AKASHA Reloaded: Unifying the Ecosystem with Ethereum.World

AKASHA Reloaded: Unifying the Ecosystem with Ethereum.World


Hey hey hey, yo yo yo yo, Devcon 5
Hey everyone!
I’m happy to see a few of you brave enough to stand through the typhoon,
and also able to get up so early in the morning.
Let me see if this is working, yep, clicker on.
So, before we begin, I have a question:
how many of you have heard of AKASHA before?
Wow, so, almost everyone, and how many of you have actually played with the app? An alpha or a beta?
Okay, almost half.
Thank you for taking the time to play with the app, it was a learning experience for us.
For those of you that haven’t heard of AKASHA before,
it’s kind of an old project in the ecosystem, so to speak,
we unveiled it on May 3rd, World Press Freedom Day, 2016, and the original intention was to have this
experiment trying to combine Ethereum and IPFS to create a decentralized
social network, which has some really nice features, like being censorship resistant
and, you know “decentralized”
but in January this year we started this series of posts called Metamorphosis
and there has been this change in our understanding of what we can do with these technologies
when we put them together, and also what are the possibilities, because it’s still early days
and we are still, I think, scratching the surface of what can be done with this toolkit.
But, since the beginning, something hasn’t changed, because in 2016, that was when the whole ICO
craze began, and “when ICO?” was one of the most
frequently-asked questions, and we tried
to make it clear to people that the main reason we are trying to do this is
to figure out: if this idea is viable,
what are the limits, and understand what are the possibilities.
The main message remains the same
as always: keep your coins, we want change.
Behind the initiative and the project, there is the AKASHA Foundation
a non-profit organization incorporated in Switzerland
which describes itself as:
a non-profit born at the intersection of blockchain and collective intelligence.
And in the process of these three years since we
announced, we released three fully-functional Ethereum dapps:
the alpha desktop app, the beta desktop app, and
the web beta app, which has the IPFS part completely rewritten, so the browsers
are actually communicating peer-to-peer, we didn’t do any of that gateway “decentralized” thing.
But, speaking of blockchain, and this being an Ethereum event
what is Ethereum?
This is an easy question, but if you’d ask around here, let’s say ten people, you’d probably get like
ten slightly-different defintions, or
sometimes completely differing, but for the purpose of this presentation, let’s say that
we are in the shoes of someone new to blockchain, or at least, Ethereum
So they Google something and *boom* they reach this Ethereum.org page, nice!
there’s a GIF, ooh, this is looking beautiful, right?
What is this Ethereum thing? It looks nice. So when you read it’s like, hmmm
so it’s a global, open-source platform for decentralized applications, hmmm
so this is kind of like an app store of sorts?
Where you have these apps? I’m curious, I want to try this.
So then, if you click, for example, “use” you are greeted by this list of applications, and usually
I think as a user, when you click “use” it’s something that you actually
experience, not so much read.
For a new potential user, who is trying to figure out what Ethereum is,
and what does this mean in their life, and what impact it has, let’s say it’s a bit overwhelming,
to say the least.
The problem which is at the root of this is that user experience is sometimes an afterthought
especially when we work on our projects and we focus too much on the actual technology,
like: damn that transaction, mmm that library isn’t working and then in the
months after development it’s like: yes! That works, but the general experience is not
that great, and, we actually conducted user research in the community, and for those
brave enough, those users that, from the beginning, they clicked, they went through the list
they’re now onboarding and so on, the general feeling is that
it’s something very hard to use and cumbersome
and many times they are discouraged: “this is too hard for me”
“this is simply not for me” and
in our user research, we tried to reach out to a
number of meetup organizers, meetup participants, and
members from the community, so Ethereans, not
the fans, those that are passionate enough
to go through some pain to
get that ✨Ethereum magic ✨but
one quote from this research is particularly
insightful, and that quote is:
“dapps are like toys and games that noone is having fun playing with”
Right in the feels.
It’s not something you want to hear, but it is something real
and another interesting insight here is that Ethereum
this magical thing, hard to describe, this unicorn in cyberspace
for a normal user, they associate Ethereum with whatever app is that touchpoint.
Every Ethereum app and service, in a way, in the world is kind of like an ambassador
for the Ethereum ecosystem. If someone
tries an Ethereum app, and is like “man, that onboarding is too hard” that’s going to be the associated idea
and I know what you’re thinking, some of you: “but tokens”
there is an economic incentive, that carrot, and you go through the pain because
there’s some kind of reward at the end of the journey
but our research, and, by the way
you can find this research on the AKASHA.org blog, if you’re interested,
is that actually, the reality looks like this
YAY, token drops, but people are not that enthusiastic because the experience is not
great, so it’s not something you do for enjoyment, it’s something that you do to maybe
get that token and then maybe sell it on an exchange.
So the question is “how can we improve this Ethereum experience?”
I think that the first step towards that is to understand that Ethereum is more than just a blockchain
it’s more than just a technology and in the previous presentation we had this sociological aspect
it’s also this social thing and this is a quote from Vitalik which captures this idea:
that money is fundamentally a social thing in a much deeper way than encrypted
two-party communication.
