In this episode, we talk about how to get into Web3 development, with Nader Dabit, developer relations engineer at Celestia and founder of Developer DAO. Nader talks about how Web3 differs from Web2, when it makes sense to build something as a Web3 app, and what are the tools and concepts a developer needs to know in order to build an app for Web3.
[00:00:05] SY: Welcome to the CodeNewbie Podcast where we talk to people on their coding journey in hopes of helping you on yours. I’m your host, Saron, and today we’re talking about how to get into Web3 development with Nader Dabit, Developer Relations Engineer at Celestia and Founder of Developer DAO.
[00:00:22] ND: If you want to build on some of these newer platforms and protocols, you might be able to uncover a new use case or a new paradigm or a new way of doing things that no one has figured out before.
[00:00:32] SY: Nader talks about how Web3 differs from Web2, when it makes sense to build something as a Web3 app, and what the tools and concepts are the developers need to know in order to build an app for Web3 after this.
[00:00:57] SY: Thanks so much for being here.
[00:00:58] ND: Thanks for having me.
[00:00:59] SY: So Nader, you currently do developer relations as well as being the founder of Developer DAO. But before we get into all of that in the wild, wild west of Web3, which I’m very interested to get your take on, tell me about where your coding journey began,
[00:01:14] ND: So I’m a self-taught developer. I started coding when I was around the age of 30 years old really.
[00:01:19] SY: Wow! Very cool.
[00:01:21] ND: Yeah. So I did not go to school for coding. I didn’t even actually go to school for anything. I didn’t graduate from high school or college. So I’m completely self-taught, but I kind of learned by starting with WordPress. I built an e-commerce site. Through that, I learned a little bit of PHP. I learned just general logic and obviously like HTML and CSS. I then decided I wanted to do that with my life. So I found a way to land my first role as a developer. And from there, I kind of just slowly, over the course of about 10 years, built my resume by kind of working one place, continuing to like learn stuff, obviously improve my skillset and level up, started off doing web development, moved on to mobile development, ran my own company for a while, joined AWS, pivoted to cloud computing. Worked there for a little over three years, ultimately led the developer relations team for a little over a year there for front-end web and mobile. Then decided after understanding and learning a lot about the blockchain space and the current state of it and where I thought it was headed, decided to move in that direction. And that’s where I’ve been for a little over a year and a quarter. So a year and three or four months.
[00:02:30] SY: So at the very beginning of your journey, when you were around 30 and first getting into code, what was it about coding that resonated with you?
[00:02:39] ND: Well, first of all, I had tried so many things in my life that I failed at, that I was not able to succeed at. So I tried my hand at different odd jobs, real jobs, real estate, working in restaurants and retail, all sorts of things. But I just found it was so interesting that I could actually just sit in front of a computer and do what I thought was fun and get paid for it. So I kind realized that I understood and could sit down and actually build stuff. And this was a thing that someone would pay me to do. And that was like the first time that those two things that really overlapped for me. So that immediately was like, “Okay, I need to focus on this and become better at it.” And also, really just understood that technology was interwoven into almost every business and every company at that point even 10 years ago and it would become more so. And now you can kind of look back and see that almost every successful big company is almost like a tech company because they have websites and applications and all of the software that runs their business. So I just realized that tech was going to be intertwined with everything. I was good at it, and I was getting paid for it.
[00:03:44] SY: When did you know that you were good at it?
[00:03:46] ND: I think the store that I built with WordPress in the course of about nine months was on track to do over a million dollars in sales.
[00:03:53] SY: Hey! Very cool.
[00:03:54] ND: So I think I kind of realized like, “Okay, if I can build this with my own hands from nothing, then this is probably something I’m better than anything else I’m at,” at least for me.
[00:04:04] SY: And at what point in your career did you do that store?
[00:04:08] ND: That was when I first learned how to code Yeah, that was the first project I built was a WordPress site, that was an e-commerce store, but I needed to take a step back at that point because I knew I wanted to do this, but I had no clue where to actually get started if I wanted to be what I would consider like a real engineer. I was kind of just copying and pasting code. I didn’t really know what I was doing. So I wanted to land a job. So I started looking. I live in Mississippi. No one would even give me even an interview because I didn’t have any education. I didn’t have a resume or nothing. So I spent some time trying to kind of like improve my resume just to describe what I had done over the last nine months, started shopping it out outside of Mississippi. So I started saying, “Okay, if someone in the southeast would give me a shot, I would take it.” And then ultimately, I was like, “Okay, this is what I want to do.” So I’m going to literally just send my resume all around the United States.
