Mom, I See War
A Digital Archive by Numbers Protocol and Starling Lab
From the Press Release on misw.org
The Mom, I See War (MISW) digital museum, part of the newly launched Mom, I See Foundation, launches its global platform dedicated to documenting artwork created by children who find themselves in the midst of a full-scale invasion of their country. With a vast collection of over 15,000 children’s drawings, the digital museum provides a powerful testament to the impact of war on young lives. Notably, the platform will also serve as a means to raise funds for educational programs and scholarships benefiting children affected by war.
Mom, I See War (MISW) is the first known digital archive to document the way children experience war by preserving high-resolution jpeg scans of their drawings, metadata about the drawings, and encrypted versions of these that contain private, identifying information (the last names) of the children. MISW has a collection of 10,026 single-image assets from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which Starling Lab has registered on the NEAR blockchain and archived on distributed web protocols.
Second, versions of these drawings and separate metadata files (with the full names of the children redacted) were stored on IPFS.
Copies of the metadata were injected with information according to the C2PA standards, which enables users to inspect and understand more about what’s been done to these records, where it’s been, and who’s responsible.
An encrypted archive of the drawings (assets) and full metadata were also sealed and preserved as archives on Filecoin.
The four versions of records of these assets each serve a different purpose. The registration of a hash (or an immutable ‘fingerprint’ of the drawing and metadata) on the NEAR blockchain networks establishes a record of exactly what was stored, and a date that it was stored on, without revealing any other information.
The publication of the full drawings and metadata on IPFS (without individual identifying information like the last name of the child who made the drawing) makes these assets available on a publicly owned, peer-to-peer system which is resilient against infrastructure deprecation and various forms of censorship, and the assets can easily be hosted by anyone.
The C2PA version of the registered assets was created according to standards set by a coalition for standards development: The Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA). These standards guide the development of tools, supported within Adobe products such as Photoshop, that create public and tamper-evident records that can be attached to an image. These images can then be used with different tools for inspecting and making edits that preserve the understanding of what’s been done to modify assets, where it’s been, and who’s responsible.
Finally, the archiving on Filecoin (drawings are bundled with full metadata and encrypted) helps preserve these drawings across multiple storage providers in a way that can outlast current media storage and publishing methods and technology.
Numbers Protocol Registration
Drawing & Metadata Registration
To register these assets, Starling Lab collaborated with the Numbers Protocol and also used the Starling Integrity pipeline to process the data and create publicly available registration records, publishing images and metadata records on IPFS. The records created include images of the drawings, along with a limited (redacted) set of metadata, which did not include certain identifying information, such as the children’s last names. See the example on Numbers Search.
The Numbers cross-chain search engine has an interface to display registration information alongside the drawings & metadata.$
The initial drawing and metadata record were both stored on IPFS with their IPFD CIDs stored on the NEAR blockchain and a registration of this record was added to Numbers Mainnet. Using the Numbers Protocol search, we can use the drawing’s IPFS CID to find the transaction containing all the information.
Once the regular versions of the drawing and metadata were registered, C2PA-compliant versions of these assets were also created.The presence of an icon next to indicates that an asset is one with C2PA metadata, and links back to the initially registered asset. The C2PA standard is a way of adding metadata that points versions of an asset back to the original asset, making an audit trail.
This makes it possible for anyone who may want to create verifiable, processed or modified versions (such as versions that are cropped or color enhanced for publication) of the drawings to create them, and connect them back to the original image with a record of any changes made.
The metadata record for the C2PA version of the asset points back to the initial asset registered on Numbers
The C2PA metadata added to the image is a standardized method used by tools such as Adobe Photoshop which allows each incremental edit to add a signed thumbnail and edit log to an image.
Starling Integrity Pipeline
All of the assets for this project were also bundled together, then registered and preserved using the Starling Integrity pipeline. This is a data processing pipeline that Starling Lab uses to bundle images with metadata, add registration certificates, encrypt, and add to various distributed storage and archival systems.
For this particular project, we used the Starling Integrity pipeline to zip complete copies of the image assets with private metadata including the last names of the children who made the drawing, then included authsign and OpenTimestamps certificates, and encrypted the file bundle. We then added these signed and encrypted files on Filecoin for archival storage, a cryptocurrency-collateralized archival storage system that will store the files for a duration committed by the set of storage providers, in this case 18 months, and run intermittent checks on the content to verify that the data is continuously preserved with the specified redundancy.
How To: Searching and Viewing Assets
The records for each drawing were archived by Starling Lab and the Numbers Protocol, with the CIDs & NEAR blockchain transaction IDs for the original drawing, the original metadata, as well as versions of these that have C2PA credentials, which allows one to understand the history and identity data attached to images that may need to be modified or edited.
