EP85: Take Control of Your Blockchain Identity w/ Scatter
Scatter allows you to securely connect to blockchain dApps and privately manage your digital identity.
Ashe Oro: Hey, what's up everyone? Welcome back to the Liberty Entrepreneurs podcast. I'm your host, Ashe Oro, and today on the show, we've got Nathan James. You probably don't know who that is, but he's also known as N.S. James. He's the founder of Scatter, which manages signatures, identity, reputation, and your security on blockchains, including Ethereum; EOS, my favorite; recently, Tron; and possibly Bitcoin in the future.
Ashe Oro: Nathan, thanks for joining us.
Nathan James: Thank you for having me.
Ashe Oro: Everyone in the EOS community knows who you are, but just in case they've been living under a rock for the past six months or so, who are you and how did you find the whole blockchain thing?
Nathan James: Well, I'm Nathan James. That's who I am, right?
Ashe Oro: Or are you N. S. James?
Nathan James: Or am I N. S. James? I don't even know anymore. [crosstalk 00:00:53] handles.
Ashe Oro: The programmer formerly known as.
Nathan James: Yes, the programmer formerly known as Nathan. I'm just a programmer who likes the idea of blockchain, loves the idea of blockchain. You know, there's a thing in blockchain where, once you get it into your head, you just can't sleep anymore. All you do is dream is about blockchain and I think that it's really true. It is. I haven't slept since EOS was launched, but when I do sleep, I sleep of blockchain.
Ashe Oro: I was going to say, "In like five years."
Nathan James: Yeah, in like five years. Exactly.
Ashe Oro: So what is Scatter? In your own words, what is it?
Nathan James: A lot of people seem to focus on its single sign-on aspect, but that's the smallest part of it. Scatter is a multi-blockchain key protector. It allows you to sign things on the blockchain without ever exposing your key to the thing that you're signing it on, so applications, desktops, games, whatever. It helps you protect yourself. That's its first and foremost goal.
Nathan James: Now, we're starting to also add identity on top of that. We're starting to add reputation on top of that. Single sign-on is a byproduct of the identity and reputation. You can log into applications locally without having to give up your information to Facebook, Google, Twitter, whatever.
Ashe Oro: I know that this started and you're big in the EOS community, but why did you also decide to support these other chains like Ethereum, Tron, and I think possibly, Bitcoin?
Nathan James: It goes back to what we're fighting, right? We're not fighting Ethereum as EOSers. We're not fighting Tron as Ethereumers. We're fighting banks, we're fighting governments. It's hard to say that on camera, right? We're fighting FICO scores. We're trying to fight centralized components. Fighting between us, between other blockchains, isn't constructive. It's not helpful.
Nathan James: I've taken a very agnostic approach with Scatter and we're just going to add all the blockchains. It will allow us to do amazing things in the future.
Ashe Oro: And why did you start developing Scatter on EOS and for that community specifically?
Nathan James: Actually, it came out of a need, and not just my need, everybody's need.
Nathan James: When I first got into EOS, it was December of 2017. There was nothing like Scatter, there was no signature provider. Now we have a couple of different ones. There's [inaudible 00:03:20] TokenPocket, there's Lynx. Scatter was created because people wanted to make apps. All throughout the apps that I saw people making, they had that little stupid input field where you had to put in your private key. I was like, "Well, there's no way this is going to sustain itself." Right?
Ashe Oro: Yeah.
Nathan James: Who's going to do that? And I started working on Scatter. I think it I had it out a week later.
Ashe Oro: Yeah, I know that you did, and I don't know what it was called, but we could register Scatter identities back a while ago.
Nathan James: Right.
Ashe Oro: Ironically, we had to use MetaMask. What is this? For most people, even myself whenever I started using MetaMask, I was like, "What is this? What am I even doing here? Why do I even need this?" I got these weird accounts in MetaMask, and now I have accounts in Scatter, and accounts in EOS. What was it? Whenever I purchased the Scatter username Ashe, what did I actually purchase and how will that Ashe username be used in EOS DApps?
Nathan James: What it does is it allows you to make an identity unique across all networks, all blockchains, centralized or decentralized applications. Your name Ashe, for instance, is now, because you reserved it before it went live, you now own it for 100 years. It doesn't expire. Whereas normally, these names expire every year.
Ashe Oro: Sorry haters. I've got it.
Nathan James: Yeah, sorry! Ashe is taken. There's always Chuck Norris.
Ashe Oro: Yeah, but it helps normal users have more of a sign-in experience to act like we're kind of used to already.
Nathan James: Right. And then on top of that is the actual reputation. I can give you reputation on top of your unique Ashe identity, which apps inside of Ethereum can use, apps inside of EOS can use, centralized applications can use. Then that reputation's actually decentralized on a blockchain, so a centralized application can use it, taking the benefits of the blockchain without ever having to integrate with the blockchain.
Ashe Oro: Yeah. Let's talk about that reputation for a second. I think that this is one of the most amazing parts of, not only blockchain in general, but also Dan Larimer's blockchain strong identity [crosstalk 00:06:10] blockchains.
Nathan James: Right.
Ashe Oro: I could remember the article he wrote. It must be five, six months ago now, talking about radical privacy or radical transparency and the necessity of having strong identity on a blockchain or really just on the digital space itself, and how that would prove to create a more-
Nathan James: A foundation.
