Quarterly Update Q3 2022
While my job requires that I think about bitcoin a lot (good), I must also write about it a lot (bad). So if you want this life, and many do, remember that there’s more to it than commissioning people in Brooklyn to make puppets promoting the bitcoin ecosystem. That’s the fun part. This part (the blog post part) is less fun. So do a stranger a solid and stop reading here, and eventually, maybe having no readers will persuade management to make this quarterly update our last, freeing me to commission those puppeteers to build our next big creative project: a seven-foot-tall, full-bodied, anthropomorphic bitcoin suit that someone will do parkour in. Because the truth is that no matter how much we sauce these words up with coded references to video games or jokes about our leadership, we are part of a company that encourages real risks, so real risks are what we should be taking. But posts like this one, which can take days, aren’t risky, even if you use them to tell your audience to look the other way. So while this quarterly post covers more ground than any before it, I would, speaking for myself, really appreciate it if you’d stop right here. Don’t read another word. Hey, what did we just say? I know that some upcoming sentences are enticing because you love bitcoin and want to see what the world’s leading issuer of free and open-source bitcoin grants has been up to these last three months. But I’m asking you not to. We’re asking you not to. Leave our words alone. Now, you’re probably wondering, if you do help get this blog back on the dry dock by steering clear of it forever, what guarantees do you have that we’ll actually put a person in a bitcoin suit and have them use parkour to chase bankers around the NYSE? Well, I’ll tell you what guarantees you—whoops, went on too long. There’s the blog post. It will probably open with a corny, corner-cutting joke about Jack because the person writing this knows how well that tracks with our audience. Don’t read it!
🌀 Team Updates
Our team has grown a lot since Jack and Miles let an ornery parrot pick colored marbles from a top hat to decide who we hired. But just because our headcount is up doesn’t mean there isn’t room for you. Even when we aren’t hiring full-time contributors, we are always looking for open-source bitcoin developers and designers with the talent and work ethic to help us—ironically—take the people out of payments.
Have an idea that will boost bitcoin? Prove it.
In August, Spiral developer and grammatician Arik Sosman got literary about Rapid Gossip Sync, a protocol that helps lightning nodes quickly catch up to channel gossip data. He also demonstrated how Rapid Gossip Sync with LDK works to team polymath Conor Okus.
In September, Spiral grantee John Cantrell deep-dived into zero-confirmation channels (sometimes called “0conf channels”), while Val Wallace (sometimes called “Wal Vallace”) kicked off the month with a write-up about Onion Messages.
Spiral team members Jeff “Leg Day” Czyz and Conor Okus spent the last few months mentoring Summer of Bitcoin interns Prakhar Saxena and Jurvis Tan as they got to know LDK. Prakhar and Jurvis successfully merged PRs, wrote about their own experiences, and then about how others can get started as contributors.
Meanwhile, the LDK Discord is huge now, boasting over 500 people and several rare species of jellyfish.
The Bitcoin Development Kit (or BDK) is a sibling to LDK that you have probably heard of as someone halfway through a blog post about bitcoin development. It’s an open-source library that simplifies how developers build on-chain bitcoin wallets and experiences.
This quarter, BDK release v0.22.0 brought support for desktop hardware signers to the HWI library and improved its path to LDK integration. To get started with HWI, click here. Don’t want to get started with HWI? That’s okay. It’s not for everyone. Go listen to some rain sounds instead.
Bitcoin Zavior joined Conor Okus on the Bitcoin Developers channel to create a basic bitcoin wallet on IOS and Android using BDK-RN, a React Native Library.
🌀 Bitcoin Design Community
The BDC is a loose but thriving affiliation of open-source designers (a real thing!) who are helping promote bitcoin adoption by improving design and UX standards within the ecosystem. So if you’re a designer (or anything, really) and love bitcoin, “check it out”, as content writers love to say, and then subscribe to their newsletter.
The BDC also released a new version of When Taproot, a website that educates bitcoiners about Taproot and Bech32m while helping them keep track of its adoption. The site also has more rabbits than probably any website in bitcoin. Maybe, in a year, more than any other website on earth?
Also, in Bitcoin Design Community news, we gave a grant to Mogashni (Mo), a researcher promoting her UX Research Toolkit project concept by dropping UX knowledge on YouTube. She immediately hit the ground running, so expect more updates about this all-important subject as they come.
