Team Interviews: Jelle, Paratii’s Tech Lead
Jelle shares his excitement about Paratii and decentralisation, besides discussing the future of video distribution
This interview is the first of a series. Inspired by a similar format used by Aragon (whose transparency policies are a reference to us), the intention is to humanize our team and foster discussion on Paratii, the future of story-sharing and blockchain technology.
PTI: Could you start by telling us about yourself, who are you and what is it that you do at Paratii?
J: My name is Jelle Gerbrandy, I was born in the Netherlands and live in Italy with my wife and daughters. I have co-authored the Paratii blueprint and lead the development of our player.
PTI: What’s your academic background / fields of research?
J: I’ve studied Philosophy and hold a Ph.D. in Logic and Mathematics, and I worked for a few years in academia doing research in epistemic logic and game theory before becoming involved with software development.
PTI: What initially got you interested in Ethereum?
J: A friend of mine invested in it, and asked my opinion about the white paper. Ethereum somehow brought together different things that I had considered to be mutually exclusive before: my background in logic and game theory, my experience as a software engineer, and a desire to work on things that are politically relevant.
PTI: As a consumer of video/digital content, where would you say your average experience could be improved the most?
J: I’m old enough to remember Napster, and its promise of having all music ever recorded available to everyone for free. This was a beautiful thing, part of a vision that saw the internet as an opportunity to create a public and shared archive of, well, all of our cultural expression. That promise got killed, mostly by strengthening copyright laws to protect traditional industries, and aggressive policing. I find it a truly sad thing that there are laws forbidding me to share, say, my collection of movies from the 1950s with my friends. But to answer the question: my viewing experience would be improved quite a lot if it was not hampered by laws limiting what I can legally see or share.
PTI: The Paratii team is working on a first pilot of its player to be made public. What are the important things it’s gonna bring to testing ground?
J: One aspect of Paratii is the idea of turning passive consumers into active participants, whose contributions to the network are recognised as such. This idea will play out on several levels — socially, economically and on the level of software. In our pilot, we take a first step in experimenting with such mechanisms: downloaders of content are encouraged to make that content available to others as well. The goal is to create an network for video distribution that is “auto-scaling”: new users don’t slow down the network, but make it faster instead by contributing their own resources. There’s a lot of research on crypto-incentivising p2p file sharing, but not that many working implementations yet.
PTI: What excites you most about Paratii and Ethereum technology in general?
J: It is like the first years of the internet — there is a mix between techies that fell in love with these elegant and truly interesting technologies, visionaries and idealists of different kinds that churn out new ideas, and money flowing in from investors that hope to get a share of the pie. It is a new terrain that is so fresh that it is still open for anyone to contribute. It is just wonderful.
PTI: What’s your vision for the digital content distribution landscape in a medium-term future, in terms of power distribution, alternative channels and user behaviour?
J: The crypto space is full of initiatives that promise to fundamentally change the market and underlying technology of digital content distribution. This goes from radically new models of decentralised organisation, to concrete proposals for changing particular aspects of the industry (such as payments, registration of copyrights, the advertisement market, or the protection of personal data), to changing the protocols for the actual distribution of files (such as IPFS or Swarm). It is difficult to say which of these technologies will break through first — it is clear that many things will change, but early to say how and when exactly.
PTI: Can you tell us about your workspace and the peculiarities of working with a distributed team?
J: I can work in any place that has an internet connection, but my home base is a desk in an office space that I share with a small group of programmers, designers and musicians.
PTI: When not working, what do you do for fun?
J: Hanging out with family and friends, mostly. I do some boxing, and skiing in the winter (I live close to the mountains), but often those are just excuses to hang out with friends as well.
PTI: The most curious place you could think of embedding a decentralised video player?
J: Printed material. Or maybe glasses. The technology is not quite there yet, but would it not be great? 😬