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Interview with Bitmark Developers


Armaan Chandnani | Sep 23, 2014 | 08:20


Interview with Bitmark Developers


Armaan Chandnani | Sep 23, 2014 | 08:20


Bitmark is a very interesting altcoin that aims create an every day use through the use of what they call marking. We held an interview with the development team over at Bitmark, and this is what they answered to our questions:

Who composes the dev team?

Project Bitmark is a community effort, currently there are about 50 people in various roles and having different levels of commitment; this number grows daily. Additionally we have outreach to various projects within and more importantly outwith the crypto space, and businesses which are being created around what we’re doing. Full time we have Victor (Medic) our project manager, Aureus (EsteNuno) our community manager, and two full time developers at present Melvin Carvalho and myself, Mark. It is a shame to only mention a few names when so many are committing and contributed.

What do you want to achieve through Project Bitmark?

We have many goals, some of which include:

  • Enable people to do what they enjoy doing, and ensure they are fairly compensated for doing so.
  • Hide the complexities of cryptographic currency through layers of abstraction, to be as simple to use as the ‘like’ button on facebook.
  • Work with what already exists in the world, rather than compete against it.
  • Become so pervasive that the project cannot be stopped or governed, like the web.
  • Apply the principals of Web Architecture and Fielding’s REST to cryptographic currency, in order to become truly decentralized and scale without limits.
  • We are not here to profit, money doesn’t matter – being able to help people, you who are reading this, that matters infinitely more. If we can work together to improve your quality of life, by the application of simple technologies, then that is our goal.

What does Bitmark do that other altcoins have failed to do?

The passing of time will answer this question, let us wait and see if we achieve our goals, and on what scale.

How could you explain what marking is?

Marking is the passing of reputation from one person to another for some reason, for example to mark somebody for something they have shared or created.

If you combine the like button, the upvote, the share, the bookmark, the tip, and cryptographic currency together. Then apply the principals of Web Architecture, Decentralization, and some ethics to it, enable it in real world usage also, and enable anything that can be named to have something said about it, and to be used in a reputation passing transaction, then marking is what you get. It is an incredibly powerful, but also simple, system.

To illustrate, each person reading this may want to mark the article. If they did you the author would receive an instant transfer of some reputation+money, and the article would be shared to all that users friends. They have marked you, and a marking has been created.

A natural question is what happens when a marking is marked? In this case the marks are split between the marker and the thing being marked. So each person who shared this article is classed as a curator and rewarded by their friends for sharing something useful, whilst generating more marks for the original author also. The system is therefore quite viral by nature and rewards all involved fairly. As the web explodes with more content than we can consume, rewarding and giving incentive to curators becomes evermore important. This model can be applied to everything, a video of a crisis may generate funds for aid on the ground, a self publishing music artist may be funded whilst gaining reputation. We are still coming to terms with the magnitude of the project and what it enables. We have hundreds of examples ranging from free education where the students mark the teacher through to one click install businesses with an inbuilt funding model. With Marking enabled FOSS and a host which accepts marks, this is a reality.

There are too many examples to mention, the system appears to incentivize and reward good.

In what way does Marking implement real world use?

Many ways, first anything can be marked which includes geo points, humans, real world objects. Since it is a reputation system you may see on your mobile device or sat nav that last week two of your friends marked a restaurant you are driving past, and decide to stop there for lunch. When eating you may mark the waitress for their service, and pay your bill by swiping your phone over an NFC chip embedded in the table, marking the bill – paying for the meal where the marking is your receipt.

On a larger scale, we are working on encoding an address space in to the heart logo of marking. So far we have worked out that we can have an address space of 2^288, far larger than the typical address space, and big enough to name everything in the solar system easily. This heart symbol will work like a qr code, but specific to passing reputation.

Every physical object may have the symbol on it, or applied to it. Any product may have the symbol for the designer or creator, enabling you to give thanks or reputation straight back to the person who created the object.

Your child may have a fun character in their bedroom with the symbol on it, allowing you to reward your child for good behavior, and also incentivize this good behavior. It’s a reward based teaching program and also digital piggy bank. Additionally since each marking is a bookmark, it becomes a diary of your child’s life, they can reflect on it and see that they received a mark for their first step, first word, an A+ in a test, for cleaning the car, et cetera.

The designer Momoshi Momoshi is also creating ranges of clothing designs, allowing people to mark others as they walk past, or in a bar. The ability to mark people in real life is significant, to give reputation to any person for anything they may have done. Not only is it fun, but the implications for charity are notable, imagine if every charity t-shirt generated reputation for the person and monetary marks for the charity, just by wearing it and doing good deeds.

When can we expect Marking to be available to all users?

Imminently, with specification and implementation maturation through Q4 of this year. The system can then be integrated in to any software in a decentralized manner, and simple buttons added to any website, or simple symbols to anything in real life. Adoption will grow naturally over time, as the system is viral by nature. With Marking ‘all users’ means all humanity, it may take some time to reach full adoption.

