The Holochain distributed network is a post-blockchain technology for distributed apps that do not use Proof-of-Work or Proof-of-Stake. Unlike blockchains, it does not use strong- consistency but rather eventual-consistency; meaning the data created by a certain node does not need to be instantaneously shared with the rest of the nodes which can be a limiting factor to scalability.
Moreover, according to Arthur Brock (co-founder) “all the main forms of consensus are
actually algorithms that concentrate power and control” and for that reason, Holochain does
not maintain global consensus (it is maintained within apps). Instead, the platform leverages
ideas from BitTorent and Git by using an agent-centric approach.
Agent-centric vs. Data-centric
In a blockchain (data-centric), every node of the network must keep the same records to
maintain a single true ledger that requires a consensus algorithm to avoid corruption.
According to the developing team, this inherently puts a limit on scalability as every node on the planet must process every single transaction.
Holochain approaches this differently. They use an agent-centric approach, meaning each agent maintains their own history. Signatures are imperative every transaction with the agent’s private key. Holochain also implements a Distributed Hash Table (DHT) as the public space to allow continuous access to the data even if a certain node goes offline. Depending on the application, the data may need to be redundant on multiple nodes to maintain access to the application regardless of whether or not the authoring node is online. For example, a social media network application’s data must be kept on multiple nodes to maintain public access to read posts continuously.
To avoid any corruption, Holochain leverages the power of distributed validation. Each application has its own “DNA” with specific validation rules that must be met in order to create an entry, it is called “DNA” because this is what every node of an application needs to have in common.
This makes hacking attempts obsolete, and would, in turn, make any hacker create their own new application and entries as they cannot post in the name of another author and the malicious entry holds the signature of the attacker. As a result, the targeted author would be informed and would share their findings with other nodes (gossip), in order to remove any entries made by the attacker from consideration and possibly block any further communications with the latter.
Image c/o Holochain