Speaker 0 00:00:07 Welcome to the rubric. I'm your host, Joe Andrew I'm Erica Connell. And I'm Eric Shu
Speaker 1 00:00:13 Today on the rubric. We talk with Manu Sporney about verus one, the state of the data ecosystem and what you should consider when choosing a did method.
Speaker 0 00:00:23 This is part one of a two-part interview with Manu. The continuation of the conversation can be found in our next episode. One of the fundamental philosophies here, at least the one that we're operating with, the one that we always operate under is what if we're wrong? Right
Speaker 2 00:00:46 On the rubric, we meet the people, making decentralized identity a reality. We discussed the technologies and motivation behind the movement, including decentralized identifiers, which encompass DIDs did documents and did methods. So you can make better decisions about which did method is appropriate for your use. Decentralized identifiers enable robust identity-based services without dependence on a trusted third party. Instead of being forced to use centralized identity verification services like Facebook, Google, or the department of motor vehicles does, can be created by anyone anywhere and used for any purpose. Did methods are the magic ingredient that give DIDs their flexibility before creating any specific? Did you first choose a did method, which determined how you performed the create read, update, and deactivate operations on a did of that method once created each date includes the name of its method in the identifier itself, so that when you use the, did others know how to retrieve the associated did document that contains the cryptographic material for secure interactions, different did methods use different underlying mechanisms with different performance security and privacy? Trade-offs this show, the rubric reviews different did methods using a common set of criteria, comparing apples to apples. So you can make better decisions about which did method is appropriate for your needs.
Speaker 1 00:02:04 Verus one is the progenitor did method before BTCR, before DIDs were even called decentralized identifiers, Manu Sporney and the team at digital Bazaar created a ledger based identifier architecture using their own fit for purpose non cryptocurrency blockchain called verus one today's guest. Manu Sporney is a co-founder and the CEO of digital bizarre, a six time entrepreneur and founding co-chairman of the web payments group credentials and Jason LD community groups at the worldwide web consortium. He has been a leader in the development of DIDs. He is an editor of the verifiable credentials specification, the upcoming decentralized identifier specification, as well as half a dozen auxiliary specifications, such as Jason LD, authorization capabilities and the credential handler API also known as chappy last but not least. He is the co-creator of the verus one did method, which we will discuss today. Manu, welcome to the show.
Speaker 2 00:03:07 Thanks for having me. First question for you, Manu is what exactly is verus one? Sure. Well, um, verus one is a dead method, right? So there's this, uh, you know, new concept called a decentralized identifier in, there are many different networks that support decentralized identifiers and various one is, is one of those networks. Uh, it, uh, allows you to create, uh, new DIDs on the ledger. It allows you to read them, update them and deactivate them. So it's just another did, uh, network, but this one is what we called fit for purpose. So we've created it so that, um, it really focuses on the dead aspect of it. You know, you'll have other ledgers, other did methods kind of have, you know, be bundled with a cryptocurrency or they're bundled with, um, some kind of smart contract stuff. Various one doesn't do that. We try to stay simple.
Speaker 2 00:04:12 We try to keep the whole focus really tight. And so, yeah, it's a, you know, verus one is a method, uh, like many of the other, like the 90 plus odd, uh, you know, other dead methods out there, but with a very specific focus, uh, to be about it's only about DIDs, um, that sort of thing. Cool. Um, thanks for that summary. There was one interesting thing as I was reading through the spec for the verus one did method that, uh, kind of stood out, um, in previous weeks we've looked at, uh, did BTCR and a couple of other methods, um, which all have, uh, the identifier string for the did constructed as did colon the identify the method name. So did colon BTCR did colon Eve. Um, and I think did V1 is the first one I've seen that in the spec ads, um, a secondary type identifier to the end of this.
Speaker 2 00:05:11 So it would be did colon V1, colon, uh, type, um, these two types being a crypto Nim and a U U ID. I was wondering if you could maybe give us a summary of these two types and what their purposes. Sure. Um, so the, you know, it's, it's the whole question kind of goes to what are you going to put on your ledger? Right. Um, and when we were building, uh, verus one, uh, we had a number of like pretty far ranging exploratory conversations around, you know, what are we gonna allow people to put on this ledger what's safe, uh, what would be beneficial, you know, that kind of stuff. So, I mean, you know, one of the very first conversations we had was everyone's making ton of money on initial coin offerings. Do we want to do a cryptocurrency? Right? Because a lot of networks that is how they funded the initial, uh, you know, R and D and development of it.
