Using Blockchain Associated Technologies to Create a Supplementary Tool for Web-Archiving

The impermanence of URL citations and the inability to verify whether a given document is identical to the originally intended one, has been a problem due to the lack of a complete web-archive. Blockchains and by association, cryptocurrencies appear to be at the end of their current hype-cycle. Ethereum is a Smart Contract platform with an associated cryptocurrency, Ether. The challenges facing Ethereum are inherent to those which the entire industry faces. Two specific challenges, which have been tackled in this paper are, the presence of a timestamp, which cannot be trusted and a means to transfer the cost of computation, whilst deriving some of the benefits associated with blockchains. Possible solutions to these problems when doing web-archiving, were identified using Design Science Research and were evaluated using regression analysis in a real-world, decentralised application called Repudiation Chain. The results indicate that Ethereum’s timestamping can be supplemented to reach an emergent trusted timestamp. Computational costs can be transferred to the user assuming that the process which requires computation is deterministic, transparent and “perfect” information is provided to verify the process and Repudiation Chain can be successfully used as a supplementary web-archival tool.

de Villiers and Calitz