1) For those who might not be familiar, how would you describe The Stack Report and its place in the Tezos ecosystem?
With The Stack Report, we create data-driven analyses, articles and tools to learn about the new tech “stack” for the internet, with a specific focus on the Tezos ecosystem. Our content is tailored to communicate the developments and ideas from the Tezos ecosystem to a broader audience, while at the same time being a data-driven learning and analysis resource for builders within the ecosystem. The main focus for now is the on-chain data from Tezos, which already provides plenty of food for analysis. Ranging from the network of bakers itself and things like on-chain governance on the lower layers of the stack, further up the stack we focus on the application layer with topics such as NFTs, DeFi, DAOs and on-chain gaming.
2) Why is it important to have these kinds of data visualizations to tell the Tezos story?
To ground ourselves in real data, to separate hype from reality in these early stages of this technology. Web3, blockchains, crypto are not a single thing, they are ecosystems of people, communities, technologies exploring concepts of decentralization and permission-less systems. Tezos isn’t one story either but a whole collection of people developing ideas, community, technology and culture.
The way I view it, most of the applications at this stage are basically still experiments to test out these ideas and technologies. Some are building with good intentions, while there are enough people with bad intentions as well unfortunately. A lot of people are very focussed on picking winners already from a monetary perspective. In my view we should focus on trying to capture and distribute as many of the learnings as possible from these early years. So that the version 2.0, 3.0 of apps, and more importantly the next waves of newly onboarding builders can as quickly as possible get to the leading edge of innovation in this space.
This is a collective learning exercise and I think Tezos has some of the most interesting experiments to learn from. So we need to communicate what are the projects built and tested on the Tezos chain, how are they set up and what is the data telling us about which ideas are working or not.
3) What was it about Tezos and the Tezos ecosystem that made you want to build The Stack Report here, as opposed to another blockchain?
What brought me in was the community of artists and spirit of experimentation. My initial encounter with Tezos was minting an Objkt on HicEtNunc during what was already the second objkt4objkt event, at the end of April, 2021. Following that, participating in the Hicathon was where I really got the sense of community and I got my hands dirty on the technology.
The fact that basically every major component from the node software, to indexers, smart contracts as well as front-ends for a number of applications are open source makes it so that you can really start building permissionlessly as well. Seeing the generative art and creative community continuing to grow in 2022 and the high quality of principles-based software design and engineering coming from the core protocol development teams is something that I want to continue to communicate and celebrate.
4) As somebody who spends so much time looking at Tezos-related data, what do you think people need to understand about the state of the Tezos ecosystem in 2022?
This is partly constrained technologically through block space, transaction speeds etc, although the main constraint at the moment is more that it just takes time and day-to-day effort to grow a community of builders and users of killer apps. At the same time there is a scaling roadmap in place for Tezos to, at least technologically, have the capacity to scale up to millions of users interacting with thousands of applications. That’s not going to happen overnight, but if or when that happens, Tezos in 2022 is going to feel very small.
5) What excites you about the trends you’re seeing take shape in the Tezos ecosystem today?
Smart contracts becoming composable lego blocks for developers & creators. In the defi space they’ve coined the term money legos. For Tezos you see the FA2.0 token standard proving itself and functioning as intended in facilitating permission-less application building with cross-app integrations by default. With more tooling for smart contracts written across a variety of programming languages, developers can quickly try out and iterate on smart contract ideas.
When I’m doing front-end development, being able to npm install a whole range of React components within seconds is what fuels the creativity to build complex digital experiences. Getting to the point where developers are able to try out smart contract mechanisms with a similar speed, so that within the timeline of a hackathon they can try out new mechanisms on test net and such is what we need to validate the right ideas and mechanisms for new standards development as well.
Combine this with the possibility to look at any smart contract, see how it’s being used and how it integrates within the broader network of smart contracts through visualizations from the stack report, hopefully is going to enable the next wave of developers to converge on another layer of standardized lego blocks to complement the existing token standards.
6) What’s next for The Stack Report? Anything exciting in the works?
In this first phase of the project, working out analyses, dashboards, and data pipelines was also a learning journey for myself and the team. In the next phase of the project, the goal is to extend that process of analysis and learning with ways for the Tezos community to actively participate and contribute. The concepts for this are being refined as we speak and development will start soon. I’m intentionally being a bit vague here but excited to share when it’s ready!
The story of the ongoing evolution of Tezos and the progress its ecosystem has made in its short time in the wild is one that very much needs to be told. And, because data is such an integral part of telling that story and sharing it with the world, the work Erwin and the Stack Report team are doing is becoming more important by the day.
We at the Tezos Commons look forward to seeing a lot more from Erwin and The Stack Report in the months to come, and their efforts to make Tezos’ data accessible and easy to understand through data visualization are hugely appreciated!