Speaker 2 00:06:09 Um, and so the first kind of namespace was like, oh, we're going to have a namespace for the identifiers themselves. And then we may have a namespace for like financial accounts and things of that nature, but the more we looked into the cryptocurrency aspect of the ledger, um, and saw kind of what was happening in the space, the less convinced we were about that, being a good thing to, uh, a good thing to like, just couple with the ledger, uh, for decentralized identifiers. So, you know, that's where the, the start of the idea came from, and then it became, okay, well, we definitely know that we're going to have to have a space for people to people or entities to put their identifiers on the ledger. So, uh, those are typically called crypto NIMS. Uh, so that's where the Nym, um, kind of moniker comes from NIMS stands for crypto Nim in because this is a cryptographic, you know, identifier people and entities, um, identifiers go under kind of the Nim namespace, but there's other stuff that's useful to put on a ledger as well.
Speaker 2 00:07:16 Um, so things like, uh, authorization capabilities, or, um, specifically with verus one, we needed a place to put, um, just ledger configuration information. Um, so one, one thing to know about, you know, verus one is, uh, it's built on a platform called verus Delta and verus Delta is a fit for purpose blockchain, but it can do a whole bunch of other things, like things that have nothing to do with dense things that have to do more with like supply chain, uh, you know, security or, uh, rendezvous mechanisms or things of that nature. So the base platform can basically store anything that you want to on the ledger, whereas verus one itself stores, basically two things, crypto NIMS, and then configuration information for the ledger, which we can get into later. But that's, that's kind of the, the two namespaces there in the vast amount of data on the ledger is expected to be crypto NIMS, right?
Speaker 2 00:08:13 These configuration files, you know, on the ledger, uh, they're only a handful of them they're only ever expected to be a handful of them. Now, the, one of the other interesting things that we were thinking of doing in the beginning was, um, you know, allowing people to put whatever data they wanted to on the ledger. So if you wanted something that you wanted to persist for a very long amount of time, we had this kind of you, you ID, uh, uh, namespace that people could put stuff into whatever they wanted to in. Um, as long as you kind of paid the fee to put it on the ledger, it would be there for the rest of time. Um, but as I'm sure many of the other did method creators have have mentioned, that's a really dangerous thing to do from a privacy perspective, from a, uh, general data protection regulation perspective. There was just all this liability that was created by that. And so, you know, going back to like what makes verus one, um, different from, you know, a number of the other, uh, did methods, um, it has to do with just making it as focused and compact, um, uh, as, as possible, which means no cryptocurrencies, no random data on the ledger, uh, just keep, you know, the security architecture for, right. Like just really tight and focused.
Speaker 2 00:09:39 Cool. Let me, uh, jump up to maybe a thousand, a hundred thousand foot level. You just said that you created a blockchain for identifiers, and this happened before decentralized identifiers existed. What inspired you to do that? And why would a blockchain help for identifiers before we even have? Yeah, so there's a origin story behind all this, right? So we, uh, you know, our, our company's called digital bizarre and, and we've been around for about 17 years for quite a while. Um, and we started, um, interestingly enough, the company that we had before, digital bizarre, um, basically ported, uh, Linux to the PlayStation two, we were, we were a video game company, right. And so we, uh, and we weren't just like a normal regular video game company. We were kind of like a development software for video game. Um, a company in our very first product that we put out was a music player for the PlayStation two.
Speaker 2 00:10:43 It was a network music player for the PlayStation two, which sounds like, you know, really pedestrian today. It's like, you know, people hooking up their game system and playing music. So it, this was back when Napster was happening. Right. And so people did not hook their game consoles up to their home theater systems and play music through it, unless it was through like a compact disc. Right. Um, and so, uh, we, we, at that point we were like, you've got this amazing, you know, game system. It was the first one with a network adapter to it. So you could hook it up to the internet and we thought, how awesome would it be if you could just stream media through your game system? Right. So this is, you know, the late, the, the end of the 1990s, early two thousands, when, uh, we, we created this in, um, you know, in order to when we wanted to do this peer to peer, right?
Speaker 2 00:11:37 The whole, the whole idea was like, we've got a bunch of, uh, music artists out there. The, the, that game company turned into a music company, right. We had the largest number of independent musicians at the time through a deal with CD baby in, we, um, we wanted to create this digital, like online digital music store, again, like way before iTunes. This was five years before iTunes, uh, happened. Um, and so in order to do that, we were like, okay, so we need some base technology. We need a way for artists to identify themselves, but in a way where, like the artist is in control where, uh, where their identity can't be taken away from them, we need a way for them to list items for sale on the internet, right. And for people to trust that the price that's being listed actually came from the artist.
