Imagine this scenario: you\u2019re a hobbyist photographer who snaps a breathtaking photo of a sunset. You then upload it to one of Reddit\u2019s many image-based subreddits. And then someone who runs a popular Twitter account decides to download your photo and then re-upload it to Twitter without including any attribution to you. It starts generating hundreds of retweets. From there, it gets re-aggregated to Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest, where it\u2019s seen by millions of people. Meanwhile, you, the content creator, receive no credit for the work, much less any form of compensation.\r\n\r\nScenarios like the one described above occur on a daily basis. In an era when so much creative IP -- from images to text to music to video -- is a simple right click away from being downloaded and redistributed, it\u2019s incredibly difficult for content creators to maintain control of their work, and some would argue that this has led to a devaluation of creative content.\r\n\r\nJarrod Dicker is one of the people making this argument. And he should know since he\u2019s devoted most of his career to thinking about how to squeeze more value out of content. Dicker headed up the product team at Huffington Post and later took on similar roles at Time Inc and RebelMouse. Most recently, he was leading innovation and product development at The Washington Post, which has made vast technological strides since getting acquired by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.\r\n\r\nBut then, to the shock of all his colleagues, Dicker announced in February that he was leaving this prestigious gig to serve as CEO for a company called Po.et. \u201cThe Post was great because we had investments and diversified revenue,\u201d he told CJR when asked why he decided to leave. \u201cBut it just feels like most people still aren\u2019t looking at the real issues and how to fix them.\u201d\r\n\r\nSo what are the real issues, and how will Po.et fix them?\r\n\r\nAccording to Dicker, many of the problems facing media companies can be traced back to attribution, or the lack thereof. \u201cWhat are quantifiable metrics around the creative process that we could further expose that could hopefully draw more value into the actual work that goes into something?\u201d he asked me, rhetorically. \u201cHow do we find the source and history of how something was created and where it was created, and how can we use the supply side technology to prove that?\u201d\r\n\r\nPo.et was founded last year by the people behind BTC Inc, which publishes Bitcoin Magazine and other cryptocurrency resources. \u201cWhen they were doing their work, they realized there were a lot of issues when it came to how they can engage writers, how they could know that the content that these writers were submitting was original, and how they could syndicate their work and license their work further,\u201d said Dicker. So using a blockchain technology called Proof of Existence, they developed a protocol that could address these challenges.\r\n\r\nThat protocol provided the foundation of Po.et, which ultimately hopes to accomplish three things.\r\n\r\nThe first is creating better ways to trace the origins of IP. Po.et has developed a way to stamp a key onto content files and then record it to the blockchain, thereby creating an immutable record that would allow anyone to trace that piece of content back to its original source. By doing this, Po.et aims to, a Dicker put it, \u201cbuild a reputational layer of the web.\u201d\r\n\r\nSecond, Po.et will allow one to include all sorts of signals -- who paid for the content, whether it\u2019s been fact-checked -- and aid in the discovery of content, making it easier for publishers to source it for their own distribution.\r\n\r\nAnd lastly, Dicker wants Po.et to aid in the actual monetization of content, in part by attaching smart contracts to IP that will allow anyone to efficiently license it for their own use.\r\n\r\nAt this point you might be thinking: aren\u2019t there already-existing companies that sort of do these things? After all, if I want to syndicate article content, I can subscribe to a service like the Associated Press or Reuters. If I want to find an image to use on my website, I might go through a platform like iStock or Getty.\r\n\r\nBut Dicker insisted that he doesn\u2019t want to replace the APs and Getty\u2019s in the world. In fact, he hopes that they\u2019ll leverage Po.et to make their services better. \u201cIf Getty and AP are cars, we want to be the new road that they drive on,\u201d he said. \u201cI think there needs to be an awareness of what these companies do, and I think these new technologies will expose what those values are.\u201d\r\n\r\nDicker thinks the real value of an AP is relationship management and quality control. Technology like Po.et\u2019s could simply make its syndication much more efficient, with better tracking of how its content is licensed and distributed. In fact, if Po.et is to be ultimately successful, it will require that thousands of companies eventually license and utilize its technology.\r\n\r\nHe compared it to the iPhone, where much of its value can be derived from is App Store and the apps within it. Po.et uses an open source protocol, meaning anyone can build applications on it, and so Dicker\u2019s hope is that the developer community embraces the protocol, building out entire business use cases that he hasn\u2019t even yet thought of.\r\n\r\nWhat might those use cases be? Here are a few:\r\n\r\n \tContent authentication: There\u2019s much worry right now about the proliferation of \u201cdeep fake\u201d video technology, which allows one to alter video so it appears that someone -- often a famous person or politician -- is saying or doing something that didn\u2019t actually occur. Po.et would allow one to trace an image or video\u2019s providence and see if it\u2019s been altered at some point.\r\n\r\n \tBetter advertising: We\u2019re in the age of the influencer marketing, and yet most advertising platforms only allow brands to select which publishers to advertise against. What if a brand could use Po.et\u2019s attribution technology to advertise against an individual journalist, regardless of whether their content is published?\r\n \tImproved content creation tools: Platforms like Wordpress and Medium will have Po.et baked into them so that its technology is automatically applied whenever new content is produced. Photo and video editing software could also leverage the protocol.\r\n\r\nSo how is Po.et moving forward with this grand vision? In August, it raised $10 million through an initial coin offering, and Dicker told me he now leads a team of about a dozen engineers distributed all across the globe. For now, their main focus is on building applications on top of the Po.et protocol, the aim being that they\u2019ll be able to license these apps to companies that want to utilize them.\r\n\r\nFor instance, Po.et launched an application called Frost earlier this year (Get it? Like the famous poet Robert Frost?). \u201cIt hooks into any content management system and enables anyone who is creating any sort of IP -- whether you\u2019re a journalist or you\u2019re using Microsoft Paint or Adobe products -- to stamp that IP metadata and information on the blockchain,\u201d said Dicker. As an API, Frost will make it easier for developers to build tools and applications that utilize the Po.et protocol.\r\n\r\nTools like Frost will provide a foundation for Po.et; its success will rest on whether that foundation will spur interest from the larger developer community. Dicker will know his efforts have been a success when a product built on the Po.et protocol suddenly takes off with consumers and businesses. \r\n\r\nThat\u2019s why he plans on embarking on a charm offensive at some point over the next few months, leveraging his relationships he\u2019s built out over his career and pitching companies on why they should devote their precious developer resources to building applications on top of the Po.et protocol. \u201cI think I\u2019m really looking for the most forward thinking and bullish people in this area that are going to help us stress test these things,\u201d Dicker said. He claims that Po.et already has a \u201ccommunity of 50,000 builders and believers,\u201d but it\u2019ll need to attract many more in order to reach critical mass. \r\n\r\n\u201cIf we have an application built on top of Po.et take off, that\u2019s it,\u201d he said. \u201cWe have to make sure we are prepared to handle that and make sure these applications can be secure and safe and scale.\u201d Right now, Dicker\u2019s team is assembling the toolbox; it remains to be seen whether someone will leverage these tools to build something grand.