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Project Catalyst blasts off into 2021

New fund will commit $500k in ada to find groundbreaking ideas which accelerate Cardano development

6 January 2021 Eric Czuleger 5 mins read

 Project Catalyst blasts off into 2021

Project Catalyst is the first stage in our Voltaire roadmap, created to bring best-in-class governance to Cardano. Effective governance is vital to Cardano because it gives the power to shape the blockchain to its users. Anyone who signs up to Catalyst will be able to propose ideas, and then registered ada holders will vote on funding proposals focused on the continued evolution of Cardano as a platform and a community. This will not only accelerate development but also sustain the Cardano ecosystem in the long term. 

This journey began with two test funds, and then Catalyst swung into action for real with Fund2 in September. With it we saw a very early – and remarkable – example of decentralized collaboration. Thousands of people came together – proposing teams, community advisers and ada-holding voters – to generate, refine and prioritize funding for proposals to drive Cardano forward.

Voting on Fund2 has just concluded and tallying of the votes is under way. Soon, the winning teams will receive funding to help make their proposals a reality. Join our dedicated Telegram channel for Catalyst and stay tuned to our social channels for updates on this.

Challenge accepted

Meanwhile, with barely a beat, we’re moving forward with even greater purpose by harnessing the community momentum integral to Catalyst. Fund3 launches today and we want to expand the Catalyst community with every fund, encouraging ever more people to get involved.

If you’re not familiar with Project Catalyst, this is how it works. Every funding round begins with a defined set of challenges. Each challenge represents an ‘intention’ by the Cardano community, a collective goal we’d like to achieve – we like to talk of return on intention as the way of measuring progress for the project! Each challenge is designed to be broad enough to inspire both technical and general ideas, while being specific enough to provide focus. As long as an idea addresses a challenge and makes a strong case for meeting the intended outcome, it will be considered. So we welcome all proposals, from marketing initiatives and infrastructure development, to content production and product enhancement. 

Project Catalyst relies on the ingenuity of a global network of participants so all ideas are encouraged and can always be ‘re-entered’ for future funds if they do not meet the challenge criteria at hand.

Fund2 contained a pool of ada worth $250,000 and Fund3 doubles that, distributing $500,000 in ada between proposers, voters, and community advisers. Fund3 has three challenges:

  1. Developer ecosystem challenge: How can we encourage developers to build on Cardano in the next six months?
  2. DApp creation challenge: What decentralized applications (DApps) should be funded to drive user adoption in the next six months?
  3. ‘Community choice’ challenge: This new category is where we ask the community itself to set one or more challenges, which will have their own funding round in Fund5. An additional $500,000 pool will be available to cover any goal the community wishes to set, whether it’s about executing the community roadmap, funding content or podcasts, encouraging non-profit work or whatever else is determined to be a priority.

So how do you participate in Project Catalyst?

From sharing insights to submitting ideas 

First of all, anyone wishing to get involved with the project, whether as a proposer, adviser or simply a voter, should sign up to our collaboration platform. You do not have to be an ada holder to propose an idea or take part in the discussion phase. 

Fund3 begins with an insight-sharing phase in which people can give their perspectives on the challenge before proposals are launched. Think of this phase as a community brainstorming forum to inspire proposers.

After the discussion of the challenge, participants with proposals will publicly submit an initial draft.

Refining ideas, finalizing proposals and review

Community members will be invited to provide constructive criticism, offer suggestions, give positive affirmations in the form of ‘kudos’, and even offer to form partnerships and collaborations with proposing teams. The goal is to pool community knowledge and expertise – and Catalyst members are a diverse crew with valuable life and professional experience to offer. The following graph shows the makeup of people who signed up for Fund2:

After community feedback is given, proposers are afforded the opportunity to revise and finalize their plans.

Once proposals are ready, a group of expert reviewers, recruited as community advisers, will give a rating for how well each one addresses the challenge. After this, ada holders can register and then cast their vote. The votes, which are weighted according to the size of each voter’s holding, are then counted and requested funds distributed to the winning proposals.

Looking forward

Fund2 generated incredible creativity and strong proposals, some of which will soon be funded into reality. We expect even greater things from Fund3 as we start building a thriving DApp ecosystem on Cardano. We call Project Catalyst an ‘experiment’ – and we intend to encourage this spirit for some time to come. But our intent is very real and very determined. Every week that goes by presents opportunities to improve and refine this groundbreaking program for, and with, the Cardano community.

