Ideas for growing the Interledger community

We have around half a dozen companies that are major stakeholders in the Interledger ecosystem and between 30 and 300 individual contributors and other interested parties, depending how you count them. What should we do to grow the number of companies and attract more individual contributors?

One hypothesis is that we should focus on improving the initial developer experience and building out ecosystems of companies around specific use cases. What if we specifically tried to find 3-4 teams and build solutions/prototypes for each of these use cases:

Are those the right use cases? Is this the right approach?

What other types of outreach / events / marketing should we be doing?

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From hearing other devs, it sounds like education talks is where people generate interest. Are there devs in the community willing to host a presentation in their city?
Adding payments for IoT to the use cases list.

I think there should be a clear takeaway from attending an event, either looking at ILP companies that are hiring, becoming a community member and/or consider launching their own company.

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If any teams building with ILP want to speak at the Berkeley Bitcoin Meetup let me know. We did this in the fall with Coil, Strata, and Kava and it went really well. We’re doing a new model starting with Cosmos where we have a three part workshop series. Perhaps this could make sense for the ILP community.

I think it’s a good way to get developers familiar with the tech and also find promising engineers looking for work in the space.

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It’s important to stress why our variant of peer-to-peer technology is any good when that demo is made. Specifically, peer-to-peer now has bad connotation, and most people prefer convenience over having authority (i.e. piracy after Netflix + Spotify, the fact people still are on Instagram despite deleting Facebook). Bitcoin and Ethereum had this problem with growing the community, and I think it took a while for people to realize what really mattered was open standards and having another option for money.

The more clear the benefits are, the easier it is to win the trust of developers on the use case side, p2p payments is probably too general. Most people will compare it to their current situation as a means of evaluation, so creating p2p Venmo isn’t as exciting as say, hey you can coordinate a transfer of funds from Venmo to Square Cash using this (hypothetical example). I think cross-currency web payments is much more specific, and gets to the bottom of what people care about. p2p is a mixed bag. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sell the protocol as peer-to-peer, I think peer-to-peer isn’t really a use case as much as it is a design decision. It does have implications for use cases, but I think that’s where we need more specificity.

Also, depends what on you want the demos to show. Do you want to show the flexibility of the protocol more than the performance? (i.e. why is cryptocurrency exchange or ecommerce or anything better on Interledger than it is anywhere else?)

If I didn’t know anything about ILP, maybe I’d be interested in seeing the fancy ways you can program money in internet packets to do things.

However, use cases aren’t the only way to win people. You may want more protocol maximalist types too. Leverage the power of academic computer science when it comes to the Interledger protocol, because there’s so many brilliant ideas you can use as inspiration when working on it (i.e. those of the early internet, BitTorrent, make tcp fast project at Google, etc). This was at least part of my ambitions when I was proposing a new place to have conversations. Mini-talks/articles like the one you posted on switching BTP to use HTTP instead of Websockets are always cool.

Events

Speaking events are good. I think most workshops don’t always bring in the best audience and nor do they leave the best impression. They are usually not paced well and engineers are very aware that it’s not the most efficient way to gather information. It’s the same reason why professors don’t stand up in lecture showing you how to code.

If you do want to do a hands-on format, do hackathons. ETH Denver and ETH SF are prime examples where the ETH community shines, and gets some amazing tooling and protocol designs built. Any good workshops engineers and researchers will go to tend to be a more relaxed hackathon, in the sense that they are multiple days, any lectures are computer science based and people will go into their own groups to hack on something or learn. Few examples include the IC3 Bootcamp or the RWOT workshops. This is pretty much the golden ticket to growing and sustaining productive, open-source communities.

Better talks tend to be computer science-y (i.e. talk about scaling techniques, don’t use buzzwords, leverage big ideas in systems, networking and security, keep code snippets brief) and shorter (30 minutes or under) if you’re trying to get builders excited about technology. Record these with good production quality whenever possible, it really stands out.

Talking about use cases and high level stuff without demos have the opposite effect on most people. Ideas can be good, but they are only appreciated significantly later on once implemented. Prime example is the E2E arguments paper, where most people didn’t really understand this until David Clark himself implemented it in the internet. You really have to see the benefits to get user-facing engineers, and that’s really tough without dissecting the protocol right now.

