About Blockchain Commons

Table of Contents

  1. About Blockchain Commons
    1. About Christopher Allen, Founder & Executive Director
    2. About Wolf McNally, Lead Researcher
    3. About Shannon Appelcline, Lead Tech Writer

Blockchain Commons LLC was founded by Christopher Allen on April 25, 2019 as a not-for-profit entity focused on the creation of open, interoperable, secure & compassionate digital infrastructure, as described in our Vision. We want to advocate for the independent, private, and resilient control of digital assets, using open and interoperable specifications. The object is to put users and their human dignity first and to support and encourage their own safe and responsible management of digital assets.

The origins of Blockchain Commons lie with Rebooting the Web of Trust, an organization founded by Christopher in the Fall of 2015 to host design workshops that focus on decentralized identity and digital assets. The enormous growth of the workshops has resulted in the advancement of numerous concepts such as Verifiable Credentials and Decentralized Identifiers, which of which have become W3C recommendations. Blockchain Commons was founded in part to advance and expand the concepts of decentralization, independence, and self-sovereign identity that came out of RWOT (and that continue to be discussed and extended at recent workshops).

Blockchain Commons has codified many of its specifics goals for the creation of independent digital infrastructure in its Gordian Principles of independency, privacy, resilience, and openness. We’ve written specifications to support those principles, created coding libraries to embody those specifications, and developed reference apps such as Seed Tool and Coordinator. We’ve done all of this in collaboration with a community of developers and other interested parties, who we work with in our Community and at events such as our Silicon Salon. Blockchain Commons also advocates for its principles and offers testimony to agencies, legislatures, and other organizations.

Please see our sponsors page for some of the external organizations and people that make this possible. If you would like to support Blockchain Commons’ work, you can do so by becoming a GitHub Sponsor.

About Christopher Allen, Founder & Executive Director

Christopher Allen is an entrepreneur and technologist who specializes in internet & blockchain security, digital identity, collaboration, and trust. He is a pioneer in internet security and co-author of the IETF TLS internet standard that is now at the heart of secure commerce on the World Wide Web. His broad experience includes work as: Principal Architect at Blockstream, leading blockchain standards efforts; VP of Developer Relations at Blackphone, building a privacy-focused cellphone; and CTO of cryptographic security giant Certicom in the early 00s, before it sold to Blackberry.

Today, he is Founder and Executive Director of Blockchain Commons, focused on cryptographic security and open & interoperable, secure & compassionate infrastructure for the internet, and co-author of the book “#SmartCustody: The use of advanced cryptographic tools to improve the care, maintenance, control, and protection of digital assets”. Christopher also leads efforts in the W3C toward Verifiable Credentials and Decentralized Identifiers as international standards; he is co-author of the W3C DID standard which became a recommendation on July 19th 2022, invited expert to the W3C VC standard which became a recommendation on March 3rd 2022, and former co-chair of the W3C Credentials CG.

Christopher is also a digital civil-liberty & human-rights privacy advisor. He was part of the team that led the first UN summit on Digital Identity & Human Rights #ID2020 in 2016, There he first offered the term “Self-Sovereign Identity” as the name for a new manifesto of 10 foundational principles for digital identity. In 2019 he was cited as a “Top 100 Influencers in Identity”. Since 2019 he has helped as an advisor to the Wyoming legislature, including drafting new laws that established a legal definition for Digital Identity under Agency Law, enabling legislation for registering and domiciling DAOs, and laws supporting the regulation of digital assets and custody.

About Wolf McNally, Lead Researcher

Wolf McNally is an engineer with a passion for doing creative things with technology. Apple’s technology has been one of his particular inspirations: he has worked with iOS for as long as it existed and with Macs for as long as they existed, long before that. Beyond that, Wolf has worked with a wide range of other technologies, including location-based systems and experiences, advanced LED lighting systems, cryptocurrency and blockchain, mobile apps, embedded systems, scalable server solutions, UX/UI design, games, robotics, and AR/VR. He has led small and large teams and loves working closely with artists, designers, and engineers.

At Blockchain Commons, Wolf has collaborated with Christopher Allen to develop the specifications that underlie the Gordian Architecture, including descriptions, CDDL definitions, and test vectors for those specs. He also created the Lifehash visual hash algorithm that Blockchain Commons has adopted. After creating specifications, Wolf also leads work on adopting those specifications into reference libraries and also authoring Blockchain Commons’ major reference apps, such as Gordian Seed Tool and Gordian Coordinator and a whole battallion of CLI apps.

Wolf is also the creator and publisher of Flying Logic, a tool for critical thinking and process improvement used around the world.

About Shannon Appelcline, Lead Tech Writer

Shannon Appelcline is a technical writer with 30 years of experience working for top-level hardware and software companies. He’s written security documents for a NASA project and authored a variety of networking overview documents for Sun’s North American Support Center, including introductions to DNS, Sendmail, NIS, and more. He also co-authored with Christopher Allen one of the first books on writing both web pages and apps for the iPhone, iPhone in Action, publishing by Manning Publications. His work is generally intended to be approachable and accessible.

Over the last decade, Shannon has specialized in blockchain, Bitcoin, and other decentralized technologies. He coauthored Learning Bitcoin from the Command Line and Smart Custody with Christopher Allen and the paper “How to Convince Dad* of the Importance of Self-Sovereign Identity” at Rebooting the Web of Trust. Professionally, he authored FAQs and other technical documents at Certicom, acts as editor-in-chief for Rebooting the Web of Trust, and contracts for other blockchain-focused companies such as Bitmark, Blockstream, and Transparent Financial Systems. He’s also written numerous introductions and other documentation for Blockchain Commons.

Outside of the technical community, Shannon writes about game history and game design. His award-winning four-book Designers & Dragons series details the stories of over 100 companies in the roleplaying industry, with more volumes to come, while Science Fiction in Traveller skims the literary influences on the Traveller RPG, with a system history of Traveller also in process. Shannon has also written for RPG companies such as Chaosium, Green Knight, Mongoose Publishing, White Wolf, and Wizards of the Coast and coauthored the Meeples Together cooperative gameplay design book with Christopher Allen.