2023: Expanding from a storage network to enabling open services for data, PART II
As we bid farewell to 2023, it’s a moment of reflection on the transformative journey that unfolded in the Filecoin ecosystem. In a year marked by global shifts and challenges, the Filecoin community stood resilient, collectively advancing towards our goals of building the largest decentralized storage network; onboarding and safeguarding humanity’s data; and bringing compute to the data to enable web-scale apps. In this post, you will find ecosystem and community updates that contributed to the network’s transformative year, in addition to a look ahead at what to expect from Filecoin in 2024. If you’re interested in reading about the developmental and technical achievements from 2023, check out Part I of this blog post series.
Filecoin Community Growth
In 2023, the global Filecoin community witnessed a vibrant array of events, both community-led and organized by the Filecoin Foundation (FF), that brought together enthusiasts, developers, and stakeholders from various corners of the world. Community-led FIL events, including FILJakarta, FILSeoul, and FILBangalore, served as dynamic platforms for participants to engage in insightful discussions, hands-on workshops, and networking opportunities, fostering a sense of collaboration and knowledge-sharing.
FILParis, FILVegas, and FILHongKong, organized by FF, provided attendees with curated experiences, featuring expert talks, project demonstrations, and deep dives into the latest developments within the Filecoin ecosystem. These events, strategically organized across diverse global locations, aimed to strengthen connections, drive innovation, and promote the broader adoption of Filecoin. Collectively, these FIL events showcase the global reach and collaboration that define the Filecoin community. Whether initiated by passionate community members or orchestrated by the Filecoin Foundation, these gatherings have played a crucial role in shaping the narrative, fostering relationships, and propelling the Filecoin ecosystem towards new heights in 2023.
FIL Dev Summit
The first ever FIL Dev Summits in Singapore and Iceland were a gathering of developers, builders, and engaged community members to workshop improvements to the core protocol and network evolution of Filecoin (think IPFS Thing, but bigger!).
These summits sparked meaningful and impactful conversations to help push the Filecoin network forward - from protocol scalability and network improvements, to the intricacies of data onboarding and governance structures. Over the course of 6 days, over 200 developers, researchers, and community members gathered to share and refine improvements, gain insights from diverse perspectives, challenge assumptions, and collectively arrive at innovative solutions to the challenges faced by the Filecoin ecosystem. Check out the recaps for more:
- FIL Dev Iceland Track Recap: From Click to PiB, Scaling Enterprise Data
- Retrieving Memories from the FIL Dev Summit Iceland
- FIL Dev Summit 2023 Singapore Recap Video
In 2023, the Filecoin Orbit program played a pivotal role in nurturing the Filecoin ecosystem by seeding thousands of builders worldwide. The program, driven by 147 dedicated Orbit Ambassadors, hosted 190 workshops and community hackathons across 40 countries, introducing an estimated 10,000 early-career developers, students, and enthusiasts to the Filecoin ecosystem. The program’s global reach extended to cities such as Austin, Mumbai, Seoul, and more, particularly focusing on underrepresented regions. Serving as an entry point into the Filecoin Builder’s Funnel, Orbit facilitated the transformation of projects into funded startups. Leading up to the FVM launch, Orbit Ambassadors organized over 30 FVM workshops and 10 hackathons, resulting in 150 new projects deployed on Filecoin, IPFS, or FVM test- and mainnets. Additionally, Orbit extended its influence to top universities globally and organized larger conferences in Jakarta, Seoul, and Cape Town, engaging hundreds of developers and storage providers. The program continues to thrive with upcoming events worldwide, and enthusiasts are encouraged to attend these free and open events. Interested in getting involved with Orbit? Submit an application to become an Orbit ambassador.
Filecoin TL;DR has played a pivotal role in disseminating information and fostering community engagement. Since its launch in February 2023, filecointldr.io has become a hub for over 430,000 visitors who explored 1.9 million pages. The platform’s comprehensive guides, covering topics like utilizing FIL in the FVM and comparing staking/leasing protocols, coupled with a collaborative marketing strategy, have generated an impressive 3.8k backlinks. This strategic approach has positioned the TL;DR team’s information prominently in search rankings for key user queries such as “Filecoin staking” and “How to buy Filecoin.” The recently established Filecoin TL;DR Blog has further enriched the ecosystem with 14 articles ranging from thought leadership pieces to practical How-To guides.
On the social media front, the @Filecoin X (formerly Twitter) handle has witnessed remarkable growth, with the community followers surging from 256k on January 1, 2023, to an impressive 667k by December 31, 2023, marking a phenomenal 160% increase. This growth outpaces that of any tracked L1/L2 competitor protocols’ pages. The community engagement on this platform has been equally noteworthy, with 890 unique brand messages generating 1.9 million interactions, averaging 1.23k engagements per post. The net sentiment score of 7.31 places Filecoin in the top 3 among the 10 measured L1/L2 protocols.
