Developer Showcase Series: Seth Cohn

By June 6, 2018Blog

Image: Seth Cohn, a consultant and financial analyst

Our Developer Showcase blog series returns! This time, we chatted with Seth Cohn about his interest in blockchain and Hyperledger. A quick reminder that this blog series serves to highlight the work and motivations of developers, users and researchers collaborating on Hyperledger’s incubated projects. Let’s see what Seth has to say!

What advice would you offer other technologists or developers interested in getting started working on blockchain?

To start, get your head out of the Bitcoin, so to speak, and recognize that the blockchain is not synonymous with cryptocurrencies, but instead is a technology that supports decentralized verification and accounting. Taking the EdX course ‘Blockchain for Business – An Introduction to Hyperledger Technologies’ is an excellent way to acquaint yourself with distributed ledgers and blockchain technologies being developed by business leaders and poised to have a tremendous impact on the business environment.

What is the best piece of developer advice you’ve ever received?

The best piece of advice in regards to technology as a whole is to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” For a Type A CPA like myself, it gives tremendous comfort to hear the explicit ability to work with the unknown and pursue the gray area. My first real coding language was Python and so I try to think of coding and software development in a Pythonic sense; being readable, adaptable, scalable, approachable, and ultimately simple. Software products that focus on complexity are not necessarily efficient or effective and certainly are not scalable to a new age of business leaders. Instead, we need to make software and technology as accessible as possible with the intention of encouraging adaptability, scalability, and most importantly approachability within the business community.  

What do you think is most important for Hyperledger to focus on in the next year?

The Linux Foundation is doing a wonderful job at gathering a group of industry leaders, but we also need accountants of all ranks to understand the technology and benefit of blockchains and distributed ledgers, and be aware of the technological innovations affecting our industry. I was recently at an accounting conference and as the topic steered towards blockchains it became immediately evident that a large portion of the room didn’t know anything about blockchains. Even as professionals become aware of the technology, there needs to be opportunities for people to get actively involved, especially millennials who will place a special importance on being able to steer the future of the profession. Overall, for the next year, we need to focus on awareness and ensuring opportunities to get involved.

What technology could you not live without?

Excel.  There are so many incredible advancements to the world of technology, but as of yet, nothing offers me the fluidity and ubiquitousness of Excel. Excel works like a piece of scratch paper for me – I can use it just to start scribing down ideas, analyzing equations, etc. In fact, I think any accounting based software that intends to be widely accepted should incorporate aspects of Excel because it is so approachable for CPAs and accountants that otherwise would reject unknown technology.

** Seth is a consultant and financial analyst who enjoys writing from the perspective of the CPA profession and our interpretation of blockchains as it affects work in both financial accounting and other areas of traditional CPA attestation work.