We asked builders in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space what they thought about the industry…and added some random zingers to keep them on their toes!
This week, our 6 questions were directed to Kim Hamilton Duffy, Director of Identity and Standards at the Center Consortium, an open source technology project aimed at creating a more inclusive global economy.
Kim is a leader in the emerging decentralized identity space and has built successful open source projects such as Verite, Blockcerts, and the Digital Credential Consortium toolkit.
1 — Which countries are doing the most to support blockchain and which will be left behind?
I am not assessing this through the narrow lens of whether certain crypto transactions are taxable, but whether countries are supporting blockchain innovation in a collaborative, responsible, sustainable way that can benefit individuals and businesses — and more Broadly speaking, innovations in decentralized architecture.
A recurring theme: Regulatory clarity is key for individuals and businesses to confidently build and innovate. But it must be based on a nuanced, balanced approach that engages a range of stakeholders — technologists, regulators and privacy experts — and must be sufficiently future-proof to accommodate emerging technologies. Anti-patterns—that is, examples of methods that are unbalanced, overly restrictive, or reactive—include prohibiting specific implementations or types of mining.
2 — What are the main barriers to mass adoption of blockchain technology?
It is divided into interoperability, usability and trust.
Fortunately, instead of discussing which blockchain will “win”, we understand that different blockchain characteristics may best suit different use cases. But it underscores the importance of interoperability – for which open standards and protocols are key.
Another aspect is the need to improve usability and trust, which are intertwined. While blockchain-based technology enables transparency, technical barriers to entry and the sheer volume of information that needs to be absorbed prevent many from realizing these benefits. Determining how to prioritize user experience to convey trust (as an analogy, you can think of the “browser lock” icon as indicating a secure connection) is critical to success.
3 — Have you ever bought a non-fungible token? How was it before? If not, what do you think your first was?
Yes! The first NFT I minted/purchased was Crypto Coven…then I ended up minting and buying more. I fell in love with the aesthetics and thoughtfulness of this project. This is clearly a labor of love – great effort goes into generating each witch’s design elements, attributes and mythology. Even the contract code is beautifully written.
Plus, its Discord is an incredibly active, supportive place for some of the best Web3/Ethereum tech discussions.
4 — What is the least likely thing on your bucket list?
Swarmed by over 100 pugs, probably close to the top. A more humble goal is to eat pie in the face, a slapstick comedy from the 1970s. Yet somehow this hasn’t happened yet.
5 – If you didn’t need to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
I will spend extra time writing. Decentralized identity standards and technologies are new, and it is difficult for people to gain information through an objective rather than a business or vendor perspective. While technical specifications are available, they are not available to a wider audience. More critically, these do not provide the background and tribal knowledge from years of deliberation of design decisions.
The risk of launching transformative technologies that are understood by a few is that they cannot be adapted and refined with other experts (privacy, regulation, etc.) whose input is critical to adoption. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the line between technical solutions and the boundaries required for actual adoption, and I wanted to take more time to write this post.
Personally, I spend at least four hours a day practicing the Bach Cello Suite.
6 — What is the future of social media?
I believe we are moving towards a more decentralized foundation of social media networks, where your data, connections, reputation and experience are increasingly under your control – not by companies that are incentivized to see you as a product.
Christine Lemmer-Webber is a leader in decentralized identity, especially integrating competency-based approaches, and a pioneer in decentralized social media efforts, including Mastodon and ActivityPub. This work is continuing and thriving through efforts like BlueSky.
The challenge, of course, will be to identify sustainable models to support such networks. This presents an exciting opportunity to develop new approaches that do not rely on aggregating huge data silos—rather, those that respect privacy and informed consent.