[00:04:58] SY: Wow!
[00:04:59] ND: And anyone that will give me a job I will take it. So I got a consulting opportunity in Los Angeles on a Thursday, and they said I need to be there and start on a Monday.
[00:05:08] SY: Oh wow! Oh my goodness!
[00:05:09] ND: So I took the job and literally bought a flight and moved my entire family to LA and started on that Monday and stayed there for about a year.
[00:05:17] SY: Thinking back on your journey, considering that you didn’t graduate high school, didn’t graduate college, didn’t have a formal training with computer science, what was the most challenging part of your journey?
[00:05:30] ND: I think coming to grips with how advanced the first group of coworkers I had were versus like where I currently was.
[00:05:39] SY: Was it like a reality check a little bit?
[00:05:40] ND: Yeah, exactly.
[00:05:42] SY: Yeah.
[00:05:42] ND: I was so far off when I first got that role. I was like, “Okay. I kind of know what I’m doing and I feel like I can actually show up and get the job done.” And then I’ll land in LA and I go into this real company with real engineers and a lot of these people went to Ivy League schools and they're really smart and they’ve been writing code for years. And I was so, so like completely not even close to as being as good as them. I realized that like the first day, but it was also an opportunity to kind of like see that because in Mississippi, I was never able to even recognize that level of like, I would say, maybe excellence that I needed to kind of strive to be. So being in that room and working with them over the course of a couple of months allowed me to kind of at least know where I needed to go.
[00:06:25] SY: So you’ve done a lot of developer advocacy and developer relations work at different places like Amazon Web Services, Edge & Node. Now you’re at Celestia. Can you talk just really briefly about what kind of work that is?
[00:06:38] ND: Yeah. I think it comes down to helping developers become successful and teaching. And one of the first conferences I went to was called Building Bridges. And it really resonated with me because the talk was focused around when you learn something and you are able to become successful because of that thing that you learned, you should share that so other people can also learn that and become successful. And I realized that the only reason that I had even become where I am today is because of all these free tutorials and answers on Stack Overflow and videos and all these things that people were doing. So I realized, “Okay, this is really resonating with me. I want to do this as well.” So I started really trying to double up and focus more on content creation at that point in time, which was really early on just a couple of years in. And Mississippi back where I was after I left LA, I started a coding school. I started two meetups, ended up shutting down the coding school after a few years. It didn’t make enough money. It ended up helping opening another coding school that is now still here. And throughout that time, I was speaking at my own meetups, teaching people there, started blogging a little bit. And I started seeing that when you share with other people, then you get a lot of opportunities out of that because you’re obviously helping people, but you’re also building relationships and networking. So I started just focusing on that. And when I opened my own consultancy called React Native Training in 2016, I realized that one opportunity for me to land customers was content marketing. And for me, content marketing was just creating educational content that didn’t exist and then linking back to my website. So I think that naturally led me to developer relations because that’s kind of what you’re doing in developer relations. You’re finding opportunities to help people. You’re documenting them. You’re helping people become successful. And it’s something that I really like to do and I feel like it’s something that I’ve become fairly good at.
[00:08:37] SY: So you’re a big advocate of Web3 and also founded Developer DAO, which is described as a community of people who are interested in participating and contributing to the future of Web3. So let’s start with Web3 first. That word has been everywhere it feels like. It feels like that and the metaverse have been like the two buzzwords I’ve seen by people in tech, out of tech. Everyone just kind of throwing that word around. What is the concept behind Web3? Why are people talking about it? What is this thing?
[00:09:07] ND: Well, I think the way that I look at it is that we have fairly recently been able to come up with protocols that developers can use to build applications in a way that we could not have done before these protocols existed, stuff like smart contracts and decentralized networks. They wanted to separate like, “Okay, this is how you would build an application without these technologies.” And we already had the word Web2 and Web1 had been used for a long time that I guess like Web3 was like in their head, “Okay, let’s bucket these new protocols along with what we had before as Web3. And that way it’s easy to kind of like explain and maybe get the word across about what this is.” In hindsight, maybe it wasn’t the best terminology because a lot of times when people hear numbers like one, two, and three, like version one is being replaced by version two, it almost gives you the sense of, “Oh, the thing that I am doing and I’m good at and that I’m getting paid for is going to be replaced by something else.” And in reality, it’s not like that. The way I look at it is we’ve seen so many innovations and things that are paradigm shifting that have happened in tech, but most of them necessarily didn’t replace the thing that was there before. They just maybe enhanced it or they gave you new platforms and things that you could do. Some of these things may disrupt existing ways of doing things, I think, especially, maybe for right now in finance and maybe in the future in social media. But I don’t think that the way that I would describe it is like it’s replacing it. Instead I kind of would say, “Okay, these are new ways that we can build things and you can choose or not to choose to participate and you’re still going to be fine.”
