We would like to extend a warm welcome to Kevin Zhang as the new Head of the Developers Community for Elastos. We have some great questions lined up to inform the community about Kevin’s background, his plans for the future of Elastos and some technical details about the work he will be doing.
1)Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
It would be very long if I go through my whole 24 year career history after I graduated from Tsinghua University in 1994. Let’s make it short by categories. I worked 10 years in China, 8 years in Canada and 6 years in the US. Almost all of my career life is related to software, including 5 years as a professional music producer, 5 years as a consultant, and the rest are all development. Three times as a startup entrepreneur with countless projects. My last job before I joined the Elastos community was as the CTO of iHealth Labs. Surprisingly, I am always at the cutting edge of every technical trend. 1995: WWW, 1996: Digital music and multimedia, 2001: the mobile internet, 2008: Cloud computing, 2013: Full stack, and now the blockchain operating system.
My life is full of adventure. Besides coding, I like music, motorcycles, kayaking, camping, and learning everything new. I like freedom; I am a digital nomad. I work in my fully equipped Aktiv motorhome from almost anywhere. I know life is short, I cannot make it longer, but I can make it broader by experiencing different things I never knew about.
I live with my beautiful wife and smart daughter in Silicon Valley, and we have a cat and a dog. I was born in China and live in the US, but I am a Canadian. I speak English and Mandarin. I like to travel around the world, but I hate jet lag.
I believe if Blockchain is the door to open a new world, Elastos will be the key.
2) How do you feel about your new role at Elastos?
This is a wonderful opportunity for both Elastos and myself. As a decentralized OS, the key successful factor is a huge developer community to support and build DApps on top of it. Being that the core team started in China, they need someone who has global vision and technical community experiences, so together we can build a global developers community.
It is exciting as well as a challenge. Mainly a cultural gap exists between eastern culture and globalization. I believe I can remedy that easily.
3) Were you involved in Elastos before being appointed Head of the Dev community?
Yes, I heard about Elastos for the first time in November of last year. Because the concept can be pretty complicated and confusing, I was not completely clear and convinced at that time. So I kept on at another blockchain IOT Data DApp project. After two months, the project was stuck because I found out that I have to build everything from scratch without any kind of middle runtime layer between blockchain infrastructure and DApps. I started to realize that we need some OS like Elastos to fill the gap supporting DApp development. After I got to know more about Elastos, my mind was blown. It is actually much more than its white paper explained. It is a sleeping beauty and I am going to wake her up.
4) How is the progress of Elastos in terms of tech?
Elastos is an ambitious project, and it is a complicated system. It will take some time to build up and test and it would take an even longer time to get adapted by global DApp developers. The development speed is very fast at the moment, however, I would still consider it at an early stage. Just like the Internet in 1993.
5) What are your future plans with Elastos?
I have big plans on building an Elastos global developers community. Some of the first moves can be seen from https://github.com/elastos/Elastos.Community. We are recruiting team leaders now, not only in Silicon Valley, but also all over the world. You can find that information on github. We will have monthly meetups, online webinars and hackathons. We will also create an Elastos training center ( or maybe call it Elastos University) in many places.
Elastos has an ecosystem foundation. We support DApp projects built on top of Elastos, by investing, incubating and networking.
We are a community based open source project. We welcome contributions from everyone.
6) What changes do you plan to bring to the Dev Community? What do you think needs improvement?
There are quite a few changes I have planned. The first is to make the core development team members have more “Community awareness” and help them focus on being more “Community friendly.” The second is documentation, training material, social media, technical support, and technical marketing events. Last but not the least, we will hire developers globally and remotely. It will make developer team members totally decentralized in the long run. Elastos is a decentralized Operating System, we should first make ourselves decentralized. Elastos will not be the new center, nor will it run or control the community. We consider this as an experiment of a new way to organize people to work together. Just like the Dutch East Indian Co. in the year 1602 (which started the era of capitalism), we will start a new era of decentralized software development organizations.
7) A lot of people are not very clued up with Elastos and all its features, could you give us a brief explanation to sum up Elastos.
This is a very long topic. I am going to shoot a series of videos to explain. For a quick reference, please go to https://github.com/elastos/Elastos. I can list a few items here:
- Elastos has a main chain with side chains layer infrastructure. This is the lowest level of the whole tech stack. Main chain runs on a new consensus model that combines both POS and POW. It only provides a basic feature whose only purpose is to provide support as a ledger to side chains. DApps can deploy side chains with business logic utilizing whichever consensus mechanism they choose.
- Elastos has Elastos.OS and Elastos.RT and these act as the two main OS Layers. The former can run on hardware directly (such as IoT devices, game consoles, AR/VR headsets) while the latter is a virtual machine that can run on top of an existing OS (such as Linux, Android, iOS, Windows, Mac etc). The OS layer is a managed and restricted environment to run DApps where DApps can’t talk to the internet directly.
- DApps will run inside or on top of the OS layer. OS layer will provide a wide range of components (CAR components – short for Component Assembly Runtime) to those DApps via Elastos SDK(Software Development Kit).
- DApps developers can leverage their existing coding skills or existing code with the help of the Elastos SDK to build new DApps. They don’t need to know too much detail of the underlayer of blockchain nor do they need to learn new programming languages.
I do not think the explanation above does Elastos justice so please wait until I release my explanation videos about the technical aspects of Elastos. Stay tuned.
8) How do you compare Elastos to other blockchains in terms of tech?
This is also a long topic. I can tell you that Elastos is very different than any of the existing blockchain projects. It is more like an OS with the capability of blockchain, rather than other projects which are mostly a blockchain with some OS flavor added on.
9) Could you elaborate on side chains and also how digital assets are going to begin being used. Do we need a platform first?
We are going to release the side chain white paper in a couple of weeks, I would like to explain this topic then.
10) Can you explain to us in layman terms, Elastos.Trinity and ELA Pay and how it will function?
In short, Elastos.Trinity is a modified version of the Chromium browser. We integrated the Elastos.RT into the browser itself and removed some basic features such as HTTP out of the browser. Doing this, the browser becomes an environment for running Web DApps. Since the DApp running inside the browser can no longer access any server through HTTP requests (because of Elastos.RT integration into the browser), the only way to connect to the outside world is using the RT’s CAR components (such as Elastos carrier, the p2p network; the ELA pay for asset transfer; the DID for decentralized ID authentication; the cloud drive for Decentralized file system etc). This can guarantee the DApps running inside are running in a sandbox environment where they don’t have access to the outside world except through the use of CAR components. This makes the DApps secure and truly decentralized without any restrictions on the type of DApp that developers can develop.
ELA Pay is a component inside RT that takes care of the asset fund transfer.
11) How do you you feel about Rong Chen’s vision of building a new internet?
That is the reason I was convinced to join the Elastos community. We need the internet to go back to its originally designed state. It is supposed to be decentralized, uncensored, with freedom and fairness. It is not only a technological revolution, it is also a new way to organize people to work and live together. I am not going to use the word “communist” because it has been abused. It will be a new world, starting from Elastos.
12) If a developer is looking to build on Elastos or cooperate how should he get in touch with you and what criteria/skills are you looking for?
Please go to https://github.com/elastos/Elastos.Community All information is there and kept up to date.
13) Lastly, any message for the Elastos community?
We have just started. We need more developers to join the community. We grow together, building cool things. Please visit our github and join our community in the multiple social channels.