Ashe Oro: A foundation and a fair and just society. Whereas with an anonymous type of site, look at all the trolls. How many trolls on Twitter would actually say that stuff to your face if they knew who each other were?
Nathan James: There's a very important thing here is we have the base layer. The baser layer's meant to be trustless, but that is so, so very limiting and dangerous for a bunch of different types of applications. We have to have that foundation of a trust on top of that trustless to be able to build certain things like loaning platforms or credit score platforms, anything to do with finance. You want to know if the person is able to pay back a loan. You can't do that trustless sense without having them stake tokens or all that stuff.
Ashe Oro: And the whole idea of you don't own your reputation, right?
Nathan James: Right, right.
Ashe Oro: That blew my mind when I figured that out. You can try to get-
Nathan James: Manipulate it.
Ashe Oro: Manipulate it, create it, build it, whatever you want to do, but at the end of the day, your reputation's what other people think about you.
Nathan James: Exactly.
Ashe Oro: And now we've got-
Nathan James: And it's not only what other people think about you, it's what other people think about you in relativity to what they think about everybody, right?
Ashe Oro: For sure, right. If I don't know you, but I see you're doing business with a shady businessman, then I probably think that there's a high probability of you being shady as well.
Ashe Oro: This is – and I can't remember the name yet – but the team that won the London Hackathon was building this type of smart contract reputation system, you know?
Nathan James: I was actually a little angry at yet.
Ashe Oro: Yeah, all right. Let's talk about that.
Nathan James: I was a little angry.
Ashe Oro: Because that's basically what Scatter's trying to do?
Nathan James: Well, this is a small part. That's a small fraction of what RIDL does. That's what Scatter is using RIDL for.
Ashe Oro: Okay.
Nathan James: Inside of Scatter, based on the reputations of the contracts or domains or entities that you're interacting with, it goes to RIDL and it fetches to see if it has certain fragments of the reputation in a negative fashion. If it has negative X scam, negative X trust, something like that, it'll give you warnings and tell you that maybe you shouldn't be interacting with this application, maybe you shouldn't be sending this user tokens.
Nathan James: And then I saw that on the Hackathon. I was like, "These motherfuckers!"
Ashe Oro: [crosstalk 00:09:04] the hackathon. Man.
Nathan James: First place, huh?
Ashe Oro: $100,000, huh?
Nathan James: $100,000, huh?
Ashe Oro: Yeah, right? Two people. No, it's a great idea. It doesn't surprise me that someone else-
Nathan James: For sure.
Ashe Oro: Or either saw what you were doing and implemented it for the Hackathon.
Nathan James: Right.
Ashe Oro: Because it was a difficult ... Privacy and security is a very difficult theme to program.
Nathan James: It so much is.
Ashe Oro: And to create about. I know that you said you were talking to several teams about just people trying to get ideas. What was that like? You're sitting wherever you're sitting and multiple people are hitting you up to chat about [crosstalk 00:09:38]-
Nathan James: I'm sitting here eating a bag of chips in my house and people are like, "We don't know what to do!" I'm like, "Mm-hmm (affirmative)."
Ashe Oro: No, it was tough. We were fortunate enough, Team Chestnut here, to get second place.
Nathan James: Chestnut!
Ashe Oro: Thank you. Hey, even that idea, this whole smart account idea that you set the firewall, you set the parameters, you set the rules of the engagement for your account. I went to a presentation the next day and I saw Martin from Tokenika presenting on the same type of idea. It's just like when really great ideas' time has come-
Nathan James: Absolutely.
Ashe Oro: It's going to flow into multiple people.
Ashe Oro: And seeing all these people building so much, we were talking before we started recording here about how not only is Scatter exploding with, it seems like, a fresh, hot update every four days or something, but so many people are building. What does that tell you about the number of people building in this bear market? I guess I only have a lot of visibility for EOS, but what's your experience with that?
Nathan James: You know, I talk to probably more developers than anyone else on EOS, including probably Block.one just because I'm more accessible.
Nathan James: There's a lot of people building. There's applications I can't talk about and I couldn't talk about six months ago. There's things that are coming out. There's an STK for Scatter coming out soon for Unity 3D, so a gaming platform. I'm going to be putting on a competition with cash prizes for the best triple-A style desktop game that people can build on one of the blockchains that Scatter supports with the new STK just to test it out and make sure it's ready.
Nathan James: I started leaking a little bit of that to some developers and every day, I get hit up by one developer like, "Yo, when's the STK ready? Yo, we want to build desktop games. We want to do this, please give it to us already." You know?
Ashe Oro: And for the non-programmer or non-tech listener, what is an STK and why are these developers wanting it so much?
Nathan James: An STK makes it extremely easy to just load a library into a project and then they can just start programming their game without having to worry about contacting Scatter or contacting a blockchain or any of that. They can do what they're good at, game programming, and let us do what we're good at, securing your private keys and interacting with the blockchain.
Ashe Oro: Right. I know that you initially developed the Scatter Chrome extension, and then I think it's been deprecated recently in favor of the Scatter desktop app. Why the move there? What did you learn and why are you pushing so hard for people to use the desktop app now?
Nathan James: There's a bunch of stuff that I learned on the, I guess it was a seven-month journey of going through the extension. Extensions are A) insecure because they can be auto-updated without your consent. In Chrome, you can't even turn that off, which is terrible. If anybody ever put a gun to my head and told me to update Scatter extension, I could update it and steal whoever has their Scatter open's keys.
Ashe Oro: Oh, wow.
