The Data Marketplace

Looking into IOTA’s latest announcement

In a brilliant but risky PR stunt IOTA has managed to insert a story into Reuters which was quickly picked up by other reputable sources like the NYTimes about it’s upcoming “Data Marketplace” initiative on which it “teamed up” with some big brand names (I have my doubts about how many of these big names even heard about IOTA but I’ll let their PR teams sort this out).

Looking into the scarce data provided by IOTA, the only example is “If you have a weather station collecting wind, temperature, humidity, and barometric data, for instance, you can sell that to an entity that is doing climatic research.”

Let’s try to analyze this use case, on the face of it, it looks amazing, now people can leverage their weather monitoring hobby using IOTA’s infinitely scalable tangle solution and share it with researches looking for global warming data for example.

So let’s assume that a research institute is indeed willing to pay for this type of data a small amount in western standards (which would represent a large amount in 3rd world terms). All of a sudden it will become very profitable to collect weather data, but why work hard and collect the real thing using an expensive weather station if you can fake it almost for free and still get rewarded?

Furthermore, a decent weather station collects mega bytes of data every day, this data comes in various types and formats so sorting out this data and marshaling it into a common format is a task by itself. But the sheer size of information is clearly larger than any one single network can handle.

Have to admit I’m not an expert about the inner workings of IOTA’s Tangle. But as I explained in my previous article which was published a couple weeks ago and was never refuted by the IOTA team, the tangle does not have infinite scalability. In fact it has some potential advantages over a blockchain but also clear disadvantages and the question of which of these designs scales better is still open. Therefore, using the scarce resources represented by the IOTA network for storing “2.5 quintillion bytes of data (which) are generated daily” is completely absurd. And how would the IOTA network which currently can only move IOTA tokens from one address to another, store this data? and how will it prune it when it is no longer relevant?

Why am I telling you all this? Because the Ardor Blockchain platform which Jelurida is about to launch into production by the beginning of 2018 has much better solutions to these challenges. Our unique parent/child chain architecture will soon enable us to separate different applications into their own chains and remove data from these chains once it is no longer required.

This means that the weather data collected wouldn’t have to mix with milk orders from refrigerators and GPS data from cars and train ticket purchase information. In fact in the future some nodes will be able to choose only to track some of this information and ignore other information and when the weather changes, the milk delivered, the car reaches its destination and the customer checks out of the train station, most nodes will be able to remove this data from their blockchain and forget about it.

In addition some of this “Data Marketplace” information will need to be encrypted to protect privacy and then shared securely with 3rd parties. We already have this feature in production since 2015 within our NXT blockchain.

To summarize, when dealing with large volumes of data, the ability to prune it and not share it with all nodes is very important. Time will tell which protocol provides a better solution IOTA’s tangle or Ardor’s parent/child architecture.