I extend this to say that Ethereum is also this social thing
and programmable money is fundamentally a social thing.
This will be something that we should keep in mind.
To exemplify this, this is a visualization of the Ethereum repos on Github
it’s sped up a bit; you can see the date above
the main idea is that Ethereum is not just this static, abstract idea somewhere, it’s a
living, social organism that’s formed from this network of people
making these contributions and this whole idea,
entering our reality as lines of code, is more than just technology, it’s also this network of people.
Our journey, with AKASHA, between 2016 and 2018
consisted mainly, or, we focussed our efforts on building these apps.
If Ethereum is this decentralized app platform,
let’s say like a decentralized app store,
we tried to put one of these apps in that decentralized app store and the functionality of that
app would be a social network, running on Ethereum,
but, since then, our understanding of what can
we do to maximize the impact that we have, and what’s
the greatest thing that we can achieve, considering that we are just a handful of people
is to actually build a framework, so even though
it’s not a very accurate comparison, it helps maybe to imagine the new
AKASHA Reloaded
as kind of like a WordPress for social networks where people and communities in general can deploy
their own customized, purpose-built, purposeful social networks
fulfilling whatever needs they have as a community
so this is how we reached 2019
realizing that, from building a social app on Ethereum,
Ethereum IS the social network
even in this room, you guys, here
we are forming a social network, right?
At the beginning of the slides
we had the title of “Unifying the Ethereum Ecosystem”
sounds like, hmmm, I don’t know what to say about that.
This is particularly interesting because, in the ecosystem
we have this debate, even among ourselves,
as a community of people that get what Ethereum is,
it’s like “man, Ethereum is this decentralized finance platform”
Na na na
“Ethereum is a world computer,” na na na
and you have this debate within, it’s everything and more.
Sometimes it’s hard to see that bigger picture, so, with that framework that I mentioned
the AKASHA World Framework, what we decided to do is to have like a
first use case that we’ll be able to
use to show why this is awesome, and why
Ethereum being the social network is something amazing and
how all these scientists that are saying:
the elephant is a snake, or it’s a rope, and so on
decentralized finance or world computer, they’re all right.
The idea is, and part of the user experience challenge is, to make it user friendly enough, and this is like
a preview of the alpha that we’re building
the first social network being Ethereum.World;
the idea is, just like you have on Twitter
the ability to embed a GIF
the idea is that you have this ability to post something and your
followers, your social graph, get notified of what you post, but
you can also embed in that social post a GIF, which is fun
what if we take this idea and this ease of use, but this time make it
for something useful, and in this case embedding
actual dapps that you can interact with
so in here we have the example of how you would be able to add an app
in this case we have Aragorn
let’s say we want to create a vote, and this is a proposal, and then, boom, you just confirm
so now it’s inside your post, and now you click publish – BAM
you just made an Ethereum interaction, you, no blockchain
so the Ethereum experience, I think is improving in this way, and it’s making
it through an interface that people are already familiar with, so the learning curve is a bit
let’s say, less steep, and less intimidating, because it’s something familiar, at least to begin with
and to exemplify this, there are a couple of other examples, this works also for creating
bounties, boom, you’ve created a bounty, similarly if we have something like Augur – a prediction market
you can create a bet using blockchain, boom, confirm, you have your prediction market embedded in your post
and so on and so forth, something else that is interesting is that, when you take
into consideration the social aspect of Ethereum, the social discovery of what are the apps
that are cool and that are useful should also be taken into consideration
now, what’s the state of the art of finding apps? Something like stateofdapps
some websites that usually have a list
then you have to go there, click something, it’s not necessarily ideal
between ourselves, because we know each other and follow each other, we can say:
“I need to create/I need this functionality, what’s the best app?”
And you can just ask this, you just ask.
And people in their comments, because you can just embed these apps, give you answers
for example, in this case: Gitcoin or EthBounties and so on and so forth
so, actually, the library of apps that will be integrable grows with
each integration and the functionalities and possibilities in this Ethereum.World grow with each integration
so that’s pretty cool, right? Something else which is interesting
is when you are seeing an app, when you use Telegram and someone sends you a sticker
you say “oh, that’s a cool sticker” then you just add it to your own stickers, I think something
similar when it comes to Ethereum apps is useful
when someone publishes, for example, a prediction market bet,
or someone creates a bounty with a particular app, make it easy
you like that functionality and it’s useful for you?