Speaker 2 00:12:28 Um, we need a way for them to publish this information so that it could, uh, you know, travel and flow around the internet, but be protected from scammers and people that wanted, like, you know, redirect cash away from the artist in, into their bank accounts. And so these are all like the, this is the origination for, uh, you know, where, where we brought, you know, where we were coming from for decentralized identifiers and verifiable credentials and Jason LD, all of those technologies were created with artists and minds, right. We wanted to create a decentralized marketplace where artists could basically, uh, what's, what's, what's the nice way to say, not, not be ripped off by the people that sold their stuff. So artists, for people that don't know when, when artists go to sell their work, a very, very large chunk of the money goes to record labels and distribution and art galleries and things of that nature.
Speaker 2 00:13:30 The artist actually ends up getting very little of it, especially in the late nineties and early two thousands. And so that's, that's kind of where the kernel of the idea of, uh, at least our take on decentralized idea, identifiers came from the other thing that was happening at the time was, um, there's this really interesting project called Mozilla persona that was going out there. And they were, they were basically saying, um, you know, w you know, we, we want, we don't want, you know, large corporations to basically own people's identity. We want people to kind of have their own, and they were tying at the email addresses and all that kind of stuff. Um, and the person that was in charge of that project, uh, uh, was a guy named Ben Benedicta, who I met at the worldwide web consortium. And so while Ben was working on a persona, we looked at it and went, yeah.
Speaker 2 00:14:26 But, you know, those things are still tied to people's email addresses in people don't really own their email addresses. Right. I mean, some, again, like some large corporation owns the vast majority, um, you lease domain names, like we think we can do better. Right. Um, and so, you know, that idea turned into, uh, you know, remember that like Napster was happening at the same time. And we wanted to do like a, a legal version of Napster where, you know, artists could recoup and, and fans could help in the distribution and be paid, you know, for helping to distribute the music, um, uh, you know, in video. Um, and so we, we looked at that and we were like, there, these really interesting, like decentralized networks that are being put out there, what if we put the identifier in a decentralized network, right. How, how would that change the power dynamic?
Speaker 2 00:15:22 Um, and so, you know, and then we started talking with Jeremy Miller who, uh, worked on XMPP, um, and he had a new protocol called tele hash that he was working on. So we collaborated with Jeremy for a little bit in the very first did, um, at least that we're aware of, um, was created over tele hash, uh, you know, using Jeremy's, you know, new thing that he was working on at the time. Um, so that's kind of where things started. There's a blog post on my blog on, on kind of, you know, us, us talking about like persona and talking about tele hash and Jeremy Miller and, you know, creating that first did document. And that's kind of where it came from. What year was that? Just out of curiosity? Ooh, that's a good question. I can't remember. Um, I'd have to, I'd have to go back and look, I mean, there's a blog post, like with the data on it out there.
Speaker 2 00:16:15 I think it was like 20 13, 20 14 ish. Yeah. 2013 ish. I'm sure. I remember reaching out and talking with, um, the, actually the CEO of, um, filament, uh, where Jeremy Miller networks and talking to him about did, because I had just learned about them. Um, and it was all excited about what was happening to ID 2020 and rebooting. And so I had no idea that you had connected with him and then the first did on Tallahassee. That's very cool. Oh, interesting. Yeah. Yes. Someone who's only been in this space for about a year now, that was some cool backstory. I also love that, that your initial insight was about enabling artists to, um, live a sustainable life, doing what they love, but you made a choice to not, um, create a cryptocurrency blockchain, which if you were worried about the money that, uh, artists might get paid, I could see a lot of people making a different decision and seeing their blockchain as the way to pay them.
Speaker 2 00:17:24 You made some different choices about not being a cryptocurrency. Um, why, how does that work? How, how is this a blockchain that isn't a cryptocurrency? Yeah. Uh, well, I mean, so, uh, I think it, it boils down to separation of concerns. Um, you know, when, when you build technology, what you try to do, I mean, so this goes into line that like development philosophy, right. But when you're things for the web and the internet, when you have something that could touch billions of people's lives, um, you want a good separation of concerns. So what that means is like, you want the things that you're building to do one thing and do one thing really well. Um, and you also want them to be able to be composed together with other things so that there are these new things that emerge that you never thought about.
Speaker 2 00:18:15 Right. Um, so, so the, the other part of the philosophy that goes into that is, um, presuming you're wrong, right? So lot, a lot of, well, I shouldn't say a lot of technologists, but I think that there's this, this kind of desire, you know, as a technologist to go in and go, I know, I know that I'm right. I know that what I'm building is amazing and it's going to change the world. And that whole kind of thing is just reinforced through the stories that are told, uh, over, you know, the internet, you know, hacker news and, you know, the whole Silicon valley, this person, you know, work by themselves alone in, you know, a basement for years and their brilliant idea, you know, popped out into the market and made a billion dollars. Right. I, I, I really don't like that, that story because it doesn't, um, it doesn't highlight that a lot of these thoughts about what the future could be are wrong.
