Hi Jake! Could you tell us about yourself: your background, driving beliefs, interests, passions?
Thanks! I’m super happy to be helping out.
Well, I’m 24, and started playing around with BTC back in highschool by mining and running a node on my parents computer.
I’d like to say I spend a lot of time reading, but life has gotten in the way and I haven’t been doing as much as I used to. Some of my favorites are Douglas Adams, Neal Stephenson, and Orson Scott Card. My single top book is probably Snow Crash by Stephenson; pizza companies rule the world, the main character’s name is “Hiro Protagonist”, and the villain has “Poor impulse control” tattooed on his forehead. It’s an awesomely dystopian world.
I’m always trying to experience new things and expand my comfort zone, so I often find myself a part of interesting projects. Crypto is something I’ve consistently been interested in, and I’m really excited to contribute to something so big in the field.
As for hobbies, I started climbing in elementary school and started doing it competitively in middle school. I haven’t been climbing nearly as much now that I’ve moved and there aren’t any good gyms near me, but i still make a point of going out whenever I can. I’ve always had a preference for non-team sports, I’ve never thought about it much but I guess it’s because every victory and mistake are my own and I like the ownership of that. I’ve also been getting into cycling lately, but I’m taking a bit of a break from that since I injured both of my ankles pretty badly recently. You wouldn’t be wrong calling me an outdoorsy person.
How do you spend your days right now?
Currently, I work with a government contractor, and I am on the Red Team at NASA Langley in VA. The Red Team handles all the penetration testing and network hardening, so really I spend my days trying to break things to see how they react. I met my boss after doing a presentation at a local university on TCP vs UDP for the local IC² chapter; he was the president and asked me to come in for an interview at the end of the meeting.
Why is Zen important, to you and to the world?
The short answer is – Zen is important because I want to see a truly anonymous way to transfer value and ideas in the hands of literally everyone in the world.
Without getting political, I believe that everyone should have the capability to share their opinions and hear the opinions of others – anonymously. I really like the governing policies behind Zen. Even Zen’s voting system (for funding community proposals, leadership changes, etc.) is a perfect example of what Zen is all about because it gives participants, investors, miners, and everyone else, the ability to anonymously vote on internal decisions. I think that our innovative voting scheme paired with the strength of the team behind Zen could really make it a household name in a few years.
You’ve been a core member since our launch. What made you come on board the team?
I became a committed Zen community member for the same fundamental reason the rest of them do: I genuinely believe in the mission of the project. Then I saw how well the community and team treated each other, how quickly issues were fixed and ideas acted on, and I fell in love with both.
The single thing that made me want to join the team, instead of remaining as a Zen community member, is how accessible the Zen team is. They are always around Slack and Github, willing to listen to criticism, ideas, advice, and speculation from their community. I love that I get to be a part of that now, providing support and spitballing with Zen users. Just today someone recommended we look at Digital Bitbox as a hardware wallet provider – I’ve already contacted them and we’re reviewing their codebase now. I’ve never seen something like that happen with another coin – the team really listening to their community, turning ideas into tangible productive action at such a quick pace.
Talk about your experience with Zen so far. What have you learned? How has your role on the Zen Team changed and grown?
I didn’t really plan on joining the team when I started hanging out in the Slack, but then I realized that I love the project and wanted to be a part of it. I started out by helping with stuff in the background, like editing the white paper, and setting up the live stream for the launch party. Lately, I’ve been helping out a ton on the Slack, keeping up the team presence and giving killer support to the users.
Often, I’ve had to work with the more experienced devs to solve some of the issues, and I really enjoy learning from them. I plan on bumping up my Slack presence to make sure the community can get any help it needs, and so I can hear some of their great ideas.
What are the most interesting use cases for Zen in your opinion?
ZenTalk and ZenPub are the most important to me. ZenTalk is going to be a blockchain based secure messaging protocol. Sort of like Signal or Telegram, but the messages are permanent, and if desired, the key could later be released to make the contents of the message public, providing non-repudiability. ZenPub is a similar protocol that published documents. It’ll give everyone the ability to anonymously publish content in a completely decentralized way, so that it would be incredibly hard for a bad actor to remove it.
Obviously, there are some kinks to work out: How would we keep users from sending anonymous spam on ZenTalk? Do we want a transaction fee to post a message, or should it be open to all? What about publishing? Should users be able to upload 300 copies of Space Jam to the blockchain? We’re still working on the exact specifications, but you get the idea.
Join our Slack to connect with Jake (@smrtz) and other members of our amazing team!