Decentralized Futures Proposal: Cogency Media Research Centre for internet safety, media onboarding, authenticity and identity

Interested in getting community feedback on a Decentralized Futures proposal:

Cogency Media Research Centre for internet safety, media onboarding, authenticity and identity

A brief description of your project.

Cogency is proposing a cross-disciplinary research and development centre collaborating with industry and academia to advance practical solutions and research, fostering protocol diversity for Web3 and AI technologies related to online content and media. The centre will offer hands-on expertise for facilitating the media industry’s integration onto the Frequency parachain within the Polkadot network. Additionally, it will engage in broader collaboration with the Web3 Foundation for various communication and marketing initiatives.

This integration is underpinned by a novel digital identity solution previously developed by Cogency in partnership with the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and prominent entities in the media sector (refer to the article and whitepaper below). The press release outlining the initial research and participants, which included Reuters and Conde Nast, can be found here:

WAN-IFRA, representing 3,000 news publishing companies, technology innovators, and 18,000 publications across 120 countries, is a key partner in this new initiative.

And it is estimated the new Research Centre will return double the marketing value of any investment made in paid and earned advertising or media.

An indication of how your project relates to / integrates into Substrate / Polkadot / Kusama.

We are collaboratively engaged with the Frequency team on a Layer-1 approach, focussing on content authenticity and user identity, to develop practical solutions that solve problems for media makers. We are also open to collaborating with other projects within the Polkadot ecosystem that align with the centre’s mission.

An indication of why your team is interested in creating this project.

The team is comprised of media, technology and identity professionals with decades of collective experience. We have witnessed the corrosive impact that data centralisation has had on the diversity of media and the negative knock-on effects that has had on public discourse. We believe that the solutions provided by decentralised data storage can help solve some of those problems and promote a more diverse media landscape, which in turn will help to promote democratic ideals by making the media industry freer of centralised power and strong enough to hold that power to account.

Goals of the Centre:

  • Provide technical knowledge and learning to content professionals and the media industry to grow their decentralised and AI communities from the ground up by making products.

  • Help associated individuals and institutions onboard to the Polkadot ecosystem. We will run 10-15 new onboarding projects known as ‘Fellowships’.

  • Promote the work being done to build new protocol and AI functionality, highlighting how media and content professionals can work with the Polkadot ecosystems to improve safety, protect authenticity and promote technological diversity.

  • Collaborate and convene with the Polkadot’s ecosystem adding to the research of new technologies, structures and policies for decentralised and machine learning technologies.

How it works:

The Cogency Media Research Centre will onboard 10-15 media and content making groups and organisations by funding “Fellowship” grants intended to solve user needs for these makers. In phase one of the project a cohort of media organisations worked together to define a user need and developed a unique concept for digital identity and verification. This is outlined in the article and white paper below and will form the backbone of the technical work for this new Research Centre.

As a part of the Fellowship system, participating media will agree to create content focussed on Polkadot and Web3 Foundation and in so doing provide valuable communication and marketing to a wide audience.

Output of the Centre:

  • An outreach programme providing technical and strategic guidance to a select cohort of media technology outlets (“Cogency/ W3F Fellows”), assisting with the onboarding process through research and practical guidance.

  • Content will be created by participating media outlining their participation in the project and highlighting the value of the technology to as wide an audience as possible.

  • The development of authenticity and identity products and research, based on user need. The first of these could be phase two of the Cogency ID, as a tangible jump-off point. The institute will also focus on governance and developing systems and norms.

  • An annual event bringing together media, the Polkadot ecosystem, decentralised organisations and AI organisations to build on what was started at the Blechley Park AI Safety Summit, from the perspective of media. This will include a showcase of the institute’s projects.

Product Whitepaper and Research Article (latter commissioned by Starling Lab):

Ecosystem Fit

We will work with a Decentralized Social Networking Protocol (DSNP) system, which is a state machine which generates an ongoing, publicly observable and verifiable stream of state change records in response to public input. This has been implemented on the Frequency blockchain that is powered by Polkadot.

Where and how does your project fit into the ecosystem?


  • An account on Polkadot-JS Extension
  • XRQCY tokens from Frequency Testnet Faucet
  • Create a Provider account (recommended to use provider.frequency for ease)

The provider’s capacity can be increased by staking XRQCY tokens. Instead of paying fees for each transaction, we can have a rate-limited continuous stream of transactions through the provider’s “Capacity”.

Publisher and User IDs

DSNP user identifier allows for users and publishers to have a profile. There is also a provision for the users to publicly or privately subscribe to the publishers.

Content Management

On-chain interaction and storage is costly. Frequency provides guidelines for the tiers of data to manage metadata as well as the actual content.


Unlike many mainstream blockchain projects, Cogency’s use case is not transferring value or assets. Hence, there is a need for a blockchain platform that is tailored for Cogency’s implementation. It is required that the content created is able to be linked to the creator efficiently.

Who is your target audience (parachain/dapp/wallet/UI developers, designers, your own user base, some dapp’s users, yourself)?

Parachain/dapp/wallet/UI developers, designers, media technologists/brands and the general public consuming media

What need(s) does your project meet?

The need for greater transparency, authentication and stronger commercials to help develop a better, more diverse media industry. The project helps to solve the problem of onboarding new users to this ground-breaking technology and creates marketing value in the process.

Team experience:

  • David Tomchak - Co-founder. 20+ years in media including 10 years at BBC, Publisher and C-suite roles in print, Fellow at Oxford Internet Institute, former Head of Digital UK Gov.
  • Ursula O’Kuinghttons - Co-founder. Former Web3 Foundation and blockchain veteran. Former journalist and founder including Civil Media.
  • Brian Awford- Developer and CMS partner. Founder of Brightsites CMS solutions and FLOW CMS. FLOW is used by multiple publishers internationally.
  • James Monaghan - Product advisor. Venture builder in decentralised identity and emerging technology, in particular AI and blockchain.
  • WAN IFRA - The World Association of News Publishers, or WAN-IFRA, is the global organisation of the world’s press with a mission to protect the rights of journalists and publishers around the world to operate independent media. WAN-IFRA derives its authority from its global network of 3,000 news publishing companies and technology entrepreneurs, representing 18,000 publications in 120 countries.