Who are the core focus communities for the Cardano Foundation?
(Written by @ElliotHill of the Cardano Foundation)
If you have been following the news and updates from the Cardano Foundation recently, you will have noticed that our communications are increasing, our focus is shifting toward smart contracts and applications, and we are increasingly talking about enterprise and institutional use cases for Cardano.
We thought this would be a good time to update our existing community on our core focus groups, especially the communities we will be increasingly working with and targeting in the coming months.
Here, we are going to explore what makes a functional blockchain community, discover our key community participants, and explore how these communities will interact — now and long into the future.
What makes a functional blockchain community?
It was ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle who first alluded to a ‘whole being greater than the sum of its parts’, and this sentiment is still very much true for the Cardano ecosystem today.
The Cardano Foundation recognizes that we have many ‘parts’ within the wider Cardano community, and every participant can deliver diverse skills and unique perspectives to the protocol.
Now, it is our job to bring these parts together and make a ‘whole’ — a bustling ecosystem with multiple opportunities for innovation and incubation of ideas, and where every ecosystem participant feels empowered to work together to achieve common goals.
This vision imagines a new paradigm to the highly siloed and compartmentalized communities elsewhere in blockchain, and the Cardano Foundation will encourage participants of all skill levels to collaborate and create in synergy.
This is of course part of the impetus for the upcoming Developer Portal, which will include content and ways to get involved for developers and those just beginning on their technical journey alike; as well as providing the tools for enterprises to begin launching solutions on Cardano.
Moving forward, the Cardano Foundation will become the catalyst for this collaborative spirit, leveraging its position as a guiding force for Cardano and enabling fast-track value creation for inclusive and equitable growth of the protocol. Above all, the Cardano Foundation will seek to connect innovators, developers, enterprises, and our dedicated existing community to facilitate this growth.
Let’s discuss our ecosystem participants, and find out where they fit within Cardano’s wider community.
General interest users and ada holders
The largest community that Cardano has at the moment are our general interest users, who are made up primarily of ada token holders — many of whom have been following Cardano since its early days.
Many members of this audience segment may have diverse skills and experience in a multitude of industries, and we want to inspire participation and idea creation among ada holders.
The Cardano Foundation recognizes that many of our wider community members, especially those in the general interest community, have separate work and personal commitments, but may still want to make important contributions to the Cardano ecosystem.
This is already somewhat provisioned through the Cardano Improvement Proposals, or ‘CIPs’, which launched earlier this year, but we will also be exploring new ways that we can encourage participation and align the interests and ideas from our general interest community, with developers and enterprises who have the time and experience to action them.
Developer talent is essential for the longevity of any blockchain ecosystem, and the Cardano Foundation is preparing to welcome external developers to build decentralized applications (DApps), launch native custom tokens, and write smart contracts on Cardano.
We are primarily achieving this through the launch of the Developer Portal, which will be a single unified interface for exploring all that Cardano has to offer. You can sign up for the Developer Portal waiting list here.
Our focus on building developer talent is also evidenced through our Request for Proposals scheme, or ‘RFPs’, which award development funds to technical users who can solve complex problems and provide practical solutions to technical challenges on Cardano.
In the next few months our developer outreach will increase considerably, as we explore new possibilities for the Cardano ecosystem; and as the components of Goguen are rolled out alongside IOHK.
As an open-source community, developers are among the most valued participants in the Cardano ecosystem. They ensure our code is fit for purpose, they attract new participants to the Cardano blockchain, and they steer the direction of Cardano’s development as a whole. As a result, developers could be seen as the single most important community segment for the Cardano Foundation and our ecosystem at this time.
Enterprises and innovators
Soon, enterprises and startups may wish to explore the Cardano blockchain for its solutions, especially in the run-up to and immediately after components become available through Goguen.
We reach out to enterprises and innovators in a number of ways. However, this outreach is not always immediately visible to our other community segments. Predominantly, enterprise and innovator outreach is carried out between our senior leadership, such as the Cardano Foundation Council, and members of the business and enterprise community.
