Perhaps one of the most disappointing things about computing today is how fragmented user experiences can be. Despite the developments in experience design, users still have yet to enjoy comprehensive and seamless experiences that address their every digital need.
Take the mobile experience, for instance. The trend for developers has been to deconstruct what used to be comprehensive software suites into bite-sized focused applications. Users need to download and use one app each to use of chat, social, collaboration, and so on. Users have to constantly switch screens and contexts as they go through their daily computing routine.
Even desktop computing has become fragmented. Companies and enterprises are now migrating only parts of their processes to the cloud. But like the mobile apps, cloud services have also gone the focused route. So users often have to manage multiple accounts and subscriptions in order to have access to the functionalities and services they need.
What these essentially create are silos that fragment users’ experiences. The lack of integration and interoperability between apps and services also aggravate the situation. Companies and developers operate as centralized authorities that assert control over how their respective platforms are used. Users may have to perform additional steps, workarounds, or use third-party services just to link one data source to another.
This is even further complicated by the emergence of technologies such as blockchain. Even though blockchain platforms preach decentralization and peer-to-peer connectivity, they themselves currently suffer from lack of interoperability. Only select platforms offer cross-chain interoperability, so performing transactions across decentralized applications (dapps) running on different blockchains are currently limited. This has been one of the roadblocks to the wider adoption of blockchain.
Fortunately, there are efforts that are working towards addressing the situation. Among those leading the charge is blockchain-based orchestration platform Cardstack which seeks to provide the interoperability needed in today’s internet.
Cardstack aims to break down these application and infrastructure silos by providing a blockchain-based application orchestration platform. The project puts users at the center of orchestration, letting them take control over the user experience basing on their own rules and conditions. The platform provides users access to a variety of application functionalities such as authentication, communication, collaboration, and payments. These functionalities are visualized as cards which users can then “stack” in order to create customized workflows designed to accomplish their required tasks.
Interestingly, this approach is similar to how apps have become smaller and more focused. Each card essentially represents applications states. But instead of developers and designers dictating the workflow, Cardstack leaves that to users. Project’s team also plans to have these functionalities be eventually released as open-source standards. Users and developers will be free to replicate and modify them in order to create more enhanced features.
Handling the orchestration functionalities is the Cardstack Hub – the technology layer responsible for commands and queries between user experiences and data sources. Through the Hub, the platform is also capable of tapping into a variety of data sources including cloud and blockchain. This allows users to bring a wide array of data types and services into their workflows.
Transactions on the platform are made using the Cardstack (CARD) Token. Users need to spend CARD in order to create smart tokens that allow access to users’ chosen apps. CARD Tokens are also used to incentivize and reward developers who contribute to the platform. Instead of direct payouts, however, tokens are staked into a reward pool. An algorithmic model is then applied in order to disburse rewards to contributors, creating a more equitable system.
Cardstack also features a scalable consensus protocol called Tally. It essentially pre-processes transactions before sending the final payment to the Ethereum blockchain. This way, the platform doesn’t risk of introducing bottlenecks and provide speedy confirmations.
What these essentially create is a self-sustaining ecosystem that provides interoperability between conventional and blockchain data sources. Not only is data shared across apps but users can use their own rules on how these should function. This presents almost endless possibilities for users in creating the experiences that they need. This can also potentially bring about wider adoption of dapps and blockchain services as these can now work alongside other apps based on users’s requirements.
Cardstack has been making significant progress in realizing its vision. Recently, the venture concluded a successful token generation event selling $35 million of CARD Tokens. The funding would enable the project to proceed to its next phases which involve bringing on more contributors to grow the ecosystem.