Episode 17: Today I’m speaking with Nader Dabit, Developer Relations Engineer at Edge & Node. Nader is an incredibly accomplished and well-respected voice in the developer world – with an impressive professional pedigree. Prior to joining Edge & Node, Nader was a Senior Developer Advocate at Amazon Web Services. He’s also worked as a trainer and consultant to Fortune 500 companies, including the likes of Microsoft, Visa, Warner Brothers, and American Express.
Nader is very active in the developer community, and has a large following on social media, with nearly 65 thousand Twitter followers and tens of thousands of views on his YouTube channel.
Our conversation was very broad, ranging from how he got his start as a developer, his departure from Web 2 to join Edge & Node, the publication of his recent book, and his vision for Web 3 and where The Graph fits into it all.
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I turned down, you know, I would say a lot higher paying, you know, roles at companies that I feel like aren’t that but those companies I feel like aren’t it’s fun to work with, but also don’t have, in my opinion, as much as of a future as what we’re working on. I feel like what we’re working on really is the future. It’s something that I come to work every day, extremely, extremely energized and excited, and I’m already an energized person.
Welcome to the GRTiQ podcast. Today I’m speaking with Nader Dabit, a Developer Relations Engineer at Edge & Node. Nader is an incredibly accomplished and well respected voice in the developer world with an impressive pedigree to match. Prior to joining Edge & Node Nader was a senior developer advocate at Amazon Web Services. He’s also worked as a trainer and consultant to fortune 500 companies, including names like Microsoft, Visa, Warner Brothers and American Express. Nader is a very active voice in the developer community with a huge following on social media with nearly 65,000, Twitter followers, and 10s of 1000s of views on his YouTube channel. Our conversation was very broad, ranging from how we got to start as a developer, his departure from Web 2.0 to join Edge & Nodete, the publication of his recent book, and his vision for Web3, and where the breath fits into it all. I started the conversation asking her about his educational and professional background.
As somebody that didn’t excel in school, then took a non-traditional path to where you are today. I’m curious if that experience informs the way you think about career or the way you’ve made decisions regarding your own professional track?
I think everyone has their own path. And, you know, they discover the things that they want to do in different ways. But for me, having worked in so many careers, that to me, were not nearly as enjoyable or as fulfilling as what I’m doing today, it really kind of made me appreciate the work that I get to do on a daily basis. So if you’ve ever worked in retail, or the service industry, you know, working more hours, like eight or nine or 10 o’clock at night, minimum wage type of jobs, then coming into tech, and seeing the opportunities that we get to have and the amount of money that we sometimes get to make is really, really something that it’s kind of a big paradigm shift from what you might have been used to. So I think like appreciating that having lived through and work through jobs that were not as good, really made me appreciate this. So kind of it’s the combination of I’ll enjoy what I’m doing, but also appreciate the opportunities that come out of it. That really made me excited to come to work every day.
One of the questions I was most excited to ask you was about how much content you produce and create. So you’ve spoken at ETHGlobal, you’ve recently published a book, you create YouTube videos, anyone that follows you on Twitter knows that you’re very active giving advice and helping out members of the developer community all across the world. So the question is actually pretty simple: How do you do it? How do you create so much content?
So I think that being in a role, like developer advocacy allows you a lot of leeway to actually create stuff, you know, because it’s almost part of our job is to investigate things, understand things and build documentation example projects and things like that to make people have a lower barrier to entry, you know, to build things with the software that we’re kind of working with. So for me, right now, that’s, that’s The Graph. But I think in doing that over and over again, you know, I’ve been doing this type of work really for about seven years, because before I joined AWS or The Graph, I was actually running my own company. And I was kind of doing similar content marketing, for my own company, creating blog post open sourcing code and things like that. So I think with experience with time, you, you kind of get comfortable doing it, and it becomes a lot easier than it would have been maybe at first. So I’ve written two books, my first book, React Native in Action, took me over two years to write actually, or I would say, two years to get published. And most of that was writing, whereas my second book took about six months. So I think like, that showed me how much practice can make you more efficient, you know, so I think it’s a lot easier now for me to come up with ideas, create things, and, you know, show them So as a developer, you know, there’s kind of like a process of creation, let’s say, for maybe open sourcing code, you create a project, you build out something, you make it look nice, you document it, and then you talk about it. So that kind of process you do over and over and over. And, you know, it’s a lot faster now. So I can build a project, maybe in a day or two, something that’s good enough to kind of like maybe implement an idea. And that’s not that much, you know, effort or work, in my opinion, compared to maybe a few years ago, when I was still learning just how to write a single line of code. You know.
I’d be surprised if anybody listening to this podcast isn’t already following you on Twitter. But if they’re not, I want to encourage them to do so. Part of the reason is, it’s very informative as to what developer advocacy actually means. So in other words, following you is a study in what a Developer Advocate does, you’re highly engaged with the community, you’re helping people find jobs, you’re congratulating people, when they find a job, you’re creating content and training, videos, all of these resources. And I know, that’s a lot of work. And so I’d be very curious to know, what drives you? What’s your personal mission, when it comes to being so involved in helping so many people within the developer community?