Application level examples and tutorials

Posting stuff on YouTube helps! (NEAR protocol is doing whiteboarding videos, and I think @danrobinson is doing one on Interledger). It’s also on us to speak at web and systems related conferences when possible.

Bite sized tutorials are great, so many people got on the Lightning Network because you could do stuff with a Raspberry Pi, or deploy on DigitalOcean pretty easily. Crypto enthusiasts love setting up nifty infrastructure. There was also a UI wallet available for Lightning, so it’s easier to work with, but CLI tutorials are fine. When breaking changes are made, I recommend taking stuff down if there’s no time to fix the example or tutorial, or at least marking it as deprecated. Leaving a bad impression is worse than leaving no impression imo.

For later

When things start to pick up, we should engage mailing lists that keep track of crypto/cutting edge web related projects (i.e. Proof of Work, etc.). Or, consider having one potentially managed by Xpring, solely for Interledger project updates?

It might be worth rewriting the Interledger Protocol paper, publishing it and speaking at conferences from an academic standpoint. It’s changed so much since the last revision.

Just keep on using this forum, I think it’s an excellent way to get people excited.

A cool example of this is just being able to pay a random router that you found in an area for Wi-fi access, and you pay on a per-packet basis or something. I’d love to do this, but I wouldn’t be able to until a few months down, sadly.

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Really good ideas here. I want to quickly touch on the use-case side of things as I see things a little differently. While I agree that p2p venmo would be compared to existing payment options by regular consumers and thus might not impress as much as it should, I actually think it’s vital for the growth of the ILP ecosystem.

Here are my arguments. I’d love to get your thoughts.

  1. I think it’s super important to have a very simple and easily understandable product that demonstrates how Interledger works. If we leave consumers to one side for a moment, I think a P2P venmo is the easiest way demo Interledger in action. I send money to you. I pay with bitcoin and you get Euro/Ether/whatever you prefer. It’s a concise feature that creates a reference point for increased discussion and interest, which I think will organically lead to discussion of how the world would look if everyone added support for Interledger. Basically, it’s something for the community to push as a very simple example.

  2. Once this utility is in a real, usable product, it’s not hard to understand what the world would look like were all payment apps to support Interledger. However, I think selling this vision is considerably more difficult before a real product like this exists. It’s the difference between “it might happen if everyone adds support for Interledger” and “it’s happening”. We need to start somewhere and I feel like talking about how Square or Paypal could use ILP will feel distant and unlikely to most people. So it’s not just a demo, it’s also a tangible demonstration of progress where Interledger is front and centre.

  3. Finally, consumers…this is a tricky one, because it’s hard to say how payments over all will evolve in the coming years. There’s also an abundance of choice for p2p payments, both locally and globally making speculation about this trend even trickier. In spite of all that, I think a well designed product could surprise us on this front and it comes back to why Interledger is so cool in the first place. The first P2P venmo on Interledger will, from a consumer perspective, likely just be a P2P payments app for crypto-people to interact with their non-crypto friends (cross-border as well as cross-currency). This may not be a huge amount of people, but its a start. Where things get interesting is when more such services pop up in different regions and/or existing apps add support for Interledger. Suddenly this slightly gimmicky P2P payments app starts becoming a viable way to conduct payments with people from different countries and banking systems. As people become more and more international, I think this segment of payments will continue to grow for a very long time and serving just a few use-cases here could be a considerable business. I personally use Ether to transact with friends globally. I would much rather use something like this, because not everyone wants Ether. So while I’m hesitant, I think there’s a real chance enough consumers adopt this kind of app to then push a whole new generation of entrepreneurs in to creating their own local versions, which then further fuels the growth of the app and so the cycle begins. This is made more likely if the first app is open-source (which it should be).

As a last closing thought, I think the world desperately needs P2P technology in real products. We are at a point in time where this whole P2P thing needs to start being about more than piracy and speculation. I assume we are all true believers, but we are in a tiny minority. P2P needs to become understandable, approachable and, in some ways, mundane. It needs to be assumed that many things incorporate P2P technologies, distributed systems, blockchains, etc. We need to stop building the future for a second and build something for now so as to show people the future that’s possible.

