What Is ARK?
The details are a little confusing right now, but it seems that ARK is a smart contract that runs on the Ethereum World Computer. The purpose of this smart contract is to allow people to list newly created coins on a coin database. I am unsure exactly what is meant by “newly created coins” at this point. It could mean new cryptocurrencies, or it could be freshly mined coins for sale. I am leaning towards the former, and will continue this article with that assumption.
Why Do We Need ARK?
I’m relatively new to cryptocurrencies, and I would love a single source where I can find out about all the different choices out there. Imagine a single site that lists all the coins that exist. Not just their market-cap and value, like coinmarketcap.com, but also the core details about the coin:
- The names of the primary developers.
- Whether the coin is mineable or requires proof-of-stake.
- The algorithm used for hashing.
- The block reward and block time
- The rate of reward halving and the total coin limit
- How many hard forks the chain has had
There could be a thousand other details that could be listed to. These entries could also pull in data from exchanges and the blockchains themselves to provide a full picture of the coin’s health and economy. The more complex terms could have definitions written for them – why is scrypt used for some coins while others use SHA256?
This one site that houses all these details could be powered by the ARK smart contract. It would be a lot like wikipedia, but with the ability to merge in live data feeds from exchanges and blockchain explorers. The data itself would be decentralized, so you don’t have to trust the person running the website.
ARK doesn’t let just anyone write to this smart contract database either. The documentation states that if someone wants to edit the database, they have to pay a fee to a Virtual Clerk (called a BOT in the documentation) . These Virtual Clerks are selected in cycle, so no one BOT earns more than any other. Fees are paid for creating a coin entry, editing them, and I assume delisting them too.
These fees, along with a BLACKFLAG democratic voting system should eliminate spam and false edits on coin listings.
ARK is a really interesting Proof of Concept for a collaborative marketplace. I am not sure a coin db was the best choice for a test system, but something was needed, and it needed to appeal to the users of cryptocurrency.
Future versions of this sort of smart contract could result in listing of products for sale, rather than coin information. While that could lead to a fully decentralized Silk Road marketplace, the censorship aspect of it means that what is listed is really up to the community around the marketplace.
I am looking forward to seeing how this experiment plays out.
Disclaimer: this post was solicited by the creators of ARK, and while they had no influence over what was written, a bounty was offered for positive articles. In reality, the bounty itself has not changed the content of this article, it has only resulted in me writing about ARK before it launched – I had intended to wait and see how it all worked out first.