How does OPEN work and what is this Scaffold?


About OPEN

OPEN is an architecture for bringing about the connection between the blockchain and centralized infrastructures, like Amazon and Netflix, that we know and love. It is important to build this bridge because without OPEN it is impossible to leverage the strengths that centralized systems have in computation, with the strengths that the blockchain has in trustless interactions.

The OPEN Architecture

It is great to talk about making a connection between the centralized and the decentralized, but it takes more than talk to make this a reality. Let’s take a high-level look at the OPEN platform to get a feel for how this can be accomplished.

The Scaffold and the OPEN State are where the magic happens in this architecture. They allow for centralized systems to pull information from the blockchain to verify ownership or payment. This works by having the central system create a smart contract called a Scaffold, this Scaffold can take public inputs, and it the inputs are correct (say someone pays the right price for an online subscription), they output a type of receipt. This receipt of ownership lives on the blockchain and is tied to the person that it was created for. To avoid the hassle of intermediaries, central systems can query their Scaffolds to check if there are any new OPEN States, then propagate the changes that the OPEN States dictate.

What is this Scaffold?

The Scaffold is an integral part of the OPEN ecosystem, but it is hard to wrap your head around what it exactly is (and how amazing it is). A good way to think of the Scaffold is as the smart contract version of the person that verifies or creates ownership when given payment or data. This is still a little convoluted so let’s break it down to a real life analogy.

Sandwiches and Scaffolds

Close your eyes and imagine that you are in a quaint restaurant, let’s call it Julie’s Cafe. Now at Julie’s, you pay for an amazing turkey and avocado sandwich at the counter and they give you a receipt. When the sandwich is ready, you must present your receipt, and they give you a delicious turkey and avocado sandwich.

This is exactly what OPEN does! Just pretend that Julie’s is a centralized system, and you are a customer. In this case, the Scaffold is represented by the person and the cash register.

You present that person at the counter with information that you desire some certain meal, they calculate the price and ensure that you have paid it. Once you have paid, they give you a receipt (an OPEN State) that you can show to the chef to get your food.

How does a Scaffold do this for OPEN?

Maybe that example gave you a feeling for what the Scaffold is, but how does that translate to the blockchain and OPEN?

Well, it is the same principle. In the same way that you can set different prices, for say a coffee and a bagel, in a cash register, you can set prices in the Scaffold using the OPEN API. The Scaffold can take in much more than just payments, like data or identity (public addresses), but that is a story for another time. For now, think of the Scaffold as a novel way of setting a pricing scheme that outputs an OPEN State, which acts as a receipt of ownership for the customer.

The Birds and the Bees and the Miracle of Making a Scaffold

The Scaffold is awesome for what it can do, but eventually one must ask the question that every parent dreads, “Where does it come from?”

Scaffolds are smart contracts and can be created using the OPEN API. However, to really put the Scaffold into the world and make it active, the Scaffold must be staked with a certain amount of OPEN Token (the tokens main utility on the platform). This staking serves the purpose of preventing a DDoS attack of people opening and activating Scaffolds willy nilly and overwhelming the network, among other things.

Once the Scaffold has been created you can add and remove pricing schemes for items that will result in the creation of different OPEN States and will be tied directly to the customer.

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