I think, again, going back to the role of developer advocacy, it’s really cool, because we actually get paid to kind of do that, you know, it’s kind of like, this is the work I’m doing, that I’m doing right now with The Graph and Edge & Node. But it’s also kind of part of my job, which is so awesome to me. So I think like this role in particular suits me really well. Because I really do like to teach. And I do like to help other people. And it mainly is, it’s fulfilling, right, like anyone that that does, this probably really feels the same way. But for me, I think it’s especially fulfilling because again, kind of like coming from someone who was self-taught. I moved from Mississippi, actually to Los Angeles to actually get my first job as a Developer, because there were no jobs here, especially for anyone that was brand new that had no education. So when I got to LA, I’d never learned anything from anywhere other than maybe finding tutorials and stuff on the internet. And when I got to LA, I was introduced to meetups and conferences and developer communities and things like that. And that really, really got me excited and energized. Because I was like, wow, there’s people that actually are going out and putting on talks, and taking time out of their own personal time, because like, this isn’t part of their actual work. They’re going after work. And they’re giving these talks, and they’re helping other people. And they’re networking. And I thought that was the coolest shit. So I was like, this is this is awesome. So when I came back to Mississippi, we didn’t have that. So I started a meet up. And I ran a meet up for over three years here, a lot of the time, I would just give the talks myself, because there weren’t a lot of people at first, especially to give talks, also started a coding school here called Cutsouts Labs. And I helped co-found a coding boot camp that’s still running successfully today, actually. So like, this has been a bit but doing all that is really exciting and fun to me. So it’s kind of like the developer relations and developer advocacy roles are like, literally that same thing, but you actually get paid for it. And I think like early on, if you want to kind of get an opportunity in this space, you’re going to not you’re going to be less picky because you’re probably just going to kind of want to land that first foot in the door. But like when you get to a senior level, I would say kind of like in my position. I’m lucky because I can probably choose from a lot of different oppurtunities, you got to get to choose not only something that is fulfilling for like teaching and all that, but it’s also something you’re truly interested in. I think the combination of being truly interested in something and excited about it, but also working to make it you know, better and more widely known is like a really, really powerful and deadly combination, because like, you’re truly interested in and inspired and excited about the technology. But you’re also maybe good at doing that. So those two things combined are just going to be often a lot more effective, you know, then didn’t one or the other.
Before we turn our attention to your role at Edge & Node, and this departure from Web 2 to come help build Web 3, I want to ask a hypothetical. And the question is, knowing what you know now and having the vision you have for the future, what advice would you give to your younger self?
So I think I waited a little too long before getting involved in the communities and getting to know people and things like that. So I think for the first maybe four years, I would say I was kind of just watching and really just consuming and not actually giving back in the form of like communication, or things like that, I would, I would just say if I could go back and do it ever again, I would start very early, like the first day trying to kind of get to know people and build relationships, because those relationships have been the most, you know, fun part of this job, really. And the most fulfilling thing is kind of getting to know people and building connections and stuff. So I’ll probably start off a little early, being a little bit more outgoing, but I really used to be extremely introverted. So this job forced me. And then my experience, I guess, in this industry forced me to become less of an introvert.
So I want to turn our attention now to your departure from AWS and joining Edge & Node. I remember the day it was announced it got a ton of pickup and buzz on Twitter, a lot of prominent voices in The Graph community tweeted and retweeted the news. In fact, I remember interviewing Tegan Klein around this time, and she referenced that a senior member at AWS was making the move to Edge & Node. So again, a highly visible acquisition for the Edge & Node team, and frankly, for the Web 3 space. So my question is, what compels someone like yourself, who seems to be on a well-established career track, you’re having a ton of success, you’re holding senior-level positions of very large companies, why do you leave all that enter into crypto and go to work at Edge & Node?
