We Need You: Open Peer Review of GovLab’s Blockchange Field Report

Open Peer Review at the GovLab

One line of activity of The GovLab involves working with institutions to become more open to the insights and expertise of others toward making their own processes and outcomes more legitimate and effective.

In the interest of “walking the talk,” the GovLab seeks to experiment with innovative and participatory peer review processes for most of our research products. Rather than sharing drafts only with a select group of identified stakeholders – i.e., the ‘usual suspects’ – we make our work openly accessible to those who express an interest for review. We appreciate and acknowledge all the input we receive.

Current Opportunity: Blockchange – Blockchain for Social Change

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Blockchain and other Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) have disruptive potential beyond transforming the way industry records and manages transactions (by leveraging a shared and verified database of ledgers in a distributed manner).

By providing transparency and accountability in new and distributed ways, blockchain technologies have the potential to empower underserved populations in myriad ways – including the establishment of trusted digital identities.

In other words, blockchain technologies has the potential to promote positive Social Change: Blockchange.

Yet for all the enthusiasm, we in fact know very little about how blockchain can impact social change through the creation of a trusted identity — what kinds of applications serve what needs, what technological attributes matter most, what risks are involved and under what conditions blockchain can have maximum impact.

To address this gap, the GovLab, with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, has developed the Blockhange Field Report taking stock of current insights and practices on blockchain’s potential for improving people’s lives, with a particular focus on the emergent universe of Blockchange as it relates to identity. This focus is based on the need for trusted identifiers in accessing a number of rights and services, from banking to the ballot box, as well as identity’s role as an enabler of blockchain-enabled smart contracting and track and trace interventions.

The Field Report, which is informed by a number of concise case studies on early identity-focused pilot projects and implementations, comprises five key parts:

  • The first provides a curated primer on key narratives, terms, and guides to blockchain and its potential for creating social change.
  • Part two highlights blockchain’s core and optional attributes, and describes three categories of social change use cases.
  • The third part dives into the area of identity, analyzes the current and potential value of blockchain across the identity lifecycle, and highlights findings from case studies completed by the research team.
  • Part four brings all of the above together by discussing lessons learned related to operational conditions that can help to enable successful Blockchange initiatives, as well as cross-cutting challenges.
  • Finally, part five concludes with a set of principles aimed at providing the field with applicable guidance on how to design Blockchange interventions in the identity space that are legitimate, effective, ethical, and impactful.

How it Works

We are eager to share the current draft for review by those who express an interest to become a Recognized Peer Reviewer. To sign up to be a Recognized Peer Reviewer, complete this short form to share more about your interest and expertise. Once signed up, we will provide you with access to the draft field guide and/or case studies, along with a brief questionnaire to solicit your input. Upon completing the review, your name (and affiliation) will be added to our list of peer reviewers. Note: The peer review process will close on Monday, August 6th.