Blog > 2021
Wolfram and Cardano build communities with NFTs and liveminting
An inspiring look at the role of NFTs from Wolfram Blockchain Labs CEO Jon Woodard
22 July 2021 5 mins read
As we emerge from the darkness of the pandemic, we can reconnect with our communities and re-focus on a shared vision for the future. We are at the cusp of a technological renaissance heralding new ways of forging strong connections. At Wolfram Blockchain Labs (WBL), we foresee a future where important moments can be forged, stored, and shared in real time to bring more communities together. The inspiration came from my recent trip to Bitcoin Miami 2021 where I attended the Cardano Meetup.
One of the best parts of my job as CEO of Wolfram Blockchain Labs is interacting with community members of our blockchain collaborators. When considering how the WBL ecosystem can become truly global and decentralized, I realized that decentralization is not just about changing technology. It is about changing how we interact with our communities while enabling new kinds of collaboration .
We can now connect communities through global networks, while working independently and collectively towards a shared future. This was on full display at the Cardano Meetup in Miami. In that room, I saw Cardano supporters united by a shared belief. Communities like this will become the rule rather than the exception in the future.
I was moved by everyone’s emphasis on building a global system to help individuals achieve financial independence for their families and communities. After witnessing the power of Cardano’s global community, I realized that this feeling of ‘togetherness’ is crystalized by non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Let me explain what I mean by this and what we’re going to do about it:
NFTs have sparked the global imagination in a way initial coin offerings (ICO)’s hype never did. Although the focus has largely been on speculation and cash value, the discussion has prompted the world to take a second look at decentralized systems, services, and applications. NFTs might feel like a fad, a bubble akin to tulip mania. However, at their heart, they are immutable, intractable representations of value and a unique identity.
Collectibles are a remarkable way of showing what one considers valuable while connecting the individual with their global community, the same way everyone at the Cardano Meetup was connected. This is hugely powerful. While many models currently celebrate the ephemeral and the transient, NFTs are about the timeless. When we enable communities to record and celebrate milestones like birthdays, graduations, or weddings we can draw people together around common goals and look towards a common future.
Liveminting with Wolfram Language and Cardano
Since January of 2021, WBL has been learning the nuances of Cardano and integrating the Cardano blockchain into the Wolfram Language. One of the most exciting places that we’re working with IOHK is in implementing NFT tools and auctions to bring LiveMinting.com to life, powered by Cardano.
In an upcoming livestream event taking place on July 27th at 1:00 PM CT, Stephen Wolfram (CEO of Wolfram Research) and a panel of cultural critics will bring experiential NFTs to life in one of the world’s first ‘liveminting’ events — the process of minting (or processing) NFTs in real time on the Cardano blockchain. Liveminting will turn Wolfram’s Cellular Automata (items from the computational universe) into bespoke pieces of artwork certified into NFTs in real time. This will create a first-of-its-kind NFT.
This is only the beginning of the solutions from the work of WBL and IOHK. WBL will soon introduce the MintNFT function into the Wolfram Language, which uses the Cardano blockchain integration. You can get a more detailed explanation of the exciting work we have done in Wolfram Language by reading my Wolfram blog post.
NFT analytics, communities, creators, and brands
We believe that NFT makers and marketplaces will begin to thrive once they become generally accessible and understood. So, we are working on formalizing specific indicators and functions that will highlight analytics such as NFT performance and sales within a specific community. These analytics will not only give insight into the popularity of an NFT type, but also show how different types of NFTs can serve to draw community members together through shared experiences.
We see a future where creators of all types will be able to hold captivating liveminting events to highlight amazing experiences for their communities. Meanwhile, traditional brands increase connection and bolster a sense of belonging in the communities forming around their products. All of this will be powered by the Cardano blockchain and the Wolfram Language.
An incentive for belonging
Experiential NFTs and the inherent feeling of belonging will undoubtedly spur Cardano community members to create NFT experiences for others outside Cardano. Much like we have seen with the immediate impact of NFTs on popular culture, these experiences will serve to draw more people into our community.
I’m excited that WBL is among the first to create these new NFT experiences. I am also excited to see what happens as we democratize these NFT tools so everyone can join in the fun. We believe that this will drive a global and social connection where users have more control over their creations, which will carry over as we democratize financial services.
Introducing the Catalyst Circle
The world’s largest decentralized innovation fund continues to evolve its governance and leadership model
8 July 2021 4 mins read
Project Catalyst has progressed at an incredible rate, doubling in almost every dimension from fund to fund since its launch. By any metric – from numbers of votes cast, funding available, or simply participants in our innovation processes – Catalyst is emerging as an invaluable fulcrum for Cardano’s future growth. Now, at the end of Fund 4, Project Catalyst has already proven to be a powerful experiment in collaboration and decentralized innovation.
