Introducing Laconic Network
The advent of smart-contract blockchains, led by Ethereum in 2014, has given rise to exciting new possibilities for humans interacting and transacting with each other. The ensuing rise of Web3, with wider consumer adoption of DeFi and NFTs in particular, has begun to show the world how public blockchains that are permissionless and trustless can bring immense value to industries and individuals.
The value of blockchain:
Immutable data that brings transparency to finance and governance
Efficiency through smart contract automation
Security and privacy through emerging cryptography
Yet all of these benefits hinge on developers succeeding in writing Web3 applications on top of blockchains that are fast, efficient, secure, and frictionless to use. There will be no internet-scale adoption of Web3 if the user experience is bad, or if it is simply too difficult to write the applications in the first place. And this point highlights a critical weakness of blockchains - accessing the data that they store is not as simple and straightforward as one might expect.
On the contrary, since blockchains are write-optimized databases that focus nearly exclusively on establishing consensus and finality of each new block, they are notoriously difficult to work with for data retrieval.
The result of this has been the rise of a middleware industry to index, cache, and serve blockchain data. This includes services like Infura, Alchemy, and The Graph. These services, while more convenient for developers to use when building DApps, all break the fundamental benefits of blockchain in one or more ways.
First, they tend towards centralization, and we end up with an industry where the blockchains are decentralized, but the DApps built on them all pass through an oligarchy of service providers that are not materially different from the IaaS cloud providers that represent the hyper-centralization of Web2. Second, they serve data that can no longer be cryptographically proven to be the correct data, so the trustless benefit of blockchain technology is replaced with a trust relationship with a single company.
Until Laconic, there has not been any technology that serves blockchain data while truly upholding the ideals of decentralization and allowing all data to be independently cryptographically verified. Key components of the emerging Web3 ecosystem, like Metamask, use centralized APIs from OpenSea and Infura without any mechanism for cryptographically verifying the accuracy or provenance of the data. Yet, provable data and decentralization are essential to having truly trustless systems for Web3 to depend on.
It is precisely this service that Laconic has been created to deliver.
Blockchain Data for High-Performance Applications
The Laconic Network solves these two fundamental and existential problems. We are creating a truly decentralized network of data indexers and API providers to deliver hash-linked (cryptographically provable) blockchain data off-chain. Every byte of data served to DApps via the Laconic Network can be verified and proven to be mathematically integral.
We are thrilled at the prospect that the Laconic Network will become the catalyst and enabler to unlock immense potential value in the blockchain.
For the last five years, our team of platform experts across Ethereum, IPLD / IPFS, and Cosmos SDK has been leading research and development in this space. We are creating a new set of technologies and infrastructure to solve the fundamental problem of making blockchain data accessible to high performance, high availability applications. The work has included the application of IPLD block structures to preserve the hash-linked structure of blockchain data when stored in traditional relational databases and served via API endpoints.
The upshot: No longer will DApp developers have to struggle with convoluted queries, poor performance, long indexing times, or unprovable data when building decentralized applications.
Enter the Laconic Network
Furthermore, we’ve pioneered a novel organizational and governance structure that solves the seemingly incompatible goals of providing guaranteed data availability service levels via a truly decentralized network. Laconic Network Members are corporate entities who enter contractual obligations to offer data indexing and retrieval services to end-users with professional-grade performance guarantees. Yet the network of these partners is technically, legally, and even geographically decentralized, and therefore impervious to censorship or monopolistic control.
One of the primary responsibilities of Laconic Network Members is to run Laconic Watchers, which are programs that expose data APIs to DApps, maintaining specific views of blockchain state and data expressed as mini-blockchains, solely for the purpose of reliable, provable data querying. DApp developers can find and use existing Laconic Watchers and can programmatically create new Watchers. There will be token incentives for programmers who write Watchers.
Finally, the Laconic Network features an incentivized data caching layer to ensure robustness. All blockchain data can be made permanently, globally available through the caching layer, without needing to directly query blockchain nodes, and, of course, without sacrificing the cryptographic integrity of the data. People who care about decentralization and provable data will be able to participate in this caching layer and earn tokens while doing it.