Why did you want to create an altcoin?

We didn’t, we did though want to create a viable everyday currency with widespread adoption. This entailed having a codebase configured in a way we felt was balanced, and where we had free reign to adapt it as necessary. Bitmark can be considered the foundation on which we can build useful things, and the glue between the things we create. Many projects consider innovation to drive adoption, we take the alternative view that adoption will drive innovation.

The marks given in marking are units of currency, each mark is 1/1000th of a BTM, equivalent in scale to the mBTC. The Bitmark Blockchain is the glue between marking implementations, allowing marks to be sent between services and to user storage and back.

Will Bitmark be included in SuperNET?

We have a gentleman’s agreement that:

Our future extensive work on creating a public api which liberates the block chain and mounts it on the web will be applied in the future to supernet, once it is tested matured and proven, so all coins which implement supernet will benefit from our work.
Marking will be integrated in to the SuperNET GUI once ready to layer on additional functionality, such as voting where all candidates get a fair apportionment of reputation+money based on merit and demand, rather than traditional voting which entails picking a single winner.
Ongoing outreach and communication between both projects, to align work and vision, and drive the effort of consolidation together, with any other like minded projects who may share complimenting goals.
We will not be joining SuperNET in the traditional sense as there is no benefit to either of us in doing so, but we will be joining in the spirit and working closely together.

Additionally, one of the core developers Mark Pfennig is a trustee of SuperNET.

This is to say, no, but we do work closely together, and some of the SuperNET assets like sharkfund0, and also James himself, both hold BTM.

Why would you want to be included in said project?

Our technical approaches differ in some respects, and we operate at different levels. We have talked to James from SuperNET extensively and feel he believes that people and projects work better in unity. We agree, the alternative coin space is a greed driven mess and has been a distraction for long enough. James is trying to both work to bring innovation, unite traders and developers, and clean up the mess where he can, along with others – we are happy to join him in doing something good.

What do you mean with “primitive marking implementations” in the announcement thread?

Our technologies of today will seem primitive in some ways tomorrow, so we nicknamed the first versions primitive marking, and created a development space called Jurassic Mark!

Is Bitmark a fork of another coin? If so, which one?

Yes, Bitmark the daemon/qt is a fork of the latest Bitcoin code, fully tested, ported to scrypt, and configured for our needs. It’s what you would get if Litecoin were created today, maintained, and configured for the ecosystem which has emerged taking in to account lessons learned over the last few years.

Bitmark is itself forkable, we released and maintain Pfennig. Pfennig has to upstream development channels, Bitmark and Bitcoin. It’s also started to be used by developers like Ahmed Bodhi who has repaired and resurrected many forgotten currencies and produced popular pool software like MPOS. We hope that over time Pfennig will serve to be a configurable base for future currencies, with multiple options in different branches like different algorithms or features.

What does the future hold for Bitmark?

Maturation of what we are creating, then an eternal project of integrating marking in to everything we can find in both real life and on the web.

How much time have you been involved in cryptocurrency?

Both lead developers have been interested in ‘internet money’ for many years, longer than Bitcoin has been around. We were both early users of crypto currency, Bitcoin and Open Transaction, and other things. We are more interested in how many different progressive technologies can work together to improve humanity, Crypto Currency is but one layer of the cake – a novel and important one.

What was it like back when bitcoin first emerged to the times we are seeing now?

Bitcoin was a unique and interesting project with a great deal of thought behind it. Satoshi built on the work from skilled people before him and created an amazing Paper, then developed it along with others to produce what we know today. Thought leaders and skilled developers creating something new. Sadly some fun bits like the decentralized market place were ripped out, but important work continues and Bitcoin is stable.

Now, the public face of Crypto Currency seems almost infected with greed and negativity, the trust has gone. Earlier we asked an exchange Poloniex to update the daemon from source to get the latest code and checkpoints to ensure security for users, the market was frozen whilst they did this. Many people panicked fearing some kind of bad news due to the frozen market, it was only a few minutes to do something good – that is an indicator of just how bad things are.

Between all the noise are some very interesting projects and very intelligent well meaning people working hard.

Outwith well known projects like Storj and SuperNET, one such project is Identifi from Martti Malmi, Sirius as he is commonly known, the first Bitcoin Developer who worked with Satoshi. Identifi is a P2P Trust application, it can be seen as an Address Book with trust, or Web Of Trust done right. It is an important project which needs more people on board, we are trying to help where we can, and believe it will provide an important part of Marking – the ability to express positive or negative trust to some person for some purpose.

It has been an uncertain time, but the future looks bright, and we feel a return to innovation is already starting through various projects, hopefully this includes our own.

Image Source: BitcoinTalk Thread

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