Fat Protocols

Fat Protocols is a name coined by Joel Monegro of Union Square Ventures (USV). In a post on their blog he explains:

The previous generation of shared protocols (TCP/IP, HTTP, SMTP, etc.) produced immeasurable amounts of value, but most of it got captured and re-aggregated on top at the applications layer, largely in the form of data (think Google, Facebook and so on).

In contrast, he argues, BlockChain could be described as ‘fat protocol’. Most of the value that is owned is generated ‘at the protocol level’. Bitcoin and Ethereum have a very large market capitalisation, while applications built on top of their respective chains have far less value.

Thin and fat protocols.

Perspectives can be thought of as a protocol. The Perspective Runtime (PR) uses that protocol to exchange information automatically between nodes, according to models that govern the interaction between individuals holding the nodes. In this sense, alternatives for the PR are fully conceivable. As a matter of fact, while writing “On the Principles of Financial Transactions Secured by Witnesses” I thought of a client for a trust providing organisation that doesn’t need to be based on the PR. It just needs to handle a few actions and a single role in a single type of context. Such a client could be written in any language and use any kind of database, as long as it speaks the protocol.

This is good. It means that Perspectives doesn’t lock you in. Let’s call this protocol the Perspectives Exchange Protocol (PEP). Is PEP a fat or a thin protocol? I give you another USV quote:

by replicating and storing user data across an open and decentralized network rather than individual applications controlling access to disparate silos of information, we reduce the barriers to entry for new players and create a more vibrant and competitive ecosystem of products and services on top

This is exactly what Perspectives is all about. However, USV sees a second component that contributes to the value of Blockchain based protocols and that is the utility token (called protocol token in this context). Users investing in these tokens incentivise development of both the protocol and applications on top of it.

Here is where InPlace comes in. Conceive of the monthly fee paid by users as an investment in Perspective Utility Tokens (PUT). These recurring investments are put to use by expending them to creative modellers who contribute to the Perspectives ecosystem of models.

Seen in that light, it would seem that PEP is a fat protocol, complete with its own token. The one difference from many Blockchain based protocols is that the PUT has no speculative value.

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