Nathan James: That's not something that I want the responsibility of. It's not something I believe in. I don't think that we should be doing that. That was my first big decision to move away.
Nathan James: The second is that the desktop is far more accessible. Now, you can use it on Safari, you can use it on Chrome, you can use it on Firefox, Edge, Opera, whatever browser you want. You don't have to install an extension. You can also use with desktop apps, like games.
Ashe Oro: That's the most amazing part. Whenever I figured out that you may have created a cross-platform, write once, use everywhere-type-
Nathan James: Yeah, it works on mobile. It works on mobile!
Ashe Oro: Okay, let's slow it down here because I think that this is ... I've got a bit of an engineering program background. Whenever I read that, I got so excited that I wanted to raise money for you. I didn't care if you spend it on pizza or beer or if you spent it on free ... You ended up wanting to give out free accounts with Scatter, but I thought this was so revolutionary that this could be a reason that people move towards blockchain because it's so accessible.
Nathan James: Right.
Ashe Oro: By the way, we did end up raising 302 EOS for my man here.
Nathan James: Yes, it was much appreciated.
Ashe Oro: Paid it out through the Freedom Proxy. Shameless plug here for the Freedom Proxy.
Ashe Oro: But yeah, what does it mean? Now that you've moved to the desktop, you've got something called Scatter JS. What is that and how can you possibly have a cross-platform [crosstalk 00:14:28]-
Nathan James: But it allows them to do something which all developers love, which is not have to write things for each platform because nobody has time for that. Some teams are small and they don't have the resources to do that.
Ashe Oro: Yeah. Where do you see this, if teams can write once and use anywhere, what does this even mean? I know that was the promise with Java back when I started coding in 1999 and 2000.
Nathan James: They dropped the ball on that one.
Ashe Oro: Didn't they? That was the promise though, that Java was going to be a cross-platform-
Nathan James: Got the JVM!
Ashe Oro: Exactly, you got the JVM. Exactly. Where do you see this going, in layman's terms, and then in technical terms? What does this even mean? What are people missing here? Why aren't more people excited?
Nathan James: I don't know, actually. I think it's a very technical thing. You can't expect people who aren't very technical to understand the implications of this.
Nathan James: Now that there's prototype on Android which already works and some native Android applications are using it to interact with the blockchain, with your private keys. There's a EOS Knights, which is a native mobile application interacting with Scatter, which is another native mobile application. It's not even on the web at all and it's signing things for you. That's a first.
Nathan James: And then on desktop, there's Mac, there's Window, there's Linux. You can use whatever platform you want, however you want, and you can interact with desktop applications, you can interact with web applications on any browser that you want. It gives you, the user, full accessibility and it gives the developers full accessibility. It's kind of encompassing the whole spectrum here.
Ashe Oro: Yeah. As an example, I'm using, let's say ... Let me just look at my list of tools here on my desktop. Oh, this could be scary. No. I've got Age of Empires here. Age of Empire.
Nathan James: Right, you can use it with Scatter.
Ashe Oro: Yeah, you can use it with Scatter, which is great, so the EOS blockchain.
Nathan James: Yes, you can.
Ashe Oro: And so now, instead of just getting points awarded, I could potentially get their-
Nathan James: Tokens.
Ashe Oro: Their tokens awarded.
Nathan James: Right.
Ashe Oro: And most likely, with-
Nathan James: And they could never take them from you.
Ashe Oro: Right, and they could never taken them from you. Well, I guess it depends on the smart contract.
Nathan James: You could put them on an exchange.
Ashe Oro: Yeah, right? We saw what happened with [Try 00:17:26] where some smart contracts do allow you to [crosstalk 00:17:29]-
Nathan James: Right. Eh, this is up to the contract developer, right?
Ashe Oro: Right.
Nathan James: It has nothing to do with EOS or Ethereum. You could do that with Ethereum.
Ashe Oro: For sure.
Nathan James: You just can't update the contract do that.
Ashe Oro: Right. So I'm playing a real time strategy game, like Age of Empires. Actually, Age of Mythology. This is my favorite RTS of choice, but I could be paid out in actual tokens through their system, through own tokens economy, and I would have a wallet, potentially built into the Age of Mythology app itself.
Nathan James: You wouldn't though.
Ashe Oro: Okay.
Nathan James: You would have Scatter. You would have Scatter. That's why Scatter is so awesome for those desktop games. If you wanted to have a wallet inside the desktop game, you would have to put your private key into that desktop game.
Ashe Oro: Oh.
Nathan James: Now, the same way that you don't want to put it into web applications, you don't want to put it into a desktop application because you don't know what they're doing with it. They can contact Scatter, sign things with Scatter without ever seeing your private key, and then push it back to their application.
Ashe Oro: Right, where you would approve the transaction.
Nathan James: Well, you approve it on Scatter.
Ashe Oro: Right. Oh, okay.
Nathan James: And even more so, you have a white listing system on Scatter where you don't have to approve things every time. If a game is trying to get you to approve on every shot that you make in a shooter, you could white list it and shoot, and you would never even notice that you're interacting with the blockchain.
Ashe Oro: Right, right, right. This is, as someone who had been thinking about this with the whole Chestnut idea, the white listing is an amazing opportunity for us to conveniently use apps for transactions over and over without having to sign every single-
Nathan James: I saw another wallet doing this recently. It wasn't quite the same, but I was like, "Yeah, it's catching on."Ashe Oro: It is catching on. Let's see here, Nathan. What else do we have to chat about?
