Cardstack is an interesting new project aimed at helping the entire blockchain ecosystem speed up user adoption, while helping the developers who build decentralized applications in the meanwhile. It is an ambitious project that is geared to become a ‘middle layer’ between the end user and the lower infrastructure layer. This is important because in most cases, the end user doesn’t care about the technical details of underlying technologies, instead looking for a specific experience or workflow.
The problem with traditional systems like ‘apps’ is that they are hard to communicate with. If there are several competing apps, then the only way a user can use them is by opening one app or the other. This of course isn’t a good experience from the use point of view. Instead, what Cardstack would allow all these apps to do would be to build ‘cards’ for the ecosystem that use the underlying technology that each competitor provides. Then, the user assembles these cards to their liking, without any interference, according to their own needs.
This is a powerful concept because it abstracts away the decentralized application layers. In fact, the underlying applications could be centralized apps today, like say, a Dropbox for storing files. But these can be replaced in the future with relative ease, say by IPFS/Filecoin infrastructure, or Dfinity from a cloud computing platform.
A Boon for Developers
The whole Cardstack ecosystem is a boon for developers, especially developers of open source projects. Why? Because by integrating their work into the Cardstack ecosystem, they can get paid for the usage of their product within the Cardstack system. This is a big change from the way open source development works today, which is usually in a silo. If you build a project, you need to create that application and hope someone downloads and uses it. The app itself works more as a standalone project. It is hard for the users, beyond a point, to keep installing new apps, which reduces the potential money open source developers can make.
With Cardstack though, there is a smart contract that tabulates the usage of the app and pays you automatically based on that usage. It’s a pretty neat solution really. Your app provides the user with a seamless user experience, and you can trust the smart contracts deployed by the Cardstack platform to pay you honestly.
The reason this is big is because your app doesn’t need to try and integrate into a thousand other apps, and also integrate a thousand other apps. This is because ultimately the Cardstack platform acts as that middleware layer where everything ultimately is originating from.
This means let’s say you’re building a banking application, and you need an identity solution. You can just use one of the various cards available on the Cardstack platform that is built for identity. When end consumers use your app, both your banking app and the identity app developers get paid, based on the usage. Pretty neat huh?
Cardstack Lets you Mix and Match
The above should give an indication of where we are going with this. Ultimately, the goal of Cardstack is that you can mix and match various apps and features to build that perfect product or workflow that suits you best. This is very important for the entire blockchain ecosystem as it currently stands, not just for Cardstack. Why? Because we have so many products and solutions, with each layer having its own token to work that it is a mess for the end user. The experience isn’t seamless at all.
Think of this from a user point of view. You need an identity layer like Civic and buy Civic tokens. Then, you need some storage space, so you get some Filecoin. You need some compute space, so you buy some Dfinity. The list keeps growing endlessly. As a user, you shouldn’t worry about this endlessly.
In a nutshell then, what Cardstack allows you to do is to create a single simple layer that lets users pick and choose these services, and integrate into one ecosystem. You can design your own workflow by this mixing and matching.
Cardstack’s CARD Token
The Cardstack ecosystem, mainly the suite of smart contracts we described above, are powered by the CARD token. The CARD token is an ERC20 token built on Ethereum. The CARD token is the one that facilitates the open marketplace for developers and open source content. CARD tokens and the Cardstack ecosystem enable open source developers to get paid fairly.
The CARD token is also given as a reward for ‘analytics miners’. What this means is that there are network nodes that do the heavy computation of analytics, figuring out who should be paid how much. This payment happens in the CARD token. From a consensus point of view, Cardstack is building a ‘proof of usage’ system.
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