With this explosive growth come unique challenges. Project Catalyst has a growing number of commitments to increasingly diverse functional groups of people who contribute to this step-change in collective intelligence. Specifically, community advisors, funded-proposers, stake pool operators (SPOs), and toolmakers & maintainers, all of whom contribute to the success and growth of Project Catalyst, and the success of Cardano itself.
Bringing more value
This increased diversification brings additional value to Project Catalyst, since it enables the formulation of ever more ideas and proposals. Equally, it will make communication among all these groups harder. Every cohort will need their voice to be heard, and their ideas and concerns discussed at project level.
Simply put, these groups need representation and trusted leadership acting on their behalf. If such representation is lacking, or missing altogether, the impact of Project Catalyst would be greatly diminished. This is why we're introducing the Catalyst Circle.
What is the Catalyst Circle?
The Catalyst Circle is a “human sensor array” acting as the representative body for all the different groups participating in Project Catalyst. The Circle that monitors the current state and future plans regarding governance in Catalyst. It detects and discusses concerns, objections and opportunities arising within the Catalyst ecosystem. The Circle might discuss, for example, the definition of amounts allocated to challenges Fund over Fund; changes or conditions to incentive parameters; the Catalyst API, etc.
By recording meetings and capturing actions in a backlog accessible to all, this activity will provide a view into the hopes, wants, needs, and concerns of the community within Project Catalyst. The Circle is also responsible for determining its own future shape and defining the election processes for Circle v2.
The Circle exists to fulfill four key goals:
- To facilitate communication between the different functional groups
- To provide a heads-up when red lines are crossed within a certain group
- To suggest improvements on plans and processes that shape Project Catalyst
- To define the election process for Circle V2
Member duties and responsibilities
Like Project Catalyst itself, the Circle will also evolve over time. Initially, elected members will serve 3-month terms, and elections will follow to continue improving and iterating the process. For elected members, we have identified these initial duties and responsibilities.
Each member of the Circle should:
- Represent the community that selected them
- Exercise their own best judgement about matters that come before the Circle
- Familiarise other members with the projects, activities, aims, hopes, and concerns of their communities
- Periodically take the opportunity to introduce policy proposals into the Circle’s agenda for consideration
- Inform their communities about initiatives of the Circle
Each member also has the responsibility to:
- Regularly attend meetings every two weeks
- Maintain an agile backlog list to track issues between meetings
- Review and comment on agenda issues ahead of time
- Maintain awareness of the interests and concerns of their community
- Disseminate the Circle’s outputs transparently and accessibly
- Learn and practice effective meeting procedures
- Produce an election protocol document for the next elections
- Attend training sessions focused on inclusive and lean startup leadership techniques
- Provide feedback on the effectiveness of the Circle
Leading and adapting
We have just held the first election for Catalyst Circle members in both Western & Eastern hemispheres, to include community members who couldn’t attend the regular weekly Town Hall. Members will be able to set each meeting’s agenda and periodically introduce policy proposals into the Catalyst Circle for consideration. The ‘minimal functional group’ is the bootstrapping version, based on consultations with leaders within the Catalyst community and Governance Alive, an expert group in the field of novel governance structures.
As trusted best practice is established, the Circle might grow and divide. Maybe the future has many ‘Circles’? Ultimately, it will be up to members to advance our goal to legitimise decentralized governance, paving the way for an alternative to the status quo, and continuing to break new ground in building the future of blockchain governance.
The Project Catalyst weekly Town Hall takes place each Wednesday at 18:00 UTC. Everyone is welcome to join. To learn more and get involved, be sure to join the Project Catalyst innovation community and its dedicated Telegram channel.
Digital lending platform Nexo integrates Cardano, enabling ada holders to borrow and earn from a diverse crypto portfolio
This latest partnership with a leading crypto company further expands the Cardano ecosystem and exposes new users to ada
30 June 2021 3 mins read
Nexo kicks off a landmark collaboration with IOHK to fully integrate Cardano into its platform. This will allow ada holders to buy, borrow, lend, and sell crypto on the Nexo Exchange, while also earning up to 8 percent interest on their holdings, or accessing ada-backed credit. This partnership increases ada’s utility and enhances Cardano’s value and reach.