Nathan James: Do you hear the cat? Do you hear the rapist cat?
Ashe Oro: I do hear the cat. Apparently, Nathan's cat is in heat and there is a suitor outside the window.
Nathan James: There is. He just sits there and meows all day.
Ashe Oro: Romeo and Juliet.
Nathan James: You know what? I feel like a father. I keep going out there and throwing water on the cat. I'm like, "Get out of here! Stop trying to fuck my cat!"
Ashe Oro: Oh, so awesome. We won't talk about the other anatomy of the cat that we had earlier.
Nathan James: No.
Ashe Oro: So bear markets are for builders, right?
Nathan James: Yes.
Ashe Oro: Bull markets are for speculators. Bear markets are for builders.
Nathan James: No markets are for speculators. Sorry.
Ashe Oro: Well, we need price discovery at some point.
Nathan James: Yeah.
Ashe Oro: Speculators are going to be there. Hey, if it wasn't for the speculators, we wouldn't be able to sell the tops.
Nathan James: That's true. But what if nothing had value?
Ashe Oro: Well, value's subjective, so I'm not sure how that would happen.
Nathan James: Well, I guess you could say nothing does have value.
Ashe Oro: Or that everything has value, depending on your perspective.
Nathan James: Well, if nothing has value, then everything has value.
Ashe Oro: Is that how it works?
Nathan James: Maybe?
Ashe Oro: This just turned into a philosophical podcast.
Nathan James: It did, didn't it? Is the absence of light, light?
Ashe Oro: If non-existence doesn't exit, does existence exist?
Nathan James: And is it non-existent?
Ashe Oro: And how do you prove it?
Nathan James: And how do you prove it? Yeah, that's the real question, right? Damn scientists.
Ashe Oro: Why aren't you going to the hackathons here, Nathan? You're an obvious all-star-
Nathan James: I just missed them. I just missed them.
Ashe Oro: You just missed them?
Nathan James: I was supposed to come be a mentor at the last one, and I say this a lot, "My wife and I," but we're not actually married. I got engaged a week before the hackathon.
Ashe Oro: Oh, okay.
Nathan James: I was like, "I'm not going to go to the hackathon right after I get"-
Ashe Oro: Women love the hackathons! Look at my team. We were 60% women!
Nathan James: I brought her to one blockchain event once. That was it. We're done.
Ashe Oro: You've had a lot of news lately about people implementing Scatter and strategic partnerships and stuff like that. I see you've got the Horus Pay shirt on. At least I think that's what it is down there. What does it mean when somebody integrates with Scatter and how does that help the user experience?
Nathan James: Integrating with Scatter is a very simple process. All you have to do is install one of the STKs and you're off to go. You don't have to go get an API key or anything like that.
Nathan James: A partnership with Scatter isn't really about integration. It's more about us kind of helping those platforms find the best way to user Scatter, the most convenient way for their users, the most, I don't know, quick way for them to get interactions. The partnerships are all very different because each application is different so they need different things. But mostly, it's just about finding how they can maximize their use of EOS or Ethereum or whatever blockchain they're using along with Scatter in the most convenient way for their users.
Ashe Oro: Do you have any stats on the number of people using Scatter to integrate with ... No stats at all?
Nathan James: I don't keep any stats. We have download stats because that's available from GitHub itself.
Ashe Oro: Right. Yeah, I was just curious the number of people using Scatter for Ethereum versus with EOS.
Nathan James: Oh, it's all EOS at the moment. I think there's one Ethereum app and there's like 70,000 users on EOS by the downloads and usage stats.
Ashe Oro: Yeah. I was so placed to see DappRadar start offering EOS stats as well because man, the proof is in the community, right?
Nathan James: It is.
Ashe Oro: When you've got, let's see here, five-
Nathan James: That Pixelia game, that pixel game, man.
Ashe Oro: Oh man, right? I think they've nailed the incentive structure there.
Nathan James: I looked at it in the morning one day and it was oh, 180,000 for the whole board, $180,000. When I looked at it the same night, it was like $580,000. Jesus!
Ashe Oro: I know. It doesn't take building a huge business, people.
Nathan James: It doesn't.
Ashe Oro: It doesn't take that.
Nathan James: It takes a stupid pixel game!
Ashe Oro: And you know, that pixel game is just from the million-dollar board from back in 2005 or something where they had a million pixels and you could buy one pixel for a dollar and supposedly it would stay there forever.
Nathan James: Reddit did this recently on one of their April Fool's things. It's funny, that was one of the example applications that I made way back when for Scatter. It wasn't so many blocks or anything, but it seems like a big thing that people are always interested in. I just came along, they made it-
Ashe Oro: And now they're going to make-
Nathan James: A million-dollar board!
Ashe Oro: A million dollars on it or two million dollars on it.
Nathan James: Right. It's a ICO board.
Ashe Oro: Yeah, for sure. What's cool is back in the day, the original million-dollar board, you could only buy one pixel once and that was it.
Nathan James: Right, right.
Ashe Oro: This one is awesome because you buy the pixel as an investment. How sick is that?
Nathan James: Right, it goes down. And it's not only an investment for you, it's an investment for everybody on the board.
Ashe Oro: Everyone, right. Somebody buys your pixel, you get reimbursed plus a little commission and now that person owns that pixel, at least temporarily, which-
Nathan James: Did you see how much that middle pixel, the 500 500 is worth?
