbooks and other academic tomes, is looking at the technology. Company CEO Andy Bird, speaking earlier this week, expressed interest in cracking down on the second-hand market. Which, admittedly, affects Pearson’s bottom line. But that’s how books work.
“In the analogue world, a Pearson textbook was resold up to seven times, and we would only participate in the first sale,” Bird said, correctly understanding how selling products works. But then he added, “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.”
To break down the newest brilliant idea for the blockchain: Products will never be sold. Imagine purchasing a gold coin. Owning the coin is fine. But sell it and a percentage of the proceeds go to the original owner. If it’s sold on again, the original owner gets a cut. Again. At no point does the originator — Pearson, in this case — add any additional value to the process. The blockchain is supposed to generate money for them, just because it exists.
Andy Bird, who perhaps unsurprisingly used to work for Disney, is examining other unearned revenue streams for Pearson.
“We have a whole team working on the implications of the metaverse and what that could mean for us.”