[00:10:48] SY: So from the developer’s perspective, when I’m thinking about building something in Web3, how is that different from building something in Web2, what most people are familiar with in doing today?
[00:11:00] ND: So from the perspective of a developer, I think one of the things that sticks out most that I can definitely just touch on before I go into the areas that I’m maybe a little more interested in or financial applications and the ability to transfer payments and this idea of kind of like programmable money. So if I want to send a payment to someone today, my family, a lot of them are in the middle east and we’ve gone through this my entire life. I’ve seen different circumstances that made this almost impossible. If I want to send money to someone in Palestine or in Lebanon, for example, what are the things that need to be in place for that to actually happen? Well, me in the United States, I have to have an ID, which means I need to kind of present some paperwork to my local authorities and be given an ID. I then need to take that ID to the bank. The bank needs to confirm my identity and then I have to take money and put it in the bank and then I need to go home and open my web browser and create an email account. I then need to take that email account and go to somewhere like PayPal and create an account. I then need to leak my account to my bank account. And then the person in Palestine needs to have all of those things in place for us to then exchange money. But guess what, most of the time, those things don’t actually match up. For someone in Palestine to find the payment providers that will actually interact with each other is actually fairly tough. In addition to that, a lot of payments that I’ve sent to the Middle East were flagged for terrorism, or at least they have been because if you are sending money and you have a centralized intermediary, they can actually just decide to take your money. And PayPal, as an example, also has frozen my own accounts for doing e-commerce in the past. And that was one of the reasons I created that website that I mentioned before was because I had a very successful e-commerce business on eBay. I had $50,000 of my money frozen in PayPal. I was unable to get it unfrozen for a few months. I ended up losing my business. I wasn’t able to refund money. I wasn’t able to ship anything or pay my vendors.
[00:12:59] SY: Wow.
[00:12:59] ND: So those sorts of things are kind of like the centralized state of payments. But in addition to that, how much code has been written at PayPal, at these banks for all these things to interact? It’s extremely, extremely complicated. I think it’s very revolutionary that I can basically open my web browser, download an extension like MetaMask and then the other person on the other side of the world can do that. And I can send them a stable coin that is equal to the US dollar that never changes except for inflation of the US dollar maybe. And there’s no intermediary that needs to be there to kind of stop that from happening. And it just works. So that’s definitely revolutionary. And the fact that I can then create an application that allows us to transact in different ways within just one or two lines of code is a lot different than a lot of the SDKs that I’ve used. And again, there is no intermediary that can kind of prevent us from transacting. So when we kind of expand upon that, you start thinking about the fact that there are 1.7 billion people in the world that are unbanked. A lot of those reasons are things like discrimination, where we still have countries that prevent women from even opening a bank account and how permissionless systems like wallets enable anyone to transact with DeFi and things like that. Now to get to where we need to be to make this a utility where I can actually go and use it to do things like buy groceries. we need now to kind of see more point of sale integrations. And that’s a lot of the work that’s happening I think today in Web3. So that’s kind of the general starting point of blockchains and what Web3 started from. But I think what’s more interesting to me is once we figured out how to build these decentralized networks, starting with Bitcoin, which was a blockchain that only allowed you to send payments from one person to the other, not really that useful beyond that. We then saw the ability to have executable code on the blockchain when you can kind of start imagining what an application written on a blockchain that mimics something we’ve already seen before might look like. So what if we can maybe take these architectures and build something like a social network? What would be the benefit of doing that in the first place? One of the use cases that stick out the most to me or something like Twitter. So Twitter’s really great. I have a large network there and I'm connected with so many people there, but what if I wanted to take that data or if someone wanted to build an application using all that data and all these connections that I made? You have to kind of rely on the Twitter API. Now the Twitter API is something that in the past has gone through a lot of changes. In fact, multimillion dollar businesses were built on the Twitter API and then they realized that a lot of the value that they were trying to capture in advertising was kind of funneling out and they decided to shut those companies down essentially and they completely shut off their API. With decentralized infrastructure, with blockchain infrastructure and data, you actually have immutable applications and public data that no one can change. So it would be what we have now with open source code, where anyone can fork code and create code based on other people’s code and iterate. We have composability there with things like NPM. I think what we’re starting to see with blockchain architecture is the same idea of composability, but for data and for infrastructure. So if I deploy an application to the blockchain, it’s public, anyone can not only use that data, but also build front ends on top of those back ends. So we then have competing front ends on back ends. And as a developer, I think that’s the area that excites me the most. Of course, there’s a million other areas. You’ve probably heard of NFTs and all this stuff gets a lot of attention. It plays a part in it for certain people and for certain use cases, but it’s probably not the most exciting area for me.