Join us in developing Cardano’s on-chain governance by signing up to our IdeaScale collaboration platform and our dedicated Catalyst Telegram channel.

IOHK partners with Wolfram to power Cardano

Cardano joins Bitcoin and Ethereum in integrating into Wolfram’s industry leading technology and knowledge base, Wolfram Alpha. But this is only the beginning of an exciting new partnership.

17 December 2020 Eric Czuleger 2 mins read

 IOHK partners with Wolfram to power Cardano

IOHK is dedicated to making Cardano an industry leading blockchain project. This has led us to collaborating with global leaders in technology, business and finance. Now, we’re pleased to announce a new partnership with Wolfram. As a part of this relationship, Cardano data will be integrated into the Wolfram Alpha computational intelligence engine. This places Cardano alongside Ethereum and the Bitcoin as blockchain data to be included within Wolfram Alpha.

Wolfram and IOHK have historically enjoyed close ties, with Stephen Wolfram presenting at #Cardano2020 as well as at the IOHK Miami 2019 summit. The company has consistently proven itself to be a leader in pushing open source intelligence across a variety of fields including computation, mathematics, and now, blockchain technology. The inclusion of Cardano data into Wolfram Alpha is a landmark moment for IOHK, but it is just the beginning of our collaboration.

We are currently defining a scope of work which would leverage Wolfram Alpha to provide Oracle services for Cardano. Oracles are a crucial component of powering smart contracts. They allow data to be transported from a variety of sources into the blockchain. This information can be anything from election results and sports scores to currency exchange rates and statistical data. This greatly expands Cardano’s ability to offer new ways for developers to integrate advanced external information into their smart contacts.

As a part of this ongoing roll out IOHK will also work closely with Wolfram Blockchain Labs. Wolfram Blockchain Labs provides blockchain ecosystems with necessary tools to assist in DLT-based commerce and business innovation. The educational teams at IOHK and Wolfram will collaborate to provide Cardano-specific course material. This will help draw developers and users into the Cardano ecosystem by promoting understanding of the platform. 

Integrating with Wolfram Alpha also boasts industry leading natural language processing capabilities. This makes Cardano’s information available to virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri. Once integrated, users will be able to query the system to find information or solve computational problems as easily as asking their virtual assistant. We anticipate the initial phases of integration with Wolfram will occur Q2/Q3 of next year.

IOHK and Wolfram are currently building out a collaborative framework, so we’ll have lots more to share over the months ahead. Meanwhile, if you would like to hear more about the partnership between Wolfram and Cardano, check out our interview with Wolfram Blockchain Labs’ (WBL) Jon Woodard on December’s monthly Cardano product update.

Developer challenge: using blockchain to support the UN’s sustainable development goals

IOHK has set up a $10,000 fund to invest in ideas for sustainable development based on Cardano.

6 October 2020 Eric Czuleger 3 mins read

Developer challenge: using blockchain to support the UN’s sustainable development goals

Creating a decentralized financial and social operating system for the world is the core mission of Cardano. But it’s not one that we can accomplish alone. That’s why we are always on the lookout for relationships which help us build a global foundation for growth. So, we’re thrilled to announce our hackathon challenge to support the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) designed to accelerate progress on fighting hunger, injustice, and climate change.

Sustainability and blockchain

In this hackathon challenge we aim to give the blockchain community an opportunity to make an impact on international development. The challenge will draw on IOHK’s expertise in community-focused funding developed with Project Catalyst. This initiative brings innovation, voting, and decentralized funding to Cardano by crowdsourcing development proposals, and financing their implementation.

IOHK and United Nations personnel will use the Project Catalyst platform to find and fund initiatives that align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. These goals were adopted by 193 world leaders in 2015. Each of the 17 targets focus on ending extreme poverty and hunger, fighting inequality and injustice, and tackling climate change by 2030.

This IOHK-sponsored challenge hopes to promote projects based in the digitization of finance which increase the efficacy and transparency of funding for the UN’s Decade of Action. In the run-up to the 2030 deadline for achieving the global sustainability goals, the UN is marking 75 years since its establishment. Given that the transnational organization works on global collective action problems it has engaged with blockchain technology as a solution.

