The Seaman Who Works On DFINITY

Arthur is our Director of Communications and travels at least as much as I do – running Meetups and Communities all around the globe. In this episode, he shares some of the projects he’s excited about and how to get started if you want to get your DFINITY community off the ground!

Video Transcription

Alright, another day at the DFINITY office and I’m sitting here with my good friend and colleague Arthur. And Arthur right now probably has as busy of a travel schedule as I do. Because he’s our Director of Communications and he’s just all over the place right now. Running meetups, getting people excited about DFINITY and also explaining what DFINITY is and what we’re doing.

And so I thought this was a good moment to sit down and talk a bit about how to successfully run a community, run a meetup, how we get these events all set up, how you get people excited. And then probably also it’s exciting to just to talk about what you think DFINITY is again. Because I feel, at least for myself, I learn all the time and my perception of what DFINITY is and how people are going to perceive it changes over time a bit. So I think it’s interesting to talk about that again. So, without further ado, Arthur: where have you been the last 3 weeks?

Arthur: Jeez! Good question. So, we’re in Palo Alto now. Before this, I was in Germany, Netherlands – Rotterdam, Hague, and Amsterdam. After that, I was in London at the ISO/TC 307 – the blockchain standardization committee. Yeah, so it’s been a busy few weeks.

Why do you travel so much?

Arthur: Well, you’ve got to be on the road. You’ve got to actually meet people in person. Half the time identifying the best people or the people who will actually help you achieve something is actually going out there and talking to them in person. Often if you can give people a chance to do something or to kind of to show their dedication or their interest or how keen they are to get involved, you’ll find that quickly the talkers get separated from the doers. And I mean some people are just absolutely astounding in what they are able to achieve and what they are prepared to achieve or prepared to do.

Cédric: Yeah, I would agree 100%. I feel that even though we all live in this like highly technological world and we all travel a bunch, we all work decentralized etc. I feel there’s so much value in face-to-face meetings. Even though we can interact with our community in chat and be on Slack and email and all these tools all day, meeting face-to-face is so important. Having dinner together or just discussing something. Like being able to sit here in this table and just talk without glitches and without delay is extremely valuable.

What were your highlights from the last few weeks?

Arthur: Going to Amsterdam wasn’t too shabby. I had such a good time in the Netherlands. Just really amazing people, a great event in Rotterdam that was just organized over the course of about 24 hours by some really keen community members.

Yeah, and it was a really great event. So, everyone, there was super keen to learn. Really great kind of interaction with the audience for the talk which is always really good. Just makes it better for everyone. And I had a great event in the Hague.

Actually, you know what? Berlin – it’s funny how some of this happens – I spent a bunch of time at the Web3 foundation offices which was really interesting because that’s like a really you know amazing offer. And personally like I kind of… I’ve always tried to meet absolutely everyone who’s anyone in blockchain. And I’ve done a good job over the years but I’d never met Jutta Steiner who is… who leads the Web3 foundation. And so even though it’s just this kind of casual like kind of… Ah, there’s one more person off the list.

How to start your own DFINITY chapter

Cédric: So if someone would like us to help organize an event… if someone is really passionate about the community and the DFINITY interest that they see in a certain place, what is kind of their way to reach out to you and how can they help you?

Arthur: Well, first thing is, if you’re really keen and doing anything anywhere and you know you’ve got a bunch of interested people around you, or even if you don’t – if you’re just keen – email me at It’s And the first thing to do is just look at other meetups in the space around covalent subjects. So like one of the easiest ways to put on a really successful event is to just talk to a contact, say, one of the Etherium community kind of meetups. And just run something through there, get a bit of interest and that’s kind of…

I found that a really great way to start a community or launch a community is to take these pre-existing communities, show them that what you’ve got is something really interesting and relevant to them. And we have a whole bunch of other kinds of other covalent interests or other covalent relevant subjects. But certainly like the Etherium community seems to be the most receptive. I come from the Ethereum community so it’s a place where I feel at home.

And then once you’ve run an event or engaged with a bunch of these people, then the next thing is to just start your own meetup. And actually, start developing your own content and presentations about DFINITY because at the end of the day it’s an open subject for anyone to discuss and create content about. This isn’t something that we monopolize as a brand. Ultimately, this will be an open network. I’m certainly really open to helping anyone out there develop, say, slides or presentations or helping them communicate some of… some of the particular technical parts of DFINITY in any way that I can.

What are you excited about in the blockchain world?

Cédric: What is something that recently got you very excited about the blockchain space as a whole? I know you’ve been very fascinated with the Web3 foundation. What are some things that maybe you’ve recently seen? Some projects or some initiatives you really liked?

Arthur: So there are two things right now that have totally captured my attention. One is non-monetary. It’s Secure Scuttlebutt which is this subjective append-only ledger. DFINITY and Secure Scuttlebutt guys – they’re friends you know, we’re friends but… and DFINITY is helping with some funding for Secure Scuttlebutt. Secure Scuttlebutt is developed by a totally distributed community.

It’s like you know seaman slang for “gossip”. And it’s secure social network that… or an open social network that’s totally distributed or totally decentralized. It’s very similar to Bitcoin in that Bitcoin was just a piece of software that someone released onto the Internet, right? And then people started running it and it worked. Secure Scuttlebutt is exactly the same but only it’s a social network. That’s super interesting to me.

