This Chia AMA took me a little bit to get through due to bad timing with some personal stuff going on, but there was a lot of news that came through in this one. To get the elephant in the room dealt with, yes Gene took a friendly swipe at me, no I don’t care. And yes Space Marmots has the transaction issue on our mind as a core technical requirement so the idea that big chunks of data will move around on-chain every time a Space Marmots NFT is transferred is not true. They again reiterated that they don’t like the idea of storing data on-chain, which I have already addressed here. And in another context, when applied to the question about torrents Bram actually articulates my argument fairly well about archival storage and how it is incredibly difficult to guarantee over time.
More importantly though, they addressed a lot of the near future plans like the NFT standard itself, as well as the utilization that will come from Distributed Identifiers (DIDs) in wallets and some of the functionality that will enable. They also talked a bit about an updated stats dashboard that will give up to date information on things like node count and locality to ensure that no nation is assembling a plurality of nodes. This sparked a discussion that I think is really neat, and also aligns with my own subjective experience in talking to people around the world about Chia. Justin England, Senior Director of Infrastructure, Platforms, and Security at Chia Network, said something that really resonates with me. He mentioned that Chia has more full nodes in the southern hemisphere than a lot of major blockchains have globally. This sparked memories of the Zuri Internship and speaking with their team about why they chose Chia with the very low footprint to start farming and acquiring bits of it it worked very well as an internal economy for what they were doing in Africa. Justin is right, this doesn’t get talked about enough – including by me.
There were some updates on things coming that they have been promising for awhile, including the database improvements on size and the performance improvements to the full node brought about by the dust storms. They mentioned that the 1.3 release of chia-blockchain would bring a lot of significant improvements to the node, and that it would be very noticeable to farmers. They also said they were focusing more on big releases with major improvements less often rather than pushing out quick feature updates as often as possible. I’m not sure I agree this is the best strategy for a new blockchain project with hungry users, but at least it seems to be a cohesive strategy. It was capped off by a quote from Chia’s new VP of Corporate Communications, Jordan Schmidt “steady is smooth, and smooth is fast” which is pithy but true. Let’s hope things are smoother than they have been for the light wallet.
They had a pretty good answer for why transaction blocks only come every 3rd block or so, and it isn’t quite what I thought which is that they were reserved for later, but it seems that they are specifically there to increase security and stability of the blockchain to act as padding between blocks. This is very interesting and I will be looking into it more, because I think it radically limits a lot of the math people have done to determine the maximum transactions per day that the network can theoretically support.
Importantly they mention having tracked down a root cause to some of the sync issues and it seems to be the intense Bluebox timelord initiative started by SpaceFarmers. For the mean time that group has paused their efforts and will wait to start them up again until version 1.3 has percolated around and its safe to start again. If you are running a bluebox still you should probably shut it down for now.
Overall, I found the AMA slightly disjointed and less focused than previous AMAs. I didn’t find that the team was on the same page about everything as they normally are. That said, Bram was on his game with his excitement over self-custody solutions and the advantages that the CLVM and and Chialisp can bring to corporate and audited accounting. I am less sure, but I do agree that the issues on Ethereum make that a non starter. This was a mostly strong start to 2022 for the Chia Network team and you can really see how sophisticated they have become in their community messaging compared to the same time last year.