[00:16:47] SY: So the first thing I want to unpack is this idea of decentralization, which is the most common thing that I’ve heard come up across just my own research and looking into Web3 is the case that Web3 offers decentralization and how decentralization is really awesome. And I get that in theory. But when it actually comes to implementing, how does it actually work? Because even though, yes, the blockchain is decentralized, it’s not like I can get to it on my phone. Right? I can't open up a browser and go, “Blockchain, go.” I’m still going through someone. I’m still going through some service or some company to access the blockchain. And so at the end of the day, isn’t that still centralization?
[00:17:35] ND: So I would say when we start thinking about, first of all, scalability of applications and what is the difference between decentralization and centralization, I think one main difference. And this is getting into kind of why blockchains are different than a centralized database in the traditional discussions around scalability for a Web2 “application”. Scalability is mainly essentially the throughput or the transactions per second maybe that that database or that application can handle. That’s a centralized database. And then a decentralized database could be thought of as more a function of what are the transactions per second divided by the number of users that can verify the data behind the network that they’re utilizing. And this is typically done in the form of running a node, which is a way to verify the data is correct in the network that you’re using. And when you’re doing that data verification, you have two types of nodes that you typically run. You have a full node, which is like me downloading the entire history of that blockchain, re-executing all of the transactions and making sure that they are valid. And then you have this idea of a light node and this is kind of what most people run. And instead of downloading the entire history of the blockchain, they’re instead downloading these headers and the block cutters essentially kind of contain metadata that tell you that, “Okay, this is the current state of the chain,” but there’s no way to verify whether or not that information is correct. So what does this have to do with the question that you just asked? Well, in order for you to interact with network, you need to be interacting with actually one of these nodes, be it a light node or a full node. You’re kind of sending transactions to the network through some interface. Now for someone the average person to maybe run their own node, it’s actually a big barrier to entry because you need to have some type of computer science, probably background or developer background to be able to kind of do this. So instead of running your own nodes, most of the time people instead use a node provider as a service.
[00:19:44] SY: Right.
[00:19:45] ND: So you could think of something like for a typical developer, you might use AWS serverless functions as a service. So you don’t have to do all that. And what you’re kind of speaking to is like we have also Web3 providers that create endpoints that you can use and they’re running all the infrastructure. So you have Infura. You have Alchemy, QuickNode, Anchor. There’s probably about a dozen or so that are, I would say, running 95% or more of the traffic. And the idea why that is bad is because if everyone’s then interacting with one of those nodes, you now are kind of like having points of centralization.
[00:20:18] SY: Exactly Yeah. Exactly.
[00:20:21] ND: So that’s a valid point. It’s actually one of the reasons I joined the team that I’m working on because it's well-known and understood, I would say, challenge our current limitation for what we would like to get to. One of the main reasons why Celestia and the team that I'm on now exists is that we are essentially solving many different problems, but one of those is the ability for anyone to essentially run their own light node anywhere and we want to make it as easy as just clicking a button. You can run it on your phone or anywhere like that. And then you can now have a way to interact with the network without using a centralized service. And I know we’re not the only ones attempting to solve that problem. So I would say in a year or so that that will be less of an issue, though some applications will still continue to leverage obviously these centralized service providers for the foreseeable future. I think that we’re going to start seeing more and more people once this becomes easier to do and more accessible, not doing it anymore, and therefore we’re going to have more decentralization and less challenges in that area.
