Updated: August 4, 2023

Austin Bitcoin Design Club Interview

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Key Takeaways

Audio Transcript

Shout out to Stakwork for their help in getting our twitter spaces transcribed weekly.

Voltage – 00:00:07:

A little introduction about the Austin Bitcoin Design Club. What’s the origin story of this car?

Sahil Chaturvedi – 00:00:20:

Car what’s the origin story?

Car – 00:00:21:

Oh, yeah. So I think it was probably last year, me and Paul and like, maybe Tony, Giorgio, and a couple of others here in Austin, Sahil. We were kind of, like, hanging out all the time after BitDevs and stuff like that. We would just get together and have all these visions that we wanted to see happen in our city and I think Paul had come up with the idea that we should do, like, a design club, but we never got around to it, and then at some point, I think it was probably this year, I had reached out to Paul maybe about two or three months ago, saying, hey, I felt really serious about this and then I think we had settled around this time and then Sahil came in naturally, because he’s an amazing designer as well, too, here at Unchained. So I think that’s the origin story that I remember. But maybe Paul knows.

FuturePaul – 00:01:19:

Yeah, this was my idea then. I’m totally surprised. Yeah. Car brought it up to me. Car volunteered to do all the hard stuff so I could just show up and hang out with people and talk about designs. I was like, absolutely. Yes.

Voltage – 00:01:39:

I love that car. You do have a heart of gold man. Always putting in the sweat equity to make great things happen. I like that.

Car – 00:01:46:

Yeah, I think it’s mostly like, for me, it’s just like, I work with such talented people in our city and I’ve been telling Paul for a better part of a year, like, he’s just an amazing speaker. How nuance he is, just like the stuff that he tells me, like, in private. I’m just, like, blown away and I’m like, man, more people need access to this guy’s words. It’s the truth. Sahil’s just a monster when it comes to details and it’s very articulate and my skill set is not those at all. It’s, like, totally different. So we just compliment each other.

Voltage – 00:02:26:

Great. Well, thanks for the preface. Just on a little bit of the origin story. So for those who don’t know that are listening here now, are those in the future that come across this piece of content? Can you guys break down and explain the Austin Bitcoin Design Club and just the goals and the initiatives you guys set whenever you went out on this journey?

FuturePaul – 00:02:49:

Yes. So just to be clear, this is a meetup that is happening here today. Two and a half hours, 6:30 in Austin. If you can be in Austin two and a half hours from now, please come. If you go to Abd. dev, you can find a link to the meet-up if you want RSVP. But you can also see the schedule out into the future. So this is a meet-up about Bitcoin design and about fostering community among people who care about design in bitcoin and people who can do design and bitcoin or people who want to learn how to do design and bitcoin. So kind of all of those things. Basically, if you experience bitcoin products or you want to improve bitcoin products, it’s a meet-up for you and the goal is to every other month-ish there are already so many really cool meetups in using and. Sometimes it almost gets a little exhausting. So we didn’t want to overload people, we just wanted to help connect people. So we’re just going to meet every once in a while, I think, after this one. The next meetup is in September. Okay. October is the next meetup. Yeah, and we meet up at the Bitcoin Commons, which is where BitDevs is hosted, the Austin Bitcoin Club, there’s also the Lightning BitDevs is here. So we already do a lot of stuff here. So it’s kind of a natural spot.

Voltage – 00:04:29:

Awesome. What are you going to say, Nick?

Nate – 00:04:32:

No, I was just going to be like, I know it’s a new thing, but is it something that you guys do as you sort of get together and maybe browse repositories of open source wallets or something and see if you can improve on anything like that or what’s something that you guys do during the meetup?

FuturePaul – 00:04:53:

Yeah, so it is the first one. I created an issue on our GitHub called RFD Request for Design. So one thing that I’m really interested in Bitcoin is trying to connect designers. Developers are really aware of the fact that if you find a GitHub repository for a project that you find interesting, you can start creating issues, you can create pull requests, you can clone it, and you can test it. There are a lot of immediate ways you can start contributing to anything open source. That’s like the whole point. I think designers are less familiar with that process. The one big goal of mine would just be to get designers aware of how they can introduce themselves to open source projects and get involved somehow. So we have this thing called RFDs. I think we have five projects on there right now. If you’re listening right now and you have a project that could potentially use some design input, please. I don’t know how to do links, but maybe somebody put the link to issue two on the ABDC repo, we’re going to shout out projects that are looking for help, is one of the things we’re going to do. But basically the itineraries we’re going to have people introduce themselves. We’re going to go over news and resources and inspiration just in the design world in general. Because one of the big goals is just to get everybody more familiar with design just in general and the kind of the language and the concepts and the challenges and the tools and then I’ll go over the RFDs and then we’re going to have a breakout session where we have some design prompts. Partly these are inspired by Bitcoin Design has a series of challenges on its website. Here is a scenario in Bitcoin like Alice just download her first Bitcoin wallet and she’s confused by this or something like that. So we’re going to present these prompts to will break people up into teams and have them grab a prompt and have these teams kind of work on thinking through the design or how they would solve this in a UX way and then they can present those two to the rest of the group. So those are our main itineraries for today and I’m sure we really want feedback and we’re definitely going to iterate on it, but that’s what’s happening.