When I joined edge unknown, I was at a point in my career where I was a senior level person at AWS and I was actually on track to become principal. And it was, you know, the type of job where you literally probably could just stay there for the rest of your career and kind of continue leveling up. I was also considering a couple of other opportunities. So like I did consulting in the past, my last year of consulting, I made over $400,000, and I kind of blogged about it. And to me, that was like, ridiculous amount of money. And it’s still kind of is I mean, it really is. But my experience in consulting showed me I would be very successful doing that. And I was continuing to kind of like, do better and better. So I was really considering, like now that I’ve had even more experience with cloud, going back into consulting, and I was kind of thinking I could probably break that half a million or more mark, probably going back and doing that. I was also interviewing with Coinbase, I had, I was kind of getting to the final steps with a couple of companies like Coinbase, and Goldman Sachs, and Bridgewater, which we’re all like financial companies. But, you know, I was interested in finance, I was interested in FinTech. But I felt like going to Coinbase or going to Goldman Sachs, I was going to be leading like these new global Developer Relations seems like a pretty senior level, even then it was kind of going to be almost a lateral move, where I’m going from like this old school company, I wouldn’t say like, it’s that old school, right? AWS, still a tech company, but it’s kind of like a corporate behemoth to another, like, corporate atmosphere just wasn’t that exciting for me to be quite honest. So I was kind of like, not that excited about doing that. And so I was really just looking for the next thing, like, what was I going to really be excited to do. And I’d been keeping my feelers out for a few months, like I mentioned, interviewing and things like that at different companies. And then I kind of stumbled upon The Graph, because I was, I am kind of an I kind of was a speculator in different cryptos over the years, and one of the ones I was looking into was The Graph and I bought some GRT. And looking into the tech behind it, I’m a GraphQL developer, one of the technologies on my team that we helped, you know, build and also continue to maintain and, and improve is called App Sync, which is a managed GraphQL service that a lot of companies are using in production, you know, we serve you know, massive companies like Ticketmaster and Aldo and BMW and Disney and stuff like that. So we kind of had years of experience building out really sophisticated GraphQL API’s. So I really understand I think The GraphQL space. And I really liked the technology. So when I started looking into The Graph, and I saw that they were using GraphQL that kind of sparked my interest enough to start diving in a little more. So like you mentioned, I think when we talked, you also were kind of looking into The Graphs at one point, but for me, I was I was watching the videos from Yaniv and some of the other founders, reading their interviews, diving into some of the white papers and blog posts that they had written. And then that kind of got me interested in the entire space as a whole. So the whole Web3 and the whole decentralized web and blockchain space. So I think over the course of a couple of weeks, I started diving into all the different parts and understanding how everything fits together, and where The Graph fits in. And I kind of had this really aha moment that, that I can’t really explain that I’ve had one, since I wanted that since I learned coding, and I realized that the future was kind of code, I think I had a similar aha moment with The Graph. And like, I was like, Okay, I want to work in this space, like, this is like what I want to do. And I went to their jobs page, and I found that Edge & Node had an opportunity for Developer Relations. So I was like, you know, I’m gonna submit to this job, even though I’ve literally never written a single line of solidity. I’ve never, I don’t even understand at that point, like, what Ethereum was past, like a very, very basic level, I was like, let me just apply for this. Because you never know, this seems like it would be a lot more fun than anything I’ve ever really done in the past, maybe. So I did that. And I got the opportunity to have an interview. And, you know, during the interview process, I met a bunch of people in the team, they gave me resources to check out to learn more about the coding side, and like the developer perspective side, which would be kind of what I’m working on now. And yeah, one thing led to another, and I got the opportunity. And I turned down, you know, I would say a lot higher paying, you know, roles at companies that I feel like, aren’t that but those companies I feel like aren’t it’s fun to work with, but also don’t have, in my opinion, as much as of a future as what we’re working on. I feel like what we’re working on really is the future. And it’s something that I come to work every day, extremely, extremely energized and excited, and I’m already an energized person. So to me, this is just a dream, like come true. I’m having fun. I’m doing really cool stuff. I’m hanging out with great people I’m learning from really smart people. I’m really having a good time.
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You referenced that you had this aha moment. And I just be curious to know more about that. What can you tell us about that moment? Or what the insight was?
Yeah, so I mean, I can kind of give an explanation on my previous aha moments, I’ve had like two or three of these in my life. And I can I remember them because they were almost like these moments in time that kind of like I can point to times in my life before this happened. And after this happened, and it kind of how I look at things that my first one that kind of got me into tech was when I was building out and playing around with coding, my first website for an e commerce store. And I started understanding like how the internet, you know, is kind of progressing and how it’s now or at least at that time, 2012 was starting to have its tentacles and pretty much every business and I kind of like just had this aha moment realization that every company is a tech company. And then in the future, it’s going to be even more so. And that was like a sure thing. It was like one of those things in my head, okay, this is like a sure thing. And this obviously has a million, a billion opportunities about just into it. So let me get into it. So that was like, that gave me really a lot of ammunition for like long nights of work and long nights of reading and coding and trying to kind of, like get ramped up at that late of a stage in my life. But it was, but it was fuel kind of my career, because I was like, this is, this is where everything is going. This is like what I want to do, actually, I’m fairly good at it. I enjoy doing it. So that was that was that moment. And then for this, I think it was the combination of what Web3 is the ideas behind Web3, along with the technology capabilities that are now introduced, with the original implementation, I guess of blockchain. That was the first true actual success, you know, Bitcoin, what all of the different things that have spun off since then, and understanding why those things matter. And then seeing the different Web3 infrastructure pieces that need to actually come into place for that to happen. Like, what are the different pieces that we need to kind of start building out the same apps that we’re used to in Web 2.0, but in Web3, and then understanding the different players that kind of fit into that. So The Graph is like one of them. And then there are a few others, I think that were pretty exciting. And, you know, I was like, I want to work in this space with one of these companies. And of course, I felt like The Graph fit me the best, because I’m pretty good with GraphQL. And that was really, why I kind of pursued that opportunity. So it’s kind of like a combination of The Graph. The technology itself is along with the entire ecosystem, and all the other people doing really interesting stuff as well. So Graph is doing amazing stuff. And there are also other people doing amazing stuff.
I agree with you. And you know, I don’t understand it to the level that you do. But being able to meet some of the people involved in the Web 3 space, and seeing some of these projects they’re working on, it’s really been inspiring, and makes me very excited about the future. So want to ask if you could compare and contrast the work that developers are doing in the Web 2, versus the work that you’re seeing developers do in the Web 3 space?