In tandem, the creation of @FilecoinTLDR has provided a focused channel for token holders and web3 enthusiasts. The channel has rapidly grown to 9,800 followers, and 476 unique brand messages posted here have resulted in a remarkable 572k community engagements. Notably, FilecoinTLDR has played a supportive role in ecosystem growth by delivering “Ecosystem Spotlight” campaigns.. The TL;DR ecosystem stands out as a vital force in enhancing visibility, disseminating information, and actively contributing to the flourishing Filecoin community.
Protocol Labs Builders Funnel features complimentary builder programming from education to investment. The programs include awareness campaigns, university activations, hackathons, grants, accelerator programs, and early-stage investment. In 2023, the Funnel continued to scale its support for builders and startups building in the Filecoin ecosystem, including laying the foundations for FVM growth. By the end of 2023, the Builders Funnel programming has supported:
- >63,000 hackers across 120+ hacks with 40+ partners, resulting in 4,500+ submissions and $1.6M+ in prizes
- 602 grant recipients across open grants, targeted grants, RFPs and joint grants, and micro grants;
- 316 teams that are either currently enrolled in or have graduated from one of PL’s 36 accelerator cohorts run to date with 23 leading technology partners
- Accelerator teams raising >$420M in venture capital
- Early-stage capital injections into 100+ Funnel startups with an MVP and showing early PMF.
Looking ahead to 2024, the Builders Funnel will continue to support early-stage teams becoming venture-backed startups in the Filecoin ecosystem.
Filecoin’s Building Blocks
Within the complex framework of Filecoin, fundamental building blocks serve as the solid foundation, reinforcing the network’s infrastructure and propelling it towards enhanced decentralization, heightened security, and continuous innovation. Among these pivotal components are IPFS, libp2p, and drand, each playing a distinctive role in shaping the network’s foundation.
IPFS & libp2p
In the realm of IPFS and libp2p, 2023 has been a year of substantial progress, milestones, and community engagement. IPFS has continued its mission of making the web peer-to-peer, with notable advancements since 2022. The introduction of the probelab.io observatory for the IPFS community, the release of the fast IPFS implementation in Java called Nabu, and the launch of Helia—a composable, lightweight replacement for js-IPFS—highlight the platform’s commitment to innovation. IPFS garnered wider adoption, with Brave extending support into its privacy-first browser and IPFS functionality integrated into the widely used curl tool. The culmination of these efforts was showcased at the IPFS Thing 2023 event in Brussels, where the IPFS implementers community gathered for five days of discussions, talks, and demos, showcasing recent advances and charting new directions for the future.
Looking ahead to 2024, the IPFS roadmap includes the landing of the new Interplanetary Foundation, further improvements in resiliency and decentralization for web apps and dApps, and support for larger blocks to enhance compatibility for pre-existing content addressed data.
Meanwhile, libp2p, serving as the networking stack of web3 and integral to projects like IPFS, Filecoin, Ethereum Beacon Chain, and Polkadot, has made significant strides since 2022. With announcements of the libp2p foundation, core fund, and an independent engineering team, along with the release of js-libp2p 1.0 and experimental support for http-p2p, the stack has solidified its position as a cornerstone of decentralized protocols. The community is also still growing, with over 321,000 unique libp2p nodes per month, and the libp2p Day 2023 event that brought together eight community speakers to share insights.
In 2024, the libp2p roadmap aims to further establish the foundation and adjust the funding and structure, address major open issues for robust browser connectivity, and prioritize community and contributor activation. As both IPFS and libp2p continue to shape the decentralized web, community members, enthusiasts, and developers are encouraged to explore these advancements, engage in discussions, and contribute to the ongoing progress.
The year has been a very busy one for the drand team and the League of Entropy! Our drand nodes have indeed served over 60 billion (60,000,000,000 !) requests for randomness in the past 12 months while maintaining a 100% uptime as a distributed threshold network, just as it should be expected to. With 15 distributed key generation and resharing ceremonies, the League of Entropy has grown from running just a “default” beacon chain on both its Testnet and Mainnet networks to running two beacon chains with different frequencies (30s and 3s) on both networks. The League of Entropy also grew from 17 partners to now 21 partners, with more and more organizations joining the effort to provide free, unbiased, verifiable, public randomness as a public good for anyone to use.
Meanwhile, the drand team also attended nine different events and organized two summits to continue our ongoing effort to spread the word about drand, provide the best DevEx possible when using it, as well as sensibilize smart contract developers to the importance of using proper, unbiased and unpredictable randomness on-chain.
We have also new applications built using drand on all the networks who support drand currently, from Filecoin, to Sui, to Cosmos (through the Nois network) and the team is busy trying to bring BLS pre-compiles to both FVM and the EVM in order to reduce the gas costs of on-chain verification on both Filecoin and Ethereum. So, expect some more Ethereum-related drand news in 2024! To follow along with the project, check out the drand blog or the @drand_loe twitter account, or if you can’t wait to use drand in your codebases, check the drand Github repos.
Filecoin Roadmap - What’s Ahead for 2024
2024 feels like Spring - and Filecoin has a massive growth trajectory in store! Here are just a few of the many exciting breakthroughs in store for Filecoin in 2024.
