Ethereum Contributors Series // Issue #07 Jeremiah Nichol
In the previous interview of our Ethereum Contributors Series, Issue #06 we talked with Omar Bham aka Crypt0 about his Vlog and news site. That and all of the previous issues of Ethereum Contributors Series as well as our other series Ethereum DApp Creators can be found at https://blog.status.im/
This time we will discuss the Ethereum community with Jeremiah Nichol aka jtnichol who is a miner and an active community member on many platforms, with almost 1500 followers on Twitter, over 33000 karma on Reddit, he is a name many recognize and his firepit is well known throughout the community. In this interview we’ll hear his thoughts on Ethereum, how he got started, about the firepit in the backyard and of his dream gathering prominent Ethereum community members by the pit.
This interview series is about the people who are actively involved with projects in the Ethereum ecosystem, and also includes some of our very own contributors to Status.
Audio version of the interview:
Hi Jeremiah, nice to have you for our interview series, excited to hear your thoughts on Ethereum and learn more about that firepit!
Why don’t we start with the basics, tell us a little about yourself like where are you from, what do you do for living and what’s your favourite ice cream?
I’m a music teacher and DJ, Father and Husband, a sucker for cooking outdoors and I like cheap beer and bonfires. I love all kinds of music. Kansas Native. My life is a somewhat normal long and winding road of ups and downs just like anyone else. I’ve been many things in my life: Rock band manager, College Dropout, Union Pipefitter Apprentice, College Drop-In, Line Cook, Hospital Laundry Sorter, Homeless, Father and Husband, Voiceover talent, Pigeon crap sweeper, MMA DJ, Alt coin promoter, and currently an Elementary Music teacher, Successful DJ, and Ethereum Miner. Married 11 years and Father of 4.
Needless to say, I don’t care for downtime or accept that I’m defined by any job or situation. I’m not a wealthy man. I have a very modest home whose foundation is among the oldest in Kansas. Foundation is 1863 I believe and I love every square inch of my humble existence. After all, life isn’t the possessions, it’s the connections that mean the most to me. Helping others is the spice of my life.
My favorite ice cream is a hot fudge peanut sundae on vanilla.
So how did your journey with Ethereum and the blockchain begin and how are you involved in the community currently?
When I first learned about Bitcoin I was hooked. That was 2014 after Mt. Gox.
My journey with Ethereum began when I learned that Vitalik Buterin was the originator of it. I learned about Vitalik and was familiar with him after watching “The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin”, I also saw him in a very early video describing Ethereum. I sat up and paid attention from that moment on. You know he’s someone very special when you watch the film and notice just how young he was/is.
I didn’t participate in the crowdsale because I wasn’t tech savvy enough to trust that I could retrieve the tokens. However I did buy them later on when they came to the exchanges. The idea that Ethereum is a trustless world computer is far beyond exciting, daring, difficult, and necessary. This infusion of money into a new kind of web will make for some amazing and inspiring days ahead. I can feel it.
Besides participating in the community, are you currently working on anything Ethereum related?
With the help of my brother and accountant we’ve been mining steadily since February of 2016. Our operation is under 1GH/s. I’ve been an active contributor and fan of /r/ethtrader and /r/Ethereum ever since. I’m “Jeremiah Nichol” on YouTube and I have a collection of videos on there of non-technical importance regarding the market and sentiment. /u/jtnichol on Reddit and @prodjkc on Twitter.
I’m currently working on a comprehensive blockchain survey. It’s just a barometer to find out more about the people in the space and what they do for a living and so forth. It’s anonymous. Eventually I think it would serve as a kind of annual report for investors to speculate with and learn from. Results would be published in a variety of ways.
And what about your day and night jobs, Teacher and a DJ, these are fields where the word Ethereum probably isn’t very well recognized. Do you think there could be use-cases for Ethereum in there, what would it take to get the mainstream to adopt Ethereum?
I do have to preface this section with an obvious statement. For every 10,000 noble ideas there is only 1 Developer to code it and I belong to the former.