So some of the main things that have stood out the most. And of course, this is my only experience is working with the Edge & Node team and The Graph teams. So this is coming from a fairly limited perspective over the course of a couple months, but I can say that the, the, the passion and the happiness, and the truly like, interest in the work, the day to day work is just so much higher in this space, like people seem to really, really enjoy solving these problems. And they, they seem to kind of come to work, and show up, like truly interested in doing this stuff, as well. Whereas I felt in a lot of the web to space, we kind of gotten to the point where we’re past that early stage of excitement and everything started become more like corporate, like money driven. How can we, you know, do things to kind of, you know, meet these goals, and these, you know, different metrics and stuff like that. And, of course, that was AWS for over three years. So this is maybe my most recent experience, but it was kind of like, no longer like the fun coding. You know, early days, I would say, from what, from what I kind of remember getting started and having my first few opportunities and stuff. And it kind of started feeling almost like an office job or something, you know, kind of like, have you ever seen that movie? Office forgot the name of it, you know, I’m saying, Yeah, it’s Office Space, right office space. Yeah. And I felt like somebody from Office Space, I was like, this isn’t fun anymore. And, and maybe because it was the pandemic, and I wasn’t traveling, and I’m working remotely, but I did feel like I’m starting to kind of get in a rut. And I felt like, people that I’m working with also weren’t just happy, you know, like, they couldn’t be I don’t know, whatever. And you don’t have to be happy, right? Like, that’s not like a core thing. But I just some saying that’s the difference. I’ve noticed, like coming into now into this space, it seems like everyone’s like truly excited and energized about what the work they’re doing. And to me that’s like, super interesting, but I think it also results in better and higher quality things happening, and more of a synergy between everyone, but also more of like an overall like aggregation of better work over time. Maybe. That’s one thing I noticed. Another thing I’ve noticed is that I mean, especially on our team, like everyone that I work with is like… a you know, an all-star almost like everyone I feel like oh my team is just like literally the best of the best. And I’ve worked with a lot of really great people. I mean, my team AWS was amazing as well, but I feel like the level of expertise and the level of excellence on everyone on my team is just bar raising. And I felt like, in the past, I maybe had been on teams where I started off as a new person, but I quickly like ramped up and I was at some point maybe in that top five or 10%, based on my, my, my reports given to me by other people at least. Whereas I feel like in this team, like, no matter how hard I’m working, I’m still, like, we’re all just like, on the same level, which is really pretty cool. So um, being, you know, being on a team and like being in a room of people that are smarter than you. It’s something I enjoy, so that that’s something I’ve noticed for sure. So those are the two things I’ve noticed the most that kind of stand out the most is different. But also I think the problems that we’re trying to solve maybe are a lot more meaningful than some of this stuff. Maybe we’re doing AWS like, you know, but of course, I’m only having my latest perspective, I’m sure there are really exciting teams that are that would be similar to maybe working on the web to space, maybe. But I feel like I can’t think of any other, any place. I’d rather be right now at least than where I’m at.
And so I want to ask a follow up question about your perspective. And I know this depends on point of view, meaning that there’s two sides of the table to this argument on one side, you’ve got Web 2, and on the other side, you’ve got Web 3. But it seems to me that you could argue that Web 2 is in the process of being disrupted by Web 3. And as somebody like yourself, who has sat on both sides of the table, I’d like to know your opinion about that. And more specifically, are Web 2 companies aware of the potential for disruption? Are they cynical of it? Are they ignoring it? How do you think about that?
I think there’s a little bit of both of those things to say like there’s some people that are completely unaware of it. I can’t even say that that was me not too long ago. And I do feel like when I joined this space, and started investigating it, that there was so much amazing stuff happening, and how am I so unaware of all this, as someone that is extremely deeply involved in the developer community, kind of feel like there is a lot of stuff happening here that that isn’t notice not because those people aren’t maybe, like, aware of what’s going on in the developer community. But I just feel like maybe there’s not a lot of overlap between the two communities maybe. So that’s kind of one thing. But I would say that, you know, a lot of people are completely unaware. But there are people that are kind of aware of it, and they’re doing maybe what they think they can do to kind of make the current, you know, way that they’re doing business, somehow profit off of this maybe by offering blockchain solutions. And like, I think Amazon has managed Ethereum, but I think it’s fundamentally at odds, maybe with a lot of the things that are happening there. So maybe that’s why it’s not interesting to them. But I mean, obviously, I think for a lot of these decentralized protocols, they’re basically going to be having nodes running, you know, on different servers in different places. So I don’t think that it’s actually maybe something that is overall, going to be competing with maybe AWS and GCP, and Azure and stuff, I think it’s just a different way of building that. That that may be what I would say, disrupt the service providers as much as it might some of the more user facing applications in the future. So yeah, so I mean, you’ve heard about Facebook, talking about finding some way to kind of come up with some way to integrate some crypto. So I think there’s companies that are aware of it, I just maybe they understand how to approach it. But it also is fundamentally at odds with like the ad based model of doing business. So Facebook is an ad advertising company, right? So how are they going to kind of integrate crypto or Web3 into their current model, they would have to kind of, in my opinion, start from scratch and build something different. So maybe they could, they could find a way to kind of build out a decentralized version of Facebook, without the ads without the data tracking and stuff. But um, yeah, who knows, I guess we’re still gonna see.
