Content Time Machine

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The WordProof Time Machine is an optional feature that shows the different revisions of your content to your visitor. In this video, we take a closer look at the origin of your content, the Time Machine feature, and how the revisions of your content are linked to each.

Time Machine in action

An example: 

Imagine an article on a prominent news site, saying: “last updated, 2 hours ago”. Some might say: “Wow that’s transparent”, but you might also be suspicious: “What was there two hours ago that I’m not allowed to see anymore”? And: “Did they REALLY update it last 2 hours ago? How can I be sure they didn’t just change something?” 

A second example:

Or, imagine being a journalist. You use an article as a source and link to it from your article. If the article you link to ever changes, my reputation (as a journalist) is at risk. What you WANT is being able to see THAT it changed and WHEN it changed. As a journalist, I would like to link to a specific revision as a source instead of an URL of an article, so I don’t have to hope that the article doesn’t get modified in a way that hurts my reputation.

This isn’t just limited to journalism. 

I should be able to verify all the content that impacts my decision making as an individual, such as Terms and Conditions, product terms, health information, political information and legal info. If I rely on it, I need to be able to verify it.

How does this work with Timestamps on the blockchain?

If I write an article and publish it, I timestamp it. The title, text, and date are basic parameters that together form the input for the hash. This hash, the unique fingerprint of this state of the content, will be timestamped on the blockchain. Nothing new there. 

But then I update the content and timestamp this new version as well. The problem is that I lose the verifiability of the HISTORY of the content. There’s no way to prove that the new revision is a newer version of the same content. Or is there? 

Let’s look at Bitcoin. 

In Bitcoin and blockchain the blocks, containing transactions, are linked to each other through hashing. With content revisions, and thus the full history of content, you can do the same. 

For the initial publication; the title, text and date lead to a hash. That hash is timestamped on the blockchain, and therefore it is an indisputable proof-of-existence, a certificate of birth for this content so you will. 

If you update the article, you timestamp it again, but see what happens if you add the hash of the PREVIOUS revision as an extra parameter for the input of the new hash! 

What this does is making sure that your current content is verifiable, but also that the entire history of the content is verifiable. You “chain” the revisions of your content to each other through hashing. 

Now they form a closed loop, a fully verifiable history. 

WordProof’s Time Machine feature shows all revisions which your readers or buyers can compare. However, even if you choose NOT to show revisions to your users via the Time Machine, you can still keep its history alive. If it is timestamped with the same blockchain address, you can say: “this is a newer version of the revision with hash X”. By doing this, search engines and social media platforms can verify and therefore respect the history of your content.