The online world needs to know just how many developers are piling into Ethereum right now. It’s mind blowing and 2017 needs to make these fine people known. We need women more than ever in this space as well. There are plenty of women working in Ethereum and I believe we can do a service to young women in high school/college right now by showing them Ethereum is being powered by both men and women. Showcase their talents in short videos and get them into the conversations more whenever possible. Broadcast our diverse development prowess far and wide!
Day Job: Teacher — Student Incentive Token System: I’ve tossed the idea around of having a currency token system built into K-12 school structure as an incentive for students. Creating a micro-economy within the school system at a young age and having the kids transacting on tablet/PC’s/phones may help teach kids the value of money, trade, and commerce. Students love rewards. Booster clubs could help fund a student ran store filled with school supplies, small prizes, and healthy food rewards for a job well done or based on improvement.
Colored tokens for math could be “green”, “red” for grammar, “yellow” for science and so on and these colored tokens could only be spent/earned on certain items and can follow the student through graduations or whatever the school chose to do. Rare social merit and community service tokens could be also be earned. Perhaps accumulation of these tokens through graduation could be used as an indicator beyond grades and help parents understand where their students strengths and weakness are based on the various amounts of colored token.Jeremiah also works as a professional DJ
Night Job: DJ — Simple Payments for Services: I accept Ethereum and Bitcoin for payment and I offer a discount on my services for doing so. I’ve received payment one time through Bitcoin. That Bitcoin was converted immediately to ETH.
People just really don’t know about Bitcoin at all and the information they do have is generally negative. Ethereum isn’t even on their radar. One good thing is that when I talk to clients who are unfamiliar with Crypto, just the mention of the fact that Coinbase is FDIC insured makes it ring more positively. I’m going to continue work on earning more money in this manner. Let’s not also forget tipping and microtransactions.
Artist Music and Royalties: I pay for all my music. My DJ company spends more money in this area than any other and I support all those wonderful musicians that give my company the fuel to earn an income. Our focus rests on the wedding and school events business so we stick to playing mostly to Top 100 in major genres.
It’s just what you do on this side of DJ’ing as opposed to the club scene or production. What’s not fine with Top 100 hits is the absolutely crushing corporate grip on those artists and especially radio stations conglomerates, to guide the hand of “what is good” in the US music scene. It’s going to take a long time for solo artists to actually be able to sell their music P2P in widely accepted format because of the claw of the middleman elite and their billboard reporting agencies. Independent artists not going through traditional royalty and reporting agencies will always have an uphill battle getting major airplay in this system.
It will happen eventually when artists stop signing to major labels in trade for airplay and start directly selling to their customers. Settlements on a smart contract can automatically pay not only the artist but everyone downline in the artist’s group of supporting employees and help cut down on administrative costs. Don’t even get me started on how fans and artists are even further separated financially by the live event ticketing system in major venues.Jeremiah’s firepit
Now that firepit of yours has been a hot topic on many discussions and featured on your videos, tell us about this firepit, does it have a story of it’s own?
The firepit is my staycation in the backyard. It’s named in honor of my father-in-law, William Todd, who fought 4 years in WWII, Married for 70 years, and together he and Ruth had 15 kids. I’m married the youngest daughter and we’ve been together for 11 years. William received a Purple Heart at Iwo Jima. He was a man “who loved the outdoors almost as much as his country”. We have a plaque in his honor. He and my grandfather, William Nichol would have had a LOT to talk about as my father in law was really into tech as well…parallel lives to some extent.
