a platform for distributed data storage that will utilize idle storage space
Our Data is a platform for distributed data storage that will utilize idle storage space, as part of the sharing economy. It is designed to be unenclosableit runs distributed using Holochain, and as long as there is at least one peer willing to run it, it will exist, censorship resistantnot under anyone's control or authority, secureend-to-end encryption using asymmetric public-private key pairing, real-time, cheapin the long-run, it will be much cheaper than any centralized solution ever can, fastall files are stored and distributed in segments, so when retrieving them—all segments start downloading at the same time from different hosts, which results in faster download than usual, and run collectively without any central servers.
It aims to make it straightforward and cost-effective for individuals, communities and institutions to backup and share their data. Hosts get paid for renting their space using Our Data fuel, a mutual credit currency designed specifically for this use-case—where storage capacity of the network is the asset backing up its value.
The project is under incubation and will be released as Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS), and once the platform goes live—will use a ‘<1% Transaction Fee’ business modelthis is a temporary measure and the transaction fees will be dropped once the movement becomes sustainable through donations—fully embracing the gift economy. It is wholly owned by Our Foundation, a non-profit organization which exists solely as a mechanism to institutionally support Our Movement—a movement promoting radical social change by catalyzing the emergence of resilient societies.
Today, cloud data storage is mainly dominated by Big Tech corporations. Aside from wealth inequality and power concentration this brings, it also results in a few other negative outcomes:
- High data storage prices.
- Manipulative pricing schemes that make customers pay for plans, that usually end up paying for more than actual storage needs—as opposed to only paying for storage used (e.g. as it is usually the case, we end up paying for 50GB storage capacity even if we only use, say 20GB. The rest is then rented out to some other customers).
- Data are usually stored unencrypted, which enables surveillance to happen at any time.
- Data is centrally stored in server farms of the Global North, which makes it a fragile choice because it is susceptible to: malicious agents breaking security firewalls and gaining access to data that is already stored unencrypted, DDoS attacks, power outages, environmental disasters, etc.
- Environmentally destructive because of the amount of energy needed to power up and cool off these server farms.‘Tsunami of data’ could consume one fifth of global electricity by 2025 (source)
Our Data is a distributed data storage platform under incubation, that will tackle cloud data storage by utilizing idle storage space. Much like Airbnb did to hotels, and Holo will be doing to cloud computing, this platform will do to cloud storage. It will be one of the first truly peer-to-peer platforms, completely devoid of any central servers all the while coordinating global scale data storage.
The sections below will try to explain how the platform works in a digestible form.
The whole concept of this platform is based on the idea that there is a lot of idle storage space in the world that goes unutilized. There is orders of magnitude more idle storage space just sitting in peoples' devices with no use, than all of server farms combined. Since that capacity already exists, why not utilize and generate value off of it?!
When idle space gets utilized, it will do at least two things:
- democratize cloud storage business, where everyone with a device can start participating and not be only a privilege of big corporations
- make cloud storage very cheap, because there is a lot of it waiting to be utilized
Storage medium can be of any type: from SD cards, to MMC cards, optical drives, all the way to solid-state drives. And they can be of any capacity, from a few gigabytes to terabytes; operating from modest devices like Raspberry Pis to high-end desktop computers, perhaps all the way to DIY Storage Pods.
The currency that will be used to pay hosts for their service is called Our Data fuel, which is a mutual credit currency specifically designed for this use-case. It will be based on the design of Holo fuel currency, where the storage hosting capacity of the network is the actual asset backing up the value of the currency.
It is so efficient, that allows for millions of micropayments to take place on a daily basis, to power the platform. It is also designed to be value-stable to make the currency usable for day-to-day transactions, which is quite the opposite from blockchain-based cryptocurrencies we have seen in the past decade, where their value fluctuates every day with huge leaps.
It will be redeemable in reserves and exchanges for other mutual credit currencies, cryptocurrencies and fiat money. Some hosts may choose to redeem it right away when they get rewarded, while others may use it to pay other hosts later on, for storing their personal data.
There are two ways to get hold of the currency: either one buys it in an exchange or start leasing extra space in their devices and be rewarded.
Storage pricing will be set purely by the market's mechanism of supply and demand, completely out of control of the organization—because it does not own any servers at all, it only makes possible the coordination between customers and hosts.
Some hosts may choose a fixed price range, some others may ask for a premium price because they may have fast internet connection and 99% uptime, while others may choose a setting to follow market trends and not deal with price adjustment too often. In some special cases, hosts may even decide to not charge at all for hosting data for the common good, like for example: Wikipedia articles, open-source software source code, free and open art, etc.
Some variables that may be used to determine prices include: geographical location, service uptime (e.g. someone who is online 99% of the time is 3x more valuable than someone who is online only 50% of the time), storage capacity, data serving speed, etc. The actual cost will be calculated by how long the data has been stored and how much of it was transferred.
Initially, the expectation is that pricing will be somewhat higher than they currently are in the market, but with organic adoption they will keep falling until it is so cheap that it does not leverage to be doing it as business in server farms anymore.
Platform's usage will be very straightforward for hosts, they will download the hosting application for their respective Operating System (will have support for: Holoports, Windows, macOS, Linux), choose the size of the space they want to lease (either as a percentage of total free space or in gigabytes), set the price (either fixed price or follow market pricing), and that is it—the rest will happen automatically in the background. Stored data will be encrypted and sandboxed from the rest of the OS.
For customers, it is also going to be quite straightforward, they will download the customer application (will have support for Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android), which integrates nicely with the respective Operating System and makes it easy to select what to store in the cloud, and set the price one is willing to pay.
Stored data can be used for either private or public needs. For private use, only the owner of the data will have access to it—while for public use, the data can be used by anyone who has the hash (the technical filename), acting like a distributed CDN.
A major use-case scenario, once platform’s transaction fees descend to 0, will be to store others' data and get credits for it as recognition, to be passed on to others who store your data—in a never ending cycle where everyone benefits, truly embodying the win-win mindset.
All uploaded data will be first encrypted with public-private key pairing, then sharded, and finally shards will be stored among many hosts—which is the preference of the system to prevent issues that might arise when only one or few hosts contain the whole file.
Private data will be encrypted with the public key, so only the private key can be used to access the content. While public data will be encrypted with the private key, so content will be accessible by simply using the publicly known key.
Data will be replicated and sharded among enough peers to prevent any possible data loss, decided intelligibly by the system—based on the conditions on any given moment and the reputation of the hosts.
Once the platform goes live, will use a ‘<1% Transaction Fee’ business model, and all the profits will be directed to the parent non-profit organization, Our Foundation. The profit will then be used to fund projects decided and prioritized by Our Movement, the majority of which do not have business models.
Transaction fees will gradually descend to 0, as the movement grows more and more sustainable through donations—fully embracing the gift economy.
This project will be Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS)free as in speech and beer, and its source code will be licensed under an OSI-approved license—once it reaches maturity.
The project is under incubation by Our Movement—itself a movement promoting radical social change by catalyzing the emergence of resilient societies.
It will be built using HolochainHolochain is a DLT framework for writing fully distributed peer-to-peer applications. It is free and open-source software built by Metacurrency Project for data storage and integrity, IPFS IPFS is a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol. It is open-source and is made by Protocol Labs for actual file storage, and React NativeReact Native is a UI framework for writing native apps. It is free and open-source software built by Facebook for the user interface (UI). It will be accessed most commonly through web browsers but there will also be native apps for major operating systems (OS).
This case study is a living document which means it is a work in progress, not completed yet and is being updated. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 — unless otherwise noted.