Bitcoin, Free Trade, and Terrible Humans

There is something terrifying yet beautiful about the concept of a truly digital culture. As a father of two young boys I take a stab at guessing what life will be like in 20 years and it actually seems kind of scary. In the last several years we’ve seen selfies, multi-billion dollar companies run by early 20-somethings and despicable crimes and corruption by people we supposedly trusted in positions of authority throughout the political and financial community.

Out of all of this mess rose a dark horse underdog called Bitcoin. Created by an anonymous individual or individuals backed by a passionate community of developers, this promise of financial and electronic freedom has motivated a movement of hackers, nay people, who refuse to settle for the status quo and push the boundaries of what is possible with computing technology. They decided to stop building photo sharing apps or novel ways to sell mobile game in-app purchases with the promise of making it filthy rich. For those that want to change the world Bitcoin is supposedly the panacea.

Miguel Ruiz once said “People like to say that the conflict is between good and evil. The real conflict is between truth and lies.” In the world of Bitcoin we often fall into an oversimplified argument of what is good and what is evil on either side. Bitcoiners will describe bankers as “banksters” and point out their exploitation of consumers through sub-prime loans or just bad business practice. Banking elites will finger the opposite as drug dealers, child pornographers or havoc reekers focused on destroying the sanity of the financial industry. Who is right? Who will win in the end?

I purposely leave that question for you to answer. I lead a project called OpenBazaar. Our goal is to revolutionize commerce and trade across the globe leveraging freedom supporting and privacy enabling technologies like Bittorrent, Tor and Bitcoin. My family, both my immediate and in-laws, understand what it means to run local businesses. food_truck_greenwheelsMy in-laws run a local deli and food truck while my mother and sister run an Etsy and eBay store selling girl’s hair bows.  These are modest businesses, but they know just as well as anyone the ins and outs of running a business and interacting with strangers. Other members of our team are familiar with the struggles of other types of individuals, whether it’s family in Guatemala that could benefit from freedom of trade or suppressed women in oppressive countries hoping to bring a little extra income to their families. Regardless of where in the world you hail from there are true benefits from opening up global trade and loosening the restrictions on interacting with your fellow world citizens.

When I hear people criticize our mission or compare our efforts as “yet another attempt at providing protection to drug dealers, human traffickers or child pornographers” it hurts. For those of us who contribute our spare time and pour our souls into this project we don’t relate to this mischaracterization. Many of us have kids and families. Some of us are doctors, work at prestigious companies, are students. We come from all areas of the world. Why does this happen? How does that work? How do that many individuals across the world come together to dedicate so much time and emotion into something that purely elicits illegal behavior? It’s simply not true. We are here because we believe that people deserve to be free. We deserve to take our God-given talents and share them with the world and in return be rewarded for that hard work. We deserve the right to sell our homemade goods, to sell our eBooks, to loan money to less fortunate or to start crowd funding campaigns aimed at helping the homeless. 

Some call us naive to think that what we’re building won’t become the “next Silk Road” or the “hydra whose head cannot be cut off by law enforcement”.
While a network protocol such as the one we’re developing could facilitate these types of activities we invite you to open your mind and think bigger. Besides there are plenty of other technologies, which make illegal activities easier: telephones, cash, the Internet as a whole, forum boards. Even today Andy Greenberg wrote an interesting piece about the RAMP marketplace in Russia that has been operating longer than Silk Road and is more effectively evading law enforcement.9.-Nicolas-Cage-resizeThose individuals who need this type of online capability will seek it and build it with or without OpenBazaar and what we are doing is not aiming to provide those folks with such a niche solution. OpenBazaar can be so much more. To limit it’s potential to that single use case is to waste the brain power of all involved. It would be akin to me inventing the writing instrument and for the rest of time only using it to draw bad sketches of Nicholas Cage. We feel it’s worth the effort to fight this stigma in order to realize our goal of freedom in trade for all not some.