Still more Bitcoin Design news: the community will host a Designathon from October 12–23. The event will kick off with a series of workshops, and then it’s all pixel sorcery and keyboard shortcuts ‘til the caffeine runs out. You can learn more here, here, here, here, here, here, here.
Speaking of tournaments, Legends of Lightning is in just a few days. It brings developers from around the globe together to compete for 3 BTC (or roughly $60,000) by building bitcoin and lightning applications. The tournament runs from October 12 to December 7.
🌀 Elsewhere in Spiral
Welcome to the grab bag.
We do a lot of mentoring, and now Haley and Arik are doing even more by giving their time to the Des Femmes mentorship program. Openings are available, or if they aren’t, they probably will be soon. Or not? I guess we’ll see.
Haley wrote about working in the open-source bitcoin space and how it differs from her experiences working the old-fashioned 9–5 way.
🌀 New Grants and Renewals
Though our full-time team is small, thanks to the scope of our grant program, our impact is somewhat biggish. Here’s who received a grant or had one renewed this quarter.
- Johannes Hofmann is a data scientist specializing in on-chain analysis. He previously ran bitcoin R&D at Glassnode. Johannes’ grant application is all about preserving the long-term health of the bitcoin network.
- Josh Kitman is our first grantee working on Fedimint, which many people on and off Twitter got very excited about. Josh’s goal is to get the Fedimint minimum viable product (MVP) deployed and running on bitcoin within a year, which will allow users to make private and low-cost payments through a federated blinded mint that issues e-cash backed by bitcoin. If that made sense to you, you’re probably one of the people excited about Fedimint.
Know someone with the know-how and ambition to improve bitcoin but without the time and resources to go full-time? Send them our way: firstname.lastname@example.org
🌀 Grants Spotlight
We pick our grant recipients very carefully. However, some of them still go above and beyond even our expectations. This quarter, the spotlight is on two.
An early grant recipient and founding member of the Bitcoin Design Community, Christoph has done more than anyone over the last couple of years to take a simple vision and turn it into a self-sustained FOSS bitcoin community. From organizing community calls to writing monthly newsletters to onboarding designers and contributing to projects including the Bitcoin Design Guide, UI Kit, Icon set, Bitcoin Core App, and JoinMarket Web UI, Christoph simply rules. Keep track of all this and more by following his weekly update.
Validating Lightning Signer Project (VLS)
One of the earliest and consistently most successful projects we’ve funded, VLS is a remote signing device that can be used as an alternative to blind signing, which improves security by protecting users’ keys and funds. Their team recently launched a new website that provides more info about what they’re up to, why VLS matters, how to get started with VLS, et cetera. Or skip the website and join their chat on Matrix.
🌀 Conference and Media Appearances
People are always asking your favorite Spiral developers, PMs, and social media managers to appear at events, podcasts, and whatnot. We rarely do them. But when we do, we post about them here.
UPCOMING TABCONF22 APPEARANCES
October 12, 2022
The team is hosting an event on Builder Day at TABConf 2022 in Atlanta. There will be a track for those interested in contributing to LDK and one for LDK users/prospective users.
October 12, 2022
Spiral grantee and WhenTaproot creator Stephen Delorme is hosting a Bitcoin Design Community table on Builder Day.
October 13, 2022
11:30 AM EST: The team is hosting a Rapid Gossip Sync workshop.
October 14, 2022
12 PM EST: Val Wallace is speaking on the Offchain panel.
October 14, 2022
1 PM EST: Matt Corallo is speaking about Lightning and how it’s broken AF (but we can fix it).
October 15, 2022
2 PM EST: Matt Corallo is joining a fireside chat about bitcoin mining.
October 15, 2022
3:30 PM EST: Val Wallace is hosting a live coding session.
Steve Lee appeared on The Chaincode Podcast to discuss LDK and Lightning projects like Rapid Gossip Sync, LSPs, VLS, FROST, StratumV2, and Taproot. We’d link all of those but you should really just listen to the episode.
At Surfing Bitcoin, Conor Okus spoke about bitcoin UX challenges alongside Pavlenex, Salvatore Ingala, and Daniel Prince.
Matt Corallo participated in a Twitter Space about Lightning Limitations with John Carvalho, Christian Decker, and Bastien Teinturier.
Steve Lee did a Stacker News AMA about Spiral, Lightning, PMing, open-source development, and the improvements to bitcoin that he’d like to see.
See you in January,
The Spiral Team