Bitcoin Core developer Gloria Zhao shares what it’s like to work on Bitcoin and why the code needs to be maintained for the long-term security of the network.
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In this week’s episode of “Bitcoin Bottom Line,” hosts C.J. Wilson and Josh Olszewicz are joined by Gloria Zhao, a Bitcoin Core developer who breaks down the behind-the-scenes action.
Wilson begins by asking, “What got you into Bitcoin in the first place?” To which Zhao responds, “There are a lot of ideologies in there from the beginning that I found very appealing, and on top of that, there are a lot of very interesting engineering technical challenges to work on. As a computer science student, obviously I was drawn to that.”
She continues, “I grew up in Silicon Valley so I think that gave me perspective on how endless it is to chase this idea of ‘innovation’ and profit, and that always struck pretty empty to me so Bitcoin was very different and I had an immediate draw to it.”
Olszewicz follows up, “What is your day-to-day like? Zoom calls and meetings? Or do you work independently as a decentralized developer?”
Zhao answers “I work on Bitcoin Core, which is one implementation of a Bitcoin client … Day to day, I’d say, save a few community, cultural changes, it’s kind of just like working on any software project, except we don’t have a boss, we just kind of review each other’s PRs [pull requests] because we care about them and they are important to Bitcoin. We fix bugs because if they stay in the client then the network might have some troubles, not because our boss told us to.”
To follow this up, Wilson asks, “What’s the percentage of time you spend, let’s say, reviewing other people’s work, having conversations with other people about what you guys are working on versus just going into the rabbit hole yourself and doing more of a deep dive?”
Zhao responds that because of the nature of her work, she keeps a detailed breakdown of her time. “About 30% of my time on my main project … I try to do about 50% of my time on just peer review, and/or opening small PRs to fix bugs … about 10% of my time on things like advocacy and education … and 10% just pure learning.”
She goes on to say, “I very much value time like this where you are able to send a message … I can tell people, ‘Hey, there’s people working on Bitcoin. Hey, it’s gonna break if nobody works on it,’ so it’s really important to pay the people who do, and get more people to want to be Bitcoin Core developers, because that is very important for Bitcoin’s health, developmentally.”
Discussing personal securities, Zhao details, “We live our lives online and there is a lot at stake and a lot to lose. I think everyone should learn how to code a little bit, or equip themselves with tools to protect themselves on the internet.”
Continuing on the discussion of security in regards to Bitcoin, Zhao explains, “We care about operating in this system because there are legitimately people who need money in these systems, and other altcoins where they are not operating under that threat model, and maybe they are doing something or solving an interesting technical challenge that is useful in other aspects, but they don’t have — what I think is — Bitcoin’s core value proposition which is its security model.”
Zhao finishes the episode, “It is going to be built brick by brick, where everything is stable underneath, so we need more people.”