Crowdsourcing the future

Participants in the program can put forward ideas focused on any of the 17 goals. To encourage participation, IOHK is sponsoring a prize fund of ada worth $10,000 as well as ongoing support to bring the projects to fruition. Proposals will be judged by a panel of IOHK and UN employees. They will determine the winners based on an idea’s technical prowess, scalability and social impact, as well as its financial and volunteer support. The winning ideas will be able to seek the advice of experts from both the UN and IOHK to ensure that they are implemented in the most impactful way.

To qualify for the scheme, entries must be open source and be created for use on the Cardano blockchain. Example code should be written in Marlowe, a domain specific language developed for financial contracts on Cardano. These do not need to be fully coded submissions. Instead they can be ideas which inspire anyone to get involved with blockchain technology and sustainable development. The proposal submission period opens on Saturday October 10th. Participants must be registered by then in order to submit. Entries must be finalized by October 18 at 11:59 MDT. Make sure to check the official rules to learn more.

Winners will be announced on October 24, United Nations Day, which marks the anniversary of the charter of the organization. We encourage everyone with an interest in using Cardano to achieve sustainability goals to get involved. Make your voice heard to help the UN’s Decade of Action now. If you are interested more generally in developing Cardano, join Project Catalyst on Ideascale.

Bringing the community together for the Cardano Virtual Summit 2020: Shelley Edition

Celebrating the journey and making way for the future with IOHK

30 June 2020 Eric Czuleger 4 mins read

Bringing the community together for the Cardano Virtual Summit 2020: Shelley Edition

Shelley has arrived and IOHK is gearing up to celebrate with the Cardano Virtual Summit 2020: Shelley Edition on July 2nd and 3rd. Every presentation, panel and guest speaker at this online event, has been chosen to represent the many faces of Cardano. From world-class foundational research to the latest advances in cryptographic development; from the passion and dedication of the wider community to some of the innovators who have created our world and are lighting the path to the future. The event is meant to honor the hard work and dedication of the Cardano community, developers and contributors, and the wider ecosystem.

The virtual summit, much like IOHK’s 2019 Miami summit will include presentations from IOHK team members, special guest appearances by thought leaders and a keynote speech by IOHK CEO, Charles Hoskinson. We were proud to announce that our guest of honor is internet co-creator and lead internet evangelist for Google, Vint Cerf. As one of the lead architects of the internet Vint is uniquely positioned to give us insight into building world changing technology.

We’ll also be joined by Caitlin Long of the Wyoming Blockchain Select Committee. The Wall Street professional turned crypto pioneer has been blazing the trail for adoption in the state of Wyoming. She will give us a look at the challenges and opportunities she has faced while pushing for wider adoption of decentralization. Our final special guest, Stephen Wolfram is the creator of the computational knowledge platform Wolfram Alpha and the CEO of Wolfram Research. Cardano shares his dedication to advancing technology through open source research and a commitment to academic excellence. Between each of these important discussions our colleagues at IOHK will take center stage.

Thought leadership

IOHK’s chief scientist, Aggelos Kiayias, and director of African operations John O’Connor will talk about research and outreach in the Cardano Blockchain. Our panel entitled ‘Haskell, then, now, and the future’ will examine the impact the functional programming language has had and where it is heading. The virtual summit also serves as the launchpad for new advancements like ‘Prism’ our decentralized identity solution. More guest speakers will be announced over the week ahead and we’ll also have a number of special announcements over the 2-day summit itself; we’re keeping those under our hats until then.

The two day agenda includes five digital stages with programs dedicated to the ideology of blockchain technology; the science of decentralization, and building distributed ledgers for business and enterprise. We will be discussing next steps for growing the Cardano community alongside oncoming blockchain regulations, governance, and opportunities. In combination, we hope the summit tracks will offer something for anyone interested in the future of Cardano, by the science and ideas that surround it, by the great minds making it all happen and by the incredible community that has brought us here and will take us forward.

Sessions will encompass the philosophical as well as the technical. Brian Behlendorf, the CEO of the Hyperledger Consortium will form part of a panel focused on the importance of open source development. IOHK recently joined the Hyperledger Consortium, to better exploit our common vision of a future made better through shared knowledge. Following on the philosophy track, artificial intelligence researcher, Ben Goertzel will speak on the intersection of AI and decentralized technology. We hope to announce more exciting sessions in the days leading up to the event. At the end of the day, building the next generation of technology means bringing the best minds of many fields into the same room, even if it’s a virtual one.