The upcoming launch of the Laconic Network will bring a new era marked by the positive value that blockchains bring to humanity, with ever more practical and impactful use cases emerging as the barriers of data availability fall away.
The Laconic Network will have opportunities and benefits for anyone who cares about the future of the decentralized web:
How have others tried to solve these challenges?
The original vision of Ethereum was that DApp developers would connect directly with Ethereum nodes and use the JSON-RPC API of an Ethereum client to query data. This allows you to get data from a source that has verified the data, and is decentralized, but it requires you to run the node yourself, or hire someone to run it for you. Furthermore, the data is not indexed in such a way that is convenient for DApp developers, and a large number of queries and processing must be done to satisfy normal application cases.
To improve the convenience of querying Ethereum data, many indexers have taken the data and put it in off-chain databases, often with sensible indexes. They then expose this data over new APIs that foster rapid application development and developer ease, but completely forsake the first principle values of decentralization and cryptographic verifiability.
To our knowledge, no indexer has managed to provide the convenience of custom indexes and APIs while preserving decentralization and cryptographic proofs of the data integrity.
Laconic's Solution: How are we different?
Developed over four years by our team of Ethereum, IPLD, and Cosmos SDK core contributors, the Laconic Solution encompasses three main components:
Laconic Stack, a set of services which convert Ethereum data into IPLD blocks and populate our high-performance, carefully indexed databases.
Laconic SDK, which makes it easy for developers to write front ends and other services which consume IPLD-based data structures and proofs.
Laconic Network, a multi-sided marketplace that allows DApp developers and service providers to transact in a more cost-effective way and then pass those cost savings on to end-users, providing a sustainable and decentralized operating model for DApp developers. The key element of the Network is Watchers, custom materialized views of blockchain data that developers query to access specific blockchain data.
The Laconic Stack consists of our modified Geth client which extracts and denormalizes the data, transforming it into IPLD blocks and indexing it properly for efficient querying and future transformations. For example, we can list all the node hashes needed to execute a cryptographic proof in one query, instead of having to walk down the Merkle tree with a chain of sequential queries.
The main contact point for developers is the Watcher, a materialized view of a specific subset of blockchain data (e.g. a specific contract or protocol) that provides a custom endpoint for DApps to query.
$LNT, the Laconic Network Token
With a fixed total supply, Laconic Network Token (LNT) serves multiple functions in the network design, most saliently by securing incentive alignment across network stakeholders. In addition to being used as rewards for service providers to run Watchers, LNT also allows for seamless transactions across services, regardless of blockchain or DApp.
Distribute rewards to staked users
Provide service discounts
Distribute funds to community members for Network maintenance and development
What’s Next for Laconic
After five years in stealth mode, we’re looking forward to our public marketing debut this month. Later in Q3 2022, we will announce the initial cohort of seven Founding Members, as well as a funding round. As our technology, governance, and network are novel, with no current analogies, we're excited to share more articles about key aspects of the Laconic Stack and Laconic Network, including our use of IPLD, the role of Watchers, the features of the Laconic App, and our pioneering governance framework.
For those wishing to run validators, we're aiming to have an incentivized Testnet in 2023, followed by the launch of our Mainnet later in 2023.
Summary of Laconic Network Milestones
Public Marketing Launch: Q3 2022
Coming out of a long stealth period, we’ll be launching our marketing assets and channels, including branding, website, social media and developer platforms, and content.
Seven Founding Members and Funding: Q3 2022
We’ll be announcing our initial seven Founding Members and the close of our seed funding round.
Incentivized Testnet: Early 2023
With the launch of our Incentivized Testnet, prospective validators will be incentivized to learn about the requirements for being a Member/Validator on Laconic Network and how to operate the Laconic Stack.
Mainnet Launch & Incentivized Global Data Cache: Late 2023
Once Laconic Mainnet launches, and 7 Member/validators have joined the network, we’ll have an incentivized global data cache, allowing anyone to easily participate in serving blockchain data to DApps (and earn $LNT in doing so).