Four Insights About Cardstack’s Approach to Blockchain Adoption

How we get from HODL to BUIDL.

During Token 2049 in Hong Kong, Cardstack founding director Chris Tse sat down for an interview with Youtube host The Crypto Lark.

Here are the top takeaways, with quotes from Chris:

Focus on the User

Potential blockchain users ultimately don’t care how beautiful the cryptography is — they care whether they can get things done. If we want more people to get on board with the decentralized Internet, then we need to devote significant efforts to getting the user experience right.

“A lot of the crypto teams are still led by technical founders. If we’re using the analogy of cars, then the people would design a new type of engine … and they want you to see that engine, they want to cut a hole in the hood. ‘Can you see the beautifulness of my creation? And please sit on the engine and please touch it and see how it throbs…’ I am the sacrilegious person that says we should cover up all those things and decide what the user really needs and also what the technology stack really needs.”

Let People Ease into Decentralization

Users need to be able to start with an experience they’re familiar with — and then given opportunities to move to more advanced, decentralized workflows.

“You have to meet people where they are. But we can’t cheat. We can’t say, because of that, we’re going to build a centralized app and here’s a centralized frontend, beautiful experience, Coinbase for the rest of your life. You have to be principled about decentralization: Open protocol, open source, a token mechanism organizing work.”

Cardstack’s orchestration technology is what makes that possible. Users can start using Cardstack as way to organize their cloud apps and services. But once they’re ready, they can begin mixing and matching decentralized apps into their workflows.

“We want to make sure that Cardstack is blockchain-agnostic: build something useful on top of one or two, maybe ten different types of technologies — from cloud to very decentralized stuff — and then let people discover what’s underneath. When they are hooked, they’re going to innovate, they’re going to package, and that’s where it really takes off.”

Learn from the Tech Giants

Let’s not reinvent the wheel. True, there’s something pure about trying to do everything on-chain, but most people would rather use something that works. Practically, the decentralized Internet will need to harness off-chain power to deliver the kind of user experiences that can challenge the offerings from centralized Silicon Valley giants.

“The solution that we need to make blockchain usable already exists in the centralized world. But the same way that some of the Silicon Valley’s people have a blind spot towards blockchain, I think blockchain people have a blind spot towards the amazing richness of open-source tools that the superpowers are giving away. If we can organize those things around the principle of decentralization, then we can really shortcut the process.”

Cardstack’s Tally protocol is one example: a Layer 2 consensus protocol that lets decentralized apps harness GPU hash power to perform parallelizable calculations, which means we can bring data analysis, complex logic, machine learning, and AI algorithms to the blockchain. (Read more about it here.)

Ship Soon

“What we’re trying to do: a multi-stack, multi-layer project with the focus of getting something delivered to the end user within the next 6 months, 12 months, and then making it so it seems seamless and it seems very familiar.”

Hype dies quickly, and blockchain can’t coast on speculative value indefinitely. That means we should be focused on delivering real-world utility to as many people as possible — as soon as possible.

“2018 is not the year of HODL, it’s the year of BUIDL.”

Watch Chris’ full interview with The Crypto Lark here.

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Illustration: Chris Gardella for Cardstack.