[00:21:46] SY: One argument that I’ve heard from people who are a little skeptical of Web3 is they compare it to Web1 and Web2, where they say that Web1 was similarly to some extent about decentralization. You can run your own server. You can run your own email server if you wanted and do your own thing. And that people just didn’t want to, that people would rather just sign up, especially if they don’t have to pay for it and kind of willingly give up frankly their data and their privacy for convenience. And so when you think about the future of Web3, I understand that you’re saying, “We’re going to remove those barriers to entry and we’re going to make it so that you can run your own node and infrastructure really easily.” But I guess I’m wondering if it’ll ever be as easy as a centralized service. And I’m wondering at the end of the day, do you think people, and when I say people, I mean, everyday users? Because in order for Web3 to really catch on, it has to go beyond the developer network. Right? Do you think that everyday users care about things like decentralization to the point where all the work developers are putting into making decentralization and making it accessible and lowering the barrier to entry that they will pick it over something that might feel easier, cheaper if it’s centralized?
[00:23:02] ND: I think it’s all about trade-offs. And I think that understanding the fact that a new technology comes around and it offers new opportunities, but also probably some downsides and there are trade-offs in basically every technology decision that you make. And I think leading off with that is always important because there are a lot of extremists, I think, on both sides or I would call them maximalists where they say, “Oh, Web3 is the future. Everything is going there. You have to learn it.” I think that's complete bullshit. But I also think it’s bullshit to completely disregard all these innovations, especially the fact that we’re seeing so much adoption outside of what is Europe and North America. Whereas I think a lot of people like here don’t really see the problems at solving because they just don’t care because it doesn’t affect them. So I think those are two things to keep in mind for people listening. But to answer your question, yeah, I don’t think people care at all for the most part when it comes to these underlying technical decisions. Instead, we’re going to see that things like MetaMask, which right now uses Infura. If it’s just as easy for them to have a light node running in your extension, then that’s what they’re going to do. If not, someone else is going to create a wallet that makes it just as easy. So therefore, you’re giving at least users the option to have that done without them doing any work. It’s the same thing. They download the wallet, but instead of having to interact with Infura or something like that, they would just be running their own light node because it would just be doing that by default. It’s abstracting in a way. So I think that that’s kind of what we’re going to be headed to. And I do agree with the fact that people just want things to work and make them easy. And I think that for a lot of these applications that people are building in Web3 to gain adoption, they need to provide a better experience and more utility and more usefulness than anything else that’s out there regardless of how it’s built. And I think that that’s kind of the main focus of people like me. We’re not trying to sell people, I would say, in the applications that we build, “Use this because it’s Web3.” Instead we want to say, “Use this because it’s better.”
[00:25:01] SY: So one of the questions I was going to ask you was about scale, which you addressed and talked about how we’re getting better, we’re getting faster. But another one is energy usage. Blockchain and crypto kind of together have been criticized very, very harshly about energy usage and just how much power it takes to mine and all that stuff. Where does Web3 kind of fall in that? How do you address the energy intensive part of creating and running these Web3 apps?
[00:25:29] ND: So there’s these methods of verifying transactions within these networks. And they’re typically referred to as consensus mechanisms. And I would say basically everyone that I’m aware of within this space that I’m networked with and working with are all completely on board with everything moving to energy efficient consensus mechanisms. So there’s proof of history. There’s proof of stake. There’s a handful of others that are not energy intensive. So the ones that are bad are proof of work, meaning that you’re basically just wasting a lot of energy transacting, trying to kind of compete with all these other computers around the world to basically come up with the right calculation and the way that that ends up working, it’s basically just burning a lot of energy and it’s really bad. And the only blockchains that currently still use that in production that are widely used right now are going to be Bitcoin and Ethereum. And Ethereum is actually moving to proof of stake and they’ve already merged the test network. And the test network is kind of the last merge before the main network. It is on the roadmap for that to happen. So I think once Ethereum gets merged to proof of stake, we already have like Solana, Avalanche, dozens of other networks that are already using energy efficient consensus mechanisms, I think that argument only makes sense for Bitcoin at that point. And I’m not a fan of Bitcoin. And I don’t think that Bitcoin provides a ton of utility at all. It doesn’t allow you to write applications. It doesn’t really allow you to do anything. And I think that they should also move to an environmentally-friendly consensus mechanism. But if you want to kind of look at the better networks today that are getting better and better, you have networks like Solana whose transaction costs are closer to something like a Google search than anything. So anyone that feels the need to kind of maybe have an argument against that would also need to realize that almost everything that you do online will probably be very similar to that. I think that, again, looking back at technology as it evolves is pretty much every technology has gotten better, faster, more efficient over time. I think cars are a good example of that. I think, again, going back to this maximalist mindset that you’re going to have people that hate it, no matter what, because that’s what they’ve chosen to do and you’re going to have people that will defend it no matter the trade-offs it has and never acknowledge any of those either. When in reality, it’s something between like, to me, it’s very bad that Ethereum still has a very inefficient consensus mechanism, but at least we’re moving in the right direction and at least everyone else has already done that and we’re continuing to try to make that better and better every day. And it’s top of mind for a lot of smart and passionate people.
