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Q&A With @andrarchy About OpenSeed

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taskmaster4450
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OpenSeed could well be one of the most important projects that we see on Steem. This is something that, from what I can see, is flying under the radar with most people. Over the past month, we saw a few articles detailing some of the happenings with this vital project.

Without going into too much detail, since the interviews are going to cover much of this, OpenSeed designed to manage databases and provide software for developers to use on the Steem blockchain. The goal is to make it much easier for users, developers, and entrepreneurs to interaction and become a part of Steem.

The team put together a Proposal On The SteemDAO that is worthy of a vote.

There is also a Steemit Community that everyone can join to help the growth there.

Hopefully through these series of Q&A sessions, we all can learn the motive behind this project, what the team would like to accomplish, and how this will benefit all of Steem.

It is obvious you are a dedicated Steemian. What about Steem makes you believe it is the blockchain to build upon and that we will see a great deal of success in the future?

It is remarkably hard to build a blockchain with free transactions AND an acceptable user experience which is evidenced by the fact that Steem is still the only one that’s done it. Just look at EOS. Same architect as Steem, all the money in the world, and even they can’t deliver a consistent user experience. Resource Credits are just one example of why @vandeberg deserves a lot of credit for this, but this is off topic. The point is that by being a fast, fee-less, blockchain with a consistent user experience and Smart Contracting functionality via Custom JSON operations, Steem can do things that no other blockchain is capable of doing and that’s why I think Steem will be a great success.

OpenSeed is an initiative that seeks to address some of the issues holding Steem back. What was the inspiration behind this project and how did it come together?

As the creator of OpenSeed, Ben’s perspective is certainly the one that matters most, but I’m happy to share my journey to finding OpenSeed. For the past 10-15 years I’ve been pretty obsessed with the idea of leveraging open source databases to power web applications. That’s why I was such an early adopter of the Steem blockchain and steemit.com.

Initially I thought that blockchain databases would become these open source databases I envisioned, however, as the field progressed it became more and more apparent that this wasn’t exactly right. Blockchains are cumbersome, expensive, and they evolve slowly by design. In order to deliver acceptable user experiences at scale, applications would need to leverage traditional databases for much of their backend and only tap into blockchain databases when dealing with information that justified the cost, complexity, and difficulty of doing so.

I began advising Steem developers to do exactly this, which exposed two new problems. The first was that once developers have done the hard work of integrating a blockchain into their application (even one as easy to use as Steem), they don’t want to do more work to integrate additional databases, even if they are easier and cheaper to work with. The second problem was that if a developer did this work, the information in that database was not shared with any other Steem applications, defeating one of Steem’s primary value propositions as a unified backend database.

We needed a single platform that would give developers the benefits of different types of databases, while serving up information in such a way as to enable multiple applications to display the same information. That’s why when OpenSeed came to my attention, I was immediately very interested.

There are two areas of focus: users and developers. In my mind, you can get the chicken or the egg scenario. Which do you think is more important to attract, at this time. to Steem: users or developers?

I don’t really look at it like that because there are certainly great users out there who would add a lot more value than bad developers, and vice versa. We want great developers and great users and there aren’t that many of either of those out there. So what makes them great? It comes down to their entrepreneurial acumen. If a user is going to come to Steem and use steemit.com or SteemPeak.com to bootstrap their business, then that’s hugely valuable. And the same goes for a developer.

The SteemMonsters team is my go-to example. Whether or not @yabapmatt is an amazing developer is irrelevant. Whether or not @aggroed is an amazing “user” is the same. They’re building valuable businesses on Steem. That’s what makes them important members of the community. Their skills and interests help them work together as a team and produce tremendous value, but at the end of the day what matters is the value they produce.

Great point. One of the intents is to offer off chain accounts which will allow for sign ups without the hassle of getting a Steem account. This will enable the targeting of active users, effectively placing a premium on the Steem account. What will the off chain accounts be able to do? How do you see them interacting and what will they be limited to? Will they require Resource Credits or is this negated since they are off chain?

I would think about it differently. The question assumes that OpenSeed has limitations because it is not a blockchain, which is the wrong way to look at it. Blockchain accounts have limitations due to their public and immutable nature. The only limitations OpenSeed has are due to the fact that it’s not a blockchain. That’s where Steem comes in.

When users want a feature that necessitates a blockchain, like sending or receiving digital assets, or storing immutable text, that’s where Steem will be leveraged, and if the user wants to take advantage of that protocol they will need the requisite RCs. However, we posit that the vast majority of features people want in applications do not require a blockchain, therefore many users are actually over-using Steem because, as of now, most apps don’t give them much of a choice.

