In the following video I share my thoughts on Dan Larimer’s (@dan) recent announcement of ClarionOS. Dan started the company Steemit, Inc. which is where my Koinos Group co-founders and I worked before leaving to start Koinos Group and beginning work on Koinos. One of my co-founders even worked with Dan on his previous project BitShares and co-founded Steemit with him.
Lessons from Steem
The Steem blockchain was effectively a social blockchain that enabled people to share text via a blockchain. Over time, one of the problems that emerged is that blockchains really aren’t suited to storing human-readable text. It’s just about the most expensive way to store it and the cost ultimately gets passed on to the users of the platform even if the blockchain is fee-less. What that ultimately means is increased costs for node operators, and users must hold ever-increasing amounts of the tokens to have an acceptable user experience.
At the same time, one of the most common feature requests we got for steemit.com (our front end for Steem) was messaging; a feature that didn’t need a blockchain at all. I suspected that what people were really trying to do on steemit.com was communicate with one another and they were effectively “hacking” the posting features to do so. If we gave them the ability to simply message one another, they might post less frequently, but when they did post it would be higher quality. This would decrease the cost of running the blockchain for everyone while increasing the overall value of the public content.
Scaling & Tooling
This really highlights the importance of tooling. Had we given developers tooling that encouraged them to use the blockchain for the right things, and NOT use the blockchain for the wrong things, then the blockchain would have been far more scalable (and without the need for sharding). The problem was that there were no decentralized protocols that we felt met our needs.
Koinos & ClarionOS
We’ve now moved on to build Koinos, the first blockchain that will be totally free-to-use (free accounts, free transfers, free smart contracts). We want Koinos to be a decentralized platform that developers will love using to build decentralized applications that people will love using. So of course we regularly consider how we might enable these developers to integrate features that DON’T require a blockchain like file storage (photos, videos, audio) and, of course, messaging.
While we are maniacally focused on shipping our testnet in Q2, Dan’s announcement of ClarionOS got me thinking more deeply about what Koinos is. Koinos is also the first blockchain built on a microservice architecture. As a result of that we tend to think of Koinos as a suite of microservices (tiny programs) that are designed around interfacing with two blockchain-specific microservices; the block store and koinos daemon.
A Microservice Mesh
But what if we thought about it the other way around? What if we thought about Koinos as a suite of microservices that are designed around connecting the blockchain-specific microservices with other non-blockchain-specific microservices like an IPFS microservice and a ClarionOS microservice? This way, anyone running a Koinos node would not only gain access to the Koinos blockchain, but to other great decentralized protocols that could benefit from having an economic layer placed on top of them.
Koinos could enable people to require that others buy their own cryptocurrency (e.g. JANE koin) or NFT if they want to communicate with them over ClarionOS or to store files using IPFS. The fact that neither Filecoin or EOS have managed to offer these capabilities shows that the ultimate solution has still not revealed itself, and I grow more convinced with every passing day that the reason for that is that no other blockchain has been built on a microservice architecture. They can’t offer such microservices because they don’t have microservices at all!
Of course, we remain laser-focused on shipping our testnet. But Koinos is designed to evolve, which means it will become whatever the Koinos community wants it to be thanks to its modular upgradeability. Perhaps now is the time to begin considering whether the real killer feature of Koinos is its ability to become an ever growing “mesh” of microservices that can tap into a blockchain when necessary, and other decentralized protocols when preferable.
After thinking about Dan’s announcement I have become convinced that we are finally entering into the next wave of decentralized evolution built on three pillars; smart contracts (Koinos), file storage (IPFS), and messaging (?). If we can bring these technologies to maturity and package them in a developer friendly toolkit, we might be able to take a leap toward a truly decentralized future.
This, as opposed to any price movements, is what has me most excited about this space and why I look forward to watching progress on ClarionOS.