[00:28:17] SY: So if you are building an app today, you’re a developer, you’ve got an idea, you’re printed to work, when does it make sense to consider Web3 and to build it as a Web3 app and when does it make sense to kind of stick to Web2, stick to what we’re mostly doing today?
[00:28:35] ND: Well, I think it just depends on what you’re building and the use cases behind it. If you want to build on some of these newer platforms and protocols, you might be able to uncover a new use case or a new paradigm or a new way of doing things that no one has figured out before. A good example of that would be something like Lens Protocol. And Lens Protocol is a project that was released by a company called Aave and they created and open sourced a suite of smart contracts that allow developers to build out a new form of a social network. And you can fork these contracts and deploy them yourself. You can actually interact with their contracts that they’ve deployed using a UI that they’ve deployed or whatever or you can actually build out your own UI on top of it. So I think if you want to build something, I would say, “Okay, can this be done with our existing Web2 technologies?” If it can and there’s no reason to use Web3, then there’s really no reason I would even look at it. I do feel though if you want to kind of innovate in things like areas of social networks, for example, where we want to get away from these tracking and advertising and surveillance, tactics that we kind of see completely dominating our attention in really negative ways today, there’s a lot of opportunities with things like Lens Protocol or maybe kind of innovating with your own ideas there. If you’re building a financial application, you want to get away again from like Stripe, PayPal, and those sorts of companies. But Stripe has become somewhat predatory in my opinion with their tactics around trying to kind of dominate the entire industry, but they’re also very, very complex under the hood. Their APIs are probably much better than anything else that’s out there, but the complexity under the hood is still not really interoperable worldwide. I think there’s a huge opportunity for people to build out more accessible financial infrastructure for people around the world, regardless of their privilege and things like that and their backgrounds. And I think that’s a great opportunity for Web3. If you’re building a private messaging application, you probably don’t want to use Web3 because everything is on the blockchain. And you can encrypt stuff, but we’re not quite there yet with how you might actually make that safe and secure. So the use cases right now are probably smaller for sure than Web2.
[00:30:54] SY: So if I’m a developer and I want to start learning Web3, want to start building some Web3 apps, what do I actually need to learn when it comes to languages, frameworks, tools? What are some of those topics and things that I should level up on?
[00:31:10] ND: The way I look at the traditional tech stack is if I want to build an application like Twitter, I typically kind of have a small number of components or building blocks that I need. So I need a database. I need an authentication mechanism. I need a server. I need a front-end framework, and I might need some file storage for videos and things like that. In Web3, you kind of have a similar set of things that you need. You need to have some type of back end. Now that could be a decentralized protocol that is something like a low cost network, blockchain, like maybe Polygon or something like that. You also have things like Ceramic, which almost mimic a database, but it’s more of like a peer-to-peer database. Identity is going to be a little different. Instead of using personal information like an email address or a phone number or someone’s Google account tied to their identity, you instead have this idea of a wallet address and public key encryption or public key cryptography, I guess you could say, where someone signs a transaction and that transaction contains their address and that is their identity. So I think those are two components, the database “part”. You have the identity. You also have file storage. So in a traditional tech stack, you would’ve something like S3 for storing images and videos. In Web3, you have Arweave and you have IPFS. And I think the main difference from the perspective of a developer, languages and things like that are concerned would be with a smart contract platform where instead of writing Node.js on the back end, you might be writing something like Solidity or Rust. And one other area that I would definitely probably want to call out is this idea of indexing and querying data. And the traditional tech stack, you have a database, which gives you very efficient queries and then you have a server which allows you to write custom business logic. But with a decentralized network, you’re typically just interacting with the smart contracts that are written into that application. So if you need anything like searching or filtering, you don’t really have the database there for that. So the graph protocol has a network built on top of another network like a blockchain that allows you to do things like filtering, sorting, full text search and all of that stuff. So you might think about adding graph protocol and that’s kind of the protocol I used to work with.
[00:33:36] SY: So Web3 was first coined in 2014. So it’s been eight years since the term has been introduced. And it feels like even though there’s a ton of buzz and interest and it feels like everyone is trying to get in on it to some degree, we haven’t quite seen the level of output and application, kind of real world application as you might expect, given the level of interest. What do you think it’ll take for Web3 to really take off and kind of live up to the buzz and live up to the potential? And what’s holding it back today?
