We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve recently hired Marta Piekarska as our Director of Ecosystems. Please join us in welcoming her to the team.
Previously, Marta worked for Blockstream as their Security Architect. Before that, she was the Lead Architect on the Future of Mobile Privacy, a collaboration with Mozilla and Deutsche Telekom improving Firefox OS. We asked Marta a few questions to get to know her better and understand what she will be working on:
What got you interested in working with Hyperledger and blockchain technology?
I started studying computer science a bit by accident: as a slightly aspirational and hopeful young woman (not to say naive) I was planning to study social economics at Cambridge University in England to later become a writer and somehow change and improve the world. However, I lost a bet with my best friend and had to do at least 3 months of Computer Science. After the first month, I fell in love with programming and I knew that it was exactly what I wanted to do. But in moments of frustration and debugging I often felt like CS is about solving problems we create, not improving the world: if we didn’t have computers, we wouldn’t need programmers!
Then I learned about blockchain technology and its amazing trust properties. The applications were just earth-shaking to me. Finally, something that combines the two passions of mine: improving state-of-the-art and technology! Why Hyperledger? I have been involved with many Open Source and NGO organizations during my studies, created one myself. I just like the spirit of organized openness and collaboration.
What are your main goals now that you’re part of the Hyperledger team?
They are expressed by my responsibilities, but I do have a bit cryptic title. For me Hyperledger ecosystem consists of two main entities:our sponsoring corporate members and the developer community. As the Director of the Ecosystem I am responsible for maintaining good relationship with, within and between these two groups.
In the short term on the community side I am focusing on improving and expanding the meetup program. There are places where meetups are already boosting: London is a notable example, but we have many white spots on the map. We are already working with great people from Vilnius, Tel Aviv, Dublin, Madrid to name a few. I will continue to seek volunteers that would like to run the events in their cities, ensuringe high quality and vendor agnosticism. I would like to make sure that our community feels powerful support from Hyperledger and knows how proud and happy we are to have them. Open Source would be nothing without people who contribute their spare time and knowledge. On the member side, I would like to make sure that our smaller and often overseen members will have their voices heard. I often heard from other participants that they didn’t feel that there was space in the ecosystem for them. I would like to understand this space and create an equal footing for everyone.
Longer term I would like to create a better feedback loop between the developer community and the members, leading to more projects as well as making sure that the world knows more about all our projects, not only about the most prominent ones. I am hoping to cover more space and make sure blockchain technology is applied to even more fields.
What is most important in building Hyperledger’s ecosystems and what should be the focus for the next year?
One of our strengths is our diversity. With almost 140 members and a huge community the diversity of knowledge, backgrounds, fields of interests, strengths, weaknesses, cultures etc. etc., is what allows us to build solutions that could not be shipped in-house from a single company. As long as we stay open, know how to communicate and learn to listen to everyone, we have an immense potential to build something really exciting under the Hyperledger umbrella.
I believe that next year’s focus should be figuring out that communication tactics: how to engage everyone while we grow. It is hard enough to keep engaged a group of twenty or forty people with shared interests. How do we make sure that the 140 often competitive organizations collaborate and work towards a common goal?
What’s the one issue or problem you hope blockchain can solve?
Blockchain already solves the one problem I was looking to solve: trust. I don’t think of blockchain as a ready-to-apply, out-of-the-box solution that can magically solve a general problem like “security of Internet of Things” or “medical devices” or “management of identity”. These are much bigger problems, where blockchain will be of huge help. I think of it as a tool, very advanced screw driver, that can be used in many cases.
Given all the above I have big hopes to apply it as part of a bigger identity management solution (though there are many elements that should be considered there, and I am very happy that we are working on Indy, and participating in ID2020). In terms of new things my biggest hope is to work with banks and credit card companies on an alternative Electronic Funds Transfer System with elements of it relying on blockchain for better auditability, security, decentralization, and no requirement of trust.
Where do you hope to see Hyperledger and/or blockchain in five years?
I hope that we will see much less of a hype and much more of a mature technology. Five years should be enough for Hyperledger to release some great software, create a good model for collaboration, and grow into a stable organization with many more projects. We will learn how to better navigate and advise our members what are the use cases not worth pursuing, and how to redefine existing solutions to use as a part of but not solely rely on blockchain.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Not really received but read: Ever tried, Ever Failed, No Matter. Try Again, Fail Again, Fail Better.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Hobbies?
Oh dear! That’s a tough one. Since I’m based in the U.K. I tend to have very variable work hours. But when I don’t work I like going to the gym, climb and recently acquired a road bike which I’m enjoying quite a bit. Recently a friend taught me how to do lock picking and now that is also on the list of my hobbies, along with experimenting in the kitchen – chocolate making, sous vide, cooking in general. Favorite authors are by John Irving and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, movies by Emil Kusturica and Peter Zelenka