Sahil Chaturvedi – 00:07:29:

Yeah. I think one thing worth noting just doubling down on is what Paul mentioned about the news and resources. I think that’s important because the repeated exposure to all these topics, you start absorbing it. It’s kind of like BitDevs. You go to BitDevs and maybe you understand like 20 or 30%, but then over time you just kind of learn more and you’re exposed to more of it. So, like that plus the practical hands-on stuff, I think that’ll be pretty useful.

Voltage – 00:08:01:

Awesome. So I think one thing that could be good too, is breaking down. What type of challenges do we face in Bitcoin and what needs to be overcome? and I think the first thing that comes to mind is the amount of money that VCs pump into things that typically die years later. But I’d love to hear your guys’ views on this.

FuturePaul – 00:08:25:

Yes. The biggest way I think about it is that one of the most popular books in UX design is called Don’t Make Me Think there’s a conceptional UX design that you are guiding the user to do what you want them to do and that’s not really the Bitcoin ethos. In Bitcoin, we’re expecting people to be taking responsibility, to be seeking sovereignty. I think there are a lot of reasons and Bobby, I think one of the big ones is there’s so much more money in shit coins and so they can have such a nice logo and their websites are so beautiful and they can spend a ton of time and money on UX. But I think also there’s just a hard core problem in Bitcoin of we’re expecting the user to have a lot of responsibility. So how do we introduce them to that gradually? We don’t want to overwhelm them. We have a lot of concepts that are hard to learn. There’s like the whole I love if you could explain some of this. This is a classic problem. We have all these metaphors. You have a wallet, you have keys, you have signatures. Those are like three highly related things and they’re three completely different metaphors. So there’s a lot of challenges in front of us because we’re trying something like better and harder than the typical UX, I think.

Sahil Chaturvedi – 00:09:58:

Yeah, I think that’s a good point. I think that applies to what a lot of companies are doing, including Voltage and Unchained. I think what you are doing core Lightning infrastructure and what Unchained is doing with making a it easy to stick in these devices into your computer and click a button. What does that mean? What does it mean for a key to sign something that doesn’t make sense? So I think there’s a lot of complexity there. I think that’s the fun job of the designers and product people is to think about how to simplify that and I think that’s I think what Paul said, part of the goal of the meet up is just to be more exposed to the design principles, to simplify a lot of this, to make better bitcoin products.

FuturePaul – 00:10:45:

And I think potentially the flip side of that and why I think communities is so important for this is because we’re going to solve this together. We are giving users more responsibility and we’re also going to take on more responsibility ourselves to improve the products around us instead. being like baby birds waiting to be fed by our VC overlords the VC-funded companies that make absolutely beautiful things, but they ultimately serve their ends, not our ends.

Voltage – 00:11:23:

I like it. What’s the most important thing that can be solved, you think, in bitcoin design? Just over whatever point of time, you would like to define. I hate to say one year, five years because it’s going to change quite a bit, but what’s the most important UX piece that needs to be solved for where we are today? In bitcoin? In your guy’s opinion?

FuturePaul – 00:11:50:

I don’t know. Do you have any idea?

Sahil Chaturvedi – 00:11:52:

Yeah, I can start because it is something did based, obviously, and I’m biased. I think about this every freaking day, but I think a lot about businesses adopting bitcoin and it’s kind of scary to think a lot of businesses jump into like custodial bitcoin and there’s a lot of reasons why. So how do we build the use cases for small businesses but also big businesses like micro strategy? I don’t know that’s part of the UX research process is hey, what does Saylor need to be able to hold his own keys? Is it a bigger multisig quorum? Is it like fine grained financial controls? I don’t know. But I think that to me is super predicting because there’s a lot of people working on single save wallets and Lightning wallets and all that stuff is really great. But I think it’s a very understood market for larger businesses with many stakeholders thinking about how do they control their own keys.