[00:34:07] ND: I think for more real world adoption, what we’re already starting to see around the world is how stable coins and these digital payments are very interesting and useful to a lot of people let’s say for instance in Lebanon or maybe in parts of South America where they have hundreds or thousands of percentages of inflation. The ability to just be able to store or transact in a stable currency is an extremely valuable thing as well as being able to just store payments and send them internationally. Period. What we’re starting to see with protocols like Solana is that they’re building out an entire suite of tools that enable more real world usage of native payments. And in this way, you can basically have a way to not only accept payments and these stable coins and have a low transaction cost like a fraction of a penny, but you could also use that money in your day-to-day life. So Argentina has already started really seeing a large uptick in adoption in this manner where you can actually go and just buy stuff and get paid in tokens and then go spend that money at your grocery store or whatever. I think that’s probably going to be the next wave of adoption because once a lot more people actually have wallets, then they now have a Web3 identity and they can easily interact with Web3 applications. So that’s going to be one area of adoption is just the core utility of payments and getting that area, continuing to kind of iterate and make it more useful and more accessible and better. And then the other area I think is going to be something like social media. I think a lot of influencers and a lot of people that are out there, period, have had some type of really, really negative experience on social media. Be it either their account was completely shut down, like for instance, I met someone in Mexico City, not too long ago, who was living in China at the time. And he built up like 150,000 followers on YouTube. And one day, they just completely wiped his account out. He was never able to obviously get any of that back. You also have a lot of influencers and people that have built up like large, large followings on social networks, but instead of being able to kind of like financially benefit from that, you instead see companies like Facebook and even what you would kind of like consider, which are ICE contractors like Google and these other large corporations taking all that traffic and monetizing it for their own shareholders. Whereas with a Web3, not only there are no advertising at all, but you actually have payment, I would say ways to monetize your audience a lot easier in protocols, like Lens Protocol, or even with maybe some experimentations that we’ve seen with NFTs and stuff. Now some people don’t like that. Some people think that it’s completely fine for mega corporations to own and control everything. But there’s a subset of people that don’t like that. And I think that’s the whole thing about Web3. It gives you the opportunity to say, “Okay, I like the way things are,” or, “I don’t like the way things are.” And I think what we’re going to see is like the shift to people that realize that this isn’t the way that the internet was intended to function and we’re going to see people move to these new platforms. And as they get better and as the experience becomes just better overall, we’re going to see migration.
[00:37:32] SY: Coming up next, Nader talks about the Web3 organization he founded, Developer DAO, after this.
[00:37:50] SY: So I want to talk about the organization you founded called Developer DAO. Can you talk about what it is and why you created it?
[00:37:58] ND: Developer DAO is really just a community of developers and it’s kind of a bunch of people that are together in a Discord server, doing all types of stuff, like collaborating on projects, landing jobs and handing off opportunities to each other, organizing in real life events, teaching each other, creating content. And there’s a really big sense of camaraderie there. As part of this community, you have this idea of what could be perceived as a sense of ownership in the form of a token. And everyone that is in the community either minted a token for free, because it was free to mint, or they were given a token from someone else, or they bought one maybe from someone else like later. And then if they want to exit the community, there’s a market to sell their token. And I think the current price is around $450 if you wanted to sell your stake in the community.
[00:38:50] SY: So the organization has downed DAO in the name and is something called a DAO. Can you talk about what DAOs are just kind of generally? I feel like I’ve seen so many people starting them. Where did this all come from? What is this about?
[00:39:00] ND: So DAO stands for Decentralized Autonomous Organization, and it’s kind of a new structure of a company or a community, but it’s also a different type of organization completely. So it’s kind of really hard to say it’s exactly like anything else. But the way that it functions is you typically have a DAO where you have the decision making process that’s more decentralized than a typical company. In a typical company or even a community often, you have a central leader or a founder or a CEO that makes all of the decisions. Whereas in DAOs, you have this idea of either decentralization or maybe some sense of a more decentralized decision making process. So different DAOs have different ways of doing it. And it’s really fairly early, still trying to figure out how to make those things work most efficiently. But the general idea is that let’s say you’re a shareholder of Facebook or you’re a user of the Facebook platform and Facebook decides to do something that’s really unethical to you, you have no say so at all. Maybe if you’re like a board member and you have like a billion dollars, right? You might have some say. Right? But the average person does not. Within a DAO, the general idea is that you do have some type of voice. You’re able to somehow help steer the direction. And that’s kind of the main difference. Like in DAO, everyone, theoretically, has some say so in the decision making process. Therefore, you have less of a centralized decision making process and hopefully more of a transparent decision making process.