Ashe Oro: I didn't.
Nathan James: It's like $5,000 EOS for one pixel.
Ashe Oro: Wow. We're going to go look at it right now because that is completely ridiculous.
Nathan James: It's $4,480 or something like that.
Ashe Oro: Wow, good for them.
Nathan James: Seriously.
Ashe Oro: I did a podcast with a guy named Kevin Geary. Maybe two podcasts ago. This will be high 80s podcast. His was about 84. We were talking about digital lifestyle businesses and now I'm speaking directly to the listeners.
Ashe Oro: The idea of building a digital lifestyle business, one that can cashflow you $5, $10,000 dollars a month is what, in my opinion, is what you're looking for. Don't try to raise all this money with this unbelievably groundbreaking new age idea that you're going to need $5 million, $10 million, or even $1 million for. See what you can do with one other key person or two other key people.
Nathan James: You know, recently, this is leading into something personal for me, actually.
Nathan James: Recently, I've always been trying to make million-dollar businesses, billion-dollar businesses, and maybe a couple of years ago, I decided to just make enough to pay rent through some business. I started an affiliate program. I tried to get into that whole world and it actually did what it was supposed to. It made enough money to sustain my lifestyle or at least additional to what I was doing with working. It was the best feeling every. It was better than building a billion-dollar business.
Ashe Oro: For sure. What could a couple thousand dollars a month do for almost anybody? That can change your quality of life. An extra two or three or five or ten. Oh my god, $10,000 a month extra? That allows-
Nathan James: That's doctor salary.
Ashe Oro: Yeah, it is a doctor salary, for sure. You can take these existing ideas, especially these games and stuff, and simplify everything, but just create something on the blockchain that people already did in the non-blockchain world. You see all these games in EOS and they didn't happen in Ethereum because they couldn't happen. It was too slow and it was too expensive.
Nathan James: Right, micro transactions.
Ashe Oro: Fast, micro transactions. Now we can do them and that's why you're seeing these games pop up on EOS. But just look at some of the simple games that you've made back in the day and see if it makes sense to incorporate blockchain and build it out. You don't have to-
Nathan James: Somebody, please make Tanks. I want to see Tank Wars.
Ashe Oro: Right? Tank Wars. Holy crap! Tank Wars.
Nathan James: It's the perfect blockchain for it.
Ashe Oro: That was such a ridiculous game.
Nathan James: It was.
Ashe Oro: Yeah, I don't know. I hear so many people trying to do so many super complex, difficult things. Even at this hackathon in London, so many teams were trying to do so much complication.
Nathan James: And most of them probably didn't even finish.
Ashe Oro: Oh, for sure not. We were only given 25 hours, which is crazy.
Nathan James: Right.
Ashe Oro: But then my team, Team Chestnut, came with just, I thought, it was the simplest idea ever.
Nathan James: It was.
Ashe Oro: I couldn't believe that no other teams thought of this. Just have an account that works for you.
Nathan James: It's funny because those are the things that users really want. When Scatter first came out, it was this huge, complicated beast. Even Scatter desktop until a couple versions ago was just super, super complicated. Then we simplified it. People love it. People want simple. They don't want complex. If you want complex, you have to build up to that. Facebook, when it started, you had a profile photo, you had a status. That was it. Right?
Ashe Oro: Yeah. You can't start building complex.
Nathan James: You can't.
Ashe Oro: You can't do it.
Nathan James: You'll never finish.
Ashe Oro: Yeah, exactly. Like Dan said, "Don't let perfection be the enemy of progress."
Nathan James: Right, absolutely.
Ashe Oro: Even looking back on my professional life before I was deep into the blockchain like I am now, I helped build an off-shore bank. Most people are like, "Holy shit! An off-shore bank?"
Nathan James: We're going to talk after this.
Ashe Oro: We just built out the CRM and then we built out the customer support department. Everything was simple. Then we built out the sales department.
Nathan James: You did it piece by piece, by piece.
Ashe Oro: Piece by piece. What's your experience building Scatter? What have you learned now? What would you do differently now knowing what you do, if anything? Maybe you nailed everything.
Nathan James: Yeah, no. But that's the thing, I don't know if I would have done anything different because I reached the position now that I'm in with Scatter because of months and months and months of user input. I don't think that I could have done that by myself.
Ashe Oro: That validation stage.
Nathan James: Right.
Ashe Oro: That was one thing at the London Hackathon. One of our team members, Patricia Parkinson, which you met at Tulip, she's all about the feedback phase and making sure that people want this and want to use it. I've coined this as an engineer and as an entrepreneur, very rarely should you build as an engineer, just build because you can build, build because you want to build, build as entrepreneur.
Nathan James: Build as a user, even.
Ashe Oro: Absolutely. Build as a user. Every business that I've built is because I wanted to use it. When I learned that Dan Larimer is building EOS because he wants to use it to build his future apps, that was one of the big signaling points for me to have the confidence to go in with size and sell Bitcoin and Ethereum and whatever because-
Nathan James: This is going not only with something I believe, but with somebody who believes in my same core values.
Ashe Oro: Yeah, absolutely. And the iterative nature of what EOS was created out of.
Nathan James: Oh, for sure. For sure. Two different blockchains before that.
Ashe Oro: Two different blockchains. You look at Ethereum. Look, I still got love for Ethereum. I was in an Ethereum crowd cell back in 2014. I wish those guys success and the best of luck to them for competing against EOS, but they unfortunately don't have the benefit of multiple blockchain iteration like they've got on EOS.
