Cardstack: making good on the blockchain promise

In this post, we examine the work of our partner Cardstack that looks beyond sector-specific, blockchain-derived innovations and looks at the big picture for blockchain… specifically, why it isn’t quite ready yet to deliver on its biggest ideas, and how Cardstack might help it get there.

Building on blockchain’s intrinsic value

Cardstack founding director Chris Tse, a technologist working to “humanize blockchain tech”, is probably one of the pragmatists of blockchain. Writing for the Cardstack blog, Chris talked about the value of blockchain the only way most people understand it: the price of cryptocurrency. And he’s not gone off the reserves.

The only value that people can attribute to it derives from its mainstream use as a trading commodity. Sure, there are people who own crypto in their own personal wallets, using it to pay for goods, even earning in crypto, but the majority of people involved with blockchain aren’t fully using its technology. Most merchants who accept crypto simply use third-party services to settle payments in fiat. Users who own crypto are storing it on exchanges, hoping to liquidate to fiat at the right time.

Chris rightly points out that very little real activity of substance has taken place on and because of blockchain. And he insists that decentralization must become more diverse, more coordinated, to grow beyond the very small group of technologically savvy crypto enthusiasts.

Mainstream adoption and use must be represented by organic communities built on blockchain and using decentralized software in their daily lives. Instead of focusing on trading innovations and enhancing commercial aspects of cryptocurrency, projects should invest more in open source frameworks to house developer apps, building great software that normal, every day humans can and want to use.

And therein lies Cardstack’s premise…

… to make blockchain tech usable and scalable through a decentralized software ecosystem. It visualizes itself as a three-layer software stack, with each layer packed with tools to open up blockchain benefits for everyone.

Cardstack users will be able to use features from multiple apps, without the messy management of separate cloud subscriptions or utility tokens. If they like, they can connect their data (or keep it separate) to bridge services they like from different layers of the Internet — all this possible via “cards” that can be manipulated by users however they like. Embed, expand, clone, approve, retract, permanent store… users own and control their own data.

The Cardstack Framework will be what developers use to build powerful, card-based apps on the blockchain. Construct custom workflows, add in ready-made functionality. Just like users, developers can abandon the old way of having separate work silos for their projects. With Cardstack, they can have a single ecosystem with a brimful of features from open source stacks retrievable from all the apps they require. Just integrate plugins from apps, Dapps and cloud service providers, and developers can access their features.

And the token to power the governing smart contracts is the Cardstack token (CARD), designed specifically to reward open source developers for a sustainable marketplace. Each time a user spends CARD on an app, they get staked through smart contracts into a reward pool, which are periodically distributed to app creators and contributors.

That’s the summary, anyway, but rest assured, there’s quite a bit of sophistication (a proof-of-analytics algorithm) to ensure the fairness and sustainability of the system — the full details of which are available in their white paper.

Excited to see what building up the blockchain will look like? Check out the CARD token generation event details here (launching projected within Q1 2018). Or join in the discussions with the Cardstack team on Telegram.

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