Speaker 2 00:19:13 Right. I mean, a lot of, a lot of people think that, um, you know, technology technologists are very sure about the future. They know exactly what's going to happen when in reality, it's like, no, like we have no idea what, what might happen. We might, you know, we we're, we are fairly educated in how we think about what, what could happen. But I think one of the fundamental philosophies here, um, at least the one that we're operating with, the one that we always operate under is what if we're wrong? Right. And we build that into the things that we build. So, um, when we're building this decentralized identifier, blockchain, cryptocurrencies might be a really good thing, but that should probably happen on a blockchain. That's really focused on cryptocurrencies. And if we're doing decentralized identifiers, well, let's put that on a blockchain that really focuses on decentralized identifiers.
Speaker 2 00:20:04 And again, that, that helps us, you know, separate those concerns and then potentially layer things in different ways, um, you know, in the future. Um, that is so, so th that's, that's kind of the, the technical reason, right? Um, the, the personal reason is I come from a family of artists. All of my, my, my dad's was a painter. My mom's a writer, all of my, uh, you know, uh, all of my, uh, aunts and uncles, uh, on my dad's side, uh, sculptors painters artists. So I grew up, you know, in a house filled with art in, you know, it was wonderful. And we were always very poor, right? So they, we were, we, we was always a struggle to make bills. Um, I saw my parents create these amazing, beautiful things. And then, uh, you know, that, that were then sold for a fairly significant amount of money.
Speaker 2 00:21:08 And then I watched as 90% to 95% of that money disappeared into other people's pockets. Right. And so, so, you know, that, that is, that is, uh, most artists struggle if, if you are trying to make a living, you know, as an artist, um, that is, that is your life. That's your reality, right? And, and that's, that's one of the things that at least personally is, is motivating me here. It's, it's, you know, that's why we, we looked at, you know, these beard peer decentralized networks. That's why we're trying to build things that are composable, because we're not presuming we have all the answers. What we want, hopefully want people to do is take these building blocks that we've created. And if we fail to come up with a solution, reconfigure the building blocks in another way, that's actually gonna work. Right. So success to us, isn't us bringing the final solution, you know, to the world, it's building a whole bunch of building blocks that we'll be using, and hopefully other people will be using to solve these really tough societal problems.
Speaker 2 00:22:19 Good analogy for that philosophy. If you're in the software space would be, uh, the idea of microservices build a very specific service that does a very specific task very well and let the others utilize the service, um, as things evolve in the system. Yep, exactly. The other, you know, the other issue with the, the whole cryptocurrency thing. Um, and it's not in the, you know, I don't, I don't want people to think that I don't like cryptocurrencies. I think they're, they're great, but they, they have side effects, right. So when you build a cryptocurrency into your system, um, and we saw this happen in the early days of verus one, we became, we started becoming obsessed about how we're going to do the presale and how we're going to sell, you know, the cards and what happens if, if the, if the currency fluctuates and how do we keep, you know, the, the billionaires at bay and, you know, all that kind of stuff.
Speaker 2 00:23:11 In what I noticed was that we were spending out of, out of our meetings, we were spending 90% of the time talking about finance in 10% of the time talking about security in the technology itself. Um, and at least personally, I, you know, I looked at that and I was like, man, we're, we're not spending the appropriate time on the things that matter from a security perspective, if we want this thing to be like a foundational layer for people's identities, um, we need to stop focusing the financial, you know, financing aspects of it through cryptocurrencies. And we need to focus on just getting the ledgers so that it is, uh, you know, unassailable from a, you know, a technical perspective. Uh, and then we will get to, you know, the, the, how to finance it and things like that. So we, you know, our, our approach, wasn't, let's raise a bunch of money, um, first and then figure out how we're going to do it.
Speaker 2 00:24:07 Um, we focused on, um, let's build the platform itself in make it world-class and, and, and focused and, and amazing. And then if we're successful at doing that, then we can go out, you know, in theory, we'll be able to go out in, in, uh, raise the money that we need, um, for that platform. So it very much, it really did a lot. Some of it did have to do with like the distractions that cryptocurrencies bring to the table. Um, and, uh, you know, in the focus, uh, that it, it, you know, where, where it pulls your focus. Yeah. Privacy and security when everyone's seeing dollar signs. Exactly. Yes. And, and that was just a very, I mean, maybe some, some people are capable of doing that, but we certainly weren't like, we w we noticed our, our meetings were being distracted by like, you know, what happens if the, if the cryptocurrency shoots up and then, and then, you know, falls precipitously, you know, how do we make sure that we don't, uh, you know, fall afoul of the, uh, the sec, um, and all of that stuff was taking energy.