Another aspect of our project is that we are self-sustaining. We are not taking this idea and wrapping it in fees and ads or monetizing your identity data to buy a Ferrari (no offense to Ferrari I love those things). This is not a pump and dump. This is not a hustle. We are transparent and open. If you feel we aren’t being transparent enough we’ll fix it and be glad to answer all your questions (please note Washington does have an early bed time). Technology can be enabling and empowering, but when others take advantage of that allure of a “free lunch” it often becomes problematic. Too many times you see a mom and pop type startup win over the public with their down to earth approach, free product and small man viewpoint and then all of a sudden some venture capitalists come in with their funding, the original founders cash out and we are left with a shell of the original idea plus exorbitant fees and restrictions. Before you realize it, you are the product. We choose to respect the user. You are not a product.  

You are not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. – Fight Club

Our project team is striving towards a completely open protocol and technology stack that focuses on security, privacy and usability. We have not conducted an elaborate fundraising scheme or garnered multi-million dollar investment rounds or issues crypto assets. This is because the most valuable asset to a project of our position is people and you can’t ask for donations of people. The reason why we exist is because smart, interesting and brilliant people have decided to help us bring Amir Taaki’s original vision to fruition. It may not be quite as anarchistic or devious as he planned originally, but it is freedom. It is another step towards a global community. A place we can all agree is better for our children and our grandchildren so that someday they won’t have to worry about exorbitant college educations, unfair taxes or oppressive rules that limit their ability to be who they truly want to be. This is why we stay up until 4am each night hacking away at lines of code that most people will never see.

This is OpenBazaar.

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Announcing development of the OpenBazaar Developer Network

Today we are announcing the OpenBazaar Developer Network or ‘OBDN’.

We recently asked for volunteers to help with the front-end development of the OpenBazaar client, and we’re pleasantly surprised to receive more than 20 responses from volunteers in only the first week. We realized that there are many people who want to contribute to the online free trade movement, but they aren’t sure how to get involved.

In order to bring in more developers to help make OpenBazaar a reality, we decided to begin creating the OpenBazaar Developer Network (OBDN). It will be a platform that allows a community of OpenBazaar developers to share their ideas, collaborate on how best to implement these ideas, and then make them a reality. OBDN will allow the community to propose new features and vote on which features they want to see implemented.

The OpenBazaar team leads found here will use the OBDN to find help for specific tasks within their areas. APIs and other tools will be available for developers who wish to build plugins or new services on top of the OpenBazaar network.

To ensure that we are working with developers who genuinely want to contribute, we plan on OBDN being invitation only. There will be an application process for access to the network once we have a functional beta, which we hope to roll out in mid-January.

If you’re interested in helping build this platform with us, please contact Braden Glasgow. Email: braden@openbazaar.org  Twitter: @bradenglasgow

 

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OpenBazaar Teams Developing

Note: This blog post is outdated. Read this article for the latest code.

Since the project began in April, the number of people contributing to the OpenBazaar project has steadily grown. We now have enough people to create small teams dedicated to specific areas. These teams will allow the project to focus on areas that are important, and not duplicate efforts. This team creation has already been occurring spontaneously, but we’ve decided to make it more formal as we keep developing the platform.

It’s likely that these teams, their mission, and their members will change over time as we figure out what works and what doesn’t. As the project lead, Brian Hoffman will work with these teams to make sure they are heading in the right direction. Each team has their own mission, and the core mission of OpenBazaar is “To enable global free trade online.”

We’ve identified 11 areas we want to have teams focusing on;

  1. Code Quality
  2. Design & UX
  3. Legal
  4. Marketing
  5. Networking
  6. OB Developer Network
  7. OB Labs
  8. Operations & Recruiting
  9. Quality Assurance
  10. Security
  11. Windows

Code Quality

The code quality team will facilitate long-term open source development, and make contributions a learning experience. The team is led by Renelvon.

Design & UX

The design and user experience team will ensure that using OpenBazaar is simple and visually appealing. The team is led by Mike Wolf.

Legal

The legal team will research and consult on legal issues surrounding OpenBazaar developers and users. This team is still being built.

Marketing

The marketing team will promote OpenBazaar and work to ensure the public and media have a true understanding of what OpenBazaar represents. This team is still being built.

Networking

This networking team will research, build, and maintain the technical underpinnings of the OpenBazaar network. This team is led by Angel Leon.

OB Developer Network

The OBDN team will maintain a platform that allows a community of OpenBazaar developers to share, collaborate, and implement new ideas. This team is led by Braden Glasgow.

OB Labs

The OB Labs team will design and guide development of new market implementations into the OpenBazaar protocol. This team is led by Dr. Washington Sanchez.