The fire pit in this backyard of mine has been a great source of entertainment as well as meaningful conversations with several people. I’ve had families join there after grieving the loss of a loved ones. Even Brian Collins, a billboard charted Country music singer, who flew in to visit my little country school from Atlanta GA and sang with my kids onstage, visited the pit and we cracked a bottle of Woodford Reserve in celebration. We enjoy frequent friend and family gatherings as it is a nice place for people to unwind and relax and most importantly eat some incredible food and spirits. I’ve also got a couple trailer mounted smokers back there we can throw down some Memphis PoBoys on. Vertical stack and the Dual whole Hog too.Trailer mounted smoker at Jeremiah’s backyard
It’s been a dream of mine (for a long time actually) in the Ethereum space to bring together some developers and have a fireside chat. This won’t be some flashy huge press release thing with lots of fanfare and fancy trimmings. It’s down-home done right. It’s country living in a small town. My dream however isn’t totally small-scale-simple with this endeavour because I’d like to hire my good friend Michael Ransdell, who has a fantastic short film sense to come and document the event and release it as a high quality art piece. Part Ethereum, Philosophy, and the ancient fireside chat of two very important people in our world right now that I’d love to have sit by the fire.The firepit in action
Let’s talk a bit more about that. What if you could have any three people, living or dead, together attending an evening by the firepit, who would they be? Why them?
So who would I love to join me at the firepit living or dead?
- My Grandfather — William Nichol (1922–1994)
Farmer in NW Kansas. Unremarkable? Upon first glance it’s easy to wonder why a farmer from remote NW Kansas on the Great American Desert of the great plains would be of interest to anyone. The answer is simple. He had the mind of a doctor, was a very good politician to his constituents out there, and had and love for anything new that came along in the tech world. He defended his black friends in Nicodemus KS back in the civil rights era and really stood on his own two feet as a man people could count on. But most of all, that dude LOVED technology.
Keep in mind he rode a horse to a one room school house and lived all the way until 1994. For those of you keeping track that’s from the beginning of the great depression, WWII, Man on the Moon, and the invention of Microsoft and Apple. He had a Betamax, satellite bag phone, and a TV that could place phone calls from the couch. The TI-30 Calculator in his junk drawer was fascinating to me with that vintage red LED screen. He would have been an early adopter of GPS no doubt. Every car he owned that I can remember was loaded with tech novelties and he paid cash.
Yes, Grandpa’s 1974 Lincoln Continental had a cigarette lighter and underlit ashtray for all his friends even in the back seat. This dude was a rockstar farmer out there on a 3000 acre plot in wheat country and his giving, kind nature, was the envy of all who knew him. He was a wonderful storyteller and could talk about anything to anyone.
He also knew how to cook which is one of my loves I learned from him, and my mom of course. Having him by the firepit would be a natural choice and his ability to tell stories was immensely entertaining for non-technical and technical alike. He was a genius forced into family farming by his 3 sisters and never got the chance to become the doctor he wanted to be. He was a very special man to many many people. If you wanted a good laugh then you’d just look him up.
As an aside, his son, my father, at one time started a business renting out Ataris and VCR/VHS bundles from the local grocery stores but decided it wasn’t really ever going to take off in small towns in Kansas so he got rid of the business. He also dabbled in geodesic domes, talk radio, powered wheelchairs and many other endeavors. Now he’s working as a lead sales/marketing manager for ageagle.com, an agricultural fixed wing drone field imaging and surveying company based in Neodesha KS with sales all over the world. The point is….William Nichol, my father, and my son come from a long line of tinkerers and thinkers and I’d love to see what Grandpa would think of all this.
2. Vitalik Buterin
You can just see it in his face that thoughts, reasonings, and pathways to goals are flying around in a way few people can imagine. Vitalik from a small age was having the most fun doing Excel. EXCEL? I just can’t fathom many 10 years old wanting to do anything but Sports, YoYo, Marvel, and play Atari 2600. But the more I think about it… I did enjoy similar activities… I just wasn’t great at it.
When I was 10 in NW Kansas in a town called Norton, my Father brought home this thing called a “computer” that would plug into our TV. It may have been a Texas Instruments TI-99 . Regardless of what model exactly, after powering on it would boot to a cursor and that’s about it as far as I remember. The greatest thing you could do was type in BASIC and it was packaged with thick book full of code you could type in and execute. I think I was able to get a line to bounce around on the screen and this was long before Windows 3.1 yet it looked like their screensaver. It was hard work for me, just copying code from the book, hah, so I had to quit.