Speaker 2 00:25:16 It was, you know, pulling oxygen out of the room. Um, uh, now there's a, there's a downside to that, right. So that there is a negative, it's not like, it's not like you made that decision, isn't it great. No, like, because we made that decision, the system, you know, we personally have been cash strapped to put the system together. So we've got really great, wonderful engineers, mathematicians, all that kind of stuff, but all the money that we, we need to do to, um, uh, spend, to make sure that verus one, you know, is a world-class platform came out of our own pockets. It didn't come from, you know, cryptocurrency boom and bust cycles. So there there's a downside for making that decision. Right. I don't wanna, I don't wanna make it seem like, you know, you, you either choose cryptocurrencies, you know, or you don't in, in, in either as either as an okay decision to make it's whatever decision you make, you create problems for yourself. Yeah. It's an interesting conundrum that much of the cryptocurrency industry has managed to fund itself with white, with money that didn't exist before. It's kind of like, they got a bunch of monopoly money that now they can suddenly pay developers. And whether that's, you know, Ethereum or polka dot or cosmos, the fact that they created a cryptocurrency gave them funding that, uh, less than go out and hire developers and your choice, didn't give you that freedom. Yep, exactly.
Speaker 1 00:26:42 Manu, I, some of the backstory about what you noticed, uh, in the world of artists that you grew up in, partially because I'm an artist. So I, I totally get that framing and, um, and point of view, and, and I had the good fortune actually to meet you at the rebooting event in Santa Barbara a few years ago. And I've noticed since then, as I've started to be more and more in this space that you have spent, um, a ton of personal time and effort developing open standards and working with open standards groups. Um, what's, what's important about that to you creating and maintaining open standards.
Speaker 2 00:27:21 Yeah, that's a really interesting question. So I think one of the, one of the biggest, I think one of the biggest things about working in open standards, um, I mean, so like, you know, let's say for those that, that, that are unfamiliar with the world of standards, it sounds like a fantastically boring thing, right? I mean, like, yeah, I work on standards. Um, but, um, uh, the, the way I look at standards is, um, it is a, uh, really wonderful social experiment, right? Uh, standards, uh, are, um, kind of a big group dance. It's a big group party, or you get a bunch of people, bunch of, bunch of people from all over the world, all walks of life into a room, and you set a goal, you're going to invent a new technology for the internet or the web. Um, and you know, there, there really isn't, you know, a leader there, there aren't, you know, followers, it's just a whole bunch of people trying to get what they will they see, uh, you know, is a good solution for the world, um, out there vetted by other people in the room, um, and over, you know, multiple years, um, the hope is that you're building something really good and solid for society.
Speaker 2 00:28:43 Right. Um, now that's a very, you know, that, that, that's my view of it. There are other views like the, um, you know, purely capitalist corporate view, which is no, you're a giant company. You go into the standards organization so that you can control the future so that you can ensure that you're funneling money towards you with whatever standard that's, that's created out there. Right. That's kind of a cynical view of, of what happens. And the truth is of course, somewhere, you know, somewhere a gray area in the, in the middle. Um, but the, you know, one of the things that drive us to work on standards is, is going back to that assumption that we're going to fail. Right. Um, so you just start off with the assumption of you don't have all the answers. So you need to go and talk with a bunch of other smart people in the space, and it doesn't matter how smart you are.
Speaker 2 00:29:30 You're not as smart as a bunch of other people from different walks of life coming together and really hammering on the technology, uh, as a group, right? So the first thing is you want to get it right? You need more people to get it right. And you need people outside of your echo chamber to come in and tell you where you're right and where you're wrong. The second thing about that is, you know, standards of patent and royalty free, which means that everyone in the world can use them without asking for permission. Um, and if what you want to do is really impact the social fabric of how the world operates. Uh, one of the best things, one of the, one of the most powerful things, one of the biggest force multipliers that you can use, um, are open patent and royalty free standards. If it becomes a part of the internet and the web, you know, billions of people automatically kind of just start using it because it's there.
Speaker 2 00:30:21 Right? And then the third thing I touched on, which is assume you're going to fail. So if we go in and we create these open standards, now our company, you know, when you do a startup, you have no idea if you're going to survive like six months or a year or two years or five years, um, we've been around for 17 years, right. Um, in, in that in every year, you know, we think we're going to this, is it where it's, this is the end where we're going under. Like, you know, we can, there's always this looming threat of, you know, your competitor crushing year or the technology not working or that kind of stuff. So that's always in the back of our mind. And so the best way to kind of preserve, um, the good ideas that we think we, we had was to push them into a standards group so that if we fall, hopefully somebody else can pick it up in and take it from there.