We also seek out opportunities to evangelize Cardano’s technology through the placement of opinion pieces and industry commentary in third-party industry-focused publications, and take advantage of speaking opportunities at enterprise-oriented events and global arenas, such as the World Economic Forum in Davos, to raise the profile of Cardano.
Our outreach to the enterprise and innovator community will increase as new DApps and smart contracts become available for their use — with diverse use cases such as tokenization of equity, debt, and issuance of share registries using blockchain technology.
There are a multitude of industries where blockchain can disrupt existing technology infrastructure, which broadens the Cardano Foundation’s audiences. A great example of a unique blockchain use case is Cardano’s implementation in the tracing of beef through agricultural technology startup BeefChain, who are working with IOHK to trace beef from field to fork. There are a number of other similar initiatives and partnerships coming soon, so watch this space.
Going forward, we will naturally focus on Cardano’s unique selling points, such as the Marlowe DSL for financial smart contracts, which will make deploying blockchain-based enterprise logic easier than ever before.
Institutions, government, and regulatory bodies
Institutional users have similar needs to enterprises, although many institutions will have longer decision-making timelines, and a more methodical and risk-averse approach than enterprise users, who can move comparatively rapidly into new industries.
These communities could include banking and financial institutions, regulatory bodies, educational bodies, and steering groups for the adoption of blockchain technology. The Cardano Foundation is already actively involved in several regulatory initiatives, such as its participation in the Proof of Stake Alliance (POSA) supporting fair staking taxation, and its involvement in pan-European regulatory steering groups.
The Cardano Foundation’s outreach to this segment of the community takes a multifaceted approach. Firstly, the Foundation and its Council represents the interests of Cardano at leading events and discussions — especially in areas where the understanding of blockchain technology is incomplete, or often met with skepticism.
Even blockchain skeptics can become valued members of our community in time, and this is one of the Cardano Foundation’s biggest challenges and goals — to deepen the understanding of distributed ledger technology and invite traditional institutions to become partners in our growing ecosystem.
This is why our Council and senior leadership take part in difficult discussions, seek out opportunities to promote blockchain to the institutional and regulatory communities and drive conversations around blockchain.
While this community may take much longer to grow and flourish, it is perhaps the most important long-term focus group for the adoption of blockchain technology, and specifically Cardano.
You can read more about our initiatives with this important community segment here.
Stake pool operators
Stake pool operators are an integral part of the Cardano ecosystem. Not only do they keep the network sufficiently decentralized, validate blocks, and manage delegate outreach; but they also contribute significantly to our community-led communications and build tools for the Cardano blockchain.
If you are an existing stake pool operator, or even if you are a delegate to a stake pool, there is a high probability that you have read some of our stake pool operator-focused communications.
The Cardano Foundation promotes an altruistic and purpose-driven approach to stake pool operation. While we appreciate that some degree of block rewards are expected, we want to remind this segment of our community that beyond ada returns, they are contributing to something far bigger and helping us maintain a flourishing and more decentralized blockchain.
As a result, stake pool operators have come to be one of the Cardano Foundation’s most important community segments, and we want to continue driving discussions around staking and delegation and responding to stake pool operators’ needs.
We will continue to keep the channels we already have in the Cardano Forum open, but stake pool operators can also look to the Developer Portal for more guidance, information, tutorials, and staking news — so do sign up for the waiting list.
What does this mean for the Cardano Foundation?
As new ecosystem participants join Cardano, the Cardano Foundation’s outreach work and the solutions we empower are becoming more important than ever.
As a result, the Cardano Foundation has transformed from being a custodian of the Cardano blockchain to a full-service organization that advances the interests of the wider Cardano ecosystem.
At the same time, our communications are shifting. In the coming months, we will build out our developer-focused content, adapt our existing content to fit our new community segments, and explore new outreach opportunities to increase participation in the Cardano blockchain.
As we transition into a new phase in the Cardano blockchain’s development, we invite users from all walks of life to participate in our ecosystem. We hope that this article has shown how our broadened community focus will enable fast-track growth of the Cardano protocol, for both the many, as well as the few.
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