Operations & Recruiting

The operations and recruiting team will give the OpenBazaar project the people and resources necessary to fulfill its mission. This team is led by Sam Patterson.

Quality Assurance

The quality assurance team will ensure the OpenBazaar platform and client are functioning as designed for users. This team is led by Sam Patterson.

Security

The security team will enable users to trade securely and with confidence, even with strangers. This team is led by Dionysis Zindros.

Windows

The Windows team will make it easy for Windows users to use OpenBazaar. This team is led by Giannis Adamopoulos.

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Beta 3.0 “Tabriz” is released

Note: This blog post is outdated. Read this article for the latest code.

The third OpenBazaar beta release is now available. With this release, we’re starting the tradition of naming our releases after great bazaars from all around the world, with the first being Tabriz, a market in Iran which is one of the oldest bazaars in the Middle East.

Tabriz represents a significant amount of work for our developers, with more than 350 commits, and merging more than 70 pull requests from the community. We thank everyone who contributed.

One of the major improvements in Tabriz is the ability to run on Windows. If you’d like to become a beta tester, download the Windows binary [signature here], unzip the file and run the OpenBazaar.exe file. In case our site goes down, you can get a torrent with this magnet link.

For a full list of changes in Tabriz, check out the changelog.

Testing

If you want to become a beta tester and are running on Mac or Linux, follow these instructions in your terminal:

If you don’t have Git installed on Linux, open terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) and type:

sudo apt-get install git

If you don’t have Git installed for OSX, download here and install.

Now run:

git clone https://github.com/OpenBazaar/OpenBazaar.git

Once that’s complete, change directories:

cd OpenBazaar

Run the configure with this command:

./configure.sh

If you’ve already been running OpenBazaar, you need to update the code. In terminal, run the following commands:

git pull

./configure.sh

To start your node:

./openbazaar start

To stop your node:

./openbazaar stop

To get help on the commands you can use with OpenBazaar:

./openbazaar help

If you find a bug, please let us know on our Github or on the bug reporting thread in our subreddit.

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Migration of our project funds to a multisig address.

We, the undersigned core developers of OpenBazaar, have decided with consensus
on the following on November 4th, 2014:

Because of the facts that:

(1) Developers can be malicious

Our threat model involves powerful agents at play. These can include malicious
governments who have the ability to issue secret warrants legally requiring
developers to take certain actions. We therefore follow a trust-but-verify
model in all our development process. As such, certain developers of the
project may in the future be legally required to perform actions that they do
not agree with, without the ability to communicate this fact to others. Through
multisig, we are requiring at least one more developer to perform a check on
financial decisions as a safety-net.

(2) Mistakes happen

We are human and often make mistakes. This can include lost wallet keys,
or destroyed laptops. Multisig will allow us to migrate our funds in case one
developer loses their keys.

We also sometimes make transactions that may be incorrect. A second pair of
eyes is good to make sure we don’t burn our funds or we don’t send them to the
wrong third party.

(3) Developers can become unavailable

Developers may become unavailable for various reasons such as accident or
death. We do not want to depend on one individual for all our funds. In case of
unavailability, multisig allows us to move our funds to a new address.

(4) Dictatorship is evil

We take team decisions with consensus. However, sometimes consensus cannot be
reached. We have never had this problem in our team yet, but it is bound to
happen in the future. In cases where consensus cannot be reached, an individual
developer should not have the power to act solely as a dictator and enforce
their opinion. Multisig requires at least one more party to consent. This acts
as a safety net.

(5) Transparency is good

We believe in a transparent development model. All our code is open source. We
interact with the community through public chat on IRC, on a public subreddit,
and in forums, all viewable by anyone. We plan features and submit bug reports
through GitHub issues, which are public. Anyone is able to criticize us through
these channels directly, even pseudonymously.

As of Beta 3, we are also making all all-hands developer video calls publicly
available through live streaming, and they are recorded for future reference.
We wish to be held accountable for our actions, and we invite the criticism of
the community.

In this direction, as we are funded through donations, we believe the public
should know exactly how much money we have and where and when exactly it is
spent. By publishing our multisig address, we submit our financial records to
public scrutiny.

