EthKan: Project Management and Funding

A Social Coding interview with Swarm City’s KingFlurkel about EthKan, The Ethereum Gas Station, and Swarm City.

Bowen Sanders
Apr 20, 2018 · 6 min read

Swarm City is a system that helps people connect and transact value, a basis for sharing resources in the Internet of Things. KingFlurkel of Swarm City has joined the Giveth Social Coding Circle to create a project management system that allows for individual parts of the greater whole to be funded as they are completed. This, along with several other projects, make his contributions to the ecosystem essential. We sat down (on different continents) to have a conversation about his vision and how we can all collaborate more effectively.

BS: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

KF: I’m 39 years old, have a family with 2 kids, a wife, and a very old cat named Pickles. I left school at 16 but had to wait to start a company until I was 18. I have always been extremely interested in art/music/design and technology. I always study tech and arts and try to bring together people from both interest fields. As far as I can remember, my brother and I were always playing around with computers, mostly to figure out how we could do music production.

When I encountered the internet, I was inspired by its promise of making people work together and communicate in a new peer-to-peer way, globally. I’ve been thinking and working on changing the world through technology and storytelling ever since.

I guess, in short, you could say that I’m a second generation cypherpunk.

BS: How did you come to bring EthKan to the Social Coding group?

KF: After the Swarm City token sale I was left with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it was really good to raise funds and feel the support of our community. On the other hand, having access to funds without knowing for sure how things would progress felt wrong. As we want our project to be totally decentralized, it also gave reason to find some form of governance, something I desperately tried to avoid.

The first iteration of EthKan was called “Trelleth.” It would give project builders the opportunity to get funds for milestones or tasks, and investors the chance to only fund what they understand and want to see become a reality.
In return, both funder and provider get project tokens.

I think a lot of other projects, and especially new projects after the ICO craze, would love to use a solution like EthKan. Social Coding is doing just that; creating tools for social change, for the entire community. It’s the ultimate Giving :)

Griff and I, and the Giveth and Swarm City teams, are really close in vision and mission. We just both have different accents as to how to bring Ethereum to the masses. With bringing EthKan to Social Coding, we hope to create a lot of value for our broader Ethereum family.

BS: Could you give me an overview of how EthKan would work?

KF: EthKan is a way to crowdfund tasks instead of entire projects.

With a typical ICO, one would send Ether to a smart contract that will mint project tokens. With EthKan, we put a step in between that which we feel is missing. Funders first see their value transformed into value for the project and that mints the project token.

Sketches of the EthKan UI

BS: Kanban seems like a much more well suited project management system for code development than Scrum, especially in a distributed environment.

KF: I don’t think that Scrum and Kanban contradict each other. I’ve worked in both processes. But in a decentralized development effort, time and space are not the same for every participant. A Scrum process needs a team that’s [all present] playing a game at a given time in a given place, making it slightly less suitable for social coding. I believe with EthKan, people can work asynchronously on the same bigger project, focussing on tasks fitting the individual’s skillset.

BS: You also are somewhat responsible for Swarm City, correct?

I feel very responsible for Swarm City. In 2014 I was working for the City of Antwerp where we started a research lab called “A-Labs.” The vision of that team was: “How can we use decentralized technology so our citizens can self-govern the city?”

When we stumbled upon Ethereum we didn’t sleep for a couple of weeks. We just needed to understand it and build on it and it would realize our dream! So we started working on Locals.world, of which you can still find the remnants on github.com/locals-world.

Our small dev team in Antwerp was following Arcade City eagerly because we found it to be one of the first well branded and understandable projects that would be built on Ethereum.

The idea of using ridesharing as a way to show the power of a trust-machine just made sense to us. Moving people from A to B actually also moves them emotionally, meaning you have a chance of instilling the Ethereum story through that emotional window.

When we saw the first release of the app that promised to be an unstoppable decentralized Uber killer on Ethereum, we tried to reverse engineer it but quickly found out it was just a slideshow disguised as an Android app.

It was not long after the DAO and I felt like Ethereum didn’t need another negative PR message. So we contacted the Arcade City community, reaching out to help them. A couple of weeks later, we did an ICO.

As I was kind of the lead in A-Labs, it seemed logical I would continue that role with Arcade City Dev. When one of the founders seemed to have reputation problems, he decided to step down.

With that, we discovered the domain name was registered to an Ltd company in the US. To our Antwerp dev team, this was a dealbreaker, as we wanted to build an open-source decentralized tool, so we brand-forked into Swarm City*.

As I did most of the kickstarting and writing on the vision and mission, people seem to see me as an influential figure in Swarm City. I just love to finally be able to help build tools the community desperately needs and is grateful for.

BS: You have another interesting project, ‘Ethereum Gas Station.’ Could you describe it?

KF: Gas Station is a way to easily pay for gas with ERC20 tokens. We really needed a solution in Swarm City for that, as our existing users onboard people by helping them create an account and send them some SWT. We found out it’s very confusing for normal people to understand that they also have to prime their fresh account with some ETH in order to actually use their Swarm City tokens.

Sponnet and I started thinking on a solution. Basically, Gas Station works by making sure two parties keep their promise, and both parties can enforce the execution of the promise.

It was fun for us to present this to the Ethereum community at Devcon in Cancun. We are so proud we could give something of value to our community. And it’s very exciting to see MyCrypto and Balance.io actually integrating the concept in their apps.

BS: It seems that Giveth Social Coding and SwarmCity have a lot of vision in common: to focus on the people that are doing the work and helping them excel.

KF: Yeah, I totally agree. At Swarm City, we find people more important than code or coders. Feeling good, belonging — that’s more important. The culture is more important than the technology.

With ♡ from Swarm City.

You can learn more about Swarm City here, or watch a documentary about it here.

Footnote:
*KingFlurkel said that when dealing with the original Arcade City Tokens, their community could opt in by sending their ARC tokens to a contract, swapping them 1:1 for SWT. Those ARC tokens were burnt on a 0x000 address. Currently almost 100 percent of ARC tokens have been swapped. The remaining tokens are still valued by rare-coin collectors...


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Bowen Sanders

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Electronic Music Producer and storyteller. Decentralization enthusiast. Part of the Giveth.io Galaxy.

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Open-Source Platform for Building Decentralized Altruistic Communities

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