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A world of Meshtadels
This week, in Episode 2, we talk with SoulExporter, one of the founding fathers of the Rings of Fire concept!
Rings of Fire originated on 18th of Januari 2021 from the desire to reduce single points of failure when everyone is connecting to the biggest nodes. And also to reduce trust when setting up balanced channels. Soul also convinces us of the Meshtadel principle opposite to the Citadels when talking about Hyper Bitcoinization.
Why the name Ring of Fire?
The way I explained it to the first participants was with the term “Ring”, when we were discussing creating the group, I suggested Ring of fire because I had very spicy food the day before,…
No not really, I do love the song of Johnny Cash and it had a ring to it (no pun intended)
How and when did you come up with the ring of fire concept?
I was in Lightning Liquidity & Pool Telegram group in search for good nodes to connect to. Learning more about lightning 2 things bothered me a lot:
– everyone wants to connect to the biggest nodes to route, which makes those single points of failiure
– for a balanced channel trust is needed, and those big nodes didn’t care about that for a no-body node
In that group I learned a lot, not in the least from Kaaskoekje btw.
Wanted to connect with Jestopher (known now from Amboss but that was before ) and SeB had a node as well for which I was looking into connections. So I came up with the idea of a triangle.
In that group they were talking about Wumbo as well (above my budget even then) and how they should not be formed in triangles. So I started thinking about how to make a triangle bigger.
Talked about that idea with Czino and we started to look for people to join in to form the first ring.
It was Czino who figured out the technical part how to push a payment around. Without him RoF would be just a fun idea.
https://twitter.com/capoczino/status/1372828531328217090<- put in shownotes, this is the cryptic Tweet Czino sent when we made the first ring 😊
When did you start your first ring of fire?
19th March it was completed. But the initial first explaining of the idea to Czino (and others but he was the one who jumped on it was 18.1.2021) So it is quite incredible how fast and how far we got!
Did you experience a lot of struggles with starting your first ring of fire?
Yes, someone decided to switch node in the middle of opening the channels.
In how many rings of fire did you participate yourself?
With my node 7 maybe? Not really sure. Did RoF, SRRoF and Tonga, might be more… I think I helped a lot more with rings where I wasn’t involved with my node.
How do you see the concept of ring of fire in the future?
For me SR Radio is the future of RoF you guys took the social aspect, the guidance to a whole new level.
Did you knew that a ring with more than 27 nodes is just technically impossible, before we did it with our 65 ROF.
No, it was Laptopman who came to ask me about it. Our standard was about 12 I think and even then we tuned that down to 8 or so, because people didn’t want to wait too long.
Can you give us an insight into how many sats your community has put into the network?
LOL I think you guys remember that better than me, 😊 I wrote it in the chat once, and forgot about it again.
We know you as a very creative person who likes to philosophize about new experiments. We tried to balance a ring even more trustless than we already are doing by letting everyone be in the roll of the Ringleader. Can you explain how that works and what the advantages are?
This is becoming the most cumbersome ring I was ever involved in. 3 nodes have crashed in the meanwhile already 😀 but that is the perfect ring for that to happen, because we were not all balanced yet, those channels can be put up again and will be partially balanced in the rest of the process.
The idea is that everyone balances a part of the ring, while the fees are relatively high. At this moment the onese that did rebalance already are at a loss, but that should be compensated once we can continue with the rebalancing when all channels are open again.
Are you familiar with the Mesh network the Norwegian community uses?
No, if you say Mesh network I can only think of goTenna and similar.
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You played a game with your son (SoulexBoy) called “So how would you start building your Citadel?”
Please explain the rules?
The game was called the Mindadel 😊 A role playing game while doing long hikes in nature.
A scenario is laid out, SoulexBoy has to rescue, defend or build. No strickt ruls, but we tried to stick to whatever you come up with, the other party can use logic and existing response. If the first one picks up a branch, the other can take up a stick.
