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What is Oyster?
Oyster is the new paradigm for the internet economy that breaks the stalemate between advertisers and ad blockers. To accomplish this, Oyster provides web-accessible and anonymous data storage as a superior alternative to cloud storage. Website owners add the one line Oyster code to their site HTML to turn their visitors into treasure hunters that search for Oyster Pearls: the PRL token. Treasure hunting means a visitor’s browser performs light proof of work to discover embedded PRL in the encrypted data maps of uploaded files. Storage users spend PRL to reliably and anonymously store their data as website visitors’ browsers hunt for the PRL spent by the user. This means that Oyster is the economic bridge between content publishers, content consumers, storage providers, and storage consumers. By uniting all these separate parties, Oyster unlocks the hidden revenue potential of the web.
— Bruno Block, Protocol Designer and Lead Developer
ICO Alert: How does the Oyster token (PRL) function within the platform and why is it needed?
Oyster: The browsers of website visitors hunt for embedded Oyster Pearls, PRL tokens, across the IOTA tangle. The private seed key of the Ethereum address holding the PRL is embedded in an uploaded file’s encrypted data structure. As the nodes search for PRL via proof of work they inadvertently re-attach the data to the tangle which extends the file’s retention. This means that the data retention is fully decentralized and motivated by the economic incentive of a continuous blockchain treasure-hunt. The Oyster smart contract only allows PRL to be gradually released from the token’s embedded state, therefore prolonging the treasure-hunt and guaranteeing the data’s integrity for the correct amount of time. This mechanism guarantees that if a user pays for data to be stored for two years, it will persist on the tangle for a minimum of two years.
ICO Alert: There are a variety of components within the Oyster platform including storage users, website owners, web nodes, broker nodes, IOTA tangle, and the Ethereum blockchain. How does each piece work within the system and why is it important?
Oyster: Storage users spend PRL to store their data in a secure, reliable and anonymous manner. Storage users are important because they provide the initial cash flow to the system.
A broker node is a device that runs the Oyster protocol and maintains the databases of the IOTA tangle and the Ethereum blockchain. People that pay for broker node hosting automatically receive a share of the spent PRL in compensation. Broker nodes play a crucial role in the Oyster protocol because they provide ledger access to storage users and web nodes. Additionally, the broker nodes physically retain the user data.
Website owners install the one line Oyster code on their websites to generate additional traffic revenue. Website owners are important because they create and host content which website visitors want to access.
Web nodes are the browsers of website visitors. These web nodes perform proof of work that financially compensates the websites they are visiting. The work performed by the web nodes guarantees the retention of the data across the tangle topology. Additionally, web nodes generate revenue for the website owner which enables the creation and hosting of content.
The IOTA tangle is a blockless ledger that requires each transaction to perform individual proof of work. The payload capacity of a tangle transaction is used to store split parts of the uploaded data. Data that is uploaded via Oyster is physically retained across the tangle topology, which includes broker nodes and normal IOTA nodes.
The Ethereum blockchain provides the smart contract framework that grants the PRL token its unique attributes. These attributes are the custom bury() and claim() contract functions, which are required for the Oyster protocol to operate correctly.
ICO Alert: How do website owners store a user’s files, and why do user’s need this today? Why use the IOTA tangle for storage?
Oyster: What users are looking for is truly private cloud storage. After the Edward Snowden incident in 2013, users have been searching for cloud storage alternatives that are secure and private. This shift in demand has boosted privacy-focused cloud companies like SpiderOak. However, these companies use proprietary solutions that are ultimately closed-source which leaves the end user stranded without a fully-auditable solution. Even if the company made some of their code open-source, the end user doesn’t know what is really being executed on their servers. Oyster is a fully decentralized solution for anonymous, secure data retention and operates purely on a node’s individual economic self-interests. The entire source code is auditable and data is encrypted in the browser before it reaches the tangle. A user can inspect the operational source code of the Oyster web client in their browser developer tools before they expose their sensitive information.