I think I have a pretty good sense of how the world changes in a lot of ways. If Web3 is more fully adopted and makes the impact that so many people think that a will, I want to hear your opinion for how a Web3 world impacts the average everyday person, you know, the people out there that aren’t necessarily involved in crypto don’t know a lot about blockchain and things like that. How are they impacted by Web3?
Well, you know, I think the main way it might affect them in the long run, is that a lot of the applications that they’re used to using today will be greatly improved. If they can be built with these Web3 ideas put in place. And I think what we’re really kind of waiting on seeing it’s kind of like that first ‘killer app’ that gets, you know, the 10s or hundreds of millions of users around the world. Oh, On boarded into some type of real, you know, application that allows users to interact with each other and maybe pay each other and some type of crypto, I think it might have, in my opinion has something to do with like a creator economy type of model where, like you’re starting to see a lot of applications offer a way to make payments. So only fans, of course, is like one that’s become popular but Twitter is adding a way for you to send money and pay people and subscribe to maybe feeds and stuff in the future. YouTube has a way to kind of like I think, show ways to send money, twitch people on Twitch, ask for donations. So all these are creative economy type of models. GitHub, allows you to pay developers that are creating interesting stuff by sponsoring them. So it seems like all these applications are, they understand that there needs to be some payment model. But the onboarding ramp to those payments is very, very complex, because of the fact that they’re using traditional financial systems. So they have to integrate Stripe or PayPal. And these companies like Stripe and PayPal exist, mainly because there is no native payment layer built into the internet. So you’ve have these companies that employ 10s of 1000s of people that are generating billions of dollars of revenue out of thin air, essentially, just by providing that that layer, whereas crypto is that layer that’s built into… its built into the internet. And it makes it a lot easier for developers to build that into that into their apps. But it also removes the abstraction that is the banking system as well. So you’re not only no longer need the software, you also no longer need the banking. So you’re kind of removing a lot of this abstraction that was pulling portions of money out of everyone’s pockets. So I think that having a way to just send money directly to each other, using some type of crypto and we’re seeing now Layer 2s on top of Ethereum, like Polygon that allow transactions for a fraction of a cent, I think we’re starting to actually finally get there that we have, we’re getting the different pieces in place. Now it’s up to us as developers to kind of lay the groundwork for how we’re going to build these things. And for people to start building and experimenting. And I think we’re starting to see like these things starting to come up, you know, decentralized versions of Web 2.0 apps, I saw decentralized Airbnb, you know, a couple days ago that I shared, which I thought was kind of interesting, I think that these ideas are springing up, but everything is still being fleshed out. So there are a lot of questions like that come up when you’re dealing with these types of applications. And I think one of the main ones is around identity is around reputation. And it is about like these civil attacks, how can you kind of mitigate all that stuff? And yeah, people are figuring out answers to that. So I think you’re gonna see that first killer web Web3 app in the next two to five years. And I think that’s when the entire industry will start to be disrupted. And that’s kind of what I’m betting on. And that’s kind of what I think, you know, and I think I’ve gotten in early on a lot of different technologies in my career, to the point where I kind of can start seeing trends and spotting them, you know, early enough to maybe capitalize on those. And that’s kind of what I’m seeing in this space as well. But I also don’t feel like it’s a zero sum game. I don’t think like someone’s going to come up with the decentralized Twitter, but Twitter out of business. Maybe, maybe that’ll happen, I don’t know. But I feel, I actually feel like it’ll be more like a different paradigm than we’re used to. It’s gonna be this new social media platform that works so much differently than anything we’ve seen in the past. It’s hard pressed to even kind of compare the two.
Thank you for answering so many questions about this dichotomy between Web 2.0 and Web3. I want to now talk a little bit about your role at Edge & Node. What can you tell us about what you’re doing Edge & Node and what your focus or some of the initiatives you’re working on?
So we have a lot of initiatives at Edge & Node, but the main one that we’re focused on today is supporting The Graph protocol, improving the developer ecosystem developer experience, developer tooling, everything around the protocol itself. And of course, you know, I’m mainly working in the area of subgraphs, documentation and stuff like that. So I’m not working that closely with the actual Indexers in the node software itself. So that’s kind of like what I’m doing but so the main focus is for me right now. I’m doing a lot of educational stuff. So I’m going to a lot of events. Speaking at conferences, sponsoring conferences, answering questions, as I can on Twitter a little bit in discord, I’m not in discord as much as I would like to be. I’m doing a lot of talks and stuff on podcast and conferences, spreading awareness for The Graph and summit and some of the stuff that we’re doing there. So kind of my day to day is, is a lot more right now focus on The Graph protocol. But I think, in the next six months, the last six months, maybe this year, and early next year, we’re going to continue doing that, of course, but my focus is going to start shifting a little bit more into the actual Web3 space and some initiatives that we’re doing an Edge & Node around Web3. So we’re building out a couple of interesting projects. We are, you know, working with a few different teams and individuals in the web ecosystem that are doing interesting stuff. You know, we are doing some open source stuff, we’re also doing some educational stuff. So all that stuff is stuff that’s kind of still not have been announced yet. But those are the things the initiatives that we’re working on, you’ll start seeing some of those things being released and announced late 2021, maybe early 2022.
