Today we are talking to Izzak Meckler who is the Co-Founder and CTO of Coda Protocol.
- Coda is the first cryptocurrency protocol with a succinct blockchain. Coda swaps the traditional blockchain for a tiny cryptographic proof, enabling a cryptocurrency as accessible as any other app or website, making it dramatically easier to develop user friendly crypto apps that run natively in the browser.
We’d like to kick things off by asking you a couple of questions regarding your formative years.
1) Firstly, can you tell us the things which interested you the most throughout your childhood and teenage years, and what brought you the most happiness?
Sour Patch Kids, making up stories with my friends, the dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History, and playing Gameboy.
2) Who were your biggest influences growing up, and why did they have such a profound effect on you?
Thom Yorke, Karen O, the guy who made PointlessWasteOfTime.com, and SWIM from erowid. The first two for their music, PWoT guy because of the countless hours I spent laughing at his writing, and SWIM for reasons that should be clear enough.
3) Teenage years are often a turbulent time for many, so on this note, can you name a time which was tough for you, and how you managed to overcome it?
Interviewee chose not to answer this question.
4) If there was some advice you could give young aspiring individuals, advice which you would really have liked to have heard yourself as a young person, what would it be?
To avoid thinking one has anything near a complete understanding of the world. I think this is especially tempting for people who learn a lot about math or (computer) science. It goes without saying, but the world is extremely (and wonderfully) complicated.
I also think it’s good to get a critical perspective on the society you live in; it can be very easy to go through life without really understanding, for example, the real power structure in your society or your position in it.
We are now going to ask you some questions which will hopefully give our readers something to go on regarding you as a person.
5) Firstly, what are the particular strengths that you feel have made you successful in your field (don’t hold back)?
I think a large part of any success I’ve had can be explained by things that have nothing to do with me personally. I’m a white man with upper middle class parents and I attended an elite university.
More uniquely, maybe, I can draw decently well and give a good talk, both of which I think have been helpful in raising money.
6) What would you say is your most controversial opinion as regards to blockchain or the crypto space?
Most of the work is socially useless or actively harmful. Specifically things related to proof-of-work or financialization. Some of the work is or has the potential to be both really impactful and useful: especially making secure payment processing cheaper, private payments, and verifiable computation on private data. More broadly, correctly interpreted, the goal of partially private, decentralized, verifiable computational and economic systems is a worthy one, but a lot of people in the space have a commitment to maintaining and benefiting from existing power structures and/or are forced to by funding pressures. Personally, I try to think about technology that will still be useful after the revolution.
7) In the course of your day you can become under the most ridiculous pressures and stresses, what is your particular way of dealing with this?
Honestly I don’t think my typical day is very stressful, but maybe compulsively refreshing Twitter.
8) Outside of crypto/blockchain, what is your favorite thing to do?
These days, speaking Yiddish and also working on projects with comrades at my local DSA.
We are now going to ask you some creative and humorous questions, and we are sure people will love to see you what you can come up with.
9) What is the most humorous thing you have seen or experienced during your time in the crypto/blockchain space?
Oh man, I don’t think humorous is the right word exactly, but I think it was during the Q+A of a talk by a well-known ‘pump and dumper’ during peak ICO mania. Maybe I’ll say more about it someday but I’ll leave it at that for now.
10) If you somehow managed to meet Satoshi Nakamoto (that is he is a male person in this scenario) on his deathbed, but only had time to ask him one question, what would it be? Bear in mind that you don’t have much time at all, so make it a good one.
How is babby formed?
11) Can you give three policies you'd enact if you became the president of a country tomorrow?
I don’t think you could really do this as president, but just for fun,
1) Abolition of the prison-police-military complex.
2) Abolition of the wage system and establishment of democratic control of the economy.
3) Free, public, combination library/spa/restaurant complexes in every city.
Communities are often an important backbone for many crypto/blockchain projects, so we’d now like to get some personal thoughts on the community side of things.
12) Personal project aside, what are some ‘communities’ in the space that you admire and why (this is not an endorsement)?
I think Zcash has done a good job of creating a vibrant community of knowledgeable people who, despite ideological differences, have harmoniously collaborated on the shared project of a private payment system.
Also the sheer number of people and projects working in the Ethereum community is impressive.
13) What social-media platform do you like most and why, and are there any improvements which you feel can be made to these platforms for an even better community user-experience?
I have a love-hate relationship with Twitter, which I’m somewhat addicted to. As to improvements, I think they should not display the number of “likes” on posts and have manual pagination rather than the endless scroll. I think that would probably make it less addictive, but unfortunately that will never happen due to their profit motive.
14) With the endgame being mainstream adoption, do you think crypto/blockchain communities will still have an important role to play in a post-adoption environment?
Yeah, definitely. There will always be a group of people pushing forward the underlying technology.
In our penultimate section we are going to ask you a question regarding Coda Protocol.
15) What do you feel sets Coda Protocol apart from your competitors (that is if you have any)?
Coda is oriented toward the ideal of software that users can hold accountable using cryptography. I think if the idea of building computer systems that verifiably treat users fairly is appealing, Coda is a good community to be a part of.
Well that just about does it, but before we end this interview we’d like to ask you for something which we believe will say a lot about your belief in the industry, and which may inspire those who are reading.
16) Can you come up with a short argument for our readers on why you feel cryptocurrency and blockchain (or just one) has a bright future?
We’ve built computer systems which are not accountable to anyone and are routinely used to exploit people. It will be a hard fight to replace them with fairer systems, but if we succeed, we should automatically enforce the standards we want to hold them and make it as difficult as possible to deviate from them. Cryptography gives us the tools to do this.
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