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South China Morning Post explores blockchain technology with Artifacts

By Michelle Palmer Jones

Nashville, Tennessee, USA

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Breathing new life into old archives is the idea behind the South China Morning Post’s foray into blockchain technology. Gary Liu, CEO of South China Morning Post, said the company is tokenising its 118 years of history as NFTs. The SCMP’s NFTs are called Artifacts.

“We believe that factual accounts of history and authentic historical assets should be immutable, and that ownership of these digitised and tokenised assets, which are part of our collective human experience, should be decentralised,” Liu said. “Tokenising history means that each of us can participate in collectively owning a shared experience, regardless of where we come from.”

SCMP is looking to create a standard for how history should be recorded on the blockchain. It has recruited blockchain developers, art curators, historians, researchers, journalists, and archivists to co-develop a comprehensive metadata structure.  

“This standard will also enable collectors and users to easily discover and engage with recorded history,” Liu said.

SCMP will share more details in a white paper, which will be published this month this year.

“It will include a preview of the product, details on our blockchain partners, and the council of experts,” Liu said.

Artifacts by SCMP will launch later this year and continue into 2022, which means South China Morning Post is tokenising its 118-year history as NFTs with its Artifact initiative. Liu said the company recently completed the prototype, which is getting great response so far. Next, SCMP is building a marketplace to sell and trade the historical NFTs. SCMP expects millions of people will own these Artifacts and be part of a marketplace that provides the historical context needed to determine the NFT’s significance and value.

“The value raised by owning and collecting Artifacts by SCMP will be used to sustain this newspaper’s objective and independent journalism, our soon-to-be decentralised first draft of history,” Liu said.

SCMP will release packs of Artifacts that are each assigned their own historical significance.
SCMP will release packs of Artifacts that are each assigned their own historical significance.

For the launch, SCMP will issue randomised packs of five Artifacts that each get their own card. Based on each Artifact’s historical significance, it will receive a rarity level. Long-term, as SCMP opens up Artifacts to more participants, it would like to see individuals create Artifacts using the standardised metadata structure.

SCMP also sees blockchain technology as a way to foster trust in the media.

“Blockchain enables greater transparency of the source and production of media content, and this is crucial for readers to rebuild trust in the reputability of legitimate news sources,” Liu said. “Blockchain offers immense potential to immutably preserve journalism that witnesses and explains history.”

SCMP urges other media companies to align innovation and objectives with the company’s mission. Liu said blockchain solutions are driving innovation and disrupting traditional business models, but blindly following the trends won’t bring success.

“It is pushing the boundaries of what is possible, introducing a new paradigm of dynamics between businesses and consumers that were previously unimaginable because of the immutability of shared data transacted broadly across an ecosystem of multiple parties,” Liu said.

This case study originally appeared in the INMA report, Exploring Blockchain’s Potential to Transform Media.

About Michelle Palmer Jones

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