As part of my continuing support of the Steemit platform and of the Steem Blockchain I am currently running high capacity computer hardware that can form an important part of the Steem/Steemit ecosystem and architecture – A ‘Witness’ server. Here’s a description of what Witnesses do and why I’m asking for you to vote for me.
I am paying to run a high powered webserver that forms part of the hardware network that runs/manages Steemit behind the scenes. This is a significant monthly investment in terms of money and time and allows me to help the Steemit community directly – but I only get reimbursed if I excel in the role and the community supports me through their witness votes. Since I need to get votes from users of Steemit to stand a chance of getting any financial payback from my investment and to make my effort sustainable I will be showing here why you will be benefited by voting for me and what I will do for you and Steemit!
Background - What is a Witness Server?
As you may know, Steemit is different from most current social network websites in that it is, on a technical level, a much more community oriented system than Facebook/Google+/Twitter etc.
Steemit relies on the cryptocurrency and blockchain called ‘Steem’ and Steem itself relies on a distributed network of webservers (computers) to carry out the tasks of managing all of our posts, comments, votes and other functions – in contrast to the centralised model used by large corporations who run existing social networks. Instead of having warehouses full of computers running 24/7 to keep the website and blockchain going, a network of servers are run by Steemit users (without any formal contract being involved) which take on the task of processing the data for Steem and keep the whole system running smoothly. These servers are known as witness servers and their operators might be known as witnesses. Witnesses process Steem’s ‘blocks’ and transactions aswell as influence decisions that affect the rules which govern Steem and thus your experience of Steemit.
Comparing Steem ‘Witnesses’ to Bitcoin ‘Miners’
Some of the tasks of witnesses are similar to the tasks carried out by ‘miners’ on the Bitcoin network and other cryptocurrency networks, however, there are important differences due to the way that Steem differs from Bitcoin in it’s design, intention and functionality. ‘Miners’ of Bitcoin are tasked with running computer software that constantly processes transactions that are made on the Bitcoin network and then building ‘blocks’ from them which are used to form part of the ongoing ledger record system known as the ‘blockchain’ for that currency. When a Bitcoin miner completes a block they are rewarded with payment of a certain amount of Bitcoin that covers the costs of them running the hardware and for their time in participating in maintaining the Bitcoin network and making Bitcoin a success. The Bitcoin model is known as ‘Proof of work’ in that each miner mathematically proves that they have done the calculation work for the new blocks in the blockchain before they are paid any reward.
The Steemit model is similar, but different and is known as ‘Proof of Stake’. Proof of stake refers to the way that the Witnesses must demonstrate that they have a sustained interest in the success of Steem and Steemit. Every user of Steemit has the ability to vote for 30 witness candidates and whichever candidates get the most votes will also get the most blocks to process and thus stand to be paid the most for their work. Currently only about the top 70 Witnesses stand much chance of recouping their running costs. Witnesses receive payments for processing blocks in the blockchain only once they have received enough votes in comparison to their competitors and so that requires that they are active in the community and can gain sufficient witness votes from others in the community. This means that everyone who uses Steemit can have a say in who operates the technology that runs Steemit and as we shall see that means that we all also have a say in how the network evolves as time goes by.
Witnesses do more than build the Steem blockchain. Witnessing is like being a member of a parliament too.
Beyond just processing the blocks and transactions for Steem, witnesses are also required to participate in the setting of the exchange rate between Steem Backed Dollars and Steem in the market and also in defining the cost of creating new accounts on Steem. Witnesses also have a say in whether or not changes to the rules of Steem are accepted and these rules may effect important aspects such as post payout formulas and other practical aspects of Steem and Steemit.
On a practical level, this means that a witness has to perform some tasks that would otherwise be only performed in banks and currency exchanges – plus also must have some degree of understanding of a variety of different systems - including software, networking, social networks, economics, social psychology and other design principles that are relevant when making decisions that effect large groups of people. As you can imagine, this is quite a specific set of abilities that are not commonly found together in one person, so the job of witness and the witness voting process is an interesting challenge both for witness candidates and for the voters of Steemit.
Significant changes to Steem are called ‘forks’, which refers to a ‘fork’ in the path of the software and a change in direction. Witnesses can choose to adopt a suggested fork or not – meaning that all witnesses can lend their own ‘vote’ to such packages of changes or reject them. The overall structure of this is not unlike the way a parliament contains representatives from the community who have been voted to act in the best interests of the community, based on what the community knows about the representative.
I was born in 1978 and wrote my first computer program aged 4 on a Camputers Lynx – it created an image on the screen of animated truck with flashing wheels! My mother was one of the first ever female computer programmers in the 1960s (she was a structural engineer who helped produce the maths for the unique design of the roof of the Sydney Opera House in Australia – among other things) and so I was always around computers and saw them evolve from the earliest home versions to where we are today. I received a degree in Applied Computing from the University of East Anglia in 1999 which covered a mixture of computer science fields, business fields and the study of how to merge the two through practical systems design and engineering.
My first professional job was as a software engineer for a City of London based software company who specialise in software for international investment banks. I learned the practicalites of running and managing large, high importance databases (containing financial data worth many Billions of US Dollars) – plus of how to create and maintain financial management software as part of a large team with many distributed clients.
