On Thursday, June 11, Oskar Thorén, head of engineering at Status Network and the Status Network’s Vac team, organized a local meetup event “Papers We Love Taipei“ along with a few organizers from Taipei Ethereum group in Taipei City, Taiwan. The 2-hour meetup attracted some 15 researchers, developers, and community leaders who were excited about scientific and technological advances. Watch it on YouTube.
Oskar gave a 3-minute introduction in Mandarin and in English about his thoughts on why he wanted to create a new group Papers We Love Taipei. Thought it was cool that he actually took the time to write the speech in both languages. It really showed that he was interested in the Taiwanese culture. He went on to discuss the 13-page Kademlia paper; the paper was entitled “Kademlia: A Peer-to-peer Information System Based on the XOR Metric”.
I don’t think I get it completely, but I get the impression that this is something important. I mean it’s got to be important! Because Oskar is talking about it! Because Ethereum is using it! Because everybody is using it. Pretty much! I think my motivation was more personal - I was very keen on getting to know what’s been on Oskar’s mind recently. Part of it was because I was curious about what Status and the Status’s vac team have been up to. I downloaded the Status messaging, crypto wallet app on my phone, and even made my engineer colleagues downdload it.
I first met Oskar at a large open source / open government conference in Taiwan called “g0v Summit“ (g0v, pronounced gov-zero) a few years ago. The conference event was held at Academia Sinica in Nankang, Taipei. We were grabbing a cup of coffee at a small Family Mart inside Academia Sinica, and he told me he’d been reading this big book, “The Brothers Karamazov,” a novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. Also, if I recall correctly, he said something about how he further devloped his programming skills at a Hacker School in New York.
Here’s something interesting I learned from Oskar after the event while drinking Taiwan beer – Vac is a name that contains some special meanings! According to Oskar, Vac, or Vāc, is the goddess of speech in the Hindu religious tradition. So Vac the project that Oskar and Dean (I heard that Dean is this young guy who pretty much grew up with the Ethereum world.) have been working on makes total sense now. Because Vac is essentially a modular peer-to-peer messaging stack with a focus on secure messaging. Oskar said he’s definitely looking at Kademlia, and not just Kademlia, but also some gossip-based protocols as well.
Next up was CC; he talked about a paper that was published last month on the topic of blockchain privacy; in particular, on the issues of profiling and deanonymizing Ethereum users. The paper, “Blockchain is Watching You: Profiling and Deanonymizing Ethereum Users,” mentioned Tornado Cash, Ethereum Name Service (ENS), Twitter, and HumanityDAO.
CC Liang is one of the founding members of Taipei Ethereum Meetup group. Taipei Ethereum Meetup started in April 2016. The first event was held on April 1, 2016 at a classroom at Social Innovation Lab in Taipei City, where the Digital Minister of Taiwan Audrey Tang’s office is located. I remember the first meetup clearly because I got lost on the way with another blockchain startup founder guy who was also going to the event.
Back then CC, Ming-der, and a few others started to invite a bunch of cool people in the space to travel to Taiwan and speak at Taipei Ethereum Meetup events. CC later joined the Ethereum Foundation in 2017 himself. These months he’s been working closely with Barry Whitehat (the Irish guy) and Wei Jie (the Singaporean guy) on some PLONK ZK-SNARKs stuff.
The last speaker was Mai-Hsuan (Kevin) Chia, who is also a smart Ethereum researcher. Kevin talked about the socialist millionaires’ problem paper, and dicussed some thoughts on how we can use the insight from this paper to build anonymous exchanges. I know Kevin also knows a lot about peer-to-peer stuff like libp2p. I wonder what’s his thoughts on the Kademlia paper which Oskar spoke about.
We ended the gathering with some really good Taiwanese beef noodles nearby, a few cans of Taiwan beer, and a lot of papers around! 😋🍻