I’d be curious to know if there are other roles within The Graph ecosystem outside of the current role you have at Edge & Node that interest you?
Well, I think the idea of curation, for me as a developer is super interesting, because it’s something that I think other developers would be interested in as well, it’s kind of like a low barrier to entry, to come in and build something and make money from it. So if you’re, if you’re a developer, and you have a good idea for an API, you can actually write a subgraph, and it probably won’t take you that much time, if you understand, you know, how to write TypeScript, and kind of a little bit of GraphQL, you come in, you create a Graph, you deploy it, you can then, you know, basically signal to that Graph that you created, and maybe make some money from it. So I think it’s a cool idea for developers to be able to participate and make money. And I think that’s really interesting to me,
That’s a great answer, because curation, and the work of Curators is a very hot topic right now in The Graph community. So I appreciate that perspective, what would be your advice to listeners, and some of them might have a background in development, but your advice to those who want to pursue that role of being a Curator in The Graph ecosystem,
I would say come in and kind of look at the subgraphs that people are already using today. And try to find code that’s out there for some of these subgraphs, because a lot of the code is out there and look at that code, understand what’s going on. And then maybe, you know, take a little bit of GRT, and start being participating in a couple of different subgraphs by signaling on them. And, you know, just kind of be comfortable with the whole process and how that works. And see that if you find it interesting. That’s kind of what I would say, a good way to get started.
sticking with this theme of advice for listeners, what’s your advice to any listener out there? Who doesn’t currently work in crypto? And maybe they’re actually a dev in Web 2.0, but they want to make the move into crypto get more involved in Web3? As somebody who actually made that move and successfully contributing to Web3? What is your advice to those listeners?
Yeah, I found the crypto space for me has been extremely, I would say hard to parse all that all the things happening, because you have a lot of people that are extremely, extremely financially motivated, that are out there, talking about the things that are out there. So like you have a lot of non-technical people trying to push certain things because they have a lot of money invested, or they want to make a lot of money. And they are often kind of talking about the things happening. And it’s hard to understand, like what is true, what’s untrue, what is valuable, what’s not valuable. So it is it is hard to kind of come in and understand what’s going on, I think I would tend to lean towards projects that are like, not hyped that much by the people that are actually involved in the sense of price. And, and things like that and look for the projects that are extremely developer focused, because I think those are the ones that are actually going to be producing value and you want to be involved in those projects, the ones that are that are producing value, because the ones that are producing value are obviously going to continue to create more value and be valuable be valuable themselves. Right. So how can you do that? Well find out, you know, a few different projects you’re interested in, go to their Twitter feeds follow the developers and people, even the people in the company themselves, follow them, if they’re out there kind of trying to show the price, or talk about things like that. That’s to me, not a good signal. To me a good signal is talking about the interesting things that they’re building and the improvements that they’re making, and how they’re listening to the developers to build out the things that people actually want.
One of the things I’ve asked guests to do on this podcast is help listeners understand core concepts related to The Graph. And you can’t get very far in trying to understand what The Graph is without knowing what a subgraph is. And so would you be willing to share how you define or describe what a subgraph? Is?
That’s a really great question. To me, a subgraph is almost like maybe if you wanted to really define in non-technical terms, maybe like a menu that you would get at a restaurant, and the person sitting down is kind of like the consumer of the menu. And then the kitchen, it’s kind of like the blockchain and the subgraph is the interface between the person and the data. And in the subgraph, you can kind of define who I want to get this thing. And it basically is a combination of ingredients that people put together. So I think that’s kind of a good way to describe what a subgraph is.
That’s a great way, thank you for explaining that. So it’s a non-technical guy, the one way of approach this concept of what a subgraph is, and tying it together with what The Graph does, and I invite you to correct me where I’m wrong or fill in any of the gaps. But as I understand it, anybody salong is they possess the technical skill, they can write a subgraph. But it becomes really cost or resource prohibitive to run all the queries and store the data. And so that’s where The Graph steps in making it easier and a lower cost for people who write subgraphs to run the queries and to store the data. So can you fill in the gaps there or correct me where I’m wrong?
No, that’s, that’s really pretty spot on. I mean, when you think of a typical app, like Facebook, or something like that, when they like retrieve data, they’re going directly to a very, very highly optimized database that allows them to use something like SQL to say, give me all of the Friends of this user, and then that operation happens in a fraction of a second. And that data comes back. So that data is indexed in a really performant way. But with blockchains, it’s essentially just transactions that are written, you know, one after the other over a long period of time. So the blockchain was never created and optimized for data retrieval, it was just really optimized for data storage. So when you want to then get that data, you can’t say I want to get all of Nader’s friends, because I would actually have to go and read every single transaction, aggregate that data and then run some type of filter on it. So the way that Yeah, The Graph comes in, it kind of works as that indexing layer, kind of like how a database typically would in a regular Web 2.0 application, but allows anyone to kind of deploy their own layer, or their application that kind of fits the data needs for the front end that they’re working with.