Now, therefore, we are announcing the following:

(1) Ownership of public keys

Each of us controls one of the following public bitcoin keys. We are
providing bitcoin signatures as proof that we are in control of each.

Brian Hoffman:

Address: 12khSGHCvJoB7d5evWykvgeJVdYtSgAaxo
Uncompressed Pubkey:
04b3fae54a761c71d38df081cddb75b6306306d8e83338e9b748a02d4978ef48d356ec7fb4155bc819767ed90d56a0dccab185b9bf3d52027cdc226b611ddd3985
Message: This is Brian and I own 12khSGHCvJoB7d5evWykvgeJVdYtSgAaxo
Signature:
IHb6uWPR1mGxl85YDfPN1trD6ybLeeH0FotTWrUr2W+lcDLiM5iXompDaMJxFg3MwFQpto5cInFrPyooFw+/60I=

Sam Patterson:

Address: 19xZbcnF9HB3ycfFJmQS5Gr7eJ7riJKrWc
Uncompressed Pubkey:
047AA4C9652BEB1A01B351CC212391168C11E192E25A88AF79A422C4F83CBC7ED0BB5632C87547C45525167A8C814AFC29C7FFE44157547DC21B193AC714B4BA06
Message: This is Sam. I own 19xZbcnF9HB3ycfFJmQS5Gr7eJ7riJKrWc and will use
it for the OpenBazaar multisignature fund.
Signature:
IIKNFBcUu9OQ/L+bv/liAMMPBJHC70Y9bpzUsscW7C3FloC7uw5QH1UJUdN1AR50kuIAikB9mZkvZKcTGvDzDYk=

Washington Sanchez:

Address: 19fQbq6egzREyDSt8R1zGPAFoR1THWSV4g
Uncompressed Pubic Key:
0420b86afc794ec3307bcf3becc94b30f672a17483581dd703a37956f60ba89cf77bc349fe7d9889f7ed609b14bc397fc4ae0196c8325e6acc4d2e95aceca4d207
Message: This is Washington, confirming that I own this address.
Signature:
Gx9lga0zuYcJk8dhXq3Wb0Nsy5tXohJusUoIw7pm9ZytrGC6wD8zfwS4K4f+sRqdWE2s9kyv9Wd5q0Fl//HY1AE=

Dionysis Zindros:

Address: 1HA6tFUGQrzrwGDDVp9dHivNRyhuT37dCh
Uncompressed Public Key:
046ca17a66be50dc0d0093d3ebbefb74ffbd69fae577dfa329f67444f3f99913708efa5f51ca27fd0509af26245c9d5526b620cb9d90ca9a4a0ef2e3e2fe0e2bb8
Message: This is Dionysis Zindros, confirming that I own this address.
Signature:
HI9Bc8o/pyKmowG9cRL47Zt4ylYIJOxQnvSB4AF7FaNCHVz+hA6jowsDppAIKwLX9FMrxBqiGnhgpc/68G2t+uM=

We invite the public to verify our signatures above.

(2) Multisig address migration

We are designating the following 2-of-4 multisig address for the storage of
OpenBazaar funds:

3MXYUBLWNETa5HTewZp1xMTt7AW9kbFNqs

The address is constructed with the above 4 public keys. We invite the public
to check that the multisig address is a 2-of-4 address and that it is
constructed using the above 4 public keys. For verification purposes, the
bitcoin script is given below:

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

(3) Mandatory transparency

We have transfered all our funds to the multisig address and published it
to be used for donations. While we still have access to our old donations
address for donations coming from people who have stored it, we will be
using the new address for all donation purposes from now on. Any funds
donated to the old address will be immediately transfered to the multisig
address.

We will make all our organizational payments directly from our multisig
address. We vow to publish the following information for every transaction
originating from our project multisig address from now on:

  • The recipient bitcoin address
  • The date of the transaction
  • The recipient actual name or company name
  • The reason for the expenses

In case of conversion to fiat currency, we will state the above data for the
recipient of the converted fiat currency.

We invite the public to verify our GPG signatures on the above announcement.

Brian Hofmann, Project Lead
Sam Patterson, Operations Lead
Washington Sanchez, Research Lead
Dionysis Zindros, Trust & Identity Developer

Please verify the authenticity of this message using GPG. Our public keys are available on popular keyservers.

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