Building community

The Cardano Virtual Summit 2020: Shelley Edition, won’t be all work and no play. The Covid crisis has forced every conference online in past months. While we can’t recreate the full physical conference experience in the virtual space, we’re keen to provide some of the networking and downtime opportunities you might expect. So we’ve added a virtual ‘chill-out’ zone, with guided meditations, a DJ set, and even an online calligraphy lesson/demonstration. Our virtual platform will allow attendees to enjoy the digital expo space through avatars. We’ll even get the conversation flowing with a digital Shelley cocktail ‘happy hour’ between meetings.

Recent events have made it difficult to meet in person but we see The Cardano Virtual Summit as an opportunity to invite everyone from around the world to participate. Attendance for anyone interested in the summit is absolutely free of charge. To join in, simply reserve your spot.

Shelley is the culmination of over 5 years of research and development, the creation of a multi-disciplinary team and a remarkable community. The virtual summit is just a single point of time – a time to take stock, reflect and celebrate. But it marks just the start of a groundbreaking new era of decentralization, growth and adoption.

Integrating and advancing with Adrestia

Taking the challenge out of fast-paced blockchain development

15 June 2020 Eric Czuleger 4 mins read

Integrating and advancing with Adrestia

For exchanges and developer partners, integrating with any blockchain can be challenging. The technology often moves so quickly that keeping up with the pace of change can be unrealistic. Cardano’s development and release process are now driving things forward apace. Managing parallel software development workstreams moving at different speeds can feel a bit like changing the tires on a truck while it’s driving at 60 miles per hour.

Cardano’s vision is to provide unparalleled security and sustainability to decentralized applications, systems, and societies. It has been created to be the most technologically advanced and environmentally sustainable blockchain platform, offering a secure, transparent, and scalable template for how we work, interact, and create, as individuals, businesses, and societies.

In line with these ambitions, we needed to devise a way that our partners could swiftly, easily and reliably integrate with Cardano, regardless of what was going on under the hood. Whatever the pace and cadence of future rollouts, we wanted to develop a consistent method by which all updates to the core node could be easily adopted by everyone.

In order to make that integration and interaction with Cardano easier and faster, IOHK engineers formed the Adrestia team, to take responsibility for building all the web APIs and libraries that make Cardano accessible to developers and application builders. Developments to the node can then focus on performance and scalability, while users will always be able to interact with it effortlessly. The name Adrestia was chosen after the goddess of revolt because with these new interfaces we expect everyone to be able to integrate with Cardano, creating a ‘revolution’ in accessibility.

Enabling developers to keep pace with change

The goal of the Adrestia team is to provide – via Web APIs – a consistent integration experience so that developers can know what to expect between Cardano roadmap releases. Whether they are a wallet developer or an exchange, users can flexibly explore the chain, make transactions and more.

The APIs are as follows:

  • cardano-wallet: HTTP ReST API for managing UTXOs, and much more.
  • cardano-submit-api: HTTP API for submitting signed transactions.
  • cardano-graphql: HTTP GraphQL API for exploring the blockchain.

The SDK consists of several low-level libraries:

  • cardano-addresses: Address generation, derivation & mnemonic manipulation.
  • cardano-coin-selection: Algorithms for coin selection and fee balancing.
  • cardano-transactions: Utilities for constructing and signing transactions.
  • bech32: Haskell implementation of the Bech32 address format (BIP 0173).

In addition to providing a flexible and productive way to integrate with Cardano, maintenance is also made easier. With consistency, it can often require less time to update integrations between releases. This familiarity reduces maintenance costs. New software can then deploy in days rather than weeks. Ultimately, anyone can keep pace with change.

Get Started

The results are now live in the Byron era of Cardano. Exchanges or third-party wallets using Cardano-SL, should now be integrating to prepare for the new Byron and upgrading to Shelley wallet. These need to happen consecutively to avoid any outages. Full details have been added to the Adrestia team repo and we continue to work with our partners to ensure there is no interruption in service for ada holders keeping their funds on exchanges or in third-party wallets. The chart below shows the difference between the Cardano-SL node and the upcoming Shelley node. The components in red are non-Shelley compatible and will break after the hard fork, while the other components are Shelley compatible and will be supported during and after the hard fork.

Consistency is key in creating a blockchain network that works for everyone. Cardano is not being built for the next five or ten years, but for the next fifty. Change to the system is inevitable in that time but Adrestia was made to ensure that everyone can connect with the Cardano node. To get started, check out the Adrestia project repo and read the user guide.