AION, which originally launched in July of 2017 as a blockchain ecosystem, has recently rebranded to the Open Application Network (OAN). This move signals a pivot to solving the biggest problems faced by users of big online platforms. OAN’s blockchain-based infrastructure for building applications enables developers to put the users back into control on the platforms they use. In this way, The Open Application Network addresses what they refer to as the unintended consequences of platform economies.
Decentralized infrastructure – What should be the focus?
Blockchain and decentralized infrastructure projects, up until this point, have focused on solutions such as higher transactions per second, and designing consensus algorithms.
But who in today’s Western markets loses sleep at night worrying that their transactions aren’t going through fast enough? Transaction speed is not a problem shared by most internet users. Yet how much time and effort has the industry spent recently on solutions for the problem?
On top of the misaligned motives, developers want to build decentralized applications but also must worry about regulatory compliance, privacy, interoperability, and public access, all at once.
But these layer upon layer and complex solutions actually have little demand from a user’s standpoint in today’s market. Still, teams working on Dapps, Web3, and a decentralized internet face a crowded marked for stackable technologies no one is prepared to use.
The problems with today’s platform economy
In June of 2018, the Aion team launched a strategy review to pinpoint the blockchain solutions needed in the platform economy. So they first took a long look at the problems with tech platforms today:
Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing platforms
Drivers who build a reputation on one platform and then switch to a new platform have to build their reputation from scratch. This lack of interoperability is detrimental to drivers who use ride-sharing as a source of income.
YouTube, Twitch, etc.
Influencers who depend on ad revenue can get demonetized in an instant and lose ‘their’ community. This could be accidental or because a platform like YouTube needs to appease advertisers. Influencers do not have control over the content they upload, the comments they make or receive, data about their followers, etc. Potentially, it could all go up in smoke without a moment’s notice.
Amazon uses the data on its eCommerce platform users to sell knockoffs of the top-selling products that compete with their users’ products. They have an unfair advantage because they own all the data and have full access to it, unlike Amazon’s sellers and users.
A developer using GitHub may suddenly find all their work is gone before they even had time to make a copy. This can happen if GitHub or another developer platform pull services from countries that are sanctioned or otherwise censored. Since you don’t own the data on this platform, you have no rights to the work you’ve done in GitHub.
The team at Aion deduced that all four of these examples trace back to a common theme: within the platform economy, when a platform is in its growth stage, it often showers its users with free services and incredible value. It helps them to quickly grow their audience and user base. But as they grow larger, the focus switches from providing value to their users, to extract it from them.
In this scenario, the central tool of value extraction is data. In all four platform problems above, the data and content that users put into the system belong to the platform and can be taken away at any moment. It is up to the platform what happens with the data at all times. They can sell it, use it to compete against you, shut off your access to it, or demonetize you at any time.
Creating solutions for platform economies
By coming to a deep understanding of the real problems faced by users in the platform economy, the Aion team built out The Open Application Network brand. Their intent is to bridge today’s big tech platforms with an open application building environment with two major focuses:
- User control
- Cross-platform accessibility
“The current platform ecosystem just doesn’t benefit businesses the way that it could. Tomorrow’s success stories won’t be built on yesterday’s platforms, but rather, they will become open and will design with their user’s interests in mind […] I am excited for the opportunity for The Open Application Network to own this space and start building solutions for these businesses.” – Matt Spoke, Co-founder and CEO, Open Application Network
Building on Open Application using OAN – Use Case
As an OAN Network application, Velocia incentivizes people to stop using single-occupant vehicles for driving and commuting. The app offers rewards to those using alternative options, such as carpooling and public transportation. These rewards can then be used on public transportation, or to pay for mobility services such as Lyft.
Users on Velocia are able to track and take ownership of all the data they have put into the platform. As they collect the VELO tokens for using alternative transportation, they take part in an urban “miles” program.
Open Application Network – The New Platform Economy
The goal of The Open Application Network is to provide the means for creating alternative platforms that give users ownership, control and privacy.
Additionally, the infrastructure allows for optimal interoperability. By having autonomy over creations, content, and businesses, users of OAN-enhanced platforms can innovate freely while enjoying the ownership of their universally accessible work.
A 3rd Category of digital assets: AION
To fuel the applications built on OAN, the AION token will be used. The token is available within the ecosystem for use by validators, miners, exchanges, and wallets. Its functions will include accessing, securing and incentivizing the Open Applications Network.
But AION differentiates itself from previous cryptocurrency protocols, namely Bitcoin and Ethereum. Bitcoin embodies state free money and Ethereum symbolizes a decentralized internet. But The Open Application Network and its AION token have a completely different narrative:
OAN is a public infrastructure that brings together a global community of individuals, software companies, institutions, and thought leaders. This community maintains operations for The OAN, with the AION token enabling and incentivizing the creation of interoperable and data-ownership based platforms and applications.
How it works
At TheOAN.com website, startups and developers will find a suite of Open Kits, as well as APIs, documentation, and templates. The suite includes:
- Open-Economy – This kit enables the creation of a micro-economy. This could be for everything from an air miles program to rewarding your followers on social media. Open-Economy platforms are interoperable so you create and reward across platforms.
- Open Governance – Stakeholders can help make decisions with this voting mechanism.
- Open Funding – This kit enables creators to crowdsource for funds. For example, a gig economy’s health insurance plan that is compatible with freelancer platforms.
- Open Identity – By adding a digital reputation mechanism to your application, developers create ways for end-users to control their data. An example would be easily transferring their data from one ride-sharing app to another.
OAN’s motto is: “Open is Better”
The Open Application Network provides a healthy infrastructure for the next generation of online platforms. Essentially, OAN allows for the ownership of data and content by the rightful owners. By infusing the internet with open source tools, Open Application Network addresses the unintended consequences of today’s platform economy.