ShapeShifting back to the community

Hi all!

I have an announcement to make that can come as a surprise to most. Some long standing community members will remember me as a community member @benjaminbollen since February 2014. Only in August last year I accepted MaidSafe’s offer to work with them on location for a finite time-window as I had to pause my own project in order to do so.

Over the past 14 months we have seen a lot of strong changes: we refactored the logic in the original C++ code. Afterwards we transitioned from C++ to Rust to further make the protocol explicit in the implementation. This was only possible thanks to an amazing team effort. And as a team we achieved the first pre-release of the full SAFE network stack at the end of August 2015.

On reflecting over the past year I did find one important point missing. Project SAFE is promised to be developed by the community for all people. While the RFC process is an important step in the right direction to enable critical interaction both on design and implementation from the community, I am personally frustrated by the high barrier that still exists. I know how high this barrier can be, because I disrupted my life and moved countries to climb over it. I also find that giving talks and presenting is not enough, I need to be out there with you.

That is why I inform you all that for the above reasons, combined with a third personal reason, I will be moving to Berlin. I have had for over a year an unused meetup group Project SAFE: Berlin which I intend to start using finally :). I am already invited to present the SAFE network in Berlin on the 10th; which I will now do as an independent community member.

I hope that this literal “brain transfer” can signal to the community that the time is right to take an active stake in coding this project forward. I intend to be doing so, and to gather more people in Berlin and around the world to do so too.

I am looking forward to continue building towards a private and secure internet!


I had to pause my own project in order to do so.

May I ask, what project?

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allow me to reply :). The final aim of the project is augmented intelligence.


Phew! Well, I guess the only way to reach the stars is to aim high (or something)

If I may probe your brain for a moment; from your point of view, in what ways and to what extent could the barrier to entry be lowered?

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For one by being present where more people are. I have always felt and not made it a secret that the remote location of the company is in conflict with its stated values of being open to the community that has financed it. Of course you cannot be present everywhere, but you can make the choice to be accessible and welcome critical thinking. By physically isolating the project, you also intellectually isolate the project.

So to answer your question: the barrier can be lowered by being more receptive to questions from everyone, also strangers who are just passing by and perhaps more critical. This last part only happens if you are willing to be where people can find you (physically)

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Wait what? So you’re quitting MaidSafe?

But don’t you want to help break down the barrier?

I read it about 3 times now but keep getting very confused when going from the first half to the second

Or did a contract just run out or something

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I understand your focus to be mainly at introducing MaidSafe to the general (albeit a bit more on the tech-savvy side) populous. Do you believe that technical documentation should also be cultivated while the network is still under development? What (if anything) do you envision being able to provide to potential contributors that you may meet in this upcoming, more social aspect of your involvement with MaidSafe - specifically ones who are interested in building the core network?

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I agree with @benjaminbollen while the forums, site and various web resources are great Maidsafe is still largely geographically isolated. We need to build physical communities and talk to people about maidsafe. Think low tech activism BEFORE the advent of the internet. What did people do? They got out there on the street and talked to people with word of mouth, handed out flyers, made sure they were informed, held rallys, solved problems around kitchen tables, made friends, all that kind of thing. There’s a big difference between going on a forum and posting stuff compared to meeting up with real live human beings and holding a conversation. And if real live developers get together in different communities around the world that means that not only will the SAFE network grow but it’ll also become more decentralized.

You really need to read the Prince by Machalevili. Particularly the part about how you can’t rule well in absentia. If there’s even one dev in town others will rally around them and a community will form. More devs and a larger community will form and others will want to start learning to code. In addition you need to have people putting the message out there and telling people about maidsafe. So in short you need ACTIVE leadership. Better to have a few small teams of devs working all around the world than one big one that can be bombed by the man.


I’ll make a brief last statement largely covering some of the above questions.

So yes, I handed in my notice and my contract with MaidSafe as a company will soon terminate. I very much hope to be actively involved with the SAFE project, but obviously my contribution will temporarily reduce as I need to re-organise my life, move countries, and get a new job.


