HomeCoinsUMA (UMA)A Day in the Life at UMA | John Shutt, smart contract...

A Day in the Life at UMA | John Shutt, smart contract engineer | by John | UMA Project | Oct, 2022

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Throughout my career, a couple of themes emerged that I think eventually combined and delivered me to UMA and to Web3.

I’ve always been interested in digital security and seeking and supporting truth.

Blending security, blockchains and journalism

I’ve been interested in blockchains since 2011, which is like a lifetime in crypto years. In my senior year of college, I got my first Web2 programming job and started dabbling in Bitcoin. After graduation, I moved to San Francisco to get involved in the hacker scene, and found full-stack web development work.

On the side I was also working on encrypted messaging systems for an alternative news weekly, the San Francisco Bay Guardian to anonymously and securely communicate with leakers and whistleblowers. This meant running a physical server for a Tor Onion Service along with air gapped devices for encrypting and decrypting messages.

I was also getting deeply involved in anarchist hacker spaces, where I met a lot of early cryptocurrency developers. Back then, it was primarily Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin, and early attempts at extending the Bitcoin ecosystem with rudimentary scripting. Ethereum didn’t exist yet and “Web3” was not a thing.

Bringing it all together at UMA

It’s this collection of experiences that led me to UMA as a smart contract engineer in late 2020. At UMA, I work mostly on experiments and integrations with other projects and builders who are using UMA’s optimistic oracle (OO).

UMA’s OO can record any verifiable truth onto a blockchain. It tells smart contracts “things about the world” so contracts and markets asking for that data can be settled. The OO has been called “a human-powered truth machine” because it is flexible enough to handle ambiguity and expands what can be built in Web3.

With UMA, there’s a lot of creativity and room for trying things out. I spend a lot of my time working with external teams that are producing new oracle integrations, helping them to think through what they’re building while providing technical support. (Learn more via UMA’s Docs page here).

We typically have a few dozen teams that are either thinking about an integration or actively working on one, so I support them directly by answering their questions, helping out with anything they need, and ensuring their required governance proposals get executed.

The other part of my job is helping to showcase to the world the cool projects that we’re working on and expressing the potential of our OO. That means talking with people at different groups, joining Twitter spaces and participating in hackathons as a mentor and guide for people getting familiar with the OO.

I also spend time just thinking about how you can use the OO and writing down new ideas and occasionally writing out code for that. It’s a formula that has turned into a couple of products that we’ve built in-house.

Mediocre ideas won’t cut it in this market

I targeted UMA.

UMA has the mission of making markets universally fair and accessible, and that resonated with me. Before officially joining, I met just about everybody on the team and worked through a specific project together for a fit test. We quickly grew from a handful of people to a team of more than 30 people in more than a dozen countries around the world blending a mix of technical and non-technical skills and expertise.

I love how creative this work is. The use cases we experiment with become real projects and products — and it’s validating to see other projects integrating with the OO.

We find ourselves now in a bear market. That’s fine by me. I’ve learned that periods of price drops are actually quite cleansing and stimulating. For projects like UMA to succeed, you need to show real benefits, value and instrumentality.

At UMA, we’re well resourced and are now building the infrastructure for projects that will be ready to rocket during the next bull run. UMA is developing solutions to break out of the circular on-chain economy and to help find connections into the real world economy that desperately needs decentralized solutions for finance, markets and truth-telling.

Mediocre ideas that ride bull runs to easy profits just won’t cut it anymore and the real wins will come from solid ideas that help facilitate the broader Web3 ecosystem.

Those ideas emerge in times like these.

Narrowing focus among so much flexibility

Because the OO is so flexible, it’s providing solutions to problems that we don’t even know exist yet. That’s exciting, but can also be a bit overwhelming. Experimentation can get pulled in a hundred different directions, so one of my challenges is to figure out what to focus on and why.

I’ve personally got a list of at least a dozen ideas that would each be super interesting to build out using the OO. But you’ve got limited resources and so we’re trying to address that through the growth team. (You can find a list of existing ideas to build using the OO here).

We can’t build everything ourselves, but we’re super involved in the hacker circuit, which is where smart builders find brilliant ways to connect their ideas to the OO. The potential next big breakthrough is always just a conversation away — and that’s exhilarating.

If UMA sounds like a good place for you to take the next step in your Web3 career, then get in touch. You can also check out our current job postings here.



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