FuturePaul – 00:12:56:

Yeah. A couple of other things that pop to my mind is right now bitcoiners are pretty familiar with the Lightning and on chain distinction and I think we’re up to figure out how we hide that. Do we hide that? What is exposed to a user when they’re spending bitcoin? How much do they need about the layer two and that kind of comes back to, like, what trade off is the layer two making? We don’t want to lie to the user that there aren’t trade offs, but at the same time, we do want to give people an easy path and then kind of like what Sahil saying. There, I think there are a lot of things right now in Bitcoin where you have to go all the way step one and so it’d be really nice for a lot of these where if you onboarded someone to some Bitcoin experience, that they could gradually level up so that they’re taking on more responsibility over time. The comparison I always use a bitcoin is like a marriage or like working out. There are certain things that you can’t have done for you. They’re going to take work, but like those, theoretically, you can start out small and work your way up to more responsibility. Bip 21 absolutely.

Voltage – 00:14:35:

So what are your guys’s goals in building the community? You’re in Austin, got the first meetup tonight. Is this something you guys really want to keep hyper local to Austin? Are you trying to build maybe kind of like a guidebook or not, like, telling people what to do, but making it easier for people that maybe want to take initiative, but they’re not like the typical person who starts a meet up. I know there’s kind of challenges around the culture of starting meetups. It does take a lot of work. Are you all going to try to make this easier for others? and stretch outside of Austin, or really keep it local to the tight knit community you have there?

Car – 00:15:09:

Yeah, so I could take this one. I think the way I look at it, it’s very simply it’s like you just start it right. You get the best people available in your city to do the tasks and to contribute the time and the effort and the volunteer work that it takes and then you just build it, and then from there, it’s a collaboration, right? So we’ll listen to our community, we’ll listen to the people that are working around it and we’ll listen to everybody. We’ll listen to feedback and then from there, you just kind of go that route. You take it one step at a time, try not to think too far ahead. I mean, ultimately the goal is to get more people creating on Bitcoin. I think we could all agree on that. But right now it’s just like small steps.

FuturePaul – 00:15:56:

I’m looking for people to collaborate with and that’s why I think I’m really focused on Austin. Like, my best collaborative experiences are I’m literally in the same room with somebody, and after I commit some code that I’m proud of, we high five. Kind of energy I’m really into. So there is already a really awesome Bitcoin design community called Bitcoin Design for Virtual. If you want to find people all over the world, interested in bitcoin design, and resources on bitcoin design and there’s all sorts of really great resources at bitcoin design, but I’m looking for collaborators in my town, basically, and I would hope, yeah, if other people want to start meetups in their town to find people to work on things with. I think that’s when I’m having the most fun bitcoin is I’m tackling the problems. It’s fun to learn about the problems, it’s fun to complain about the problems, but it’s most fun to try to solve them.

Voltage – 00:17:10:

I know we wanted to set this to around 30 minutes or so. Is what Paul shared like in this final twelve minutes? Is there anything you’d like to share? Would you like to open up the stage and maybe answer any questions or anything as well?

Car – 00:17:29:

Yeah, we can open up questions.

FuturePaul – 00:17:32:


Nate – 00:17:33:

While we’re waiting for that, I got a question actually.

FuturePaul – 00:17:36:


Nate – 00:17:42:

We’re trying to lure people that are designers that are bitcoiners, but what if it’s like one or the other? What if you’re a bitcoiner that has tried lots of wallets and you have lots of ideas and stuff and you actually want to learn more and dive into the actual process? Is that something that you guys would welcome? And what sort of resources would you like direct these sort of folks to that are maybe looking to get more hands on with design?

FuturePaul – 00:18:17:

The first thing that comes to my mind is to try to reach out to people, or especially if it’s an open source project, find the GitHub. Typically it’s good etiquette to search the issues to see if somebody has had your exact complaint or comment, but if you can’t find it within a couple of minutes of searching, then just go ahead and post an issue and say like, here’s an idea, or here’s a bug I found, or something like that. I think that’s one pretty quick lift. I feel like the devs are pretty familiar with and. Non devs might not know that. That’s a pretty Muun Pay to communicate with a project. Trying to think of other good specific.

Sahil Chaturvedi – 00:19:07:

I guess just probably again, kind of coming down to like repeated exposure and learning more over time. Because a lot of the stuff well actually everything we’re going to talk about, we’re going to be linking on the site. Sometimes we’ll talk about something that’s really relevant to your project, like some sort of decision making framework on what type of home use and you might be like, oh, that’s super relevant to my project. So I think that could be useful as well.

FuturePaul – 00:19:38:

I think another really nice thing is celebrating little wins, like when a bitcoin, the piece of bitcoin software delights you, like talking about that and showing it to other people and spreading the word. There’s a lot of these things where we’re all solving the same thing over and over again. We’re dealing with some pretty concepts. So realizing this is the best one we’ve got, and unless I think of something better, I’ll go with that. So highlighting the really good ones is another probably helpful thing.

Voltage – 00:20:28:

Good, well, we wish you the best of luck tonight with the club. How many people have RSVP for this first one.

