What is Holochain?

At the time of writing, one coin that has managed to weather the storm of the crypto bear market is HOT.

At the time of writing it is being rumoured that the Holochain team have been in talks with the Mozilla foundation regarding collaborating on a project that could lead to a truly decentralized web. The open source software company behind the Firefox browser has in the past been a strong proponent of a decentralized web and has expressed a willingness to partner with others involved in decentralization to realise their goals.

Although there has been no formal announcement regarding the partnership both parties have expressed an interest in each other’s product and have stated they are “in talks”.

Jim Cook, the Chief Financial Officer of Mozilla said earlier this year: “We believe that power will decentralize in the next cycle. . . “[Holochain’s] agent-centric model really speaks to Mozilla.”

Matthew Schutte, Holochain’s Director of Communications, told listeners in an ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) recently that the project was in early talks with Mozilla’s developers. “It’s experimental, we’re working on it”, he said.

“We’ve chatted with some of the folks at Mozilla”, Schutte admitted but didn’t give further details.

Holochain (HOT) has surged around 60% over the past few days. At the time of writing, it had a market capitalization in excess of $185 million.

Holochain – Beyond Blockchain
Holochain can be considered a framework for Distributed Apps (DApps). It works using Digital Hash Tables (DHTs) which are more similar in nature to BitTorrents rather than a blockchain. The DHT acts as a fingerprint that relates to data. If you change the data, you change the DHT meaning that we can quite effectively identify valid data. It is based upon a dual key cryptographic system, where one key is public and the other private.

Holochain could be considered to be a competitor to the Ethereum or EOS Networks. However, it is built on fundamentally different software. The new mechanisms employed by Holochain will provide functionality that is not yet seen in the other Platforms. It is however, completely untested, there may be attack vectors that have not been considered. How a 51% or Sybil attack would play out in a real-world deployment of a Holochain app is still unclear. The potential to badly code a Holochain DApp is greater because of the high degree of control the developer has over the app. Whilst a DApp on the Holochain network could utilize consensus to validate its data a consensus algorithm is not an integral part of the networks feature set.

As the technology behind Holochain is “agent-centric” and because of security concerns, the Holochain network does not lend itself well to anonymity. It is important to identify and track agents to maintain the integrity of the system.

Holochain is truly infinitely scalable as it does not rely on complicated and resource consuming consensus algorithms. In fact, as the network grows the more durable and robust it should become. As an “agent-centric” distributed computing network the “consensus” engine utilizes a validating distributed hash table (DHT), requiring only nodes that are actually exchanging data with each other to reach a state of agreement.

The network is built on the premise that data can remain in localized clusters, instead of being shared with every node. This architecture creates a shortcut to consensus, as finality is reached only on certain segments of the network as nodes interact with one another.

Another benefit of Holochain is that it allows developers to use well known developer languages, such as JavaScript and lisp. Ethereum on the other hand uses the relatively obscure Solidarity language.

Even at these early stages interested parties are touting potential uses for Holochain including decentralized clones of Facebook, Twitter, AirBnB and Uber.

A core tenet of the project is to help enable people to find new ways of collaborating on their own terms, to run applications as a community. Holochain provides a method of running DApps that only requires the devices of the users. A user is also a host which provides faster downloads than centralized systems and allows users to pay their own way by contributing to the network.

Holochain aims to bring their product to market for a fraction of the cost of EOS. They raised
$20 million through their ICO.

As well as developing the Holochain network, the project is introducing a decentralized hosting platform known as Holo. This can be utilized to allow internet users access to “hApps” via their web browser.

If you act as a host on the Holo network, you get paid in crypto-credits known as Holo fuel.

Their ICO saw the launch of their HoloToken (HOT). As Holo fuel is used to power the Holo network Holochain hopes to achieve price stability for HOT, as these credits represent a means of transacting value backed by computing power.

It is anticipated that as the network grows, and more hosts come online to share computing power, the networks should increase in value. The Holofuel should increase in value as the service it supports increases in power.

Holochain is not a straight up improvement on blockchain. It is instead a different beast. There are trade-offs against other propositions in both security and scalability. It does however, offer a refreshing alternative to blockchain. Projects like this are what the crypto industry needs to see, if it is to evolve effectively. It will probably not replace Ethereum or EOS, but it may find that specific DApps are much better suited to its environment or be the foundation for an unimagined distributed web 3.0 system.

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