Earlier this month at ETHPrague, PWN had the pleasure of speaking with Makoto Inoue, one of the core developers at Ethereum Naming Service (ENS) which provides NFT compliant naming service to various blockchain addresses and decentralized file systems.
At the conference, Makoto also led an ENS integration workshop in which he covered the basics of ENS smart contracts and various ways to make use of the rich features within ENS.
In our latest segment of Cryptonatives, Makoto looks back on his career and personal growth in the DeFi space while also explaining what has led up to ENS’ recent milestone of reaching 1 million name registrations.
PWN: Starting things off, what do you think defines a cryptonative?
MI: I think the definition of cryptonatives differs quite a lot. It's a very difficult term to define because nowadays, crypto consists of so many different things. Different people think crypto as being related to NFTs, DeFi, or web3. So the way you approach it depends on exactly where you’ve come from. For me, if I distill the term, it comes down to how you manage crypto incentives and various aspects of, for example, DeFi and NFTs.
It’s also about how to codify an incentive into the program. That's the power of smart contracts (and that's why I was attracted to them in the first place). The people who understand not just how to use them, but also comprehend the relationship that exists between certain actions and the consequences — in other words, benefits or penalties — that result from them.
If someone has a firm grasp on these concepts and is able to respond to them, I see them as a cryptonative.
PWN: As a cryptonative, what are some of the DeFi tools that you find yourself using?
MI: Okay, I'm quite old within this group [laughs]. You know, I see cryptonatives mainly coming from Gen Z, while I’m part of Gen X. When it comes to the tools I use for DeFi, I think mostly of visualization dashboards.
These tools can be thought of as entry points into the industry. Personally, DeBank, Zapper, and DeFiLlama have helped me see many crypto assets in one place. I also use Dune Analytics quite a lot, which allows me to write SQL for data sets.
On top of that, new tools are coming out practically every month. It’s good to experiment with new ones and see what you like. I find that each tool that I use performs a specific function well, but it doesn’t give me everything I need. Instead, to form a more holistic toolset, I’ve ended up having about five different tools and using a handful of aggregators.
PWN: What’s currently inspiring your day-to-day work at ENS?
MI: I started at ENS in 2018, so it’s now been almost four years. ENS itself has been live for over five years, which makes it one of the oldest Ethereum projects.
Since last year or so, I’ve seen us really getting into the momentum of things — the first few years were a bit slow in terms of adoption, but as NFTs have become more popular during this last year, people have discovered that ENS is also useful for NFTs. We also created a token, which really raised more people's awareness about us. Then, just a couple months ago, we hit 1 million name registrations. Over 400,000 unique addresses now use ENS, so we see things picking up speed.
Looking ahead, we’re acting upon feedback that we’ve gotten from users regarding scalability issues. We now plan to enable off-chain usage for storing data, and this is an initiative in which I’m closely involved. This won’t just be a change in our smart contract protocol; it will also depend on our partners integrated with our new protocol reaching out to other ecosystem players to make sure they integrate in the right way.
PWN: In your own words, what is the importance of governance within DeFi protocols?
MI: In protocols, governance has two main aspects. In the case of ENS, we have smart contracts and parameters that we can only change through the consensus from the DAO board meetings. Then, there's the distribution of funds — at ENS, we have a sizable revenue solely from the registration of .eth names, and we’ve established how to distribute it, not just for the growth of ENS but also to create an ecosystem. We’ve also had to come up with how to respond to internal disagreements and field external requests for funds, and to these questions, there’s no single correct answer.
A perfect example is the Protocol Guild, which is operated by more than 110 core protocol contributors, including members from Besu, EF Devops, EF Protocol Support, EF Research, EF Testing, Erigon, Geth, Ipsilon, Lighthouse, Lodestar, Nethermind, Prysm, Quilt, Robust Incentives Group (RIG), Solidity, Status, Teku, and TX/RX. We’re currently discussing how we can contribute some of the ENS funds for its development. To me, these kinds of things are extremely important.
PWN: Which web3 services would you recommend people to use to be able to become cryptonatives?
MI: I’m a big fan of STEPN, a move-to-earn project. Using it, you basically buy shoes as an NFT. The number of shoes that you have determines how long you can walk (I have like nine shoes right now, which means that I can walk for about 50 minutes per day). I previously had 18 shoes, but I gave half to my wife so that she could also get involved. That was actually the first time that I installed a wallet on my wife's mobile phone. It’s a fun tool, and it gives you incentive to move, and it could be an interesting entry point for those looking to adopt.
What’s more, it forces people to understand consequences in relation to crypto incentives (even though this has a lot of centralization points). Nevertheless, the tool has the essence of crypto incentives and teaches you through doing something good for you, which is just to walk.
PWN’s Cryptonatives is a Q&A series with some of the brightest minds within the web3 and DeFi space who are building and making active use of the services that today’s crypto ecosystem has to offer. Through shedding light on their experiences and lessons learned throughout their careers, it’s our team’s goal to educate the masses and further spread our guests’ wealth of knowledge.
Have someone that you’d love to see featured in the series? Reach out to us on Discord and let us know.