Do you think the team might change this once they are up and running?

Like, maybe they’re just doing it so they can focus for now and push this network out,

And maybe they plan to become much more involved with the rest of us once it’s up and running?

Also maybe out in the hills is cheaper and it helps save money so they can have more left for paying devs to get it finished?

Lol IDK I’m just hoping everything is going well because I really care alot about this


I appreciate your concern and I feel very sorry for some distress caused, but I do not feel it is any longer appropriate for me to comment on such questions and I will therefore also not do so.

We all care very much about this project and I count myself among this group. I can honestly state that from the position I am in, with the knowledge that I have and some responsibility that I bear, I have made a decision that I feel was both needed for me personally and I worked for a minimal disruption to the ongoing progress of the project. I am confident this will be nothing more than a minor bump along the road.


Well hey man thanks very much for all you have done, we all really appreciate your great mind and everything you have contributed to this project.

Totally understand, sorry I shoot my mouth off alot :stuck_out_tongue: enjoy your time and we thank you for making such a difference for us!!


Thanks for all you great work @benjaminbollen. Although I understand that we’ll see you around in the community, that’s really a great thing. I’m also cirious about your own project.

I wasn’t ever part of a coding team, and I’ve never been in Troon. But there’s something good to say about this approach as well I think. If you read the books by Peter Diamandis and others who talk about “exponential organisations” they often describe that working in a small separate team is a must. It’s called the “Skunkworks approach” and I’ve always been glad that @dirvine took that way of working, while at the same time being 100% transparent and open about what they’re doing. Especially Atlassian and the Dev-updates are great for the community and investors. I don’t know that much about Ethereum, but my gut feeling is that their development is all over the place. Not only geographical, but when it comes to vision as well. I have the same feeling with other great projects. Maybe my feeling is wrong.

The thing I like about Maidsafe is their straight focus on the project, not flying around the world every week to tell people about decentralization. But the hard working, coding etc. @ioptio is doing great work by informing the rest of the world while the Dev-team is working hard to get the project “done”. It’s very great to see that people jump on GitHub to help the Devs out and do some work for them. And remember, Rust is such a new language! It will take some time for more people to code in it as well. My expectation is that we’ll see a lot of new minds jump on this project once the network is up and running. People really need to get their head around it, and using it is the best way to do so.

But again, thanks for all your great efforts, I always believe that one should follow the heart, because that’s the best indicator of what to do. Hope we’ll see you a lot here on the forum. :+1:


Just shorten that to “geo”, then later you can say you meant geographical (or geological).

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The plan is very much to create release the network and push it out into the community, transferring the knowledge as we go. The RFC process has been an integral part of this and the bounty program, which only started on Rust-4, has seen pull requests equating to around 10% of committed work so far in Rust-5. Very encouraging signs and something we would anticipate growing. For me the barrier is coming down all the time for core development work (how are you at the limbo?) and as we release the network API we will start this journey for app devs.

Our ability to actually attend and speak directly with you all is for sure curtailed by our location and growing this part of the organisation (evangelist/community manager type roles) is something that is very much part of scaling the company and the network. As we are working with limited resources at the moment we have channelled the vast majority of these into core development which to me makes sense at this point.

There have been quite a few discussions about office locations / satellite offices…etc… and no decisions have been made, however, getting more face time with SAFE communities will happen as our resources open up.


I think for the community you stay one of the core developers who made this project possible. I would say thanks and looking forward to route my packets through your code (as sort off ;-))

But I can imagine you won’t dissapear for us on the forum or am I wrong ?

And much success with your next project(s) !


Thanks to all of you for the big support here on the thread and in private messages! I will stay engaged with the project, the biggest thing that changes is my location. :slight_smile:


" I am personally frustrated by the high barrier that still exists" you mean now in Maidsafe? what things are high barrier(location)??

I take it to mean the high learning curve right now that it takes to learn rust (new lang) and get developing the SAFE Network

But it’s still early and I think it will come down over time :slight_smile:

Cheers @benjaminbollen! You’re a smart cookie and I hope to still see you involved in any capacity!