Also, I think there’s something kind of deep there about identity that I hadn’t really figured out yet but it seems meaningful and really significant.

Another thing is just trying to figure out what is actually going to happen with blockchain. Because tons of people open blockchains. Tons of people have these like elaborate kind of ideas that they’re all very attached to. Network effects are kind of really complex and people talk about them like they’re just very simple like “well, network effects”. Actually, they’re really complex to understand.

I think what is actually… what’s happening now, and I’m trying to figure out how exactly this world emerged, we’re seeing the development of a whole bunch of low-layer or kind of absolute base layer protocol objects, right. And you know to take your pick. You can be totally agnostic.

I really like the way that Ethereum is developing. I think there’s… finally, we might actually see this amazing work kind of produced at the scale that we were looking for. And all these other things like placid chains and I saw Counterfactual just released their paper about their state channels. So that’s super interesting.

But then at the same time, DFINITY’s developing a lot of cool stuff. We’ve seen the uptake of WebAssembly. Man BZ is already developed – the emosian transpiler that plugs into WebAssembly, right? And can convert EBM bytecode to WebAssembly. So suddenly we see all of these cool tools being developed that actually have this common language and that is WebAssembly bytecode.

And I’m feeling that a layer is going to be built above all blockchains that allow software or you know allow a piece of software to interact with all of them seamlessly and this talk about the commodification of the protocol layer – it’s been going on for a long time. I never really understood it and now that I see that say an Ethereum transaction is materially different to a DFINITY transaction. They’re complementary products if you choose to synchronize products, which I do, but they’re not substitutes, right? Like we know you know DFINITY is aiming for malleability, it’s aiming to be a rapidly iterating protocol that has this on-chain governance.

There are a lot of reasons why people don’t like the idea of on-chain governance. They’re perfectly valid. And because Ethereum is not choosing to go that that way because they’re focusing on this immutability and in general have a new design horizon, I see like a massive differentiation between… between Ethereum Gas, right? The abstraction of Right Compute and DFINITY Gas.

And then, of course, there are a ton of other options. But the fact that they can all be accessed through this common layer, this… you know which is WebAssembly bytecode, all this common language which is WebAssembly bytecode, I think a layer is going to emerge that is going to give us the ability to access all these chains almost simultaneously. That is really exciting. The idea that you don’t have to pick a chain, that you actually run on all kinds of blockchains or choose the exact tool for the job. That’s…

Cédric: Kind of like a cloud of all blockchains.

Arthur: Exactly! And it’s funny because we’ve talked often about how DFINITY’s competitor are the incumbents. DFINITY’s competitors are, say, Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. I see personally, this may not be the party line, that what we have is an emergence of a complementary product.

As we see this unfold, of course, you know hosting as a service is going to explode in popularity. I think last year Amazon Web Services only captured 17 billion dollars of revenue compared to HP enterprise which captured almost 30 billion. So there’s… and they have only, they have about a quarter of the market, you know. So there’s still 120 billion dollars of server sales that can kind of be captured, I mean these kinds of funny, fuzzy numbers, but that can be captured by services like Amazon Web Services. You know, this is, we’re very early in this… this hosting as a service.

And now with kind of DFINITY hosting as a commodity… or infrastructures as a commodity kind of movement. And I think it’s gonna be extremely interesting to see how it unfolds, especially with this intermediary layer that gives us the ability to use multiple blockchains seamlessly however that happens.

How did you get in the blockchain space?

Cédric: You mentioned of Scuttlebutt, this kind of seaman slang… which reminded me of your background which is something I think is super interesting for people watching to understand a bit where you’re coming from. Because you… I think I kind of have somewhat of a linear trajectory into the blockchain space. Because I did tech for the past few years and startups. But tell us about how you got into the blockchain spacing and what you did before.

Arthur: Right, okay… so it’s not the only one. All my friend are gonna laugh because like you know they’ve heard this story a million times, right. Because in my you know past life, I was a lobster fisherman. I got into blockchain in 2013 – Bitcoin – in earnest because I decided that I had enough of lobster fishing. What am I doing with my 20s… on a like frozen rock in the Atlantic?! Which was this island, a little Cranberry Island in Maine.

And so I moved to Melbourne and there was a labor line there, I wanted to be a builder, or wanted to work as a builder. So I spent just a whole year sitting on the couch spending my fishing money and learning about Bitcoin. And I literally… it was 18 months before I met another person who knew what Bitcoin was.

And, yeah, crazy stuff! That was actually at a conference called Bitcoin South in Queenstown, New Zealand that I had to hitchhike back from. That was in 2014 when I started work as an arborist actually in Wellington.

Yeah, so I worked as an arborist as well. That was my other thing, right? It was like any job, right? Yeah, those were the good days, I miss that. There’s nothing like a chainsaw, you know?

Cédric: Cool, a man with many faces! Thanks a lot for your time and your insights and I’m sure we’ll see much more of you on this channel. I’m excited about everything that the DFINITY future will bring. So many challenges but also so many rewarding moments and I’m just grateful for the team. Thanks for being here and till next time!

You can listen to the audio version here: