Hi Bingen, welcome to the team!
Could you tell us about yourself, your background and how you got into the blockchain space?
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and an Associate’s degree in Philosophy. In addition I have done several online courses on subjects like cryptography, software security, blockchain and machine learning, plus a lot of self-learning.
My work experience has mainly been as a software developer. Most notably and recently in a couple of successful startups, one in the networking industry and one doing mobile payments for parking and transit. But I have also been a math teacher for some time and I even owned a musical pub (which was really fun, but a total failure).
I’m a very curious person and thus I like many different things, to name a few hobbies I would say:
- Music. Just listening, I already realized that I have no aptitude for it in spite of how much I like it. I’m very eclectic, some of my favourite artists are Kraftwerk, Leonard Cohen, CocoRosie, Astrud, Franco Battiato, Dire Straits, The KLF or Kill the DJ, but the list would be almost endless.
- Craft beer. I even brew my own. Someday I will realize, like with music, that I’m not good at it and I will just drink it, but I’m still trying.
- Travelling. I’ve visited more than 30 countries.
- Sports. Soccer, all kind of water sports, especially sailing and swimming. Although I wouldn’t call them sports, I also like wushu and tai chi.
I like to think that I am very open minded. I would like to say, like Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, that
I can think. I can wait. I can fast.
I don’t think I can, yet, but I try.
As for how i got into the blockchain space, after some time hearing about Bitcoin and procrastinating a deeper dive into it, I decided to buy some as a way to force myself to learn more about it. This was in the beginning of 2014, after the Mt. Gox crash. At about $800, I thought it had fallen enough and was already recovering, hahaha. Then I tried mining some too, but with just a regular computer and I was kind of late for that. I finally learned how it was working under the hood and I was really impressed by the technology, but even more about what it meant to decentralize money.
Then Ethereum came, and the possibility to apply the blockchain idea to almost anything, adding a Turing complete language to the mix, blew my mind. I began reading all the articles I could about blockchain and decided to learn Solidity. And now here I am, ready to be part of the revolution and help Aragon change the world for the better.
How do you see that we at Aragon can change the world for the better and what are you excited about working on?
Well, in this huge and blooming blockchain scene Aragon falls in the category of Infrastructure.
We expect lots of projects will be using it to decentralize different aspects of society. So it might be less visible to the end-users but it will be crucial for the blockchain and decentralization movements to succeed.
Besides, one of the biggest priorities for Aragon as a project is governance. There’s a lot of room for exploration and improvement there that can have a big impact in the way the societies are organized, how human beings interact with each other and how power is distributed.
Another huge benefit will be getting rid of bureaucracy. I have personally experienced the inconvenience of it a couple of times when trying to launch companies and it was really awful.
Although we are seeing interesting advancements like the Estonian e-Residency (which I already applied for), an Aragon DAO would of course be far more efficient and convenient.
For Aragon to succeed there has to be an existing common vision. Finding good developers, for instance, is not easy, but it’s not that hard. What is really hard, is to find good developers that are also a cultural fit, especially in small companies. I have experienced this myself in my previous jobs at various startups.
In the case of Aragon, I would say that being such an extraordinary project with very a distinct vision makes this even harder. But from what I have seen so far, we are doing an excellent job in this regard.
I would say we should be pragmatic in our future development. I think Jorge said it perfectly:
We don’t do too much early optimizations and try not to over-engineer. Even though we love technical correctness, product and function always comes first.
— Jorge Izquierdo
Did you have any concerns before joining the team and what do you see as possible challenges in your future work?
Although I love the design of the Aragon logo, my first impression of the eagle was not so good. I wondered if it was the best choice, as it recalls of empire, starting with the Roman one and is very much still present in Spain. Then a picture of an eagle that I took in Namibia came to my mind and made me realize that it was not fair for this elegant animal. So I learned to love the Aragon eagle as a way to restore its image. I even put it as my profile picture in some social networks.
Working on Aragon Labs is especially exciting as it means working in the more experimental things of an already cutting edge project. But experimenting also often means failing, which is always difficult and can be frustrating. This is something I keep in mind, but knowing how awesome the team is that I’ll be working with, alleviates a lot of my worries.
What are your thoughts on Ethereum, do you think it can overtake the Web 2.0?
I actually never liked the term “Web 2.0” because I thought there was not that much technological innovation (but a lot of hype and marketing) involved with it. Users were already able to have an active role, to generate content, to participate from the very beginning. It’s true that some paradigms were changed and some applications made it easier (and of course technology improved over time as it always does), but it was not a whole new thing.
Now I see that it was a step back, because the closed silos around these platforms, products and services appeared. It betrayed the open spirit of what the Internet initially was supposed to become. Even some of the very widely used tools like Flash were closed.
Web 3.0 is re-establishing that original spirit, empowering users again. And it’s also a big technological improvement (although, of course, as it always happens, it relies on pre-existing technologies too, like cryptography and Proof-of-Work).
Main issues with Ethereum are well known in the community and hopefully will be resolved soon. I would say the biggest challenge right now is scalability. Besides some user experience improvements, the developer tools in the ecosystem maturing (e.g., an open source blockchain explorer, which Jordi Baylina is working on) and good oracles to connect to the off-chain world would be of great benefit.
What about other Ethereum based projects, which one’s are you enthusiastic about?
The list would be almost endless, but let’s mention some of them:
- Provenance. A supply chain project. I think we all have great responsibility as consumers, but information and transparency is key to making the right choices.
- Democracy Earth. I was a big fan of their old project DemocracyOS. Now with blockchain everything makes even more sense and has become easier.
- Circles UBI. It’s still very new, but I have been interested in Universal Basic Income for long time. First of all I’m really curious to find out if it would work. But it is clear to me that we do need to find another model for wealth distribution, even more now/soon with AI exploding.
- Grid+. Climate change is one of the biggest problems we have as a society and our energy model clearly is unsustainable.
- Ujo, because I love music and centralized distribution has hurt both artists and consumers a lot in the past. We really need to change the model.
- Status, Steemit, Leeroy. The internet was actually decentralized by nature in its inception, based on open protocols (SMTP, HTTP, etc). Then the big walled gardens (like Facebook, Twitter or even Medium where we are publishing this!) came and centralized everything. We have to give communications back to the users.
- BAT. For similar reasons to the two previous ones.
- Radar Relay and 0x (and other decentralized exchanges). It’s kind of ironic that in the decentralized world we are using centralized exchanges, right? Besides, in their short history they have proven to be problematic, starting with Mt.Gox.
- Golem, Storj, etc. The cloud has been a cool buzzword for some time, let’s decentralize it too!
- Gnosis and Augur. I’m not too interested in betting (although decentralizing it is cool too, of course), rather than in the kind of collective knowledge it can provide.
Being a developer, what are your tools of trade that you use in your work and what programming languages are you familiar with?
First of all I use Linux as my operating system, and it has been like that for more than 15 years. I am big FOSS lover and advocate (also of open source hardware — I was a proud owner of an OpenMoko Neo FreeRunner and a Neuros II, and of open data as well, I’ve participated in contributing to OpenStreetMap some time ago). Right now I’m using Debian and Ubuntu, but I have tried a lot of other distributions over time. On top of it, I’m using Emacs as my editor and zsh as my shell. I have tried other editors and IDEs in the past too, but I’ve been happy with this combination so far.