After leaving the financial world I focused more on my passion of making music and sound engineering for a few years. I then joined a project to create a startup social network in London for creative artists in the very early days of social networks – before we even really knew that Facebook would be the dominant force in the market. I was a user of the very first social networks and met many great people through them – I realised that social networks offer humanity a hugely powerful opportunity to share information, wisdom, connect and maybe find a new balance that was not possible previously due to barriers of distance and politics.
Following a near fatal car accident in 2003, I redirected my interests towards learning how to heal and was able to successfully combine my knowledge of systems with my new access to the wealth of information on the web to integrate new understandings and a deep awareness of what multi-dimensional, holistic healing really is. I now do what I can to grow my own food, be self sufficient, outside of the mainstream support systems as much as I can in England and generally maintain the intentions to heal, balance and evolve in any helpful ways that I can. I generally aim to evolve life so that we are all empowered and no longer controlled or artificially dependent on hierarchic groups and thinking.
About My Website: Ureka.org
In 2006 I used the experience I had gained from my varied interests to start my own social network called ‘Ureka: Earth Heart Community’ at https://www.ureka.org. I used an open source framework to create my own custom social network that runs using PHP, MYSQL and other typical web languages. As the designer, coder, tester, marketer, community admin, server admin and everything else at ureka, the early days were very busy keeping for me as I kept it online and developed new functions for it.
Along with these parts of my life I had also done a great deal of research into the world’s financial systems and many other more esoteric topics and concluded that I did not want to participate in the many systems that had been ‘gifted’ to me by the big banking families and various other ‘special interest’ groups (who try to dominate society and who are, really, leading us to destroy our ecology/environment and who do not have humanity’s best interests in mind). I therefore chose to treat ureka.org as a ‘quality not quantity’ website, where rather than focussing on getting as many users as possible, I focused on attracting those among us who intend to create real balance and sustainable/progressive changes. After a few years online it still exists as a functional platform which I intend to continue to evolve and plan to integrate Steem’s ‘Smart Media Tokens’ (SMT) into in the near future.
Ura Soul as a Witness
I support Steem’s intentions and it’s potential to evolve social networking and economics whole heartedly. I have put a lot of hours into making posts on Steemit and have found I am having a success here among my fellow Steemians that really shows just how heavily censored dissenting voices are on the mainstream networks such as Facebook and G+. I know for a fact that my comments on Youtube have been censored regularly and it is refreshing to find that I can communicate in an honest and transparent way on Steemit that I have not been able to do for years on the corporate control systems that are now household names. I greatly value the ability to receive payment for my posts on my topics of interest since there are not many avenues where thinkers can be paid for exposing the subjects that the dinosaur corporate world does not want to be exposed!
For this reason alone I want to support Steemit’s success – however, I also intend to create my own SMT (Steem backed Smart Media Token) for Ureka.org and this means that my own site’s success will be heavily tied in to the success of Steem too. Therefore, as a witness I am highly motivated to make the best decisions for Steem/Steemit. As a human being who intends real balance for society, I feel I am well suited to do my bit to guide Steem into being a reliable and strong vehicle for humanity’s liberation in ways that serve everyone and not just a few who have the largest wallets.
I will regularly post updates to Steem about my performance and experience as a Witness, plus continue to create new projects that help the users of Steem/Steemit to enjoy the experience more and maybe gain greater success too.
I have many posts on Steemit that cover many topics - I post a summary every time I get 200 new followers - so you can jump into looking at those to get a quick overview of what I've posted about in the previous weeks.
My Steemit projects
- Created 4 themes for Steemit.com that totally change the appearance of the website to give the site more of a personal feel and to get rid of the boring grey and white colour scheme.
- Created a browser extension that makes it easy to search for similar posts to existing posts – making it easier to improve the quality of our posts and to minimise duplication of ideas that are posted.
- Created a browser extension to make downvoted posts MORE visible, instead of less visible - to attempt to prevent deliberate censorship attempts on Steemit.
I have plans to develop some other interesting tools for Steemit in the future, once time is available. If I make it to a top position in the witness list then I will happily set aside significant time in my life to develop large scale systems that significantly evolve the Steemit experience.
I am also planning to make a video series for Youtube/Vimeo etc. which will promote both Steem and Steemit by educating the wider world as to why they are a great platform for the future of the internet and dispelling the common misconceptions that act as barriers when people consider moving from other social networks to new ones such as Steemit. The psychology of change is one of my main interests in life and I will have fun exploring the topic and motivating new users to visit Steemit in the process.
My Witness Server Hardware
The Server I am currently using has a great specification, meaning it is capable of performing well for many months ahead. Running the code that manages the Steem blockchain requires quite a lot of RAM (memory) and the amount will continually increase as Steem is used more and more.
My server has:
16 high speed CPU cores
92GB of RAM
1Gbps Internet Connection
Once I become more established as a witness I will also launch other servers that perform other roles – including setting up a seed node to allow others to access the Steem Blockchain reliably, plus also setting up a backup server in case the primary server fails.
Voting for me
Thanks so much for reading through this post and I would greatly appreciate if you would take 20 seconds to visit the Steem Witness page and vote for me there. You will need to type my name into the search box to vote for me if I am not visible in the top 50 list of witnesses. Just type ura-soul into the search box on that page and click ‘VOTE’.
Wishing you well,