See the blockchain registration of these assets using a block explorer for NEAR or Numbers Mainnet.
Use Filecoin explorer to see the archive of the assets.
Search for a Drawing and Metadata with a CID
In order to search and view the NEAR blockchain registrations with the Numbers Search tool, a user needs to have the asset CID provided from the list of archives. In order to search in a web browser, type in https://nftsearch.site/asset-profile?nid= followed by a CID, such as bafybeibazzhn2unnxtymqva5jceimoohjtesh7l6lknudrdkltmnepikfq
The resulting URL of the above C2PA-credentialed asset would look like: https://nftsearch.site/asset-profile?nid=bafybeibazzhn2unnxtymqva5jceimoohjtesh7l6lknudrdkltmnepikfq
The assets were registered on two blockchains. The basic information with the CID of the content stored on IPFS, plus a hash of the data (a check you can use to see if content you have, such as a copy of the drawing is the same as this registered version) is added to the Numbers Jade blockchain network. Next both the basic registration and more complete version of the asset’s metadata, which includes C2PA data, was registered on the NEAR Aurora blockchain.
The transactions where these are registered are linked from the Numbers Search interface and can also be found by appending the transaction ID to the following URLS
Jade: https://mainnet.num.network/tx/<transaction ID>
These registrations provide an immutable, timestamped record of the sha256 hash of the content, and can be used to verify whether or not any copy you may have of a drawing or it’s metadata are in fact identical to the version that was archived on the blockchain by Starling Lab and Numbers.
Viewing Data on IPFS
IPFS is a peer-to-peer protocol for sharing and hosting data and media. This is a resilient alternative to the client-server http-based web2 internet that can be accessed from web browsers using a gateway that bridges the http and IPFS networks.
Numbers Protocol hosts a gateway which you can use to view the IPFS copies of the drawings and copies of metadata. To access these copies, you can click on a link in Numbers Search, or type in the gateway address along with the CID in any web browser:
Having this published on IPFS makes it easy to retrieve and inspect the images and metadata that has been registered on the different blockchain networks.
Viewing Filecoin Registration
Filecoin is a cryptocurrency (FIL) backed archival storage system. This system ensures archival storage on their network by the miners of their cryptocurrency. The protocol runs intermittent checks against sets of data that are archived, and if data isn’t stored, the miners (also known as storage providers) lose FIL collateral that they stake when they made the storage deal. The Starling Integrity pipeline used this to prepare and store these encrypted versions of the archive.
With the Filecoin CID Checker, you can view information about an archive, such as the identity of the node storing the data, the status of that archive, the deal made for the preservation, and the immutable content identifier or the payload that was submitted for storage. See the information about the MISW collection that was archived on Filecoin (Filecoin piece CID baga6ea4seaqdqgywa3n55hughvnfkroou6nm6qisqalzew7vy2vdqe3jfcr6wci), which includes all files, metadata, and a spreadsheet listing all assets.
Viewing C2PA assets with the Replay Tool
The Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI) is a group working together to fight misinformation and add a layer of verifiable trust to all types of digital content. Members of this group include those from media and tech companies, NGOs, academics, and more.
In February 2021, Adobe, Arm, BBC, Intel, Microsoft, and Truepic launched a formal coalition for standards development: The Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA). These standards guide the development of tools, supported within Adobe editing tools such as Photoshop, that create public and tamper-evident records that can be attached to an image to understand more about what’s been done to it, where it’s been, and who’s responsible. These same standards were used to create metadata and records for the MISW collection.
With the Verify tool, you can download an image via IPFS from the MISW collection (adding a .jpg file extension), drop the image in the online tool, and inspect the image and data added according to the C2PA standards. If you were to edit the image with Photoshop, the hash of this record would change - however, you now have a tool that can tie this image back to the original, as well as show and compare any edits and changes made in Photoshop.
This image has C2PA Content Credentials. If you make edits in Photoshop, a record of the edits and activity can be viewed with the Verify tool.
The project demonstrates the archival process for a valuable set of assets that create a record of the war in Ukraine to help future generations that want to understand this pivotal event in history, and helps create a reliable narrative of the past that may be used by future generations to help understand, make claims, and hold individuals and governments accountable and build a better future for humanity.
This set of tools not only creates an immutable archive of these assets, it also demonstrates the tools that can be used for the creation of an archive that is searchable and verifiable. It creates a set of assets that can be used in journalistic, legal, and historical depictions that allow those who may want to make minor edits to share these images with others by cropping, improving color, tone, and contrast, or make other minor edits, in a way that makes it possible for the public to understand the accuracy and veracity of these copies. Learn more about the collaboration with the Mom I See War Research and Numbers Protocol.