Ocean Protocol Ecosystem

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"In nature, an ecosystem is the combination of living organisms, their physical environment, and all their ongoing interrelationships. Ecosystems in the context of blockchain-based, decentralised organisations such as Ocean can be understood in the same way: There is a context for the interactions, there are participants that may be competing for prosperity, there are patterns in the interactions and an overall outcome, sustainability, that benefits everyone and everything within it.

Participants in the Ocean Protocol Ecosystem share an environment, which includes the protocol, through complex interactions and interdependencies. They depend on each other and they are all necessary to its existence, even though some may have contrasting goals, norms and values.

As we look at ways to develop the Ocean Protocol ecosystem, we can look at analogies with the natural world to answer important questions such as:

  • What different species of participants do we expect to emerge, and how will they interact with others?
  • How do we ensure a sustainable ecosystem, where the majority of participants have positive incentives to continue participating and contribute back to the ecosystem?
  • How do we limit the danger of “parasites” that drain value from the ecosystem?
  • We don’t have all the answers. But we believe that taking an ecosystem view is essential to the long term success of Ocean Protocol as a fundamental substrate for decentralised data sharing and AI."



Trophic Levels


"A key concept in describing natural ecosystems is trophic level. “In ecology, the trophic level is the position that an organism occupies in a food chain — what it eats, and what eats it. Wildlife biologists look at a natural “economy of energy” that ultimately rests upon solar energy. When they look at an ecosystem there is almost always some foundation species that directly harvests energy from the sun, for example, grass. Next are herbivores (primary consumers) that eat the grass, such as the rabbit. Next are carnivores (secondary consumers) that eat the rabbit, such as a bobcat. (…) Since each layer of this system relates to the one below it by absorbing a fraction of the energy it consumed, each one can be understood as resting on the one below — which is called a lower trophic level.”

In the Ocean Protocol ecosystem, participants are not literally eating each other. But the analogy with trophic levels still holds when we see this as a dependency of higher level participants upon the providers of lower level functionality. We see the participants in the Ocean ecosystem being categorised into four levels:

  • Core network — participants whose main role is in maintaining the trustless, decentralised blockchain that forms the shared substrate for the Ocean Protocol ecosystem
  • Common services — systems that build upon the decentralised network to provide shared data services to the ecosystem
  • Value creators — organisations and individuals who create value by acting as direct users of Ocean Protocol
  • External stakeholders — individuals, organisations and communities who don’t use Ocean Protocol directly, but can contribute to it, benefit from the value created, and have an interest in the successful, secure and efficient operation of the global data economy."