End rant. Thoughts?

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I think what you just described isn’t Venmo, it’s Interledger, but with an interface :slight_smile:

That said, I’ll acknowledge that Venmo can be a good example, as the value proposition of an Interledger based Venmo is that my friend from outside of the US can now use the same platform to send me money. They can see my feed, be a part of the social network, and can transfer funds to a national bank. Users don’t really care if it’s p2p, as much as the fact that they can just send money to anyone, anywhere in any currency.

The narrative of utility for what you described isn’t in peer to peer technology, but rather in the utility and experiences of the products themselves. If we could do this level of interop without peer to peer tech at large scale, I think we probably would, mainly because of all the downsides and complexity of peer to peer structures. I think most people are right to be skeptical of p2p technologies, it has been most successful in terms of scaling central services imo (check out consistent hashing, which exists in DynamoDB, Cassandra, etc.). They usually translate into some kind of federated peering service at the end of the day because scalability and service quality. That said, Interledger is currently optimistic on this because interoperating requires a peering/federated structure like that of the internet to succeed (it’s the only scenario where it has been a proven success so far). Most other platforms are more of a gamble, in the sense that they could work, or maybe they’ll never work.

For the use cases list, I might suggest some form of a lending application.

Hi Guys,

I joined the forum just before the weekend. To be honest as a non-programmer person I feel a tat intimidated and need to get myself up to speed first before I dare to speak my mind about the ILP itself.

With my limited knowledge I discussed the use of ILP with two friends over drinks in Nijmegen. They say a lot of more senior developers are highly skeptical when it comes Blockchain, IoT, AI, because they see it as marketing buzzwords.

On the other hand I see companies in my sector (government) struggling with adopting new technologies because of the lack of knowledge about the possibilities and, to be honest, being able to adapt business(processes).

So I would need tools to show the companies demo’s and best practices they can relate to (e.g trading and import and export of vegetables, combined with logistics). And interested compagnies would in turn trigger the senior developers (that can pick whatever they want to work on) to learn more about ILP and its possibilities.

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Also another usecase might be festivals! And actually there is Seanaps (http://www.seanaps.net/) in Leipzig which already uses the XRPL for its festival. If I would have more time I would find it awesome to organize a concert where visitors, bands, organizers and others would pay and be paid using micro transactions.

Check out this article here:

I am in a similar position to you and second your point.

What would be really beneficial is guidelines, maybe some basic tool creation tutorials.

For example I know what a smart contract is but I have no idea how to create one and no idea how to plug it into the interledger. I would love to have access to a roadmap and series of tutorials on how to gain that knowledge.

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You’re absolutely right. It is Interledger with an interface, but I find that Venmo is the easiest way to describe it in laymans terms. Also agree 100% with P2P not being the main selling point, but rather the international nature of the service.

I think we’re saying the same thing. My primary argument (as an advocate for P2P) is that we need to find clear and understandable use-cases where P2P is superior to traditional methods. As you say, they should be promoted for their real-world utility, not for their technology.

Lending is an interesting angle. I was thinking about it too, but am not sure if the value proposition of “lending to anyone in the world” is as powerful as “send money to anyone in the world”. Mainly concerned with it not necessarily benefiting as much from the increased adoption network effects as much as payments.

(Semi) P2P payments have huge potential in my opinion, while strangely enough such appliances have to start off in a relatively centralized fashion. Take for example email, which usage at one period got big through a relatively limited amount of email providers; small companies and individuals running their own mailservers became more popular later on.
In this sense, I guess it would be smart to get a few promissing startups going by providing them an extra hand in for example the design phase or with the PoC. Speaking of which, I have this brilliant concept which I don’t even dare to post here yet (that brilliant from an ILP perspective;) but it sort of targets a market like AirBnB; it aims at facilitating P2P commerce by providing them an easy platform to connect to, so they can focus on (in case of BnB) their venues instead of on their digital backends. The longer term aim though should be maximum interoperability through which functionalities will get even more decentralized it over time. If ILP is used from the start (like my concept), that aim is built in by design.
@emschwartz @vanessadice if this post has gotten you curious :wink: check your email.

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