Pay-the-developer (or: how I learned to stop worrying and love the network)

Evening all. I wanted to have a little chat about PtD (Pay-the-developer) and the future of SAFEPublishing (the “organisation” behind Phantom).

A short history of writing code

In the past few weeks I’ve been back I have spent a lot of time writing code, a lot of time reading old posts in this forum, and an awful lot of time thinking about the SAFE network’s future. We just reached our 50th commit in the Phantom project, and as the project nears completion I’m starting to think about what comes next?

Making money going forward

I don’t really care about money. I’m qualified (and have worked) to be the Chief Technical Officer of practically any tech company. I choose to work now as a mental health support worker because I get more from it than just financial compensation. Helping people is important and sometimes the needs of others have to supplant our own.

I’ve been trying to decide what my next project will be. What’s the next killer app? In my opinion, it’s going to be Ecommerce. Since the internet has existed, people have been buying and selling things. Since Bitcoin existed, people have been buying pizza (and other things) with it. Once the SAFE network launches, we’re going to need safe, secure and easy ways to buy and sell, to set up our own stores, and to withdraw our earnings from the network.

Free-to-play versus play-to-win

It would be very easy to leverage the work done so far to build up a paying customer base for some more killer apps. It would also, in my opinion, be incredibly short term which wouldn’t benefit the network as a whole. Relying solely on Pay-the-developer for income, my goals are firmly aligned with the goals of the network as a whole.

This isn’t a personal dig at @latch for his plan of earning a million MAID doing network development. It’s a laudable goal, but it’s also prophetic. I’m becoming more and more convinced that if I don’t provide the killer apps for free, someone will force the network to pay for them and that will leave us all worse off.

The long and the short of this post is as follows: My plans after the Phantom project concludes are as follows:

  1. To build a completely free comment system module for Phantom, as a sample project to become familiar with multi-party dynamic apps within the SAFE browser.
  2. To build a completely free e-commerce module for Phantom, not taking any financial cut from sales.
  3. To build a simple SAFE network crawler and a completely free search engine for the SAFE network.

In earnest, these tasks will probably take me a few months, but if I don’t do it, I don’t see who will.

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@Shane

Why have I been mentioned in this topic, and in that manner? It seems somewhat poor taste. If you perceive a flaw in my offer to the community, why not raise it in its topic and challenge me directly for the benefit of all?

A couple of days ago I finished developing my first SAFE app. It’s for a forum member that will soon be reviewing me on the forum. The app, while not my place to divulge details of, is exciting and will add non-trivial value for users of SAFE. That app didn’t exist, and now it does. Additionally, I can afford a roof over my head and some food for a bit longer and my client will hopefully earn in time a robust return for their risk and investment into SAFE.

In the course of producing this software for my client I created two example projects[0][1] that have and will benefit both developers of SAFE as well developers for SAFE. The examples were derived from a long conversation that I hope is equally helpful to others. As it generated this discussion I’m encouraged that it will. Finally, work I’ve done has been acknowledged in several MaidSafe Network Dev Updates[2][3][4]. I never forget to thank others. I never seek (or want) recognition for the little I contribute in contrast to others[5].

Nevertheless, I wish you well with your project. What matters most here is the tech and its benefit to the world; truly no hard feelings.

[0] https://forum.safedev.org/t/hello-safe-demonstrates-a-simple-safe-app-written-in-rust-using-the-yew-framework-deployed-as-webassembly-and-running-in-safe-browser/2751
[1] https://forum.safedev.org/t/fetch-safe-demonstrates-a-simple-safe-app-written-in-rust-using-the-yew-framework-deployed-as-webassembly-and-running-in-safe-browser/2765
[2] SAFE Network Dev Update - January 30, 2020
[3] SAFE Network Dev Update - February 6, 2020
[4] SAFE Network Dev Update - February 20, 2020
[5] @dirvine, @joshuef, @bochaco, @happybeing, @Nigel, indeed yourself at times, and others

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For what it’s worth I did not feel he meant it maliciously, just highlighted a different approach.

You both bring incredible value in different ways!

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@latch, I don’t see @shane as having a go at you there, but it should not matter.

We each have our own motives, but so what?

If what we do helps each other, our individual motives are irrelevant, so let’s not create conflicts that ultimately undermine what we have in common.

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Exactly. We all have our own approaches and situations as well. There is no one set standard or approach to getting the network populated with apps, examples, or providing value. Personally I have a situation that is similar to what @latch is providing to his client so I entirely understood and more so respected his proposition to become invested, engaged, and educated with the project.