For example, with OpenSeed the user will be able to choose whether they want to share a “message” with another user (chat), group of users (group chat), or to make it public, meaning that anyone can view the message stored on the server. Applications like Steemit.com, SteemPeak.com, and eSteem, could use these features to offer guest/off-chain posts and guest/off-chain comments, but ultimately that decision will be theirs. I can’t think of a single feature that OpenSeed can’t add to existing Steem applications (though I’m sure there are some), and in a cross-platform manner, but that will depend on whether developers adopt it. That’s why we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that developers have everything they need to evaluate and integrate OpenSeed into their applications.

We appear to be at a point in time where development is crucial. This is still a new industry and some of the basics are being put in place. Steem has a wonderful group of dedicated developers. If there is one drawback it is that we do not have enough of them. How do you see OpenSeed attracting developers from the outside and what benefits will this project provide to them?

This is one area where I think OpenLink will actually have more of an impact than OpenSeed, at least at first. OpenLink will be our first flagship application designed to show off OpenSeed’s capabilities and it will be an open source social networking and encrypted messaging application. While we want this to be an application that anyone can enjoy using, we think the open source and encrypted nature of it will make it especially popular among developers. We’ve also got a few ideas for features that could sweeten the pot for that demographic. We think that OpenLink will onboard a lot of developers, and once it does, it won’t take them long to find OpenSeed and Steem.

Centralization is a big topic of conversation within the crypto space yet few outside of it really care. That said, one of the advantages of decentralization is the potential for improved security. We are aware that the hacks of cryptocurrency are taking place on centralized exchanges. Steem is a decentralized platform thus providing that security to wallet holders.

With the system you envision, I read it mentioned the use of encryption. How are you going to protect the usernames and passwords? We see some of the biggest companies in the world hacked. Are there any additional measures that you are going to provide in terms of security? Is p2p technology used in your database management system?

Yes, OpenSeed is p2p. Most importantly, any information that the user does not want to be public (e.g. messages) will be encrypted client-side (before it hits an OpenSeed server). That means that even we won’t have access to that information. After that, Ben has devised what I think is a very innovative approach to encryption he calls “encapsulated encryption.” OpenSeed produces and distributes developer tokens as well as application tokens which are used to encrypt your information yet again.

If a malicious actor hacks an OpenSeed app, they still have to hack the developer, and then they have to hack the user. But one of the most important security measures, believe it or not, is simply not using OpenSeed to store valuable or personal information. OpenSeed is all about giving developers, including us, ways of monetizing their apps through the use of digital assets, not by selling user data. Therefore, we do not need or want to collect user data which, in addition to being the morally right thing to do, is another reason why we have no problem encrypting all of your user data before it hits an OpenSeed server.

I know forecasts are tough, but what time frame would you guess we are looking at before off chain accounts are available? Is that something for Q2? Later?

Q2 seems reasonable, but we’re not ready to give formal estimates. We’re moving as fast as we can and liaising directly with Steem developers to give them what we can as soon as we can. Making estimates, especially bad ones, isn’t going to speed that process up. Accounts are already functional in OpenSeed, so technically the feature is live, just developers don’t have the tools they need to integrate them. We will get better at making forecasts, but it’s important for people to understand that the OpenSeed team is still in its infancy. Even if an established team implements agile methodology it will still take that team an additional 6 months before they can make accurate forecasts. The OpenSeed Team isn’t even that old yet.

Marketing is always a major concern with new projects. Dealing with both users and developers means employing different strategies. What are the plans to target each category while spreading the word about OpenSeed, once the developments start rolling out?

The innovative part of our marketing strategy is the Steem community. The hardest part of bootstrapping a startup is acquiring a critical mass of users. For OpenSeed that means developers. For OpenLink that means regular users. Both OpenSeed and OpenLink are being designed to deliver value to the developers and users in the Steem community.

We believe that by demonstrating that value to this community we will be able to acquire a good headstart in terms of adoption. But if we can’t do that, then any additional marketing would be a waste of time and resources. Honestly, we’re 100% focused on delivering great products and not disappointing Steemians. It’s been a tough road for this community and we don’t want to let them down. Marketing is easy. Solving problems no one else in the world has solved yet … that’s hard.

I want to thank Andrew for taking the time to answer some of these questions. This is just the first part in the Q&A process. We will have more over the next few weeks.

You can receive the updates through the @openseed account.


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