Tezos Tooling for the World - Interview with Jev Björsell, Founder & CEO of ECAD Labs

In the interview, Jev discusses some of the reasons that drew him and his team to Tezos.

TezDev Paris interview with Jev Björsell, Founder & CEO of ECAD Labs

Many of the leading developers across the Tezos ecosystem met up in Paris, France recently, for Tez/Dev - the largest Tezos developer conference of the year. While there, the Blokhaus team sat down with Jev Björsell of ECAD Labs.

In the interview, Jev discusses some of the factors that drew him and his team to Tezos, highlighting some of the blockchain's most unique and important features, such as its unique on-chain governance process, energy efficiency, and its potential for social change. Jev also shared some sound words of advice for new developers interested in getting involved with the Tezos blockchain.

You'll find extracts from Jev’s interview below, and you can watch the full video interview at the top of this page.

Introducing Jev:

Jev Björsell is the Founder and CEO of ECAD Labs, a team that builds tools for developers in the Tezos ecosystem. Though ECAD Labs has been around for nearly a decade (starting out as a 'traditional infrastructure/software development company'), by late 2019 the team shifted to working full-time in Tezos because, as Jev stated 'that was the work that brings us the most joy.'

Why Tezos?

When asked why he and the ECAD Labs team ended up working on Tezos specifically, he stated that he was:

very curious about what Tezos was because it had this on-chain governance, which solves one of the core reasons that I didn't want to get into blockchain. So I was very curious about it…

The 'on-chain governance' that Jev is referring to is the unique way in which Tezos community members work together to upgrade the network via a Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism.

Proof-of-Stake: on-chain governance and evolution

The Tezos governance process starts with open discussion on public forums, until eventually a technical proposal is posted to the network. Community members can then vote on a proposal by staking their Tez with network validators who vote on said proposals. If voter consensus is met during this process, the network automatically and seamlessly upgrades itself without any 'hard-forks'.

Unlike Tezos, on Bitcoin or Ethereum most users do not technically have a say in what gets changed. Rather, only a select few core developers make those decisions. This in turn makes it hard to reach social consensus on important issues, which can thus make it difficult to adopt any upgrades at all.

Being a software engineer, the idea of not being able to upgrade your foundational fabric is a problem. And then I was “nerd sniped” by Tezos when I read that it had this novel idea of on-chain governance, which is really genius and it works...it has this on-chain governance built in.

Proof-of-Stake: energy efficiency:

Another important consequence of Tezos's governance mechanism is that it is incredibly energy efficient:

Before Tezos...the energy cost of blockchain...seemed a little bit excessive to me at the time.

Blockchain networks are secured by validators who keep an eye on network activity.  On Proof-of-Work blockchains (like Bitcoin), validators have to compete with each other to secure the network by converting electricity into computational energy, and this becomes more intensive and expensive over time. Tezos validators on the other hand are periodically chosen to secure the network by proving they have a stake in it. On Tezos, proof-of-stake secures the network and it requires far less energy.

Tezos as a tool for social change:

To me, in a phrase, blockchain is a neutral clearing ground... it's a neutral space for people and institutions to communicate, to trade, to do commerce. And that neutrality is a crucial element about blockchain.
My hope for blockchain is that it solves actual social issues. Now, as a technologist, I get quite enthralled with the weeds of technical details and that's fun in and of itself, but it's not really meaningful unless it has a human impact or social impact. I hope that Tezos, and blockchain as a whole, really drives some productive social change. With blockchain I'm hoping that it really does live up to this sort of permissionless concept.
The idea of having gatekeepers, in terms of access to financial products, or banking and so on – I think that sort of friction or those impediments is really perverse to society. Tezos, and blockchains generally, I think it has a strong role to play in reducing those barriers. So that's what I'm hoping we see from Tezos and blockchain generally to drive some meaningful social change.

Words of advice for new developers

The potential of Tezos to help bring about meaningful social change of course depends on the strength of the community, and this includes developers. From one dev to another, Jev shared some helpful words of advice for those looking to get into Tezos:

For developers new to Tezos and blockchain generally…I'm a big fan of experiential learning for new developers coming into the ecosystem. I generally encourage them to come along and try it out. Start by writing a small application in the language of their choosing that might just read data from the chain, and then level up after that. Start interacting with some smart contracts, and this will help those individuals flesh out a mental model of what they're dealing with.
...it's not all that complicated, and as long as you can actually feel it and touch it and experience it, it starts to make a lot more sense when you get there.

For more interviews with developers and thought-leaders in the Tezos ecosystem, subscribe to the Tezos YouTube channel.


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