Meet the Community, Carson Farmer @ Textile

by IPFS Events Team on 2019-05-13

With the first-ever IPFS Camp right around the corner, we’re interviewing some of the community members who are making this highly anticipated event a reality. Haven’t applied yet? Don’t worry! Registration for the 3-day hacker retreat designed for the builders of the Distributed Web is still open! Visit camp.ipfs.io to learn more about IPFS Camp, scholarships, and what’s included in your conference pass.

💌 This interview first appeared in the IPFS Events newsletter, subscribe to receive exclusive content and invites to upcoming events.

Meet the Community: Carson Farmet, Core Developer @ Textile.io

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. How did you get involved with IPFS and what’s your relationship with Protocol Labs?

My name is Carson Farmer, I’m part of the Textile.IO team, working on developer tools for encrypted, recoverable, schema-based, and cross-application data storage built on IPFS and libp2p. Until pretty recently, I was a university professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Colorado Boulder. My previous research focused a lot on real-time streams of geospatial information, which aren’t all that different from streams of data shared over peer-to-peer networks. I’ve written a fair bit about getting started with IPFS on the Textile blog, and that has lead to a lot of awesome connections within the IPFS community.

I got involved with IPFS as it is a core technology used by our team at Textile. A big piece of our vision is promoting a new model of data ownership where individuals have total agency over the information they create. IPFS is the perfect file system for that vision because content addressing means an individual’s data is resistant to censorship, is storage agnostic, and decentralized, plus IPFS is backed by a best-in-class peer-to-peer networking library, which makes developing on top of that whole ecosystem even easier. We made the decision to build on IPFS pretty early on, and we haven’t really looked back since :P

Why should people be excited about IPFS?

Because IPFS has the potential to shift power dynamics in some very important ways. Control over data, content, distribution, access, information, etc., has very real consequences, and when the system itself (at the protocol layer) is built around open access as a core and undeniable feature, that is a big deal. This is a direct result of lots of folks thinking very seriously about how to ‘lock the web open’ and fix some of the issues with our current web, while keeping around some of the amazing technologies of our modern internet. Another reason I think folks should be excited about IPFS is the people within and around the project: the whole IPFS ecosystem has been extremely supportive of newcomers, developers, tinkerers, businesses, investors, critics, proponents, and even competitors. Because of this, I think IPFS as a community is sustainable, and that’s another reason to be excited about IPFS.

What projects are really exciting you in the IPFS Ecosystem at the moment and why?

Certainly I’m excited about what we’re up to at Textile [winking face]. We’re working on a lot of developer tools at the layer above IPFS, which is really allowing us to push IPFS to its limits (including running IPFS peers on mobile!). The community in general, and the core IPFS devs in particular, have made this a pretty fun experience. Outside of our own work, I’m seeing some really cool stuff come out of the IPFS desktop and browser teams that I think are going to have a big impact on the broader web-development community. I’m also really excited by all the CRDT work that is happening across the IPFS ecosystem. orbit-db is a project I’ve been following for a while, peer-base is very interesting, and the whole Dynamic Data and Capabilities in IPFS Working Group has been really fun to interact with. Another really cool project that uses IPFS under-the-hood to promote secure, privacy-preserving, value-aligned AI research is OpenMined; worth taking a look at that really active community.

Open Source communities are full of unsung heroes. Is there someone in IPFS community who you admire for their work?

I think the core IPFS devs, while their names do show up on PRs and Issues, deserve some extra shout-outs for sure. In particular, for our team at Textile we’ve hugely benefited from interactions with (I’ll use their GitHub handles) whyrusleeping stebalien, raulk, momack2, daviddias, and hsanjuan. Also, the growing community at https://www.reddit.com/r/ipfs has been super supportive of IPFS projects in general. Efforts such as the Discord community setup by leshokunin, and the big dweb/IPFS push by grittygrease over at Cloudflare also deserve mentioning. Plus I’m a big fan of the community support provided by folks like postables and obo20.

What are you most looking forward to at IPFS Camp?

I think for me, IPFS Camp is just going to be a great opportunity to get some direct face time with many of the folks I regularly ‘chat’ with on IRC, Slack, Discord, etc… Being part of a big open source community like IPFS means you meet great people from across the globe, but so often, you never get to meet them in person. The Camp ‘addresses’ this missing piece of distributed work. I have a feeling there is going to be an acceleration of outputs during and after the camp, and a big focus on external developer experience. So that’s something I’m excited about. I’m also really interested in chatting with folks about IPFS on mobile. I think this is somewhere the community can really stand to grow a bit as we start to look externally to new developers, users, and communities. Additionally, I think just having a solid chunk of time to focus on IPFS in the broadest sense, rather than the specific pieces that my colleagues and I regularly focus on, is going to be hugely beneficial. Seeing what’s going on broadly in the community will likely lead to so many new collaborations, some increased development synergy, and maybe some new partnerships. I think the whole thing is going to be really great for the community.


Thank you for answering our questions, Carson, looking forward to meet you at IPFS Camp

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