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Handshake - The Vanishing Mediator
Sep 20, 2018
2 minutes read

I had the honor to participate as a project creator of Handshake, an experimental peer-to-peer root DNS. The core mission to build a distributed root zone brought with it political as well as technical challenges. As a fundamental common good, the root zone ought to be held in common by as wide a range of stakeholders as possible. Handshake seeks to do exactly that by both seeding the technology, expanding its ownership and then vanishing itself from the middle.

The enormity of the gift contained in Handshake is impressive. Has any startup ever donated 100% of its venture funding? ($10.2 USD). It is a bold project built upon dynamics of generosity and trust unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

As the lead developer of the “Developer Faucet”, my role was to build the web app whereby individual open source developers from around the world could claim a share of ownership (represented by HNS coins) in this new root zone. The first challenge was reaching an aesthetic and message that the team felt was right. The second was to build a smooth and easy to use app that conveyed to visitors our gratitude for their work and contributions to open source while simultaneously preventing Sybil attacks and spam.

As Handshake nears launch of its mainnet, and the “Faucet” nears a close, the core organization is now working to dissolve itself, opening space for a truly decentralized future for Handshake. Hopefully the ‘seeds’ spread by its gifts and grants will take hold and encourage stakehodlers worldwide to contribute to the construction of a more uncensorable and secure internet.


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