Nathan James: Right. Well, there's another aspect to that too is that they have their core foundation already. It's very hard to change something which so many people are already using. I see this with Scatter. I change it in their face; I don't even care. But I can do that because I'm the sole developer of Scatter. When you put in thousands and thousands of notes, you can't just change things around, even if it's in their benefit. You know, hardforking. People will go two different ways.
Ashe Oro: What a nightmare.
Nathan James: It's a scary word, honestly. It's a super scary word for anybody who knows what it actually is.
Ashe Oro: Yeah. And a lot of times, it's a software upgrade.
Nathan James: It is.
Ashe Oro: We see Hardfork 20 just got implemented in-
Nathan James: I just realized that hardfork is a very lewd term.
Ashe Oro: It is. It's lewd, it is.
Nathan James: It is! Anybody who doesn't know blockchain, they're like, "Hardforking, huh?"
Ashe Oro: Yeah. Even within the communities, you're like, "Wait a second. Our community's going to hardfork? We don't want that."
Nathan James: "How do we do this?"
Ashe Oro: It's another thing. I'm not here just to toot EOS's horn, but just the idea of shining light and giving transparency to governance and solidifying the relationship between token holders and the governance structure. It's so far ahead that I just don't-
Nathan James: It is. There's a lot of work to be done.
Ashe Oro: Oh, for sure. There's no doubt about that.
Nathan James: It's a very good start.
Ashe Oro: It's a very good foundational start.
Nathan James: Yeah.
Ashe Oro: What projects are you really excited about these days?
Nathan James: In DApp terms?
Ashe Oro: Yeah.
Nathan James: I don't know. I'm a gamer and I do know that there's some really big games that I'm excited about but I can't talk about them. There's other projects that I'm excited about and I don't want to name them.
Ashe Oro: Well, we can pause so that every listener sends in their NDA and then they can-
Nathan James: Yeah, right? Exactly. Exactly.
Ashe Oro: What technology then, rather than DApps, what technology? Besides Scatter, of course, which is pretty much the bleeding edge at this point.
Nathan James: Hm. For EOS specifically?
Ashe Oro: Eh, it doesn't need to be EOS specifically.
Nathan James: You know, I'm not really a good person to ask this. I don't get excited that much until I see something in action. I don't like boasting before something's done. I like to see the product, see what it is, to feel it, and then I'll tell you if it's good or not.
Ashe Oro: All right, then I know you've got this one. What do you think the users need right now to feel more confident and just familiar in a blockchain environment? Maybe like a blockchain operating system, like we saw EOS Desktop, I think it's called. Where do you see that going?
Nathan James: Right. I don't think those things breed confidence. I think that confidence doesn't matter. I think that the second that they have something that they want so much, nothing else matters. Right? I'm very big into games. Everybody knows this. I talk about it all the time.
Ashe Oro: What kind of games?
Nathan James: Just gaming in general. I'm a long-time gamer since Atari, Nintendo. If there's one thing that really captivates a person, it's a game. If a new game comes out that they want ... There's Red Dead Redemption 2 coming out now and everybody's going ballistic over it. There's sign for it everything. If you tell them they can't play this unless they have a private key, they'll be like, "Well, you know what? Imma get me a private key."
Ashe Oro: Right.
Nathan James: They don't even care what a private key is. You could tell them it's a handful of dog shit and they'll be like, "Imma get it."
Ashe Oro: Yeah. "Imma go get it. Imma order it on Amazon."
Nathan James: Yep. "I'm ordering it on Amazon."
Ashe Oro: We're hoping Borderlands 3 comes out at some point.
Nathan James: See? And Half-life 2.
Ashe Oro: I think it's the same team, right? Red Dead and Borderlands 2, that's from the same team isn't it? 2K?
Nathan James: Maybe.
Ashe Oro: I don't know.
Nathan James: Yeah, maybe.
Ashe Oro: What do you think about the future of more of like an operating system environment for EOS or blockchain for [assets 00:36:51] with its own app store? I know we're starting to see this in Meet 1, but where is this going? Does this have any chance of replacing iOS and Android or is this just integrating into these already existing-
Nathan James: That's such a hard thing to do.
Nathan James: Okay, I could go right now. I don't know if I could physically actually do this because I don't know anything about programming an operating system, but let's say that I did. I could go right now and create a Scatter operating system which is compatible with Ethereum, EOS, Tron, Bitcoin, BlankCoin whatever. Great. It's done. Now, go find me some users who can actually install that shit, right?
Ashe Oro: Right.
Nathan James: Because users can't even reinstall their Windows, let alone some random operating system. Would it be more secure? Absolutely. Does that matter? We need accessibility.
Ashe Oro: And that's why Scatter JS allows existing operating systems and native applications to integrate with the blockchain.
Nathan James: Right, right.
Ashe Oro: Rather than trying to replace them.
Nathan James: Yeah, you kind of turned that around on me, didn't you?
Ashe Oro: Oh, sneaky, sneaky.
Nathan James: Totally.
Ashe Oro: I love the voice that you carry in your Medium articles. If any of the listeners here haven't read Nathan's Medium articles, it's very just blunt and to the point without any bullshit, which I can appreciate. I can't remember. I think it was the one where you supported Safari, Firefox, and Edge. You were like, "And let it be known that we did it first." If you do amazing things, yeah, put it on the blockchain.