A website owner installs the Oyster code on their website which permits visitors to perform proof of work on the tangle. The IOTA tangle has a fully decentralized node topology with transactions that eventually expire. Mass data storage on a typical blockchain is not feasible because the data is stored permanently; it is required that transactions are eventually deleted. With the tangle, data retention persists as long as the transaction is periodically re-attached via proof of work. The IOTA tangle was also chosen because of the high rate of data duplication redundancy and incoming load balancing features such as swarm intelligence and permanodes.
ICO Alert: How are user’s incentivized to offer even 1% of their hardware’s CPU/GPU?
Oyster: A user’s incentive is in receiving access to the content that is produced and hosted by the website. This is the direction that we see the web moving towards: IoT micro-transactions. Instead of paying $9.99 a month for access to articles, a user’s CPU/GPU (which they paid for) performs a bit of work per article. If users want to have their cake and eat it too by not contributing anything to the content they are consuming, then they will soon find subscription paywalls and increasingly intrusive advertising tactics spawning everywhere in economic retaliation. In fact, this is what the internet has already turned into since ad blockers have become mainstream. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
Oyster is not directly involved with the ethics of content access. Instead, Oyster provides tools of arbitration to both content providers and content consumers so that they can find an operable middle ground via free market principles. Users are presented with a discrete notice for consent and can easily disable the proof of work. Disabling the proof of work will, in turn, activate a website’s policy which may or may not block or limit the content. What Oyster offers users is an end to taxing subscription fees and invasive advertisements. Users can support their favorite websites by using the hardware that they already paid for. Oyster enables website owners to operate more advanced content access policies. For example, a website may tolerate 40% or less of visitors to access content without performing proof of work before blocking access.
Oyster allows websites to have their own financial autonomy by not relying on monolithic advertising platforms like Google and Facebook. Any of these platforms can bully a website due to political motivations, whilst the advertisements themselves are rarely assertion-neutral. Payments made via Oyster are perfectly decentralized and automated; thus, no one can revoke a website’s paycheck. This in turn can breathe life back into independent organizations that perform investigative journalism and similar works. A great example is Wikipedia, which has notoriously abandoned advertisements to remain politically-neutral.
ICO Alert: One PRL will always represent one gigabyte of anonymous data retention for one year. Why is this done, and what are the potential implications to the PRL price (as discussed in your blog)?
Oyster: PRL is a very unique token because it is intrinsically pegged, via smart contract, to digital storage as a commodity without requiring a reserve. This design was chosen primarily to secure the network’s treasure hunting algorithm. During the initial design period of the protocol it was found that not pegging the token to the storage capacity opens up an attack vector known as the red-herring attack. In this attack, a malicious storage user pretends to embed PRL into the data map but does not actually embed them. It would waste the time and energy of web nodes that are searching for treasure that doesn’t exist. Because the Oyster smart contract permanently pegs one PRL to one gigabyte for one year, the red-herring attack vector has been completely eliminated.
The storage-peg also means that PRL will exhibit a stable pricing evaluation once the network is live. The storage commodity demand curve will continuously calibrate the price of PRL. This means that PRL is an incredible opportunity for early adopter investors to make large profits with very low downside risk. PRL is currently being offered at a fraction of the price of cloud storage prices. Due to the economic laws of supply/demand arbitration, the price must calibrate to a price in the general area of cloud storage prices. If the price were to stay at low pre-network prices whilst the network is live, the demand for Oyster would surge as companies and individuals load up on PRL for affordable storage. This surge in demand would increase the price to the fair market value of digital storage, therefore rewarding large profits to early adopters.
Here is an example to illustrate this pricing mechanism: imagine a volleyball being released from the bottom of the ocean. The volleyball shoots up violently to the surface, puncturing the waves and becoming suspended in mid-air for several seconds. The ball then finds buoyancy equilibrium as it rests on the ocean waves, elegantly levitating upwards and downwards along with them. The launch of PRL at a low price can only happen once before it shoots upwards and permanently finds equilibrium with the fair market value of digital storage.
ICO Alert: How simple is it for users to store their files through this system? Is it a mobile/ desktop interface? What is the process someone goes through to get setup on the platform, store files, and retrieve files?
