Community Spotlight: Meeting Josh

This week we were super excited to meet Josh, creator of decentralised app store Albatross, and Chainmail — a mechanism that proves the content and timestamp of emails passing through a mail server. Josh lives and breaths programming, and has a pragmatic approach when it comes to widespread adoption of blockchain technologies. Read on to find out more about his endeavours with Albatross, and more:

Country of residence:

United Kingdom


Blockchain Engineer

What do you like to do with your spare time?

I actually spend a lot of free time programming — I’ve got quite a few ongoing projects, some of which are open source, and others of which may evolve into products and services in the future. Otherwise, I enjoy reading, figure skating, and theatre.

How did you find out about the Arweave permaweb?

A colleague had previously competed in Gitcoin hackathons, and recommended that I try my hand. Arweave looked like an interesting value proposition, and I had used IPFS and Storj before, so I thought I’d look to build on the platform. It turned out to be a really good experience, and quite easy to get off the ground with.

What piqued your interest in decentralisation and the blockchain space and when?

In my first year of university, I attended a lot of hackathons, and after I’d won one in central London related to security and authentication, I got to know the CTO of a small blockchain consulting startup. I went and did an internship with them the following summer, and have subsequently been working in the blockchain space ever since.

Why did you choose to build Albatross & ChainMail?

With Chainmail it was a situation where I’d built similar products before, and I saw Arweave as an interesting medium to achieve more than what I had done previously — I’d previously done mail proofs on the Bitcoin & Ethereum blockchains, but Arweave had the potential to make them much more useful.

For Albatross, I really liked the idea of a decentralized app store, but I didn’t really have any huge overarching motivation, I’m ashamed to admit. I saw that Arweave had a challenge to make an app store, and I thought it would be a good challenge.

Do you plan to continue developing Albatross & Chain Mail for everyday use?

The short answer is yes — I’ve got more features planned for Albatross, and I’ve been developing it quite actively. Version 0.2 is out now with user comments and better stability, and version 0.3 will have extension versioning, and integration with the Firefox app store so you can deploy apps more easily.

With Chainmail it’s a slightly different story, as I think I need to put some more thought into how it can integrate with many different types of mail client and mail app most effectively. Whether that means sending an extra email every time someone sends a Chainmail verified email, or whether it means putting a hyperlink the the email signature or similar I’m not sure.

What other communities are you a part of?

I’m a member of various hackspaces and maker groups, and I try to contribute to open source software as much as I can.

If you could build any dApp, what would it be and why?

I don’t have a burning desire to build any dApp in particular, but I do want to make dApps in general more accessible and more usable by the average person. Accessibility seems to me to still be the largest stumbling block that blockchain adoption still struggles with.

What does a decentralised future look like to you?

I think it’s very easy to be extremely idealistic or over-optimistic about how transformative decentralized technology will be. Like anyone else within the blockchain ecosystem, I hope for more decentralization, an uncensorable internet, and for more everyday transactions to be payable with crypto. But for any of this to happen, I think the focus needs to be on technologies which provide value to everyday people, and above all lower the barriers which prevent widespread adoption.

Where can people follow your work?

GitHub and GitLab are the best places, I think. From day to day I work at Web3Labs, contributing to various open source Ethereum-related projects, and developing the enterprise-focused block explorer, Epirus.

Github username: josh-richardson

Twitter: @Valitudines

A novel data storage blockchain protocol enabling a permanent serverless web and creating truly permanent data storage for the first time.

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