Like so many others in the 1980’s I had died of dysentery on the Oregon Trail rather than doing more productive things on the PC. To double down, I later failed high school freshman algebra and math was unachievable for me moving forward and yet, to this day, I’ve always remained in awe of seriously talented developers. Past failures shouldn’t be mired in regret because I remained enthralled reading about science, computing, and now blockchain.
Passing the the torch to my 10 year old son, he taught himself to set up and check his Ledger Nano S. I hope this blossoms into a wink, nod, and window to his future. Why am I fixated on the thoughts of a 10 year old “me”, Vitalik, and Jonah, my son?
My point is that some of the conversation I’d like to have with Vitalik are his earliest memories of family life and who and what his biggest influences were. I’d love to see what he thinks of his silliest attempts on the computer were, his failures, or fleeting thoughts… because whatever failure or laughs we could share about those topics I’m sure he’s still light years beyond 99% of his age group. When I learned Vitalik dropped out of Waterloo I immediately thought of Einstein. I’m sure he wouldn’t want to be compared to Einstein, and I’m not going to try to make that direct comparison because they both dropped out for much different reasons, but when both dropped out at such young ages they both rapidly pursued riding on their own merits of intellect rather than waiting on validation from the education system.
As an Elementary school music teacher I’m alway sharing philosophies with them even at their young age. I tell them: “Don’t wait for any teacher to make the best version of you, YOU make the best version of you.”. This is what I think Vitalik has done and is doing. Even Einstein eventually went to college. Vitalik, as well, will be the centerpiece of computing and blockchain history classes in Universities one day much the same as Einstein is discussed in physics today.
Ultimately, I’m simply blown away with Vitalik’s capabilities of thinking and his ability to pull together amazing teams of people around the world for a VERY difficult vision. The Ethereum World Computer. (Can we still call it that?) I hope so. It would be wonderful to shake the hand of a man born the year I graduated high school and who I believe is going to be inspiring people to do great things for generations. Including my own children.
Side Note: I’m aware Vitalik may be vegan or vegetarian. No problem. I make a mean Portabello Mushroom sandwich with bruschetta on texas toast. Yes Vitalik, there will be internet access in case you’d want to code a bit too.
3. Andreas Antonopoulos
Andreas has been more instrumental in helping me understand the power of a decentralized currency better than anyone else. Perhaps, he is the most influential person ever in blockchain’s short history at explaining “The Internet of Money” and Bitcoin in a way that average people can grasp. It was unimaginable for me to learn in 2013 that this thing called Bitcoin couldn’t be held in your hand, yet it still had value. Just like having a high score on a video game or unlocked achievement or the balance of a credit card. Today’s average person finds value in a WHOLE lot of things they can’t hold physically. Bitcoin just clicked immediately.
I bought my first Bitcoin in 2014 as was sliding down from all time high somewhere in the $400’s and felt that all too familiar fear and panic when it flash crashed below $200. Bitcoin has recovered over 5X since that flash crash and it still gets the job done; If you are willing to wait and pay the fees. Blockchain has seen a myriad of use cases, corporate private test nets, speculation, FUD, and FOMO over the years and my viewpoints on Bitcoin specifically have evolved.
I think Andreas would agree (I can’t speak for him!) there are more promising ways of getting the “programmable money” train rolling and the idea of Bitcoin’s fundamental qualities are becoming concrete and hardened to investors. Bitcoin is in a development and PoW stalemate. Bitcoin uses .05% of the world’s electrical consumption and is getting more inefficient. That’s enough energy to power 3 American homes for 1 day PER transaction! Andreas is pivoting a bit and taking a leap to talk about the “rise and rise” of Ethereum in his new book “
He’s had a very steady hand of calling good shots over the years as well as admitting to mistakes he’s made about certain things. When he presents to an audience, I like how he can respond on the spot to very difficult questions and he’s so approachable to the audience’s he talks too. Andreas doesn’t simply present and leave. He’s a brilliant facilitator of discussion and like a great teacher, he learns more about his stances through this feedback from some very intelligent audience members. Some of his talks are more Q&A rather than preaching. I like that. Remember, he’s not always giving speeches to lightweight audiences who have no idea what Bitcoin or Ethereum is, although he’s great at that too, he can also engage audiences of just about any intelligence level. Andreas continues to be an open book and I think coming to Kansas and having a fireside chat with a simple man like myself would be very encouraging to this perception.
