Where did the idea for the Viridian project come from?
In November 2015, I was listening to a talk about Transition Towns, which is a very cool idea to turn our economy into a sustainable, resilient, local, post-fossil, fair economy. The Transition Towns concept stems from an agricultural background and is basically the application of the principles of permaculture to the entire economy.
The best thing about the Transition Town movement is its completely hands-on, “just do it” attitude. Instead of waiting for a top-down system change to be implemented by politics or big corporations or “someone else”, it calls on people to come together and start building things. It is this decentralized, grass-roots nature of the movement that I like a lot.
Around the same time I was also reading a lot about bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general and started to grasp its vast potential for democratizing our economy and financial system. After listening to the talk on Transition Towns, I was so engaged by this encouraging just-do-it spirit that I was starting to think about what I can do to contribute to this change. Because what I like most is IT and computer programming, I was looking for something I could contribute from this direction.
The Transition Town folks are mostly very low-tech gardening-savvy agricultural people that like to get their hands dirty. But they also create new complementary currencies that can even be paid digitially with a mobile phone. Yet, they did not seem to have taken notice of cryptocurrencies, unaware of the decentralized and democratic aspects of cryptocurrencies that actually align quite well with the idea of a decentralized, resilient, grass-roots-based economy. I couldn’t stop thinking that something great could be born if these two communities, unaware of each other, would be brought together.
Then I was by chance reading a novel that someone gave to me: Daemon and, much more important, its sequel Freedom™ by Daniel Suarez. While the first book describes how a decentralized computer virus (the “Daemon”) starts to take over the world, creating a dystopy full of violence, in which skillful hackers turn into powerful tech-wizards ruling the clueless crowd, the second book tells quite a different story. In “Freedom™”, the reader learns that the violence of the Daemon has the purpose of breaking the power of global corporations and elites, creating a new economy that consists of many small communities (called hubs) that resiliently and sustainably produce much of their demand for goods themselves, trading with other hubs for things they cannot make themselves. There is an alternative currency (“credits” like rewards earned in a computer game) inside the Daemon network and sustainable solutions (e.g. use of renewable energies) are rewarded with more credits by the Daemon network.
I was fascinated by the books, because what was described there was in essence a kind of digitally-driven Transition Towns movement. A transition towards a decentralized, resilient, sustainable, more equitable economy. This was exactly what I was hoping to contribute to the Transition Towns movement!
I was a little surprised that in the Daemon novels, which mention many existing innovative technologies, there was not a single mention of cryptocurrencies (although the Daemon network is end-to-end encrypted, at least). But this is simply owed to the Daemon novels being so “old” already. The first book was released in 2006, the second book in January 2010. Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious creator of bitcoin, released the first version of his revolutionary cryptocurrency software in January 2009, and back in 2009, almost no-one had ever heard of cryptocurrencies yet.
Markus Voge, founder of the Viridian project.
Why is it called “Viridian”?
Viridian is the name of a certain greenish color, a dark shade of “spring green”. It is derived from the Latin word for green, viridis. Because the Viridian project is all about colors, and one hopes for them to be rather green than anything else, I figured the name of a green color would be appropriate. Besides, it also sounds pretty cool.