So at the cost of being a little redundant here, I’d really like to know how you think about what The Graph is and what it does.
I really kind of like the idea of it being the Google of blockchains, or the Google or blockchain maybe makes a lot of sense, because essentially, it’s kind of what that is. If I wanted to find out all of the restaurants in Jackson, Mississippi, where I live before Google came around, or before a search engine, let say Google in particular, but search engine was there, it might have been kind of hard for me to find that maybe I could kind of go to a local website that had a few links to those. But there was no way for me to kind of know where that website lived in every city that was around. So Google created a way for me to just search for that and have all that data returned. And I think The Graph is sits in a very similar position.
Well, similar to you. I also gravitate towards the idea of The Graph being the Google of blockchain, but there are fundamental differences. And everybody in The Graph community knows that’s not an apples to apples comparison. And one significant differences. You know, Google’s relatively simple to use, right? You go to Google, you type in the search bar, and then a few seconds, you’ve got all the search results you need. And The Graph is a little bit more complicated in trying to understand and use from the perspective that you’ve got Curators, you’ve got Delegators, you’ve got Indexers. And I’m not arguing that the user experience is fundamentally more difficult. I’m actually arguing that there’s something fundamentally different about querying blockchain than what Google does querying, you know, websites and the internet. So my question is, what is it that’s so fundamentally different about blockchain that makes that experience different than using Google?
So right now, there are only a handful of blockchain storing, in my opinion, a lot of important data. And that would be probably Ethereum number one because people are actually writing real apps on top of Ethereum. And of course, Bitcoin has a lot of transactional and information, and maybe one or two others. But I think now that we’re starting to see kind of the explosion of the improvements for not only layers on top of Ethereum, but other blockchains, and how people are starting to actually build real applications on these, you’re starting to see more and more information stored on all of these different chains. So, as all of that data starts becoming, you know, used in front end applications and other applications, you know, you’re now looking at not just whatever is on Ethereum, but also on, you know, Polygon are these other Layer 2s, as well as these other chains that are out there. And, and maybe five years from now, all of the other applications that have built on top of all these, all of the data that they’ve stored, so the more applications that are built, the longer we’re here, the more data that is stored. So the more you know, opportunities out there are for people to kind of use that data to build out different interesting front ends. I think the most interesting thing about blockchain versus a traditional web application is that all of this data is completely public. So if you’re storing something on the blockchain, it’s meant for it to be public. So anyone can kind of come up with new ideas for how to combine that data and build out something completely brand new. So to me, that’s super interesting. So if there’s like five NFT, smart contracts that are out there, someone can combine all five of those to build out a new interface on top of those. And since the smart contract itself defines how people can interact with it, then I can just build maybe a completely new application on top of that. And then, you know, you’re basically having a back end, that any developer can build a new front end for which in the past was completely, you know, unfeasible and incomprehensible almost right, because the complexity for most backends, and also the proprietary data that is in most of these backends, would make that impossible.
Well, as a follow up, then what’s fundamentally different about building apps or being a developer in the Web 2.0 space verse in the Web3 space.
So I mean, I think this is more blockchain specific. But when people come into this space, they want to know, oh, I want to build out, you know, x type of application. And I think that the things that we build today, are not going to be like one to one mappings, I would say, between traditional Web 2.0 applications, at least not right now. So for instance, like I probably couldn’t build them the highest performance messaging app right now, on top of the blockchain, it wouldn’t even make sense actually, because, you know, most messages are going to need to be private, like encrypted. And you don’t really want someone knowing, like what you and your wife are probably talking about stored in a blockchain. So I think when people come in, they’re like, Oh, I want to build out like this type of application. But I think really, the blockchain itself is utilized for certain types of applications today. And, and therefore, The Graph is used for those type of applications. So I think, you know, any type of application that is suited for, of course, a blockchain is well suited for The Graph. And as the ecosystem around all these different blockchains improves, and the costs for transactions goes down, you’re gonna see more types of applications. But I don’t think that every single type of application that web 2.0 developers are used to writing is going to be a good fit for blockchain. You know.
It wasn’t long after you joined Edge & Node that the first 10 subgraphs migrated from the hosted service to the main net. And I know you were relatively new, but I would love to know your experience or perspective of that it was a huge undertaking, and with your pedigree and your professional background, what was your perspective or experience watching all of that happen?
So as someone that has, that is fairly new to the team, you know, at this recording, I’ve been here for a little over two months. And understanding the monumental effort that went into this before I got here, not only from people on The Graph Foundation and The Graph team, but also from the community, and all of the, you know, long, like months and even years of effort that kind of went into it. It’s hard for me to, you know, really, I would say putting perspective on it, that probably gives it the amount of deserved, I would say, to me, like just a major, like, monumental type of thing that happened with that. I mean, it’s like a huge deal. So how I saw that it went I think, overall, I thought it went really, really well. I think that there was a lot of course, things that happen that are maybe unexpected, because it’s kind of a brand new thing that no one I would say is really done at this scale. Maybe and it’s also kind of like a zero to one type of event. So I think like, of course, you’re going to have some issues when you’re doing something like that. But I think the overall, you know, final result has been, everyone seems to be pretty happy with it. So I think it was just such an interesting thing to kind of like watch from the sidelines, because I was really not that involved in that from the perspective of what my did day to day work is. But I did see some of those conversations, a lot of those conversations happening. And I thought it was really awesome to watch.