FWIW Shane explicitly said it wasn’t a dig, perhaps didn’t need to be mentioned besides to make sure there wasn’t any perceived passive aggressive undertone or insinuation. As far as “auspicious”, I personally think it’s a beneficial transaction to almost everyone even with a “play to win” relationship. The client has a need to be met, they have an idea with no way to implement it and so they are the idea man/woman and initial investor (they should get their ROI with PtD), the contractor gets paid for providing the specialized service (which knowing the network intimately can be capitalized further in the future or even provided for free as training courses and working examples to new devs), and the end user gets an app experience that is hopefully built with the core ideals of the network, which I think all of us would agree is the most important part.

Simply miscommunication. We are all here for the same thing and I respect the hell out of every single one of you getting your hands dirty, or even buying MAID, spreading awareness, creating coalitions, etc. We all have unique characteristics that will help get us across the finish line and beyond. I also think we are damn decent community.

Props to all of you for your efforts and expressing yourselves. :love_you_gesture:

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Really looking forward to this :slightly_smiling_face:

Also really looking forward to this :slightly_smiling_face:

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Just thinking out loud here, if you are feeling motivated potentially MAID could loop you into main network progress and if you believe yourself to be able to pick up rust and dig deeper into the inner workings of the decentralized network that may have a positive influence in the timeline for a usable network to be delivered. Potentially you could be a key to a critical PR that offers great functionality or a fresh mind in the fray with good SAFE Network ideas. Obviously not a full time gig and something you have no obligation towards, but might glance and play with a few hours a couple days on weeknights or whenever you wanna. I have more fear on network delivery currently than apps themselves getting delivered. We have others that started as community members and got more involved in the core delivery, you might be a bright mind they desperately need insights from. Not to mention it helps decentralize the dev effort in general, less people working on SAFE that are not direct employees of MAID the better.

As for apps I think you are spot on with your analysis. All the ideas you listed I believe are critical to the early SAFE. I think a really good high quality youtube site of sorts is going to be needed as well, haven’t seen one other than baby level POC’s from long ago. Then longer term I think for SAFE to really become widely adopted there needs to be a solution for the whole we can’t run a db on safe but some sites can’t really function without a high performing DB(thinking like crypto coin exchange app @ high volume transactions), I think one of the best early websites on SAFE would be an untouchable crypto exchange that has no traditional exchange fees. Bonus points for if it was coded in a way that it could be extended for more coins and protocols without the app src itself changing, no idea how that could work(yet) but that is the like dream goal for a SAFE site in my mind.

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Very much agree with the general idea of your argument here @Shane, and certainly the idea that if you don’t do it right, someone else will do it wrong.

However, I think it’s important not to fall into that trap of naivety from the early days of the internet, where everyone thought they were entering into some sort of free utopia, and now thirty years later we’re all paying for it with our personal details being sold primarily for advertising.

In many ways I think it’s more important to pioneer fair and sustainable ways of funding apps on the SAFE Network, rather than necessarily free. PtD can definitely be a massive help in this direction, and will no doubt be enough for some apps, but it certainly won’t cover all use cases.

I agree with you that easy ways of payment will be a great early use case of the network, or ‘killer app’ as they say…

I’m not a programmer but with similar motivation (no one else seems to be doing it) I’ve been working away on a simple keyword search app to help people find things in the very early days of the network, or even just testnets. As part of that I’ve been trying to have a very high level think about what might be the way forward of structuring a sustainable search app/index. If you’ve got any thoughts on that would be really interested to hear them!

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:ok_hand::star_struck: 10 character

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Hah! Not just paying with data, we’re paying full stop. I personally am pretty conservative and yet I pay for Netflix, Audio books, play Music, games for my kids, I’ve payed for online courses, movies from Vimeo and YouTube and these are the digital things I can remember. Then there are the physical goods…dont get me started.

Anyway well done Shane. Not the model id choose, but what do I know.

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Thinking about priority apps I think social enabling apps of various flavours are very attractive to new users and for adoption in the early stages.

So email, chat, threaded conversations, VoIP/video chat, sharing, subscribing to feeds, and of course forum. This fits with @Shane’s plan for a comment system too.

These might be part of a platform or perhaps better still things that can be easily integrated into any website (ie plugins) making everything social and also helping adoption of the protocols as people can be using one thing and discover another.

The other area which links into this is trust and feed management so that I can manage contacts of all kinds, share my ratings, follows, categorisations, whitelists, blacklists, bookmarks etc, and pull in the same from those I choose to trust for various kinds of signal.

Figuring out how to make that work and how to help people manage it will be an interesting challenge, and getting it right could be a massive boost in the value and usefulness of SAFE. It is my understanding that @Seneca has plans in this area, so it may be worth working together at some point.

I think these social features will be the next big thing on SAFE after storage and farming because there’s a path towards them from just two people wanting to communicate securely, to a group, to groups and those groups wanting more features.

