2022 was a year of personal growth and self-discovery for me. I took a gap semester from school, which was a risk that ended up being an amazing experience. I also had the chance to think about my beliefs and assumptions in a deeper way, and while I don't have all the answers yet, I feel like I know myself better and am more confident in my path. It was a year of pushing myself out of my comfort zone and it has paid off in terms of personal growth.
The past year has been an exciting one in terms of my work as well. I spent the first half of 2022 continuing my research on Cortex and exploring the world of crypto/web3. I got more involved in crypto, doing small experiments such as creating graphs with IPFS and testing out NoSQL document storage with Ceramic Network.
Although I knew about crypto for a few years, I decided to dive in head-first because I felt as though the work being done overlapped heavily with a lot of my goals, particularly with my goal to build interoperable systems. I saw blockchain technology as a massive opportunity to solve the problem of interoperability, among many other things, and that I needed to jump into the space before it was too late.
I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to intern at Chapter One, where I gained valuable insights not only on cryptocurrency but also on product management and venture capital. I also made an effort to network and connect with others in the industry, including through the use of Farcaster, a decentralized social media platform that I've written about in the past. The adoption of Farcaster really took off during the latter half of spring and throughout the summer, providing me with even more opportunities to connect with others in the crypto community.
That time period in particular -- the summer going into the early fall -- felt really exciting on Farcaster. The app fostered rich and meaningful conversations in a way that wasn't possible on other platforms, and the crypto community seemed to thrive both on the app and at events facilitated by it. It was a time of innovation and excitement, with people exploring the possibilities offered by the protocol and recognizing how early it was in its development. Personally, I felt welcomed by the crypto community and was able to share ideas, learn, and form friendships.
As the fall approached, I was filled with optimism about my career in tech. I had an amazing time during my internship experience, I made a lot of valuable connections through Farcaster, and a trip to LA Tech Week allowed me to meet tech and crypto friends in person for the first time. These experiences gave me a glimpse into what was on the cutting edge, and with the skills I had developed and the exposure I had gained, I felt ready to tackle new challenges and achieve great things.
I began my gap semester with the goal of using the first two months for research and development of a demo for my project Cortex, followed by two months focused on building community and expanding the project beyond myself. The first two months involved a lot of brainstorming, calls, and intense coding sessions, culminating in a demo that I discuss in this article. I was pleased with the outcome of those two months, as I achieved what I had set out to do and enjoyed the process of meeting with others, taking Zoom calls, and gathering feedback on Farcaster. While working on my own could be isolating at times, the iterative process was beneficial and allowed me to push myself technically.
In the following two months, I focused on onboarding users to the tool I built, called Reader, and exploring options for collaboration and support for the project. I applied for grants, received advice from independent researchers, and attended events such as New York Tech Week and Betaworks' THINKCamp Demo Day. These experiences allowed me to connect with people I admire and work on solving problems that I am passionate about.
I'm going back to college in a little over a week and I'm excited to apply everything I've learned over the past year into this semester and beyond. I want to give a small preview of the things I'm going to focus on and why.
I want to consistently publish new issues of this newsletter. I've always found writing to be a great vehicle for moving ideas forward and getting those ideas out on a regular basis is a great way to build up a repository of content and connect with more people. Finding more ways to share things I find and ideas I have at a higher frequency is a huge goal of mine and I'm making sure I have a publishing schedule in place.
School-wise, I'm excited to meet more computer science students, as well as take courses in other areas, such as economics and business, that will help me overall not just as a developer but as an entrepreneur. In addition, I would like to see what opportunities there are to work with the school on certain initiatives. For example, to my knowledge there is not a large blockchain club at my school, and I would love to take the opportunity to create my own blockchain club. Opportunities for me to combine my passions with the resources and communities around me are one of the things I'm looking forward to developing the most.
In terms of my own projects, especially Cortex(which I focused on during my gap semester), I want to focus more on long term deployment. In the past, chiefly in this past year, I built small experiments as glimpses into what larger systems could look like. For example, while the Reader app I built this fall could act as a standalone product, my intention was to give a glimpse into what browsing could look like if it had a similar interface, using reading as a smaller use case to highlight. Because of that, I didn't spend as much time leaving Reader out as a production app and testing out new features as I would've liked to. I believe that could also hinder from building a larger community around the experiments I've built because people didn't get to spend a ton of time using the tools. Whichever products I'm building, I want to focus on long-term deployment so that whether I'm involved in one or three projects at a time, the products I'm building are used by people and I can legitimately scale the things I'm building instead of moving from one demo to the next without much user-guided direction.
The last but not least thing that is more personal is that I want to get back into running, even if it's only two times a week for the first while. Before the pandemic, I was traning to run the 2020 NYC Half Marathon, which was supposed to take place on March 15, 2020. I was in the best shape I've ever been in and I absolutely loved both the training grind and the running itself -- it's something I miss dearly. I kept up my running a bit during the pandemic but then after a few months my running began to decline. Now, I'm at a point where I don't even run anymore. I don't need to be anywhere close to the shape I was in training for that half marathon, but I know how much I loved running and how important consistent exercise is in life. I also know how much I come up with ideas/resolve issues when I go on a walk or run, and so the allocated time could be beneficial in multiple ways. And one day I will definitely re-register for the NYC half!
Thank you to everyone who I've known or just met this year -- I couldn't be where I am today without all of your support and advice. Here's to a healthy and happy 2023!
Extra: Cool Stuff 2022
A small list featuring some of the best content I consumed this year
Not Your Computer, Not Your Keys: Crypto Devices and Supply Chains by Tyler Mincey
Sufficient Decentralization for Social Networks by Varun Srinivasan
Potluck: Dynamic documents as personal software by Geoffrey Litt, Paul Shen, Max Schoening, and Paul Sonnetag
Bob Iger vs. Bob Chapek: Inside the Disney Coup by Joe Flint, Robbie Whelan, Erich Schwartzel, Emily Glazer and Jessica Toonkel
What in the Ethereum application ecosystem excites me by Vitalik Buterin
This Could Still Be a Movement: Why Mars Needs a Creative Director by Eugene Angelo and Reggie James
Moment of Zen Podcast Ep. 1 by Dan Romero, Antonio García Martinez, and Erik Torenberg(featuring Marc Andreessan)
All-In Podcast Ep. 109: Bestie Awards Live from Twitter HQ by Jason Calacanis, David Sacks, Chamath Palihapitiya, and David Friedberg (featuring Elon Musk)
SBF vs. Erik Voorhees: How Do We Regulate Crypto? by Erik Voorhees
Tools for Thinking: New Data Structures by Jerry Michalski, Paul Rony, Alexander Obenaur, and John Underkoffler
Old Man and the Three: Draymond Green Opens Up About The Warriors Dominance, Recruiting Durant, Battling LeBron & More by JJ Reddick and Tommy Alter (featuring Draymond Green)
Want to see my entire collection? Check it out here
Lil Noun 3773(my first auction win!)
DSAvatar2022(my new PFP across all apps)