Can you imagine Andreas helping to facilitate a conversation with Vitalik? Have they ever shared stage together at this point? I’d like to change that if not. We would agree this to be a very unique opportunity for Andreas and Vitalik to talk about the future among the stars and firepit like a couple of ancient philosophers. I’ll provide the Proof of Steak and Portabella.
Now going back to Ethereum, if you could have anything, what you would want to see become a reality right now?
Let’s start with Charity: Another major passion of Andreas is advocating for the underbanked people around the world stating they will benefit greatly from this technology in the future. Just look at what is going on in Greece, Venezuela, India, and a myriad of other monetary systems right now. Imagine what a smart contract running on a social network app on a phone could do?
Imagine being able to provably help someone around the planet through charity, micro-loans, or flat out investment with NO middleman and do it anonymously or otherwise. It’s a possibility and I don’t think it’s too far off with something like Status, Akasha, or other DApps on the horizon yet to be discovered or realized.
Let’s talk about REAL disaster relief where a smart contract can automatically distribute donations received and automatically divvy them out according to real time need or geography… This is just one use case that can be achieved. Is it going to be exploited by bad actors? Sure, but it could be easier to track them! The goal is to avoid/eliminate administrative waste in the end.
And what are currently your favourite projects in the space that you’re excited about?
In full disclosure I’ve never participated in ICO’s for any other tokens than BlockCDN. I’m still interested to see what Tony Long and the team come up with however because they are in China. The project didn’t reach it’s goal and the funds were returned.
That being said I’m doing more reading on MKR (Maker / OasisDEX), Melon, DGD, Status.im, Akasha and some others. As to why I like them? Holy cow there is so much to say about all of them. There are perhaps a dozen or so “Tier 1” DApps out there some incredible potential right now. Due diligence is always key of course, but what we are seeing are massively brilliant people coming together and laying their personal reputations on the line to pioneer a whole new industry.
It’s NOT the wild west of Bitcoin with multiple alt coins being manufactured on a flavor of Bitcoin code by anonymous devs and pumped on BitcoinTalk anymore. The new push is being done more intimately with Discord, Slack, Telegram, Skype, and Google Hangout. People are connecting in a very human way to their contributors and establishing real trust in trustless contract creation.
Besides the DApps, what do you think makes Ethereum different from the other blockchains?
One word: Community.
What are you looking forward to from the year 2017?
Short term: Crypto Trading shakup — I think Ethereum (along with Factom, Dash, Monero, and others) will really shake up Bitcoin this year. We are witnessing a decoupling of Alts from Bitcoin in an astonishing way. Ethereum has plenty of Fiat onramps and is decoupling from Bitcoin. I expect Bitcoin total market percentage to drop from 75% now to roughly 60% of the total marketcap this year alone.
So what do you see Ethereum doing in the near future, will it have an impact on our society, might it even have a disruptive effect on some fields?
Long term: Automation and IoT, Banking, and more.
With the formation of EEA I think the immediate disruption looks to be in banking and settlements between institutions, customer, and the government.
And in your opinion, what are the biggest challenges that Ethereum is facing?
According to what I’ve read:
- Transitioning to PoS and shaking off bad actors.
- Making DApps handshake with protocol upgrades and patches without rewriting from scratch.
- We have development, now we need adoption.
Many of us in /r/ethtrader were saying 2017 was going to be fireworks for crypto of all kinds. Bitcoin kicked down the door to a new All time High and the space is on a TEAR upward right now. Ethereum development is crushing all expectations. Watch out for 2018 folks. Buckle up.
Thanks Jeremiah, we really hope that your dream of having an evening with the developers by the firepit becomes true, please keep us posted on any updates regarding that and all the best to you in the future!
Thanks so much for having me, take care Status! And best of luck, big hugs from Kansas City!
A Mobile OS, built for Ethereum.