Meet the Team: Alan Carr on KittyCalc.co and Blockchain Podcasts

September 21, 2020

Who are you?

I've been a game loving technology enthusiast all my life, with a passion for exploring emerging technology. I had the joy and pleasure of working with the most successful MMORPG of all time at Blizzard Entertainment, and have experimented and explored everything from independent game design to tools for efficiently breeding digital cats.

These days I'm focused on building a flagship product for Flow with NBA Top Shot, and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to bring all the benefits of blockchain to sports fans around the world who won't even need to worry about the technology keeping their authentic digital collectibles safe and secure.

What lured you into the world of blockchain?

The concept of digital currency is so natural, when I learned about how Bitcoin managed to begin to solve the problems inherent in enforcing digital scarcity I was paying attention. But at the same time, money wasn't super interesting to me, so I only dabbled enough to experience spending Bitcoin (at the time, buying digital Magic: The Gathering cards from a website) and feeling the legitimacy of this "magical internet money."

It wasn't until CryptoKitties was unleashed on the world with its implementation of non-fungible tokens and a fun, adorable, gamified way to interact with the technology that I fully got blockchain, and fully fell into its spell. I joined the CryptoKitties community so that I could share things I was learning, and to continue to learn, and discovered a rich, highly intelligent, highly motivated group of enthusiasts like myself. In part, CryptoKitties spoke to me because it was a relatively safe space to play around with technology, explore the bold boundaries and frontiers of non-fungible tokens and smart contracts, and I just saw opportunity around every corner.

How did you get hooked on Dapper Labs?

After building KittyCalc.co with another member of the CryptoKitties community, I jumped at the opportunity to meet the team behind the game that had captured all my attention (and disposable income!) It was revelatory to meet all the dedicated, passionate people behind the project, and I knew that they were for real and I wanted very much to be a part of the team and what they were working to accomplish.

Part of what was so incredible was that they'd designed and built on top of ERC-721, but quickly realized that there were ways to maintain the powerful decentralized state management that existing blockchains managed while increasing the computation power of the network, the ease of development, and ultimately lower the barriers of entry for mainstream adoption. For the team, it wasn't about picking out the right buzzwords, it was always about identifying and solving problems, building on a wealth of hard earned experience in the fledgeling space.

What should I read next?

We live in such interesting times, with so many possibilities open to us that it can be tough to project into the future to see where we're going and how we might go about getting there. I recommend reading historical and science fiction stories to help exercise and flex those muscles in the brain that can reveal what the future of open worlds can look like, in ways that nobody else may yet be thinking about. I particularly enjoyed the System of the World series from author Neal Stephenson, whose novel Snow Crash is so fundamental to my own understanding of the Metaverse. I also appreciate the novel Anathem, also by Stephenson, which takes a different approach to encourage us to consider how the world we live in came to be (and how key actors can be so fundamental at shaping that world in key moments in history).

While driving: Music or Podcasts?

I adore podcasts, especially those smaller independent productions that have no set schedule or limitations on duration. I've been a listener since the term was coined, back when you had to use clunky "podcatching" software to download MP3 files overnight and then manually plug in your iPod in the morning to be able to listen to them the next day. I find that when two or more people allow themselves to get deep into a conversation topic and you can follow them well below surface level, farther than you'll ever get in any mainstream media product, that to me is the best thing. I feel so fortunate that there are so many really great podcasts in the crypto space, and even specifically in the NFT space that I'm so interested and involved in. Some of my favorites are NonFunGerbils and Zima Red. In addition to blockchain focused podcasts, I find that I can learn a lot and come away with key insights even in podcasts focused on areas far beyond my own bubble and areas of direct interest. I just need to find more far off places to drive to so that I can consume more of the great content that's produced!

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