Welcome to our new series, Humans of Bitcoin. Simon de la Rouviere is our second participant (and, funnily enough, the second Simon). We saw him present his work with decentralised communities at Bitcoin Startups Berlin and naturally wanted to hear more. If you or someone you know is involved in an awesome, unique and Bitcoin- or Blockchain-related project and are interested in being featured, drop us a line at [email protected].
Simon de la Rouviere is the engineer of societies at ConsenSys, a blockchain production studio based in New York. He helps build and imagine new forms of decentralised community and tools for governance. In his spare time he’s writing a book about all the possibilities of the blockchain, in public, on github.
Previously, he experimented with contributions to OpenBazaar (a decentralized marketplace), building payment channels to launching an altcoin around a decentralized band (called The Cypherfunks).
Before delving down this rabbit hole, he studied his Masters degree in Socio-Informatics in Stellenbosch, South Africa, researching information overload and the design of sustainable online communities. As side projects he launched Tweekly.fm & TwimeMachine, services used by more than a million people.
When he’s not involved in this area, he likes to make music and plans to one day grace a few stages!
1. Has Bitcoin impacted your day-to-day life? How?
Although you can use Bitcoin in South Africa for day-to-day purchases, I think the more important impact (on a day-to-day level) is just how much of my thinking has been changed by it. You can’t help but keep thinking, daily, about all the potential and ramifications it can bring about.
That, and the fact I’m privileged to be involved in this scene on a day-to-day level (it’s my job). I get to talk, code & think about it every day :-).
2. What is the first thing you bought with Bitcoin? The strangest?
I think I paid my brother for some beers he bought me. The strangest? With Streamium, you can pay per second to watch streams. When I tested it out, I basically paid to see a guy just sit and browse the web. That was strange.
3. How do you see Bitcoin being used in five years? Ten?
The exciting thing is, we don’t quite know. A currency union could collapse and suddenly Bitcoin is the currency of several nation-states overnight! I’m particularly fascinated by the application of Bitcoin (and blockchain technology as a whole) to usher in new forms of community organisation, governance and wealth creation.
Bitcoin is a state of accounts, so the question becomes: what else do we want to keep track of in a decentalised manner? New platforms such as Ethereum aim to become the “world computer” and use this tech to more easily get these types of ideas into people’s hands. I hope we’ll see a world where more people can partake in wealth creation (and not just the rich through equity schemes). I hope we’ll see a world where we give people agency by not having to rely on poor governance systems to enact themselves in the world: blockchain tech can help with this.
I hope we will see some global cloud “jurisdictions” or like the sci-fi writer, Neal Stephenson’s “Phyles”. These are network-based jurisdictions where you would use these smart contracts living on a blockchain to enforce most of civil law.
I suspect we’ll be better off.
4. What do you think is currently the most pertinent topic in Bitcoin? Do you have any opinion?
Currently, from a technical standpoint, it is the block size discussion.
Bitcoin has grown and is facing scalability problems (or will soon) and the community has to act to change it. However consensus amongst disparate group of stakeholders are required and the process has been quite heated so far.
My opinion? It is a bit complicated to discuss the whole intricacies of the problem, but I’ve always been for tackling problems the best you can, as early as possible. Analysis paralysis could lead to complete paralysis. Might be naive to say this, but maybe put out a decent, best-effort, quick solution (increasing the block size) than wait months to “perfectly” solve it, in which case it might be too late.
Do you have any questions for Simon? You can catch him on Twitter.
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