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Introducing Flex Ledger

From: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>
Date: Fri, 03 Jun 2016 11:59:35 -0400
Message-ID: <5751A967.9050508@digitalbazaar.com>
To: Credentials Community Group <public-credentials@w3.org>
We're releasing some preliminary R&D work on generalized Web-based
decentralized ledgers today. This is the first public announcement about
the technology that we've made.

Problem Statement: Current Blockchain solutions (aka decentralized
ledgers) are fairly rigid, coupling many implementation details to the
data model. This results in various hacks to shoe-horn data into the
blockchain, side-chains, and a very high barrier to entry to when
launching new decentralized ledgers.

We claim that it would be useful to decouple:

1. the data model (what is stored)
2. the operational model (how you decide what is stored - e.g.
   consensus/proof-of-work mechanisms), and
3. the access protocol (how you access/append to the ledger)

The work we're publishing today is primarily about #1 above (the data
model). We're loosely calling this technology "Flex Ledger", or "Flex"
for short. It is incredibly rough and experimental, but we're releasing
early and often in order to keep this community in the loop.

By decoupling data, operations, and access, we hope that decentralized
ledger technology becomes more modular and thus easier to configure and
deploy for different use cases. This enables a world where ledgers are
very modular, letting people independently choose the best type of data
to store in the ledger, the best consensus algorithm, and various other
configurable options based on specific use cases. There may be thousands
of different types of ledgers, just as there are millions of different
types of websites that exist today.

This work is related to this group because there has been interest in
publishing credential / verifiable claim data to decentralized ledgers.
For example, revocation lists could be published to decentralized
ledgers. Non-personally-identifiable credentials could be published to
decentralized ledgers ("the person with ID 123 is an emergency medical
technician that was cleared for duty on 2016-06-01.").

So, one of the primary use cases for this ledger technology is the
storage of verifiable claims / credentials in a decentralized ledger.

The introductory portion of the Flex Ledger specification may be useful
to those that want to get an overview of decentralized ledger
technologies in general:

http://digitalbazaar.github.io/flex-ledger#introduction

There is also a Linked Data Vocabulary that formally defines what can be
placed into the data model:

http://digitalbazaar.github.io/flex-ledger/vocabulary.html

These specifications, a part of the "Credentials on Public/Private
Linked Ledgers" project, has been funded in part by the United States
Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate.
The content of these specifications do not necessarily reflect the
position or the policy of the U.S. Government and no official
endorsement should be inferred.

The specification will most likely be incubated through the Web Payments
Community Group as there is more expertise there on decentralized ledger
technologies than there is in the Credentials CG. That said, I expect
there to be heavy coordination between both groups wrt. use cases,
requirements, and features.

-- manu

-- 
Manu Sporny (skype: msporny, twitter: manusporny, G+: +Manu Sporny)
Founder/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
blog: The Web Browser API Incubation Anti-Pattern
http://manu.sporny.org/2016/browser-api-incubation-antipattern/
Received on Friday, 3 June 2016 16:00:00 UTC

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