[00:40:30] SY: So as a member of Developer DAO, for example, what can I expect out of that? What power do I have? What do I get to do or say? What does that kind of membership look like?
[00:40:42] ND: So with the token that you have, you would have the right to vote on different proposals. So everyone with the token gets to vote using their token. And that’s kind of one thing. Another thing you get invited in is free access to all of our events, but also all of our events are actually free to access to everyone. So you don’t even have to be a part of the DAO to attend any of our events. Everything we do is focused on this idea of a public good and a public good means that we want to generate and create things that are free and accessible to everyone in the whole world. And there’s no restriction on it. And we want to kind of improve the world. Right? But our focus is more around developers. So we do free educational events like conferences. We create educational materials and give them away for free. We create code, open source, give it away for free. We’d put on these events, free to attend, things like that.
[00:41:34] SY: So I find that the DAO organizational structure is something that seems to come quite frequently with Web3. Why are those two so connected? Why is this type of structure so important to the Web3 world and Web3 development?
[00:41:50] ND: I think that a lot of the people in the Web3 space, and I agree obviously to some extent that having a single, centralized power making decision that affect a lot of people isn’t quite fair. So we want to make it more fair and more equal and everyone should have a voice because we do think that this is the right way for companies and communities to operate where there’s transparency. Everyone should have some type of say in how things are run.
[00:42:22] SY: Now at the end of every episode, we ask our guests to fill in the blanks of some very important questions. Nader, are you ready to fill in the blanks?
[00:42:28] ND: Yes.
[00:42:29] SY: Number one, worst advice I’ve ever received is?
[00:42:34] ND: Probably to do what you love.
[00:42:36] SY: Oh, interesting. Tell me more. Yeah.
[00:42:36] ND: Because the things that I love to do are just like hang out with my family and travel and eat. And I’m sure that I could probably break into like travel blogging or something, but probably it’s not the most likely thing for me to kind of be able to get paid to do or whatever. Instead, I kind of found that, at least for me, find something that you’re good at and become really good at it. And then often when you become good at something, you start enjoying doing it because it’s paying off in your life and you do end up doing what you love because you learn to love something. And it also is something that you’re good at.
[00:43:08] SY: Yeah. I think it should be, “Do what you love depending on what you love.” Depending on what that passion is.
[00:43:15] ND: Yeah. That’s a way to put it. Because if you love to just sit at the pool and hang out, like…
[00:43:20] SY: Maybe not that one.
[00:43:21] ND: It’s harder to get paid.
[00:43:23] SY: Number two, best advice I’ve ever received is?
[00:43:27] ND: Just to ship earlier, take action early from the perspective of a content creator or developer. A lot of times we really get caught up on trying to make something perfect or find a point in time where we don’t have any reservations about the thing that we’re about to put out to the world and we end up not doing anything. Whereas I think shipping early or sharing your work early or just getting things out there early has probably a lot larger return on investment than kind of waiting the weeks or months until you feel like it’s perfect.
[00:43:59] SY: Number three, my first coding project was about?
[00:44:03] ND: WordPress website, E-commerce.
[00:44:05] SY: Number four, one thing I wish I knew when I first started to code is?
[00:44:09] ND: I would say the one thing that I wish I knew when I first started code is that everyone is kind of still learning and no matter how long you’re here, and this is probably something, a lot of people may have also said, so I hate if I’m repeating it, but I am at no point not learning. I’m learning every day. I still spend at least an hour or two of my day and I have it on my calendar blocked off to learn. Unfortunate as a developer advocate to be able to do that because maybe not a lot of people have that as part of their day. But I wish that I didn’t think that everyone just knew everything and I was intimidated because I thought I was dumb because I felt like everyone around me was so smart when in reality, yeah, they probably were pretty smart, but people still Google stuff that are like a 20 or 30-year veteran engineers. So that’s kind of what I wish I knew.
[00:44:52] SY: Well, thank you again so much for joining us, Nader.
[00:44:55] ND: THANK you so much for having me.
[00:45:03] SY: This show is produced and mixed by Levi Sharpe. You can reach out to us on Twitter at CodeNewbies or send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. For more info on the podcast, check out www.codenewbie.org/podcast. Thanks for listening. See you next week.
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