Whereas blogs and websites, being one-to-many media really have little value until there is a large potential audience and there’s a much harder path from zero readers to that audience. For example, how many people will join SAFE to:

  • communicate securely with one person or with a group, versus
  • to read a particular blog or access a SAFE Wikipedia?

There will be exceptions, but in generally I’d put social features higher than web content or commerce because those require large numbers of potential visitors/customers to be effective.

I also think the power of social is a stronger driver to adoption than the draw of consumption of information, both psychologically (“hey Mark, get SAFE chat will you”) and in terms of usefulness (chat securely, anonymously, eliminate spam).

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There is a lot of anger over youtube applying too much control over the creators and videos being taken down.

@Nigel has his music APP and maybe something can be made by morphing it. The big thing is the users being in control

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Yep, I completely agree. The only reason I’ve steered clear of putting that forward in my plans is because of the relative complexity of it. I wanted to make sure I’d be able to deliver on that kind of dynamic content first with a small project (hence the comment system module) before carving my intentions in stone.

What I’m going to do is reach out to the community again in maybe 4-5 weeks time with a working proof-of-concept and see where it goes from there. We can poll potential features and see what the community wants. For what it’s worth, I don’t imagine a private, grouped, Twitter style feed would be too difficult.

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That makes a lot of sense Shane. To figure all of this out at once is way too complex so I think you are right to identify parts, have a go at one and then learn from that before attempting another part and so on. This approach could also make collaboration easier: so you make a comment system plugin, someone else starts a messaging UI and then you both figure out how each can interact with the data of the other, and so on.

This kind of interoperability is itself a killer app and a big advantage over the silos of the web: it would mean I can use the same PMs UI whether the contact is via a Twitter feed, or a Facebook post, my email, chat etc.

With such interoperability, I can know where I acquired a contact, but still search all my contacts, and all my messaging of all kinds in one place with one UI when for example, I want to find everyone I’ve talked to about visualisation in the last year.

There’s also an opportunity here to use RDF to help developers generate content that is truly open and reusable - so a contacts app can generate data that can be read by an email app, posts from a social app recognised as messages and pulled into a chat app, or a ‘twitter type app’ etc.

But the big benefit of serialisation as RDF will be in apps that create value by understanding: search, recommendation, assistants etc. Most developers won’t do this until they see the benefits, and similarly users won’t realise the benefits until apps are built to take advantage of semantic data. This presents an interesting problem, but it’s also why I think getting it right at the start - as part of interoperability - is worth considering.

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I’ve also had those convictions from the early days of the SAFE network development. I propose that the method to achieve a new global currency to replace fiat with a debit and a credit. Such units are to be denominated in gold. That will ensure stability of the currency. The facility should be structured as an international not for profit strategic alliance whereby its participants are able to:

  • trade and otherwise deal with property, commodities, goods and services;
  • communicate and publish utilising voice, text and video technologies;
  • pay and receive money and maintain accounting records reflecting every transaction;
  • safely and securely store and retrieve data from the distributed network of the Alliance; and
  • use such of the other services listed by other Participants on the website of the Alliance.
    (a strategic alliance is an agreement between two or more parties to pursue a set of agreed upon objectives needed while remaining independent organizations. A strategic alliance will usually fall short of a legal partnership entity, agency, or corporate affiliate relationship. Typically, two or more entities form a strategic alliance when each possesses one or more business assets or have expertise that will help the other by enhancing their business.)
    The above functions consist of an aggregated automated series of interdependent web applications running on the SAFE Network.
    The NGC currency module simply consists of a debit and credit. Each credit unit is deemed equal to one hundredth of one gram of 99.99% pure allocated gold (gold). 100 gold credits (NGC) = 1 gram of gold. Participants can redeem their NGCs from the Alliance at call in gold kilo bars or bars of one gram or 100 grams.
  1. NGCs are earned from sales and spent on purchases which are conducted between Participants on the website of the Alliance;
  2. NGCs can also be purchased from the Alliance with payment in gold; or
  3. earned as a core developer of the website and structure of the Alliance.
    NGCs can be exchanged for fiat and digital currencies and any form of commodity, goods, services or property available from any other Participant on the website of the Alliance. NGCs are not negotiable in any other environment.
    Gold held by the Alliance will be vaulted at various locations outside the banking system as the pool-allocated property of all its Participants.
    The entire Strategic Alliance undertaking is proposed to be owned by its Participants in the ratio that their NGCs bear to all NGCs on issue at any given time. The website of the Alliance is proposed to be largely automated. There will be no limit to the number of NGCs on issue at any one time or place. But there will be a restriction to ensure that at no time could a single account holder or group of account holders acting in unison derive benefit from greater than 5% of the whole.
    As with all existing accounting procedure there is no central ledger or ‘block chain’.