Decentralized Futures: Integration Enforcement

I am Bruno and I currently write Dot Leap and am your famous web3 grumpster.

As part of Dot Leap, I also do Dogfooding where I record myself using a web3 application or game as a new user, from a blank wallet or without prior experience.

So far every team whose work I dogfooded (in public or private) has thanked me for the refreshing take and valuable over-the-shoulder new user impressions.

This experience reaffirms my opinion that no one actually uses blockchain products. There’s the odd gamble or so, and a power user here and there, but by and large we are apparently completely missing our target audience.

By far the biggest and most impactful UX improvements during my time at RMRK were when we had Dogfooding Incentives as a bigger team. People working on Singular would be given some KSM per month and told to buy art they like. If they failed to buy something, they would be kicked off the program for next month. Month after month, every new dogfooding drop would cause people to go and try find the NFTs they like, and this would bring many revelations about search filters, the buying and connecting flow, the discoverability or new artists and their art in general, and more. Without fail, these revelations would make it to the top of the priority list and get fixed before any other feature, because the people working on the product itself would become aware of pain points. To avoid re-experiencing this pain, they would fix these issues fast.

Fast forward to 2024, and when I used Talisman with Hydra, it turns out no one noticed that it charges in HDX when a custom fee currency is set on-chain. This tells me no one uses Talisman and Hydra in combination, which is statistically odd if we really have all those users we keep talking about. The truth is obvious - no one uses blockchain products, not even the people who make them.

I do want to have more real users in blockchain, but primarily and firstly I want to address the fact that builder teams do not even use their own work. I believe the way to start this change is by forced integration, something I mentioned before.

The gist of it is as follows:

  • if you run a project in web3, you should have an Integration Officer at a ratio of about 15 employees to 1 officer.
  • the Integration Officer is in charge of helping employees use web3, finding ways of using web3 appropriate to the technical level of the employee - e.g. a marketing or BD person who doesn’t really know how to use computers can still participate in various high profile web3 telegram chats and absorb the culture and memetics to say “in”, and to keep their finger on the pulse of web3, thereby still being useful to their team
  • the employees do not have to use the product their team is working on, but they do have to be integrated into web3
  • the integration officer compiles the integration report every week for every employee they are “in charge of”, and suggests changes and new avenues of integration. If there is a CIO, the IO will submit the report to the CIO who will make further adjustments.

To be clear, yes this is very much an operation which assigns “points” to employees based on their ability to function in the ecosystem they are trying to operate in. It will undoubtedly add pressure to many people’s lives and make their work less enjoyable. I am okay with this - we are not here on vacation or in a Google resort. Web3 tech is supposed to make a difference. You have to act different to make a difference.

The Integration effort is designed to make people care about the space they’re trying to build for - it’s professional dogfooding. People might feel forced to do something they don’t want to do, but I firmly believe that without being interested in some Thing, you cannot improve that Thing. Paper plane experts should not be designing real planes.

Of all the blockchain ecosystems, I believe Polkadot is in most dire need of such an effort because Polkadot is the only eco I have seen with exactly zero representatives in high-impact Telegram chats about web3, and Polkadot is the only eco for which people react with “Isn’t it dead?” when they hear about it.

It is, because no one talks about it. By “professionally dogfooding”, we make Polkadot alive, and we make its dapps better, while preventing CMOs who are completely detached from the ecosystem they are trying to market to (yes, even C-level staff would be required to integrate - you cannot own a football team if you never kicked a ball in your life).

A DF grant for this effort could allow for a 6 to 12 months pilot program of 2-3 trained full-time integration specialists in 2-3 projects who are interested in testing this.