Oyster: Oyster is the base protocol for which any front-end client can be developed. The official Oyster client operates via a web interface so that it is cross-platform, cross-device, simple to access, easy to use, and instant to upgrade. Users can download the check-summed HTML files from the GitHub repository and run it locally from their browser in case they are worried that the Oyster website might become compromised. No additional software needs to be installed. When the network is live a user can just go to the Oyster home page and drag and drop their file into the browser. When the user sends the correct amount of PRL to the designated address, the file upload starts. The main web client allows for the best auditability because users can inspect the source code in their browser as they upload their sensitive information.
With the official Oyster client, there are no usernames, passwords, emails, nor registration of any kind. Each file upload is marked with an Oyster Handle, which is an 80-character string that resembles a private seed key. All someone needs to do to retrieve their data is paste the Handle into the client and the file will be retrieved from the tangle.
The Oyster team is planning on developing an iPhone and Android app with built in PRL wallets after the baseline web client is complete. Such clients would be able to automatically backup user data in direct competition to cloud storage services. Oyster is not limited to consumer front-end clients, the protocol itself can be easily integrated into enterprise frameworks to serve large corporations that need data retention with high duplicate redundancy, failure resistance and uptime availability.
ICO Alert: Other than combining multiple features, what makes Oyster better than competition who are also trying to revolutionize the storage or advertising space?
Oyster: Oyster competes with other projects on two fronts, website monetization and decentralized storage. I contest that it is better on both of those fronts, I will first explain the website monetization aspect. The most well-known example of a token that attempts to solve the issues of the digital advertising industry is BAT (Basic Attention Token). The BAT team designed their own browser called Brave, which tracks user attention to advertisements.
The first issue with BAT is the unrealistic expectation that any significant number of users would ditch Google Chrome and other popular web browsers to install Brave. The user is more likely to simply install Ad Block Plus instead of switching to Brave. With Oyster, deployment is simple as website owners need only add one line of code without having to go through any registration nor approval. The Oyster network is completely decentralized so no one can block them from generating revenue. The Oyster web client is easy to access without requiring large software changes on behalf of the user.
The second issue with BAT is that adverts are still distracting and invasive. These ads take up precious pixel space, often break the content and design continuity of websites, and are rarely politically neutral. Adverts must always be manually interpreted and approved for ethics compliance, therefore the system can never be fully decentralized. In contrast, adding Oyster to a website only shows a small notice for user consent therefore respecting the aesthetics and neutrality of the website.
With regards to other decentralized storage protocols such as Siacoin and Storj, all of their miners require custom software that runs natively within the operating system. Therefore with a lower deployment of miners comes lower storage scalability, redundancy, and hence reliability. Oyster can quickly and easily turn any visitor with a web browser into a miner, therefore resulting in a more scalable and reliable storage solution. Oyster’s main client is also web based, which has a lot more accessibility than software that runs natively within the operating system. myetherwallet.com is a great example for how web based clients can be secure, reliable and accessible. End users will also prefer to pay for data storage with PRL due to Oyster’s stable pricing mechanism, as they probably don’t want to mix pricing speculation with their consistent storage needs. Imagine if a large corporation wants to buy $1 million worth of access to decentralized storage. Will they buy the coin that is highly speculative and volatile in price, like Siacoin and Storj, or the coin that is permanently pegged to the price of storage? There is no fallback mechanism if the price of Siacoin or Storj where to drop in half overnight, but any shocks to the price of PRL will rebound due to the economic principle of the commodity demand curve.
ICO Alert: How far along is the project today? What does the roadmap look like for the rest of 2017 and 2018?
Oyster: Oyster succeeds FrozenJar, which was its centralized predecessor. FrozenJar aimed to accomplish the same goals of anonymous storage and website monetization as Oyster, but was too centralized in its payout mechanism and retention of metadata. The storage logic of FrozenJar was fully completed and is currently available on our GitHub page. We are using FrozenJar as an initial boost to the code development of Oyster. Oyster has been tested with proof of concepts regarding interaction with the tangle, and proof of concepts are also available on our GitHub page.