Speaker 2 00:31:12 Right. So the, the web and the internet is, you know, it's, it's, it's, it's just a whole bunch of standards that have all been plugged together, um, that have had multiple kinds of generations of engineers, uh, working on them, improving them over time. Um, and so that's, you know, that's just a, it's just a really powerful thing, right? People, people, people view, um, like art and culture in that way, right? You, you, you speak the, you speak the language of the ancients, you dance the language of the ancients and you pass it forward. So that future generations can kind of know and understand that. Right. Um, so, so the, you know, it sounds a bit corny, but like engineering, I think is, is very much the same way, right? You, you want to pass these, um, these stories and these technologies, uh, forward into the future.
Speaker 2 00:32:05 Uh, you want, uh, you know, the new generation to learn from, uh, you know, the older generation, uh, and the hope is that, you know, the new generation is going to take what you did and improve it and pay it forward. Given how involved you are in the standards efforts at the W3C and diff and some of the other organizations, what kind of people are you looking for when you're involved in the standards work and how do these people then get involved in it if they're interested? So that's a, that's a really tough cause I don't really know. I don't know the best way for people to get involved and I know what's needed, right? So we need a bunch of people from around the world with different perspectives. We need engineers, we need artists, we need, uh, writers. We need, you know, performers. We need all Hines, uh, you know, of, of folks to help with the work because the technical work is, you know, it's important, but it's the stuff the engineers know how to do.
Speaker 2 00:33:05 Right? The, the harder stuff is like, what, you know, each of you are doing with this podcast, you've got to get the message out there. You've got to communicate that stuff to people. You've got to relate it to, to, um, to individuals. And in, you know, fundamentally what we're trying to do is build technology. That's going to help people in the world. And so reaching them is, is also a vital thing. So I think every profession out there, no matter what you do, there's absolutely a place for you to help out. Um, the difficult thing is finding kind of your place in this giant, you know, uh, swirling mass of, you know, innovation and technology that's going on. So, you know, my, my first suggestion is like, join a community group. So there's like the credentials community group. If you're interested in decentralized identifiers and verifiable credentials, join the credentials community group at the worldwide web consortium, it's free, it's open.
Speaker 2 00:34:01 Anyone can join, uh, you can listen in, you know, alive. So you can just show up to the meetings and like, listen in, there are recordings that go back, you know, uh, eight plus years now that you can listen to from, you know, the past their transcripts of, you know, what everyone does. So, you know, listening is one of the first things that, that might help. Um, but you shouldn't be shy to just like dive in that's, that's what I ended up doing. And I know that that's not like appropriate for all personalities. It can be terrifying to dive into a group where, you know, you've got people with like 40 plus years of experience. Um, in many of these places are like not known for harboring people that, that are good people. People like they, they like, they, they, um, I mean, things can get super hostile in, in, you know, there's this, um, somewhat toxic engineering culture, right.
Speaker 2 00:34:55 At, at the, at the internet engineering task force. And even at, at the worldwide web consortium, um, where you have people that have been working on this stuff for like 30 to 40 years, screaming at each other and yelling at each other and you walk in a room where that's happening. And you're like, I don't think I want, like, this vibe is not cool. I don't, I don't. Yeah. It's like, I don't want anything to do with it. Right. But, but, but you know, the, the hope is that there, there are people there like good people that will help you, that, that try to, you know, um, bring you up to speed. I know in the credentials community group, uh, Heather Avastin has been doing a great job with, you know, CCG 1 0 1 where she's trying to, you know, write down the tribal knowledge, get people, um, you know, trained up, um, uh, help people understand kind of the work we were doing and where to help out, but really picking up and doing is the best way. Like, like with many things, like, you know, picking, picking something up in, in, in doing, in, in just listening to people that, that, you know, are, are trying to help and not listening to the people that are, you know, terrible human beings. Cause we've got quite a few
Speaker 3 00:36:01 As well, just like anywhere. Yeah. Yeah, I guess so I feel like
Speaker 2 00:36:07 The concentrations, like higher in engineering groups, people that have bad, bad people skills, uh, there were there, their main girls and haters and every community. The one thing I would add to that Monet would be for anyone looking, if you have a real-world use case that you think that technology can help with, people love those in the standards, uh, space, um, having an actual real world example of something that the technology is going to fix is extremely useful. So if you have a use case don't be shy. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, it's literally like if you can write a paragraph about like a world problem or a problem, you want to have solved and you can send an email like that, that is a contribution that people will be open to. Yes. And as one of the editors of a did use case document, please send us those paragraphs. We crave your input.