As we move towards the Alonzo upgrade, IOHK is establishing strategic partnerships with organizations like Orion and Nervos to expand the Cardano ecosystem. Now, we’re adding Nexo to our growing list of collaborators. Nexo is a leading institution for building value in the decentralized finance (DeFi) space. The Cardano integration comes from increasing demand from both Nexo clients and ada holders. Adding Cardano to Nexo’s Earn on Crypto & Fiat Suite and Instant Crypto Credit Lines™ brings their total serviceable assets to 20.
This is only the second time that Nexo has brought an asset on board via their new integrations system. The goal is to cater to client needs while fulfilling demand for exposure to cryptocurrencies. Increased interest in blockchain technology led Nexo to work closely with projects like Cardano, while making it easy for everyone to invest in both digital and traditional assets.
Antoni Trenchev, co-founder and Managing Partner of Nexo, says:
Blockchain organizations like Nexo and Cardano have a lot of potential to give each other a serious leg-up in digital finance and it thrills me to see that happening. Nexo’s business creates added utility for ada, reducing selling pressure, boosting its value, and creating an influx of users, including people who might just be starting out in crypto. Reciprocally, Cardano broadens our total addressable market and expands existing clients’ options when investing funds via our platform.
This falls in line with the vision of IOHK’s Chief Technical Officer, Romain Pellerin, who views interoperability as essential to mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. He says:
Bringing Nexo into our growing ecosystem will give the Cardano community even more options and utility for ada. Working together with Nexo to make this process user-friendly for those who are new to crypto will only encourage wider adoption, and Nexo’s unique offering is a clear match for IOHK.
Nexo is a leading regulated digital asset enterprise with a mission to maximize the value and utility of cryptocurrencies. They provide instant exchange, trading, over-the-counter capabilities, and a spectrum of other services backed by custodial insurance and the military-grade security of the Nexo Wallet. Learn more about Nexo at their official website.
Orion to bring one-stop crypto marketplace to Cardano
The new collab aims to make mainstream buying and selling digital assets as easy as traditional finance
23 June 2021 3 mins read
While blockchain industry growth continues to make headlines and cryptocurrencies have become a lightning rod for new investors, the road to true mainstream adoption continues. Market fluctuations, conflicting media narrative and a lack of understanding are partially to blame but one important hurdle has stopped many would-be crypto investors; digital assets are simply hard to buy.
Orion Protocol aims to be the first decentralized gateway to the whole digital asset market which aggregates liquidity across both decentralized and centralized exchanges as well as swap platforms. The ultimate goal is to create a one-stop-shop for buying and selling on the blockchain, pushing crypto towards mainstream adoption by providing a single, non-custodial point of access for crypto traders on all major exchanges. Furthermore, it is exploring a future where digital assets like NFTs can be accessed as easily as the traditional financial market. Ultimately, Orion seeks to bring together all markets for all investors. Once fully operational, accessing NFTs and cryptocurrencies will be as easy as buying stocks and commodities.
Orion CMO, Timothea Horwell, joins us on this month’s Cardano360 show to share the company’s plans to integrate Cardano into their trading terminal. This terminal pioneers a way for all people to access major crypto exchanges without the difficulty of extensive know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money-laundering (AML) checks. On top of making it easier to onboard new investors, Orion’s trading terminal also makes certain that investors are getting the best price across exchanges.
Later this year, Cardano users will be able to access Orion’s decentralized gateway to buy and sell assets on the wider crypto market. In the longer term, Orion is working to include both traditional financial and NFT marketplaces on its platform. Throughout this year NFTs have risen considerably in terms of value, adoption, and public understanding due to landmark digital art sales like Beeple’s ‘Everydays’ which fetched $69 million at auction. Ultimately, the need for a robust and scalable blockchain which can incorporate a rapidly advancing marketplace while incorporating traditional investors led Orion to IOHK and Cardano.
‘Scalability is of critical importance to Orion in order to achieve widespread adoption,” said Horwell.’ To become the single point of access to the digital asset market, we need a robust, scalable infrastructure that can effectively and efficiently handle the transactions that occur on such a platform.”
Orion’s one-stop-shop will debut in the near future. Meanwhile, you can learn more about them on their official website or hear more on our monthly update. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and join us tomorrow for the next installment of Cardano360.
Daedalus: from launch to Flight and beyond...
Daedalus has come a long way since its debut with Cardano in 2017. And as Cardano grows and evolves, so will our full-node wallet
16 June 2021 5 mins read
As an ‘official’ Cardano’s wallet (alongside Yoroi’s browser and mobile offer) Daedalus offers a ‘window to the world’ of Cardano. While outwardly its UI may look just like an ‘app’, it is of course a full-node client. Every Daedalus instance is a live node connected to the Cardano network. Each instance executes the Cardano Ouroboros consensus protocol and plays its own part in the successful running of the Cardano network. This enables Daedalus to operate in a completely trustless fashion without relying on any centrally hosted servers.
