In the competitive landscape of technology products, sustainable growth relies on finding the right balance between development and distribution. As new platforms and systems emerge across various industries, their success largely depends on the intricate interplay of innovation and accessibility.
This morning, during an early NYC-NFT coffee meetup, the topic of Ceramic Network arose that illustrated this interplay. To provide some context, Ceramic Network is a distributed file storage system similar to Arweave, with some other clever structures involved. These systems play a crucial role in the world of NFTs and decentralized technologies.
In my previous role as CTO of Mirror, a decentralized publishing platform, I was often encouraged to experiment with Ceramic over Arweave. It was touted as the better approach. Despite my best efforts, I struggled to understand Ceramic's advantages. I even printed their entire documentation and spent a day reading it in a San Francisco hotel lounge.
Ceramic's main issue, in my opinion, is that they didn't prioritize distribution and ecosystem cultivation early on. They developed disproportionately to their distribution ability and ecosystem. It's akin to a person who focuses solely on building muscle, but neglects flexibility and stamina. The result is impressive, but ultimately impractical.
In contrast, Arweave had working examples from the outset. Sam, the founder, interviewed me on a podcast before I had even written a line of Mirror code, just on the potential for building NFTs that stored content on Arweave. While some of the examples were rudimentary, like WeaveMail, an email solution built on Arweave, they provided developers with an entry point and gave the core developers valuable feedback.
As a member of Ceramic's target audience, I believe the responsibility for my lack of understanding and enthusiasm lies with the protocol's author, not with outsiders for not "getting it". I harbor no ill will towards anyone involved. Rather, I see this as an opportunity to learn: successful products must balance development velocity with distribution capabilities. This equilibrium is essential for their survival.