Out of the scenario: How would you start building your Citadel, we came to the conclusion the only logical and most secure way to reach the end goal was over a Meshtadel.
Can you explain your Meshtadel idea to the people?
In the game we wanted to build a Citadel, problem was that even if you find an island, there is always the possiblity of a state player feeling threatened by what you represent.
If all Bitcoiners flock to El Salvador now f.e. it would be a huge target. And even talking about just having the means to build and maintain a citadel, if you live in someone else Citadel, you rent a service, not really what I call self sovereignity.
If you build instead a network with peers with whom you feel you are aligned, and trust enough. Even if they would come for one of those nodes in your Meshtadel, there are other nodes you can rely on. Worst case scenario if you really have to flee, you have a place where you can get your feet under your ass. (a safer space to use one of your brain wallets fe. to gather the funds to start again there).
To be truly self sovereign is to become as self relient as possible, so you become less dependant on people outside of your circle of trust. So that when you need to rely on those that you trust, you know you are being paid forward.
Why is it so important in a Meshtadel to emphasize similarities instead of differences in people?
Just open Bitcoin Twitter 😊 you can’t agree with everyone. You shouldn’t need to.
By removing the need of trust in the money layer (no 3rd party to verify trust) that bond of trust goes to the next layer. The relationship, the honor between people becomes more important.
If you look with which people you feel you can trust, you interact with, if you get to know people that you know have value the same elements you do, it becomes a chain of trust. If they trust someone else to do a trade with (vote with sats) the probabilty is that you can too.
You said to me one day that you don’t believe in a free for all world because humans are made to network. Can you explain more about the difference in incentives between people living with each other in a network as you say Meshtadel and why is that different from a government as we know it?
In a pure anarchy, a free for all society is not the same as anarchy the political form someone explained to me. So I cannot say much about the political form. But rather about a situation where a government collapses, by its own stupitity or revolution would not be a joyful moment if you stand alone. It would be a period of free for all. Law of the jungle. If you then are not used to be united and were dependant on the state (yes the policemen where everyone is swearing on) you would be in for a surprise.
If you can build up a network you are a lot stronger. The ones that are prepared for that migh be gangs at this moment.
What was your first experience with the lightning network and do you still know what you did/saw at that moment?
I think it was Wallet of Satoshi, an airdrop of 1000 sats or so? It was for me the signal to dive deeper in Lightning because I couldn’t believe it were really Sats I was receiving.
Was it difficult to explain to your son: how to build a node from scratch?
I didn’t explain much, he followed the guide from BTCsessions.
You have a son who is also really busy on the Lightning Network. What is the most important thing that you teached him about the Lightning Network? (or what did he teaches you)
No not so busy with Lightning Network in all honesty. He liked building the node, but he doesn’t do a lot of channel management. He is especially interested in building Meshtadel and thinking up strategies.
We have now already more than 3000 BTC on the second layer. How much BTC will there be available on the lightning network in another 4 years?
2 100 000 & will plateau there. The value will increase indefinitly.
The plateau would be because of channels closing and reopening constantly.
What developments are still needed on the Lightning Network to make it more future proof?
Although it is fun to run a node on a Pi it is all very fragile still. Umbrel is doing a great job making a sleek UX but it is a bit more hidden away. Raspberry Blits is FOSS but not so,… attractive for a beginner. IN general making the safety of funds easier I think and maybe some work the stability especially on TOR there were waves of force closes in the past. Now I take them as a signal to connect to somewhere else but can be frustrating because costly.
What is the biggest mistake you made related to lightning?
My first channels were way too small. So I had to close and reopen them all with amounts that did make sense.
Can you elaborate about the social aspects of Lightning?
Bitcoin network is a hive mind. Each sat you manipulate is a vote. It is an indication of your preference what you deem more important at that specific point in time.