Car – 00:20:37:

Yeah, I think we’re at around 30. Right. 40 around right now. So typically with these type of things, that usually comes around. Like, the first Genesis meetup is usually around like 30 to 50. So that’s what I’m kind of expecting. I’m really looking forward to seeing how many just creative people show up. That’s like, for me is like what I’m kind of hoping happens is we just get creative people showing up and then we have even more creative in Austin working on bitcoin and hanging out with us. That, for me, is like, what I’m really looking forward to. So hopefully we get some of those too.

Voltage – 00:21:13:

Nick Szabo we hate it when people say, hey, I’m showing up and I’m here to fix bitcoin. But if they show up and say, hey, I want to help fix bitcoin design, we’re just like, oh, grab a beer, take a seat.

FuturePaul – 00:21:26:

I see Kristoff is in here. If you would come up and just tell people in general how they could get involved with bitcoin design if people aren’t familiar with that, that would be awesome. He’s the fearless leader over it’s bitcoin design by the way people are looking.

Voltage – 00:21:48:

I shot you an invite, Christopher, if you are able to come up. If you’re on mobile, I know it might take a few minutes. We’ll give him a second case. He’s on desktop. I know. I’m on there a lot. Anyone else want to pry into the minds of some bitcoin UX guys or designers here? If not, how often are you guys going to be having to meet up? Is this going to be bi weekly or monthly?

Car – 00:22:10:

Yes. So it will be once every other month, but I think we did it on September and October because November is like, during Thanksgiving and stuff, so we’ll probably have it in September and then October and then December. But right now it’s every other month and then we’ll kind of circle and kind of take it slow. Because when initially when I told Sahil, I think they both said that it doesn’t need to be every month because there’s not that much design stuff going on all at once. Maybe Paul can speak to that.

FuturePaul – 00:22:41:

Yeah, I just get overwhelmed. There’s so much stuff to do and often related to bitcoin. I don’t want to burn people out.

Voltage – 00:22:53:

Good. All right, guys. Well, yeah, if there are no other questions, we’ll have to definitely get an update maybe in six months or so once you all get a few under your belt, if you’re open to keeping the world up to date with what you are doing over there.

Car – 00:23:09:

Yeah, I would say too out there. Start a local design club in your city. That’s what I would say. That’s kind of always been my thing is sometimes you just got to make it come to life and then other people will also do it, too, and that’s cool and that’s how we win long term? I think that’s kind of cool.

FuturePaul – 00:23:28:

If you start a meetup within the next 2 hours, if you can beat us to the punch, you could be the first bitcoin design meet-up. 

Nate – 00:23:41:

I think this is cool because you get actual sort of like back-end developers and stuff that don’t know anything about this. Now they have somewhere to kind of go to find help on the front end side or the UX side also. So that makes their lives easier, probably.

Car – 00:23:58:

Yeah. So just find the most creative person in your town to start a design club and have them reach out to Sahil. I’m sure they could get them connected or bitcoin design. There are all these resources that you’d be amazed at. I think we’re Austin very fortunate to have, like, a lot of really great designers, but I’m sure they would be willing to share the resources. You can just go to ABDC dev and see everything there. So, yeah, start one for sure. Do it.

FuturePaul – 00:24:26:

and again, I do want to encourage people to find projects. If you are a developer and you have a project that needs design, or maybe you want a logo or like merch or something like that, go to bitcoin design or talk to us, try to link you up with people. But I think there’s latent talent in our community that we can connect and we can just improve projects and we can get involved with each other and help improve each other’s stuff. So I think there’s a lot of good that can be had just by getting people connected and aware of needs and just making Asics, which is literally just asking people for help on things. They can go a long way.

Voltage – 00:25:21:

All right, that’s a solid fiat statement. I’ll take you up on the challenge, Paul. I’m going to go live stream and meet up in my living room with my pregnant wife, and we’ll beat you all to the punch. So we appreciate you all joining and sharing some of this. I think this is a really important topic. I know it’s a bit different from some of the Twitter spaces we’ve had before, but creating awareness and just letting people know the faces behind some of these. Christoph and the audience guys. If you do not know him, follow him. I’ve noticed the bitcoin dot design website a lot over the last year, so it’s cool to see that and that some guys in Austin here taking action to help on that front and Nate raised a good point. Start a community where you are and help connect. These people that are out there, like me, someone who’s in marketing and sales. I don’t necessarily have the ability to build these things, but you probably have a talent to bring people together and be a conduit, to really connect others to build these relationships, people to meet that may have not met before. So be diligent in that and you guys are great. Have a good time tonight and be sure to share some pictures from the meet-up with us online.

Nate – 00:26:32:

Have fun, guys. Thanks for dropping by and talking to us about it.

Voltage – 00:26:36:

Thanks, guys.

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