Accepted Poster abstracts
Theodor Beutel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Context: Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and smart contracts enjoy great popularity. The underlying technology, blockchain, is thought to bring about no less than a paradigm shift of how societies and economies interact. While considerable benefits are anticipated in domains such as e-payments, other domains allocate less attention to blockchain. In business studies, not enough attention is given to the claim that this phe-nomenon, the so-called ‘trust machine’ (Economist, 2015), may ‘kill the traditional firm’ (Mulligan, 2017).
Objectives: While information systems research unmistakably states that blockchain resonates with the foundation of organisation studies, scholars in this field have barely scratched the surface of blockchain and its implications for the field. Partly, this is due to a lack of technical understanding of the technology which draws from peer-to-peer networks, game theory and cryptography. The objectives of this thesis are to characterise the technology and discuss its implications for organisation studies.
Method: In order to make sense of this emerging technology, a qualitative case study approach is chosen. Eleven semi-structured in-depth interviews with a total length of 492 minutes were conducted with experts across Europe and North America, complemented by an analysis of technical documentation material. Observations from four industry conferences and several community events contributed ethnographic data.
Results: Blockchain introduces novels forms of organisations that draw on the principles of crypto-economics. While today’s organisational forms decentralise competence and power to a varying degree, blockchain-enabled phenomena of organising introduce a third dimension: incentives. Based on these three dimensions, four novel organisational archetypes are proposed. Moreover, this study finds that the block-chain space is coined by two organising visions which diverge in sensemaking of the incentive-dimension. While one vision keeps power centralised to harness blockchain technology for economic reasons, the other vision decentralises power for value-based motivations, along with a new economic model for the Internet.
Implications: While the results of this study are subject to quantitative validation, these insights into the emerging phenomenon of blockchain bring up more questions than have been answered as part of this thesis. Is the blockchain-enabled incentive machine going to deliver on its promise of disrupting the nature of the firm? Are incumbents going to embrace this phenomenon and integrate it into existing systems and business models, or is blockchain a ‘crypto trojan horse’ (Waters, 2017) that inevitably changes the para-digm of artificial scarcity? Implications for both practitioners and scholars in organisation research are plentiful, as business studies and information systems are making sense of this emerging phenomenon.
Keywords: blockchain, governance, incentives, cryptonetworks, communities, organising visions
Michal Hoffman (M.R.Hoffman@soton.ac.uk)
Academic publishing (AP) produces publications disseminating results of scientific re- search (SR). SR, as systematic work in the context of academia involves structured social interactions that may follow pre-defined rules and stages, such as sharing data, making agreements and writing reviews. AP currently relies on centralised publishing houses (PH) to make the results of SR available to the general public, usually at a variable fee that is collected by the PH. The intermediate stages of producing SR (paper iterations, credit attributions, intermediate data sets) are often not transparent in AP and normally not published by PH. Blockchains, also known as distributed ledgers (DL), provide decentralised, tamper-free registries of transactions in trustless scenarios (i.e. among partners that do not necessarily trust each other). DL registries are coupled with incentive systems that are designed to guarantee the survival and propagation of those registries. Some newer DLs allow their users to write, store and execute “smart contracts” (SC), distributed programs that can update the underlying DL and whose execution is guaranteed. Whereas DLs can be used to prove a single version of the truth (explaining the past), the SCs running on top of DLs can be used to control social interactions (managing the future). We introduce and investigate a DL-oriented system that relies on SCs to make SR more transparent. The goal of the project is to offer a decentralised PH-alternative that empowers SR actors and organisations. We outline the work needed to evaluate the viability of decentralised SR+AP as an alternative to traditional SR and centralised AP using traditional PHs.
Title: Repurposing Open Source Tools for Open Science: a Practical Guide
Moritz Schubotz, Corinna Breitinger, Thomas Hepp, Bela Gipp
Introduction: Open science – i.e., the practice of conducting scientific research in a way that is transparent, reproducible, and openly accessible to all – is gaining increasing attention and popularity. For instance, the European OpenAIRE project is supporting a vision for open access and open data, by providing researchers with the necessary guidance and tools to conduct open science. Moreover, YERUN, a network of Young European Research Universities founded a working group to coordinate the adoption of open science research practices at European universities. This poster demonstrates how open science can be further advanced using existing tools that are already widely used by open source communities. We combine systems originating from (1) the open source movement, (2) the digital legal initiative, and (3) recent results from the open science movement itself. Our idea is to dedicate one service to each step in the research process. For example, GitHub can be used for document management. OriginStamp, a blockchain-based distributed timestamping service, can be used to prove the originality of data and computations. Travis, a continuous integration service, can be used for automation and objective execution and, lastly, the research data repository Zenodo can be used to generate immutable, durable, and accessible final research artifacts. However, only in combining each of the services used during the individual steps of the research cycle, will scientists be able to generate reproducible and open scientific results. In the vision we present, the blockchain technology that enables the tamper-proof timestamping of final research artefacts and – even more importantly – intermediate results, is a game changer. The existence of tamper-proof documentation for each incremental research step improves reproducibility without forcing researchers to perform each research step immediately open to the public. In this poster, we exemplify the proposed combined approach using a typical research scenario: We describe how to collaboratively write a paper in LaTeX and publish it in an open research data repository. We also provide background information on the open source services used in each step. Finally, we outline how researchers can adapt the presented seven-step procedure to other scientific tasks, such as planning a user study, running a simulation, or developing a software prototype.