Earlier, you referenced that you really got an eye out there watching a lot of the amazing projects, people in the web through your crypto space are working on outside of the things you’re working on at Edge & Node and what The Graph is doing, what other projects have caught your attention or that you’re keeping your eye on.
Yeah, so right now, my main focus is understanding all of the different parts of Web3, fulfilling the pieces of the stack that needed that are needed to kind of build out the type of applications that we’re used to building in Web 2.0, like I mentioned before, so I’m really interested in protocols that are solving some of those challenges and some of those problems. So as a developer, if I want to build an app, I typically need like these different pieces. So identity is one, storage is one, data is one, some type of business logic, execution environment is often one that you need. You know, sometimes, like maybe video streaming, these sorts of things. So I think I’m really interested in any of the applications, protocols, teams that are out there, building the things that will fill those needs. So for me, you know, Ceramic, and IDX are really interesting to me. Also Sia Skynet is doing some cool stuff around. Not only storage, but identity as well, that I’m keeping an eye on. Livepeer with streaming is interesting to me. ThreadDB is seems pretty interesting to me. And yeah, just pretty much any application, or any team that’s out there working on different pieces of the web stack that are going to be built in a decentralized manner are really interesting to me.
can you take a minute and describe what is meant by this idea or concept of full stack I see it brought up all the time. And again, as a non technical person, I’m not sure I understand what the concept of full stack means and how the craft fits into it all.
So the full stack would be kind of like, as a developer, I want to build out the user interface, which is kind of like what someone sees when they open their phone, and they press on and websites, you know, app icon, or they open a website up in their browser, I guess you could say, the user interface is kind of like that, like how you interact with it. So like front end, developers typically build out those UIs by using, you know, images and text and CSS and stuff like that. So the front end would be that and then the back end would typically be the database or in the case of The Graph, a subgraph. Or even maybe an Indexer could be part of the back end. And full stack developer or someone building full stack apps is kind of doing both. And I think that the nature of a lot of the Web3 protocols makes full stack development, you know, a lot easier than maybe a lot of the traditional Web 2.0 stuff. I think that the things that I was working on AWS were server less, which meant that a lot of the back end stuff was abstracted away making it easier for front end developers to build full stack apps. I think a lot of the stuff like The Graph, like some of these other protocols that are abstracting away some of this, this complexity, also make it easier for front end developers to build full stack applications, or they just make full stack application development easier. So I’m really interested in anything that that makes developer, you know, I would say anything that increases developer velocity will ultimately bring value because people will be able to build faster and more efficiently.
Thank you for that explanation. It’s obviously very helpful. I want to finish up with a few final questions. The first one being what’s your long term vision for The Graph?
I think some of the most interesting things that I’ve been hearing lately are people that have ideas around indexing massive data sets on The Graph and making them accessible. So I think in the future, the long term vision is having anything that is public data being indexed, indexed, or index able, by The Graph, and being able to have kind of this global API layer for anyone that wants to build anything, and have that data readily available.
As I mentioned before, you recently published a book it was published by O’Reilly. The book title is full stack serverless modern application development with react, AWS and GraphQL. Who did you write that book And for listeners that are thinking about picking it up, what might they find insight,
I want to encourage listeners to check it out. If they’re interested in learning more. Again, the title is full stack serverless, modern application development with react, AWS and GraphQL not hurt. Before I let you go, I want to ask you one final question. And it’s for those listeners who are currently working in the Web 2.0 space, and they’re contemplating making the move that you recently made into the Web3 space, what’s your advice to them?
I think that they should kind of look at some of the projects that are happening in this ecosystem, and look at some of the production dApps that are out there. And get in, get into a few of the Discord communities and just kind of see the discussions that are happening. And just see if that that some of the ideas and some of the conversations that are happening interests you and sparked your curiosity, because I think that this space is intellectually stimulating in a way that like a lot of the web to stuff just isn’t. And it’s attracting a lot of really smart people that are kind of starting to kind of see that as well. So I think that getting your foot in the door, you know, by like understanding some of the different conversations that are happening is a good a good way to kind of spark your interest.
Nader, I’m deeply humbled that you would take the time and do this podcast. Thank you so much for listeners that want to stay in touch with you and learn more about what you’re working on. What’s the best way for them to stay in touch?
Definitely follow me on Twitter, at dabit3 and then also YouTube. I’m Nader Dabit on YouTube. So you can go to youtube.com/Nader Dabit, I think our youtube.com/u/NaderDabit I don’t remember. But yeah, YouTube and Twitter is kind of where I hang out the most.
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DISCLOSURE: GRTIQ is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any other way connected with The Graph, or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates. This material has been prepared for information purposes only, and it is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, tax, legal, financial, or investment advice. The content for this material is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The Graph token holders should do their own research regarding individual Indexers and the risks, including objectives, charges, and expenses, associated with the purchase of GRT or the delegation of GRT.