This is going to be a boring article describing my journey of becoming an Ethereum developer and, as a bonus, my thoughts on the abstract parts of the blockchain movement.
In mid-2017, I coded my first ever smart contract, but it took me a while to put an end to my other endeavours and fully jump on the blockchain bandwagon, with a prominent focus on Ethereum. After more than a year, I thought it’d be a good moment to log my progress. Should be fun, I guess.
Couldn’t have said it better (other than referring to blockchains rather than Bitcoin alone), yet there is a catch. I — and I guess I’m not alone — learned a couple of finance 101 life-long lessons. What can go up fast, can plummet even faster. Never invest more than you can afford to lose and always hedge your investments. You know the drill, kids.
The speculative phase didn’t last for long though. Fast forward a few months later and I’m watching Youtube videos on Merkle trees and what not because I’m a geek and engineer by heart and I love to understand stuff.
Shouldn’t take more than a few days. I’d be back to my crazy entrepreneurial goals in no time!
Well, that didn’t work as expected… because it’s been 12 months and I’m still on the same learning curve! What I do know though is that I topped up my computer science game, went through a dozen white papers, got my feet wet with economics by reading a few books and met a lot of insightful people I had great time with.
This had never happened before. I worked as an mobile and backend freelance engineer, built start-ups and constantly got involved in various business-ish communities, but nothing had the same elusive yet dynamic vibe.
As highlighted before, I want to emphasise again that blockchains are a hotchpotch of:
- Computer Science
- Law and Finance (marginally)
And this is exactly the reason I made the switch. Each subject is a holistic component and they beautifully form the basis of a new methodology to coordinate people across large distances and times. For instance, we imagine jobs as being vertical and narrowly focused because Smith revealed that self-interet and specialisation pay off. Maybe for the first time after a while, we witnessed a steady, continuous boost of the importance of educated generalism.
A leitmotif of the blockchain ecosystem is the perpetual process of challenging assumptions.
Starting with the Bitcoin white paper in 2009, all along towards the 2018 sharding quarrels over Ethereum 1.x and 2.0, the community’s been comprised of a bunch of Sapiens who love to challenge the status-quo — when there’s justified economic, algorithmic and cryptographic justifications in support of the new model.
Studying blockchains, I learned to be more open but critical at the same time. I now take with a grain salt anything anyone says because objective discourse is rarely articulated; more often than not, what trumps is particular polarisations which (1) are backed by game-theoretical incentives or (2) are pure dogma.
Nevertheless, I strive to believe that an open-minded, technical, socially-aligned group which bases its work on sound economic principles has the potential to build coordination mechanism which can deprecate nation states, ceteris paribus. One bottleneck though is that we’re facing a gargantuan number of unknown unknowns out there.
To be fair, no one anyone has truly figured it out where we want blockchains to fit in the world’s political agenda. It seems that the phenomenon has just matured after living in a nest for a long time — and now everyone’s confused on what’s the optimal path forward. It could be just we’re creating a more open, transparent financial system where corporations merely run their backend on Ethereum, Polkadot et al. Still a massive improvement indeed, but it’d be somehow “meh”.
On the flip side, the whole industry could escalate into a new socio-political environment where the efficient market hypothesis primes and there’s much less inequality on our little blue dot in the Univese. Radical Markets has just been published this year and I genuinely find it striking that the political-economic proposals of the book have been concocted in parallel with blockchain. I reckon that’s why Vitalik Buterin has invited Glen Weyl to speak at every major conference since he laid out his thoughts on a pre-copy of the book in April.
Keen to keep an eye on Radical Markets over the following years. Although I’m intrigued by many of its propositions— and I always aim to stay open-minded to new ideas — attaining the said goals in the book would require coordination of multiple actors and a lot of individuals willingly giving up a lot of financial power. Check out my introduction to Radical Markets if this seems interesting to you.
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You might wonder what the heck I’m actually doing.
- Writing smart contracts in Solidity
- Bounty hunter, freelancer and hackathon wanderer
- Contributing to various Ethereum codebases and forums
- Contributing to the Ethereum Q&A StackExchange
- Independently researching stuff , with a recent focus on zero-knowledge proofs
- Running an Ethereum community in Romania
- Daily #CryptoTwitter participant
Just at the margin of Ethereum, I’m spending my time building a money streaming protocol. It’s very much early-stage, but I’m striving hard to make long-term financial commitments more efficient and fair for consumers. An ancillary component of Chronos Protocol is ERC1620, which describes a standard of making money a function of time on EVM-compatible chains.
If you’re working remotely, freelancing, running a business and paying employees, paying a monthly rent, or, generally, have any sort of subscription anywhere, give me a shout! I’m glad to help people integrating continuous payments on Ethereum for free.
Ethereum and blockchains are a super duper cool place to test your self-learning skills and openness to new ideas.
I cannot tell whether any present-day distributed ledger tech will still be around in the next century or so, but they will definitely have a huge influence on the next iterations of trustless computing platforms nonetheless.