When you open a lightning channel you promote an idea to facilitate a specific vote
IF you open a channel to earn sats as a routing node, you provide a service. Which is also a social interaction, but there you raise the fees to benefit from dat directional promotion (without you earning sats, it is harder for that service to exist). When you put in lower fees (especially fixed fees so smaller payments get through for free) it becomes a (close to) free service to promote that specific idea. Don’t forget, you ‘casted a vote’ by paying the transaction fees for opening and in the future closing that channel.
I personally don’t make a profit with my channels in the long run. Partially consider it as learning fee (that is where I lost the most sats opening and getting force closes) and for the other part I am very happy with the directional votes I casted.
What could be the biggest advantages for a country, when they implement lightning payments to their economy?
Just having a payment rail via which the country’s economy can be stimulated. Not being dependant on a middle man.
What kind of layer 3 solution will be the trigger for mass adoption? Defi, NFT, decentralize mobile apps, live stream (like vimeo, youtube), podcast
None, the mass adoption will come from using Lightning for daily stuff we do now without thinking with cash. Although the layer 3 solution as you call them will be more popular, that popularity will be driven by the adoption, not the other way around.
What does self sovereignty mean for you?
The moral and natural right of a person to have bodily integrity and be the exclusive controller of one’s own body and life.
What do you think are the most important conditions for a top notch custodial wallet? And does it exist already?
It strongly depends on what you are looking for. You can already have a custodial wallet at a family members node. But the ones I use are the bigger ones, because they have more redundancy. I think that would be for me the main reason to still use that as a backup for small buys.
If you could build in the future a layer 3 solution? What could that be?
A version of Spotify. No subscription, but option to skip advertisements for Sats. Artists (or hosts for radio/podcast) would be paid by advertisements, the once that were played, paid by the advertiser, the once that were not played paid by the listener.
How do you see the future of Lightning wallets? Will everyone own a node or will they use a custodial service?
It will be a mix imho. I still use several custodial wallets for testing small stuff such as the Fountain app for listening podcasts, Muun wallet, Wallet of Satoshi, you can consider them as the pockets of your pants where you have some spare change that you can use for the one coffee you suddenly feel you want to order.
If you forgot your wallet at home (or in this case the wallet is not available due to f,e, network outage at home) you still have that change.
How many years ago did you enter the bitcoin era?
I went from checking Bitcoin for the wrong reasons to shitcoin to Bitcoin. So I am going to say 2018 Bitcoiner.
A bitcoinized world. Do you think this is an important goal? And What do you think is necessary to accomplish this?
Good that you drop Hyper. Because yes I think it is an important goal, but it is not so far off as you might think. Vs a hyperbitcoinized world. Bitcoinized world is a world where you can get all you need to fulfil your needs by using Bitcoin (on or off chain sats) as Medium of Exchange. That means you can earn and spend sats. To make that possible it is important to get the right people on board. Not the millionaires, but the farmers, plumbers, electricians etc.
You’re very active in the Tonga Liquidity group. Can you tell us very short what you’re working on there together with :prem :ghinde?
It was just another idea I had, to see if directional channel openings would make more sense.
Suggested it to Lord Fusitu’a and he was interested. I saw Prem trying to motivate others in RoF to open more smaller channels for better redundancy I guess. So I explained him what I had in mind.
He was instantly convinced, and asked him to take lead in there, and he is doing a great job, so I am not very active there to be honest. Prem is doing it all.
Ideally I would like to see more local Tonga nodes popping up, so new rings could be created around them as well.
Are you using your node on a daily basis to make transactions?
I did, now it is rather monthly.
Can you give some tips to Lightning users who just finished building their own node?
Think very carefully what you want to do with your node, want to make money with routing? Pimp your Pi or go to better HW, your stability is the most important point
Regardless of your goal: Go to Satoshi Radio Rings of Fire you will learn the most and build up a network. Don’t put in less than 1Msat per channel unless you have a good reason.
Once you have a bit of network, look for big nodes that you think are a good fit, if you want to earn sats, a big node that forms a drain be willing to invest and make sure you have learned enough. If you want to support specific projects, connect to them, buy something with your sats, and you have an instantly partially balanced channel.