Gimbalabs just released a new Cardano Starter Kit called “Where does blockchain fit in a web development stack?” The goal of this starter kit is to inspire new builders to take up web development in preparation for the launch of Goguen. The whole thing is a work in progress, and we’d love your feedback. Start here to check it out: https://github.com/GimbaLabs/csk-003
The longer version of this post starts with gratitude. To quote the legendary u/GenZod’s recent Twitter post: “Call it a hunch, but I feel something big coming for #Cardano… very soon. Theres just something in the air.” (https://twitter.com/GenZod7/status/1327819505553317895)
Or maybe you’ve heard something about a red ball? Maybe there’s some big news coming soon. Either way, we’re also starting to see the fruits of slow, steady, compounding growth. As a community, we’re maturing in ways that are easy to take for granted, and in the spirit of the season, I am thankful for everyone contributing to it.
I’m grateful for Think & Grow Crypto’s new “What is Cardano?” video, making the idea of Cardano as accessible as ever: https://youtu.be/BJ6l4oseK_k
I’m grateful for the African Blockchain Center for Developers, training a new generation of builders: https://twitter.com/abcdeveloperz/status/1332423252627640320
I’m grateful for Rick’s zany snapshot of America at the dawn of the Cardano era: https://youtu.be/73iV4wxpjNU
I’m grateful for Robert Kornacki and the Ergo team for being able to see the future. Check out this quick teaser on “Headless Dapps”: https://ergoplatform.org/en/blog/2020-11-27-an-introduction-to-headless-dapps/
The common theme is that through the work of so many people, Cardano is maturing right before our eyes. When protocols mature they become more accessible. I hope that Cardano sets a new standard for access to financial and software tools, and I know that there is no guarantee that these ideals will come true. Only by the continued commitment of this community will we realize these outcomes.
So with all of that in mind, we have a few questions:
Will Cardano really create more opportunities for all people to thrive?
What role will knowledge of software development and general technical literacy play in realizing the ideals of the Cardano project?
How can we ensure that the roll-out of Cardano creates an inflection point in the historic rates of worldwide tech-literacy?
For centuries, literacy was a privilege of the elite. The invention of the printing press is often cited as a watershed moment for mass communication and democracy, but it still took centuries for the world to reach the point of the majority of people could read.
We’re all aware of the narratives of how different technologies changed the world, and we’re still at the very beginning of the digital revolution. Note how in the year 1500, which was 60 years after the invention of the printing press, literacy rates still hovered well below 20%. We’re in a similar place right now with code: it’s all around us, but only the few can read it. If everyone is going to thrive, we have to change that. The rollout of Cardano is a rare moment in history when we can hope for the trajectory to change dramatically.
We’ve spent the last 20 years witnessing the rise of social networks, their unintended consequences, and the gradual realization that our data, information, and privacy are forms of currency. In The Social Dilemma, we’ve seen how the architects of this technology are often the first to abandon it, because they’re among the few who really understand what it is doing.
Figuring out how to navigate the new world of social media remains a work in progress, and it’s about to get a lot more complicated. In the 2020’s, “financial networks” built upon blockchain protocols will make social networks seem like an opening act. The two will merge to the point where there’s little distinction between social and financial interactions. The best case scenarios are utopian. The worst ones are terrifying.
What can we do?
This is not to say that everyone must train as a developer, but to wonder: what if more people could read code? Majority literacy rates don’t mean that everyone writes books, just that more people can read them.
Or looking at it another way: Ergo’s Headless Dapps and the Marlowe Blockly editor are early examples of how mature technologies tend to grow more accessible over time. Look to video content creation as one example: it’s not so much that more people have learned to use the tools of professional cinematography as it is that the tools have become cheaper and easier to use.
When barriers to entry fall, we all benefit by learning from everyone who might have talent and insight, but not the keys to the castle.
The Gimbalabs project represents our conviction that if more people understand software development - and if some of those people do become developers - it is more likely that Cardano will live up to its best potential.
Cardano Starter Kit #003 is an experiment in providing an onramp to development for newcomers to the space. We’ve heard from a lot of people who say that they love the Cardano project, but that they’re not developers, and wonder how they might get involved. Opportunities are coming your way - but we firmly believe that everyone should have a basic understanding of what development entails.
The focus of this starter kit is front-end web development. Soon, we’ll shift our focus more specifically to building on Cardano. Our longer term goal is to provide examples of how to bring these new tools out into our flesh-and-blood, brick-and-mortar communities. But we’ve got to start somewhere - so this one consists of four videos:
An overview of the web development stack and how a blockchain protocol fits alongside the internet’s application layer protocols
An introduction to setting up a local web development environment
A tutorial on how to build a simple web-based app that calls on an external API to deliver real-world data.
Note that our goal is not to compete with FreeCodeCamp, but to funnel more people toward those excellent, free resources. We won’t compete with the Cardano Developer Portal either: we’re so excited to dive into the CDP - and to see where its onramps start so we can help to scaffold toward it.
How you can help
We’re taking an iterative approach to all Cardano Starter Kits. This one is currently in draft form, and we assume that it will need revision. We don’t expect everyone to spend four hours watching all of it (although YouTube’s Playback Speed controls can help with that). If you or someone you know has been watching Cardano and thinking about learning to code, you’re our audience - please check it out or share with friends.
I’m trying to strike a balance with these videos: approachable but also precise, comprehensive without being overwhelming.
If you do watch it, we’d love your feedback:
Where can we trim the fat from the videos? I try to talk slowly, and to provide a lot of context, but if it gets long-winded somewhere, let me know
Where can we say more? Is there anywhere I should have gone deeper? Are there additional extensions that would be helpful?
Open to feedback on both the videos and the written documentation.
In the coming months, two forces will converge: Cardano will mature and the world will reopen. Will the result be that more people thrive than ever?