Speaker 1 00:37:05 Well, that's a great message to get out because I think like, as you mentioned, some people maybe not coming from that environment, um, um, I'm one of them, uh, feel a little intimidated by, you know, not knowing the language or the whatever, but I can, uh, bring actual something that I would love to solve. That's, you know, not, not a complaint, but like, Hey, this is going on and you guys are smart, fix this, or how do I fix it? Or how can I help you guys fix
Speaker 2 00:37:34 It? Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, like, that's, it, it, it breaks my heart every time I hear somebody say that, you know, it's, it's intimidating to be a part of these groups because like, we don't, we don't want that at all. And I totally understand where, you know, I'm intimidated. Like I'm intimidated jumping onto some, you know, internet engineering, task force, mailing lists, like the, uh, because I know that, you know, they're mean people there. And the second I opened my mouth, I'm going to get attacked. But the good news here is that in all, in all of those groups who, there, there are typically people there that are like, Hey, you need to back off, like, you've got someone coming in here trying to help, uh, you don't need to go at their throat the second day. They send something out there just like in most people, won't like the real nasty exchanges are like between people that have hated each other for 30 years. And it's like, that's a part of what fuels them to, you know, to, to participate.
Speaker 1 00:38:29 And, and yet it seems like things still get done. I mean, I was, I was really struck by the, where people were passionately arguing about things. And yet, as you mentioned before, it was still, you know, these groups of people who do want to move things forward and, uh, maybe are willing to fight for their point of view, but also, you know, not like to the death, just to some maybe resolution or some trying to find a way to move forward, I guess, which, you know, makes it seem like, uh,
Speaker 2 00:38:59 Yeah. Well, I mean, it's all based on consensus, right? I mean, and that's one of the things I think people don't that are not in the standard space. They, they, I mean, you know, of course, how would, you know, right. That everything's, uh, people try to do things by consensus, but I mean, many of the decisions are like, you know, they, they are debated to death. Right. And in, at the very end, everyone's got to say, you know what, um, I'm okay with the solution. I don't agree with all of it, but I don't disagree with it enough to stop it. Right. And that's like a really, I don't think people realize how incredibly difficult it is to, to reach that bar. Like that's how the web and the internet were created. Um, and there's a ton of agreement. Like if it's out there, there's, there's typically, if it's out there as a global standard, there's typically an enormous amount of agreement on that being at least the bare minimum that, that the world should be doing.
Speaker 2 00:39:55 Right. Um, so yeah, I mean, even though there are tons of people that at each other's throats, they will get to the point where they're like, okay, fine, I'm fine with this going forward. I will not stand in the way. Um, even though I don't like, you know, a hundred percent of it, and that's a beautiful thing, that's a part of the dance, right? That's a part of, you know, that's why I think these standards groups are, are these, you know, really amazing social constructs, right? It's, it's, you've got, you've got people that don't like each other, or don't like each other's ideas instill. They figure out a way to dance together and put this thing, you know, forward, uh, out there into the world. Man. One of the things I love about your story is you had, shall we say a more adventurous youth than, than most, how has that affected how you approach your work?
Speaker 2 00:40:51 Hm. Um, so, so, uh, I don't know how far we w you know, back back we want to go, I was born in, I was born in Sri Lanka, right. So I I'm, uh, to, to an American father and a Sri Lankan mother. Um, and the first, you know, eight, eight to nine years of my life was growing up in the middle of the rainforest. We were completely off the grid. My dad was an artist. We lived, literally, we lived out in the middle of the rainforest. Our only electricity was from solar panels. This was like the late seventies, early eighties, right. Where solar panels cost like an arm and a leg. Um, you know, our fridge was like a kerosene powered fridge. Most people don't even know that you can power fridges off of kerosene, but, you know, the, we had a kerosene powered fridge.
Speaker 2 00:41:42 Um, and we, you know, I grew up in the middle of nowhere. Um, and I mean, it was paradise, right. I mean, it's literally, my parents would be like, go play out in the forest and I would disappear for eight hours. Um, which now I'm kinda like they were cobras in that forest. And I would, on a regular basis have to jump over and move around. They were tons of animals that could have killed me. And you're like, yeah, go out there for eight hours. We'll see you at dinner. Um, but, but he was, you know, it was just, it was this beautiful, um, uh, you know, paradise, um, if anyone's ever been to Sri Lanka, but, but then, you know, uh, uh, civil war broke out. Um, my dad, you know, was going down to the post office, which was like 26 kilometers away. You know, when I was growing up, he'd, he'd take a motorcycle down there once a week.
