The Graph, a project that is sometimes called the Google of Web3, is here with a new roadmapoutlining the new features the network will add as it characterizes itself as the leader in “indexing” blockchain data.
Tegan Kline, CEO of Edge & Node, the first company developing The Graph, sat down with CoinDesk to give us an update on what The Graph does.
Q: Tell us a little about The Graph?
A: The Graph organizes data in a decentralized way. So you might think of what Google does for the traditional web and organize the data so you can easily search it. The Graph does this, but instead of having a single company that can own, control and modify the data, or potentially even just pretend the data doesn’t exist, The Graph Network has over 200 independent Google-like companies in around the world, which organize data and serve it like indexing and queries. Indexing is simply organizing data. And then querying is like pinging data or searching for data.
The Graph was therefore the first to index data in the blockchain space. We started with the hosted service and now we have the decentralized network which has been running for almost three years, and today there are over 1,000 applications on the network.
Q: Can you explain in more detail how indexing works?
A: Different blockchains contain data, but the data is not organized. And so before The Graph, Ethereum was very little used, and Ethereum was the main blockchain that people needed data on at that time.
With The Graph, we organize this data, which is on Ethereum, so that developers and dapps can easily access this data, and thus applications can load quickly.
Q: Is data availability – which seems to be a big topic of conversation in the Ethereum ecosystem lately – also necessary for a protocol like The Graph?
A: We will need a data availability layer in The Graph ecosystem. You can sort of think of the Web3 stack as having multiple pieces. You have the blockchain at the bottom, then one layer is the data availability layer, one layer is indexing, and then applications live on top of that stack. The chart is a different part of the stack.
Q: How does The Graph compare to protocols like Chainlink: Chainlink’s oracle feeds data into blockchains and you (The Graph) feeds data from blockchains into websites?
A: Yes, that’s a great comparison.
SO Chainlink brings data on the blockchain and The Graph organizes public data that is on the blockchain. So for example, we have a partnership with Chainlink and we can organize Oracle data.
As an example, because Chainlink, the oracle puts that data on chain, verifies it, and then The Graph is able to organize that data.
Chainlink therefore owns all the data in the world, putting it on chain. We have the data on-chain and transmit it to the rest of the world. And we think that over time, more and more data will be on-chain.
Q: Who are you indexing this data for? Who are your clients ?
A: There are so many different examples. For example, an NFT marketplace.
SO The levers of Art Blocks The Graph to organize data for their NFT market: seeing how many NFTs have been sold and how many are in the collection, what is the price? This is an example of such data which is all taken from The Graph.
The data is on the blockchain when it comes to on-chain transactions, and so those on-chain transactions, you want to be able to extract them in real time, and you need to organize the data efficiently.
Apps can therefore outsource this indexing to The Graph network, so they can focus solely on building truly amazing apps.
It’s the same as if you were using a Comcast, rather than building your own telecommunications line in your home. Same with The Graph: you outsource this to The Graph network, so you don’t have to think about it and you can just create really amazing apps.
Almost all DeFi uses The Graph. For example UniswapTo see the token prices, all this data is extracted using the Graph network.
Q: Who are your competitors? Who are you partnering with and what projects are most similar to The Graph?
A: The Graph was the first to provide indexing for the Web3 space. There really is no decentralized competitor today. The biggest competition is with people who centrally distribute everything internally.
Q: So where is all this going? Will The Graph be alone in this matter?
A: One of the advantages of The Graph is that we are blockchain agnostic. We currently support 40 channels between the hosted service and the network. So it’s really nice, but not because crypto tends to get a little tribal.
And so it’s nice that we can kind of unite the ecosystems. But I’m really excited about the future. You know, I think we’ve already proven that we’ve proven that the monetary policy aspect of crypto is correct with bitcoin and the need for a strong monetary system, in my opinion we have it, but you know where the opportunity is and where I am. The Web3 side is really exciting because we need to develop this decentralized, permissionless open source technology.
And we work with data, right? And we created a new incentive system around data so that no single company can own and control that data. And really, it’s about giving public data back to individuals and not having control over it as a company.
I think with crypto and Web3 we are creating a free, self-sovereign movement and we need to make sure the Web3 stack is fully decentralized. Otherwise, there’s really no point in doing what we’re doing. It won’t be forced on anyone, but I think giving people the opportunity to move away from the centralized world is a very good thing.
Q: There is the Graph, Edge & Node, and a foundation? How does all this differ?
A: Edge & Node is the original team behind The Graph; we developed the protocol. The foundation launched the protocol. And now there are seven core developers building and contributing to the development of The Graph protocol.
One of the examples is Messari, they are a core developer. And they create subgraphs, which are the open APIs used by applications. They standardize this data so that large institutions can leverage this standardized data.