- New high-value applications & compute L2s building on Filecoin: With InterPlanetary Consensus (IPC) coming to Filecoin mainnet in 2024, we expect to see the rise of Filecoin L2s - especially those building on the massive storage, compute, and infrastructure strength of Filecoin.
- Expect to see the first Filecoin L2 compute networks going to mainnet (like Fluence and Lilypad), the first Filecoin-powered Lambda networks (Filecoin Station), the first retrieval markets (Filecoin Saturn), and more!
- Especially with the proliferation of generative AI and compute networks specialized for ML inference and training - we expect to see many more specialized compute networks harnessing Filecoin data storage along with FVM and IPC building blocks.
- All of these L2s will flow more utility, storage usage, collateral demands and transaction volume back to Filecoin mainnet.
- IPC subnets are designed to be highly interoperable - so each new subnet will bring new capabilities and superpowers to the entire Filecoin network as a whole - along with growing their own communities, tokens, and applications building on Filecoin L1.
- These L2s will also utilize new breakthrough capabilities in FVM - like harnessing custom WASM actors and new runtimes to drive new high quality games, compute systems, and more.
- Filecoin as the fundamental storage layer for web3: Filecoin has already seen massive growth in data storage in 2023, surpassing 1.8 EiB of data stored from thousands of unique clients! In 2024, we’ll see Filecoin become an even more integral part of building in web3 - from becoming the storage layer for all blockchain state, to DePIN network infra data, to smart contract data.
- With the proliferation of rollups, DA layers, and more - the total volume of chain state is *exploding* across web3. In 2024, we expect to see more and more blockchains and DePIN networks follow Solana’s lead and store their full archival chain state in Filecoin for cheaper and more verifiable long-term storage and easier access for dapps, smart contracts, and node operators.
- The launch of the Filecoin Virtual Machine last year unlocked new programmable storage tooling like automated storage and repair contracts. With the addition of IPC and fast finality unlocking seamless bridging and cross-chain interop, we’ll see new L2 data aggregation networks come online to automate and scale data onboarding to Filecoin - making it easier and faster for any web3 dev or project to store data on Filecoin.
- With these building blocks, many more paid data onboarding tools will emerge focused on serving rollups, data availability services, and L1 blockchains with efficient, decentralized, on-chain-native state storage.
- The overall growth of chain state during this next cycle will drive more applications to choose low-cost, decentralized storage on Filecoin as their state archival solution (currently an $791.52B market dominated by Infura, Alchemy, and in some especially centralized cases AWS).
- This will integrate Filecoin more tightly with many other blockchain ecosystems like Ethereum, Solana, Cosmos, and more - so that any web3 dev can use Filecoin to retrieve historical data for analysis, applications, and more across each of these ecosystems.
- DePIN networks will also harness Filecoin to ensure their critical infrastructure data on local weather conditions, city maps, or wifi routers are well integrated with on-chain data and state. Tableland is already leading the way here in collaboration with WeatherXM!
- Filecoin for hot data with fast retrievals: More high-power applications and paying storage customers will drive up the demand for fast, reliable retrieval of data stored in Filecoin. In 2023, Filecoin built the tooling (boost + IPNI + FilPlus reputation) and measurement systems (SPARK + Station) for large-scale retrieval incentives. In 2024, we’ll see reliable retrieval become the standard for Filecoin storage clients - enhancing Filecoin utility and scope.
- The SPARK retrieval monitoring system launched in November 2023, and has been collecting decentralized metrics on Filecoin data retrievability at scale through the Station network. In 2024, we’ll see these retrieval metrics get integrated into Fil+ datacap approvals and incentives for retrieval providers through new Filecoin Plus allocators, tying the loop on retrieval incentives full circle. SPARK has completed over 660 million jobs to date.
- Projects like Tableland, web3.storage, Banyan, and others have been building out hot storage offerings on top of Filecoin - enabling S3-like use cases to sit on top of the Filecoin network! These new layers allow for Filecoin as an ecosystem to replace more parts of the infrastructure stack.
- DeFi on Filecoin grows: Filecoin is unique in that it has core economic flows as a part of its economy. While 2023 saw massive growth in the demand for Filecoin collateral via protocols like (GLIF and StFIL), we expect to see new use cases emerge as builders start leveraging the FVM to pull more capital flows on-chain (e.g. payments for storage deals, compute services, retrieval jobs, and many more).
In 2023, Filecoin underwent a transformative journey, evolving beyond a decentralized storage network to a programmable platform for enable open data services. This year saw remarkable community growth and technological advancements, with events like FILJakarta, the FIL Dev Summits, and initiatives like Filecoin Orbit and the TL;DR platform playing key roles in community engagement. As we look towards 2024, Filecoin is set to further revolutionize the decentralized web with new applications, compute L2s, and a focus on becoming the fundamental storage layer for web3. Integrating with various blockchain ecosystems and enhancing data retrieval, Filecoin is poised to continue its growth, reinforcing its pivotal role in shaping a more open and interconnected digital world. Looking forward to building this bright future alongside you all!