Nathan James: Yeah man.
Ashe Oro: Like sign-
Nathan James: I mean, Medium's not the blockchain, but it's for articles.
Ashe Oro: It's not but it will be. Where do you see that going, like blogs and stuff like that? We've had Steam for two years, but-
Nathan James: I mean, it's a prime candidate.
Ashe Oro: Prime candidate.
Nathan James: I personally, I don't connect to the Steam interface, which makes it a problematic thing for me because I'm very visually oriented in user experience and all that. It was just hard for me to get behind, but the concept behind it is fantastic. There's going to be a predecessor. We know that there's going to be something coming out from Mr. D.
Ashe Oro: With Dan.
Nathan James: Yeah. It's going to take off like wildfire because blogs have been around, god, inception of the internet, right?
Ashe Oro: GeoCities, people.
Nathan James: It started with blogs. The first thing on the internet was a blog.
Ashe Oro: Right? I think I had a video game clan page on GeoCities back in the day.
Nathan James: Seriously. What was the other one? Angelfire.
Ashe Oro: Yeah, Angelfire, GeoCities.
Nathan James: Jesus.
Ashe Oro: It just seems like we talked about earlier when an idea's time has come, it's going start passing through people. Facebook just got hacked. Could this be any more primetime?
Nathan James: I know.
Ashe Oro: It's insane. If I was the CEO of Steam, Steam it, I'd be out there getting on every single media outlet I could.
Nathan James: Was that aimed directly at him?
Ashe Oro: Actually, it is. Just like their interface is aimed directly at team Steam. Why the hell has it not changed in two years and why does it still suck so bad? I'm still an investor in Steam but-
Nathan James: Then again, Reddit. You know?
Ashe Oro: Then again, Reddit. That's true.
Nathan James: They tried to change their interface and I didn't even like it.
Ashe Oro: But at least Reddit has sub-communities and communities and stuff like that.
Nathan James: Yeah and number seven page rank in the entire world.
Ashe Oro: Yeah, so something worked for them. But a shitty interface and experience doesn't work for everyone.
Nathan James: Yeah.
Ashe Oro: Speaking of interfaces, what's your idea on the evolution of what we're seeing with interfaces right now? I ask that because while the interface of Scatter was good, I still found it a bit non-intuitive. I think that this is across the board in the blockchain space because in this foundational level, we're concentrated on, well, the foundation, the programmers, let's make sure it works then we'll make it beautiful and user-friendly.
Ashe Oro: Where do you see this going and when do you think teams are going to start taking the user experience seriously?
Nathan James: I don't know if you actually saw this, but we released Scatter 9 recently. That'd be two weeks ago. It was an entire revamp of the whole user experience, the whole UI. It made Scatter into one panel. That's all it is now. There's no more sub-panels. You put in a private key. It does everything for you, fetches all your accounts, so you don't have to do any of that stuff anymore. I think that it took us the time or it took me the time of going through it in a hard way to understand how to make it simple.
Nathan James: Right now in blockchain in general, we know what people hate. We know what they like and we now have a basis to create applications more generated for them instead of for people like me who are technically inclined. I use a variety of different applications, but most people don't. They use a browser. That's it.
Ashe Oro: Yeah. They use a browser and they use a Mac and they use an iPhone.
Nathan James: Right, right.
Ashe Oro: They love it.
Nathan James: That's a small percentage, right? That really is the smaller percentage. Android is 70% market share in the world.
Ashe Oro: Sure. Even Android phones, they've come along ways.
Nathan James: They have.
Ashe Oro: I had the original Droid phone, the one that slid up and had the hard keyboard under it. Coming from those days to today, and that was only ... That was probably 2010.
Nathan James: Right, yeah. That's the thing, it wasn't that long ago.
Ashe Oro: Smart phones have been around for about as long as Bitcoin has. Think about that! That's some crazy shit right there.
Nathan James: Smart phones is actually a really good look at the advancement of the user experience across technology. If we go back even further than that, what did you have? You had those Nokia phones with the little antenna which you could throw that people would break their face with. Those things were terrible, but we used them. Triple-click on the buttons to get to the last letter. It was all right, it was fine.
Ashe Oro: I think that was called TTO.
Nathan James: TTO, there you go.
Ashe Oro: Well, I'm old. I had a pager in high school. Forget about it.
Nathan James: Exactly! Those things were beyond user experience. Turn it upside down, it says "HELLO."
Ashe Oro: Yeah. People just type in certain codes because you got a page-
Nathan James: "Oh, the drugs are here."
Ashe Oro: Yeah, exactly. "The iguana has landed" shit. Everybody had a pager but everybody still had to use a payphone.
Nathan James: Exactly, exactly. Oh man, I miss those days.
Ashe Oro: Yeah. It was like we didn't have Google to search, "Where is the payphone?" I was just in London and it has to be some sort of government-
Nathan James: The old payphones?
Ashe Oro: The old payphones! They're everywhere! That has to be a government mandate of some way.
Nathan James: It is. No, it's a historical preservation act.
Ashe Oro: I'm sure. They're everywhere.
Nathan James: We've got one here in Israel for some obscure reason.
Ashe Oro: Is that where you are right now, Israel?
Nathan James: Yeah, I'm in Israel.
Ashe Oro: What time is it for you, 9:00?
Nathan James: It's 12:00 AM.
Ashe Oro: Midnight?