The development roadmap can be classified into five major stages:
1) Launch of the Oyster Pearl (PRL) smart contract.
2) The broker node half of the network.
3) The web node half of the network.
4) The distributed reputation system.
5) The extendable decentralized application platform.
ICO Alert: As a non-Oyster question we like to ask for unique predictions on the cryptocurrency and ICO space in the near future. Where do you see the industry in 3–5 years?
Oyster: I think that, as Satoshi previously alluded, the banks are going to be in trouble. As the fractional-reserve-banking/print-infinity-money paradigm melts down, it is imaginable that the masses will flock to cryptocurrencies as a store of wealth since they have a limited and provable supply. This would mean that all cryptocurrencies would skyrocket as compared to fiat, stable-coin or not, except for USDT. It reminds me how in the early days of the internet we used to use telephone lines to access the internet (dial-up) and now we use internet lines to access the telephone (VoIP). Now we need banks to access cryptocurrencies, but in the future cryptocurrencies might become the bank.
Exclusive ICO Alert Presale
The Oyster team is hosting an exclusive presale for ICO Alert readers. In order to participate follow these instructions:
1. Visit the Oyster website.
2. Scroll to the bottom of the page where it says “PRL Crowdsale”.
3. In the bottom right hand corner under “Access Code” input the unique code ICOALERT17
This code will prompt a drop down presale area of the website where you’ll find information on ICO Alert presale bonuses and info on how to contribute. It is important you do not send funds from an exchange wallet and only use an ERC-20 compatible wallet (Myetherwallet, etc.), because the presale tokens will be sent to the address from where you contribute funds.
The ICO Alert presale carries a bonus ranging from 20-60% and expires on Oct 18 16:00 UTC.
The crowdsale begins on October 21, 2017 and ends November 14, 2017. For every one Ether contributors will receive 5,000 Oyster tokens (PRL). 1 PRL token equals 1 gigabyte of anonymous data retention for 1 year.
There will be 400,000,000 PRL tokens available during the crowdsale and there is a hard cap of 80,000 Ether. Any unsold PRL tokens will be burned. For further details on gas limits and more visit the Oyster website when the crowdsale goes live.
Token Distribution Information
There are a total of 500,000,000 PRL tokens being created. PRL tokens are ERC-20 tokens so an ERC-20 compatible wallet should be used for contribution and storage. PRL tokens will be distributed immediately after contribution and any unsold tokens will be burned. While the final supply of tokens will depend on how much Ether is contributed, there are a total of 500,000,000 PRL tokens being created.
For more details on the total supply visit the Oyster blog.
15%: Developer fund
Use of Crowdsale Proceeds
1. Promote Oyster with professional marketing campaigns
2. Support developers that work for Oyster full time
3. Initialize the network with a safety net of server farms
Bruno Block, Protocol Designer and Lead Developer
GitHub | Telegram
Bruno is self-taught programmer that has been developing software for around 10 years. His experience puts an emphasis on data mining, machine learning, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. He fully developed the predecessor to Oyster, FrozenJar, and before working on Oyster used to design schematics for software patents.
Taylor French, Senior Software Engineer and Design Director
GitHub | Linkedin
Taylor completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Memorial University, and complete a master’s degree in experimental psychology at McGill University. This background in psychology/neuroscience is what fueled his interest in UI/UX design, which led to an interest in front-end design methodologies and frameworks. He is a self-taught computer programmer, and recently worked as an Amazon Web Services (AWS) developer intern for a prominent Fintech company. He has developed a strong interest in cryptocurrency investments as well as the underlying technology associated with cryptocurrency, which is what led him to the Oyster Protocol.
Ian Seyer, Lead Engineer
Ian is a brand new hire for Oyster. Ian Seyer is a software and devops engineer with a background in API design and paradigms of scale. He has worked in distributed computing and large scale messaging systems, as well as data processing and machine learning. He entered the crypto space 1.5 years ago as an investor.