It also makes Daedalus a highly complex product, since it integrates and is dependent on core Cardano components and the Cardano codebase. As well as a wallet, Daedalus is a ‘console’ for the Cardano blockchain.
Daedalus launched in 2017 with the Cardano mainnet launch. It offered a groundbreaking GUI wallet with presale redemption functionality since the first day of the Cardano network’s existence. Back then, it was common to launch a cryptocurrency with CLI wallets. Daedalus offered a graphical user interface (GUI) from the get-go and a much better user experience than the industry standard. It had its share of issues, of course, reflecting the immaturity and shortcomings of the early Cardano codebase. With the Byron reboot, we completely rebuilt the code. This had a corresponding impact on Daedalus, delivering a much more robust and reliable product.
Cardano has come a very long way since 2017, and especially since the Byron reboot. We have moved from a federated to a decentralized proof-of-stake system, with thousands of active pools run by a passionate community. We now have staking and delegation, with fully decentralized block production. We also launched our successful Daedalus Flight program, bringing new features to the mainnet early for power users to help us test and iterate. Most recently, we have added native token capability and Project Catalyst voting registration. Soon we shall enter the era of smart contracts. It's been an incredible journey and we’re just getting started.
This growing functionality on the blockchain has brought additional challenges, creating a product environment with a complex web of interdependencies. The corresponding technical and resource impact makes any fresh development especially challenging. So as we evolve the offering, it is increasingly important we focus on core capabilities, while also ensuring we get better at integrating the ‘voice of the customer.’
Surveying the community
Earlier this year, we reached out to the community with a comprehensive survey to help us map the landscape and chart our path ahead, both in terms of short-term improvements and longer-term product strategy.
In total, we have had 5,544 responses. We’re publishing the report here.
We encourage you to dive into the data. The results have provided us with some valuable insights, which continue to inform our strategic approach to product development. It shows a high level of satisfaction overall (average rating of 4.2 out of 5). The survey also identified some clear pain points. It was also clear that, while delegators are happy with their choices, the ranking system is a significant pain point for smaller stake pool operators.
The survey data also fed into a number of ideation sessions to follow up, dig deeper, and identify a number of specific areas for improvement. Top ranked in desirability were:
- A simpler and easier-to-understand ranking system that is more inclusive and ranks most stake pools, and does not depend on the amount of stake to be delegated as an input.
a. The new ranking system will be configurable, allowing users to more easily balance their delegation choices between established, saturated pools (with predictable rewards) alongside less established, smaller pools with their potentially larger (but less reliable) rewards.
b. Encourage and promote community-curated SMASH servers to provide different criteria for selecting pools, e.g., small and promising pools, pools from developing countries, charity or mission-driven pools, green and eco-friendly pools, etc.
c. Looking at the feasibility of having importable, community-curated ranking calculations.
- Delegation portfolios / multi-pool delegation – the ability to delegate a wallet to several pools and the ability to share delegation portfolios.
- More information on delegation, and using Daedalus in general, through improved UX and content.
- More detail on earned rewards, and improved graphical representation.
- A complete display and export of earned rewards per epoch for tax and accounting purposes in both Daedalus and exportable CSV file.
Other changes suggested for the future include: enabling communications between SPOs and delegators; improved wallet creation and restoration with wallet fingerprints; more fiat/crypto conversions for displaying wallet balances; a mobile and light version; and better help. In the longer term, improvements being looked into include a multicurrency wallet; a better news feed; and more multilingual versions.
Community intelligence and insights
The survey results have been a valuable source of intelligence. All these suggestions have been taken fully on board and given due consideration. In recent months, the team’s focus has been on core native token capability, alongside functionality to support voting in Project Catalyst, hardware wallet support and more. And with Alonzo smart contracts around the corner, every team across the company continues to be very focused on core Goguen capability. However, the Daedalus team is now finalizing its approach to Daedalus enhancements with UX and UI specialists. This needs to be clearly set in the context of ongoing engineering priorities and work from the research team (to be shared soon) around elements such as rewards, fees, and parameters.
Given these interdependencies, some elements present significant challenges. Equally, we have identified a number of ‘quick wins’. We’ll be convening further consultation and ideation sessions in July this summer– including exploring ideas around a more collaborative development model – to sanity check a few of the quick wins and explore the more nuanced challenges with the community that Daedalus is here to serve.