Title: Blockchain Readiness
Eva Kalmar ( TU Delft )
If science would be put on Blockchain, there is a high chance that scientific processes would be more efficient. But would scientists be ready to use Blockchain? Would they be open to change their data management practices, communication practices, to change the peer review and project financing systems? Blockchain-based science would revolutionize the research process by using a Blockchain-based platform for data sharing or peer review not only because changing the ways scientists work, but also by changing the network structure behind scientific research processes from hierarchical to distributed or at least decentralized. This will not be implemented easily. What is valid for a virtual research environment, should be valid for the Blockchain-based science managing platforms as well: they should be designed in a way that scientists’ needs and current practices are taken into account. “Whether they be social networking sites, electronic laboratory notebooks, or controlled vocabularies, must be built to help scientists do what they are already doing, not what the tool designer feels they should be doing’’ (Neylon and Wu 2009). If science as a process would be moved to Blockchain, then a change management strategy would be needed. The author suggests a Blockchain readiness model to apply when making such a change management plan, to increase the acceptance of the Blockchain-based science by scientists. This model is based on the technology acceptance model, specifically tailored to scientific collaborations using a digital platform to help their collaborative work.
Stephan Leible, Steffen Schlager, Moritz Schubotz, Bela Gipp
Sectors like finance, science, production, licensing, and education are gaining more and more interest in blockchain technologies (BT) and start to develop BT-based applications to benefit from the unique characteristics of this technology. BT promises benefits in trust, collaboration, organization, identification, credibility, and transparency. In our research, we focus on the application of BT in science, in particular, open science. The idea behind open science is to make scientific research more transparent and accessible to mitigate problems. Examples are intransparent review processes, plagiarism, restricted freedom of research, and paywalls restricting access to scientific publications. In a first step, we analyzed existing BT-based applications related to open science according to the following criterions: Does the application build on a custom or existing blockchain (like, e.g., Bitcoin)? Which consensus method is used? Proof of work, proof of stake, or other. Which are the target phases within the research cycle? We divided the phases into evaluation/idea, experiment, documentation, processing, analysing, publication, and reputation. How well is the application documented? What is the maturity level of the application? Concept, prototype, or deployed. In total, we investigated 43 applications which we identified primarily by search engines (e.g., Google Scholar) and divided them into the categories reproducibility (9), trustability (12), decentralized storage/database (7), marketplace (4), identity management (3), privacy/confidentiality (2), and infrastructure providers (6). Regarding maturity level, the vast majority of applications is in the concept phase. Some prototypical systems are available, but there are only a few deployed and well-established applications (e.g., OriginStamp, Hyperledger, and Bernstein). Our analysis showed that existing projects and applications do not yet make use of the full potential of BT. Thus, our research goal is to develop ideas for further applications. We imagine, for example, using BT to store study designs and hypotheses tamper-proof, as well as all survey results. Storing this information in a blockchain ensures that the results can be compared to the hypothesis verifiably. Another idea targets the Internet of Things where, e.g., measurement data of sensors could be stored in a blockchain ensuring that the data cannot be manipulated later on. This would increase the credibility of experiments that are too complex to be reproducible by a third party. Finally, we point out challenges that need to be addressed in the future to make sure the scientific community can benefit from BT. One of the challenges we identified is the design and development of correct and secure smart contracts. Such contracts often manage valuable resources (information or money in the form of cryptocurrencies) which could get inaccessible (even for the owner) or stolen if functional correctness and security are not given. Thus, we forecast that approaches for the evaluation and formal verification of smart contracts will become crucial in the future. Finally, in our view, researchers and the blockchain community should address topics like standardization and frameworks to facilitate access and use of BT and therefore, to increase its rate of adoption in the scientific community and beyond. Overall, we analyzed current blockchain applications and projects for science to create a state-of-the-art view, described our ideas for the future to foster scie nce and identified challenges that need to be addressed to use the full potential of the BT.
Title: Tracking of Intellectual Property using the Blockchain
Alexander Schoenhals, Thomas Hepp, Philip Ehret, Bela Gipp
The Blockchain Technology (BT) is a promising technology. Due to its integrity and immutability characteristics, BT affects almost all businesses where digital transactions are executed, and a high level of trust is required. In summary, its architecture is predestined for the protection of intellectual property - also in the context of scientific research and knowledge creation. We present an approach that makes it possible to track early concepts even during their development. The outcome is recorded and linked to the originating person. In our prototype recording is done using digital pens with which contributors write down their notes on normal paper. The identified writing is interpreted using optical character recognition and stored in standardized JSON objects. To guarantee both proof-of-existence and proof-of-origin, a unique hash is generated from each digital artifact stored and embedded into the Blockchain by the OriginStamp decentralized trusted timestamping servi ce. Once this unique fingerprint is embedded in a transaction in the underlying Blockchain network, it can be proven where particular contributions originated due to the characteristics of Blockchain architecture. By providing a clear proof-of-origin, all creators (even third parties) could continue to work on an existing project and add their contribution proportionately, depending on the state of progress. This concept enables an Open Science ecosystem.