BAM
you have it in your collection, next time you want to publish something
you have it at your fingertips
less intimidating, more accessible
so the keywords here are: accessibility, ease of use, and adoption,
this is something we’re still wrapping our heads around
things get super interesting when you have the idea of threading
so multiple posts, and when you can embed in each of these posts an app…
that’s kind of interesting, because you can create flows
so it helps to imagine maybe something like creating an Aragorn DAO
maybe the next post would be linked to this with a proposal
the next with a bounty, and the next with an NFT collectible for the people
that participated in the DAO or in the proposal, so the possibilities are kind of cool
looking ahead, and, taking a couple of steps back currently, this is the biggest home of the
Ethereum community, right? Reddit. I know this is the old skin, I don’t like the new one
maybe you do
the idea is that there are over 400,000 people using
Reddit and when it comes to Reddit and Ethereum
Ethereum being the platform of applications and so on,
it’s not really well suited and I think together, in this approach,
on how we can create this Ethereum.World for the Ethereum community and dedicate it to actually
release this synergy, because these apps can talk to each other and can be combined
in new ways and they can be shared, they can be socially discovered and so on
we can open a new world of social interactions, and what do I mean by that?
You have these contracts and these applications throughout the ecosystem – 1000s of them
and just as you have user profiles, now you can think of app profiles, right? Or dapp profiles.
These are not just static things somewhere, these are things that you can interact with,
so let’s say you discover, when you search, something like Aragorn, so in here
you have a list of the most popular actions, like “assign tokens,” “create new votes,” and so on
and similarly, if we take an example, something like Gitcoin, you have the most popular actions being
“create a bounty” and so on, the idea is to make it easy, so we can accelerate this adoption and
it’s not necessarily to look outside the community, we already have over 1 million people inside
but the sad part is that less than 1.5% of us actually use dapps, and that’s
kind of tragic, if this is a decentralized app platform, the usage of the apps is something that should be
closely looked at, encouraged, and nurtured, so this is why today, on stage, we’re releasing
Ethereum.World – you can check it if you want
and the idea is to open the sign ups for the alpha, we’re actively working on developing
it, but the idea here is not just to sign up, leave your email, and then come back when the
app is ready, you can do that,
but we invite you to do something more. Why is that? Because I think Ethereum’s most undervalued asset
is not found on the financial charts, ok? On any of them
I think Ethereum’s most undervalued asset is its community, and there are
as I said, over 1.2 million people using meetup, to self-organize and have these events, and when you look at
let’s say the effort: these people have to be passionate enough to get up,
get out, and participate in these events physically, which is a higher threshold of
engagement than just sitting and home and scrolling through Reddit, so these people, even
though they are so passionate, and they are willing to go out to these events
they are not using the dapps
so the level of actual usage is limited to a wallet or
sending tokens and so on, and Ethereum can do so much more
Ethereum is just living, it’s not alive; we can bring it to life, together!
Fulfil its potential of an app platform that’s actually using the platform
so, on the website, coming back to the Ethereum.World website, I’d like to attract your attention to two things
one is the manifesto, and in here the idea is to accelerate the adoption of Ethereum-based apps
and services, by transforming how they attract, engage, and delight users
so the thinking moves from just finding that one killer app
to finding that delightful experience, something that is pleasant, and something that’s fulfilling
something we enjoy doing, not something that you do just to get that coin out of the thing
and on the manifesto page, there’s also a section called “Nominate Values” and speaking of
culture and speaking of the community aspect
I think that values are like the DNA that can be used to codify the culture of Ethereum as an ecosystem
I’m one of the Ethereum cofounders, and in the beginning, we were just a handful of guys
trying to figure out how to bring this project to life,
now there’s millions of people, thousands of applications living on it, but this discussion about
the values and the culture was, let’s say, neglected to a certain extent
and similar to Bitcoin, we didn’t have this discussion
so we invite you now to have this discussion and to propose
these values, what are the values that you think Ethereum should have?
That we should have as a community? And then vote on them
and according to this we can build a list of
values that will be reflecting the actual desires and the values of the community
something else, the second thing that I want to attract your attention to is
“I have an Idea!” So, this development of the world is not going to be something top down
we don’t want that, we want this to be decentralized, distributed and
tapping into the collective intelligence already present in this community, so if you have an integration
that you’d like to see, an Ethereum dapp you want to use but it’s hard to use
but you’d like to see it here, just propose it
if you have a feature that you’d like to use somehow
it’s something that maybe we didn’t even think of, suggest it
if there is a language that you want to have this application in
request it! We are open to this and we invite you to become active cocreators and
make this your world. The theory of action is to build this for collective impact and
there are a couple of pillars, I’m nearing the end,
the idea is to establish a shared community vision, evidence-based decision making based on
the votes and so on, and collaborative action, and one of the things in the
process is to achieve that self sustainability, and that collective impact, why?
Because the next time someone asks you “can I haz Ethereum dapp?” You will be prepared and you
will have something at hand to show them why Ethereum is awesome,
why Ethereum is cool, and why it is better than other things which came before, and not only
can they have a dapp, they can have a whole world of dapps
this is the transition from the Etherchain – just blockchains, transactions, hashes
to the Etherweb – something that’s useable an interface
that accelerates the adoption of Ethereum as a vibrant ecosystem of dapps developed by
passionate developers and, I’m over time, but I invite you to join the fun on Ethereum.World
and to WORDL, move that thinking from HODL, to BUIDL to
now WORDL, from building features to solving problems, together. Thank you!

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