Speaker 2 00:42:36 And one day he showed up at the post office and the postmaster was hung from the, uh, front flagpole of the post office because he was a government worker. And, uh, you know, the, the, um, uh, liberation, Hamel tigers of alarm at the time, we didn't appreciate the government's, you know, influence in that area. And that's, you know, that's the, that's the day that my family decided that, you know, things were getting too violent. Um, and shortly thereafter, I mean, while we were there, we could see, you know, fires burning in the distance. And, you know, we thought, oh, you know, three o'clock is electrifying there, all these, uh, you know, villages that, um, are getting electricity. And we find that found out that it wasn't, that they were being electrified. It was that they were being, the villages were being slaughtered and they were burning the villages to the ground.
Speaker 2 00:43:33 Right. So for a few weeks, we saw that, you know, coming towards us and, and my parents, you know, basically said, this is, we don't want to raise our kids in this environment. And we, we, um, fled to the United States. Um, and we were very lucky, you know, I mean, my, my dad was American. We, uh, even though he was an artist, um, you know, the exchange rate was such that even though we only get the, uh, he, he only could keep a small amount of money from selling his paintings. He was selling his paintings in New York city in a sale from one painting was enough money to live in Sri Lanka for a year. Right. Um, in, in, because of that, we were able to kind of flee and come back to the United States. And, um, while my, you know, the, the rest of my family kind of stayed behind there.
Speaker 2 00:44:25 Well, let me, let me tell you, man, we are all lucky, um, that your family made that choice as well. We've all benefited from the downstream benefit of you being a part of this movement. Oh, well, thank you, Joe. That that's, uh, that means a lot. Yeah. So, I mean, you know, I, how did, how did that impact what we're, what we're working on? Um, I think like, like your upbringing jail, I, I moved around a lot. Like, I, you know, my parents were artists, like you were militant, your, your parents were like military, right. And so you were moving around like, exactly. So, so every couple of years it's like, Hey, here's your new house? Right. Uh, so I had the same experience except my, my parents were like artists. And it's like, well, there are no jobs here. So I guess we're going to move somewhere else.
Speaker 2 00:45:10 And so like, like you, I learned how to make friends pretty quickly and learn that, um, there are all these different perspectives in life that are equally valid, uh, and that should be respected. Um, uh, you know, until, yeah, until, you know, you, you understand them too, to a certain degree. I just want to interrupt. I love that point. I touched on that with friends of mine in college, who were also had come up military, there was a, where I went to school, there was a surprisingly high proportion of military rats. And part of it was, we figured it was because we were exposed to different perspectives. And so we had to rethink how we viewed the world as we grew up in ways that I think people who lived in the same place, their whole life often aren't as intellectually challenged by the context that they're in, because it becomes familiar and it becomes straightforward.
Speaker 2 00:46:00 It's understandable. I see how that ability to embrace different perspectives. It shows up in how you show up in the, uh, in the standards groups and how I've worked with you with digital Azar and in other places. So I love that perspective. Yeah. It's, I mean, it's, and I think it's important, right. I mean, if you're, if you're trying to, to, to work with a bunch of people across a bunch of different cultures, um, having that in your toolbox is, is, you know, useful. And it is like, it's, you know, it's total culture shock. Right. So it's just, uh, funny, funny aside, like I grew up Buddhist, right? So my, my mom was Buddhist. I grew up going to put us temples and it was very peaceful and all that kind of stuff. And when, when we, when we fled to the United States, we moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Speaker 2 00:46:48 Right. And so, um, and then my, my parents put me in a, in an Episcopal school, like it was a religious institution. They had not told me about Jesus or God or anything. Right. They were just like, here you go. Like in the first week, in the first week, I'm an altered boy. And I have no idea what's going on, like none whatsoever. So I'm just like, okay, I do this. And then I do that. And then I eat lunch. And then I go into this building and I snuff candles, and I got to wear this gown. And, and so, you know, like that, that I think kind of prepares you for like, all right, I'm going to kind of go with the flow here. I'm going to feel things out, see what, you know, the, the, the social dynamics are, and then, you know, figure it out as I go along. So that's why I was saying, you know, just jumping in and, and, and doing things is not for everyone in a standards group. Um, but it feels comfortable for me because, you know, I've had to do that for, for a lot of my life.
Speaker 1 00:47:50 That's the end of part one and concludes our show today. The conversation continues on our next episode. Manu,
Speaker 2 00:47:58 Thank you for joining us on the show today. Thanks also to our staff, our producer, Erica coddle, and co-host Eric shoe,
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