Nathan James: Well, it's midnight. Yeah.
Ashe Oro: Whoa, I appreciate you staying up late for us here.
Nathan James: This isn't late. This is my morning.
Ashe Oro: Yeah, you are a programmer. It's funny. I don't see the white cheddar popped corn or the Mountain Dew anywhere.
Nathan James: No, that goes with this.
Ashe Oro: I'm going to have to doc you one developer point.
Nathan James: I'm one of these developers.
Ashe Oro: Oh right, Red Bulls. Point rewarded back.
Nathan James: I only have a couple more years left to work on Scatter.
Ashe Oro: What's next for you? What's next for Scatter? Can you give us inside info here?
Nathan James: Well, we have that gaming STK coming out soon. There's going to be a huge competition for desktop games. I'm not talking about Pixel Master or EOS Pixel or any of those. I'm talking about Age of Empires or Fortnight or Overwatch, Doom, real triple-A style games. That really excites me because I know how many people play those games. I know how much time it sucks out of your life and I want those people.
Ashe Oro: Yeah. I think that they're a great use case and you-
Nathan James: They're already technically inclined. Gamers are the most technically inclined people on the web, aside from programmers.
Ashe Oro: Yeah, but a lot of programmers are gamers and a lot of gamers are programmers. They used to say, I don't know if they still do, but that the gaming industry is the only recession-proof industry because-
Nathan James: It is. Did you know that it's about 7 to 10% of the entire United States GDP?
Ashe Oro: Wow, gaming?
Nathan James: Gaming.
Ashe Oro: And that professional gamers, I have gone to a Major League Gaming convention.
Nathan James: Oh man.
Ashe Oro: They're enormous.
Nathan James: They are.
Ashe Oro: It's like a pro sports convention.
Nathan James: It is.
Ashe Oro: It's insane.
Nathan James: Some of them are larger.
Ashe Oro: Some of them are larger. It's ridiculous, but I really appreciate what you're building.
Nathan James: Thank you.
Ashe Oro: And how you're pushing forward computer science, in my opinion.
Nathan James: I hope so.
Ashe Oro: That is a noble cause and you're a humble guy and you're a great writer. I hope you continue to give us the same type of witty, semi-snarky [crosstalk 00:46:24]-
Nathan James: I'll try.
Ashe Oro: Packed full of information that normal people can understand. I think that's the big thing. One of the themes of today's show was simplicity. Even though you're extraordinarily technical, and you understand shit that almost nobody understands in this space right now, you're able to communicate it in a way that even people that have never programmed, I think will see value in and understand a bit more.
Nathan James: I'm glad it comes off that way.
Ashe Oro: It does. Yeah, so thank you for that. And thank you for helping protect people's private keys and helping us stay safe.
Nathan James: Oh, it's my pleasure. I'm really just protecting my private key.
Ashe Oro: Hey-
Nathan James: You guys are all byproducts.
Ashe Oro: The virtue of selfishness. I appreciate it.
Nathan James: Right?
Ashe Oro: I built Liberty Virtual Assistants because I wanted an easier way to hire virtual assistants and I didn't want to go through any other-
Nathan James: There you go, there you go.
Ashe Oro: It just happens that anyone else can use it too. Well, not anyone else.
Ashe Oro: If you get the free accounts rolled out, let us know man. I'd love to sponsor that, support that however I can.
Nathan James: I'm working with a very big company, not only to get free accounts, but to get a very, very legal way with all of the regulations and all of that to go from fiat to EOS account.
Ashe Oro: Oh, that'd be wonderful. I've actually, I haven't said this publicly yet, but I've been looking into ways to try to accept EOS native tokens for gift cards, potentially, because I think that's a great bridge between-
Nathan James: You should talk to me about that because I've got a way.
Ashe Oro: All right. That's what I'm talking about. See people? Network! I created this podcast because I wanted high-quality conversations with awesome go-getting people and here we go.
Nathan James: And the gift card system at the end.
Ashe Oro: And the gift card system because I want [inaudible 00:48:18]. If anyone would like to join your community or help the cause, how can they keep up with you? How can they follow you?
Nathan James: We just revamped the entire Get Scatter website. It's get-scatter.com. From there, you have links to Twitter and Telegram. I'm most available on Telegram. You'll see me there all day, chatting, shooting the shit with people in there. I'm very down to earth. Send me a message, I'll most likely respond.
Ashe Oro: Awesome.
Nathan James: Unless I don't like you. You must have done something really bad for me not to like you.
Ashe Oro: And then "No soup for you."
Nathan James: "No soup for you." I can't actually prevent you from getting Scatter, but I'll be mad.
Ashe Oro: Or preventing you from getting soup!
Nathan James: Or soup, yeah.
Ashe Oro: All right. Well, this has been another Liberty Entrepreneurs episode with Nathan James of Scatter. Go EOS, go blockchain. We're all in this together. Let's remember that. This tribalism has to stop.
Nathan James: It does.
Ashe Oro: We're all in this together. We're all trying to build freedom. So I challenge you, dear listener, to leave us a message. Leave us a message on Twitter and tell us how you are building freedom in your own life and how you can simplify that so it's easily understood.
Ashe Oro: Nathan, thank you for coming on the show and until next time, keep building freedom.
Nathan James: Peace out guys.
PLEASE LEAVE A REVIEW ON YOUR FAVORITE PLATFORM!
Stitcher Radio: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/liberty-entrepreneurs-podcast