A Glimpse into “Cybersquats”

When you hear the term “software developer,” one usually thinks of brilliant-minded 20-something techies arduously pounding away on their keyboards and playing billiards on their breaks at some gleaming campus in Cupertino or Mountain View, Silicon Valley.

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A Glimpse into “Cybersquats”
When you hear the term “software developer,” one usually thinks of brilliant-minded 20-something techies arduously pounding away on their keyboards and playing billiards on their breaks at some gleaming campus in Cupertino or Mountain View, Silicon Valley.

However, in drastic contrast to this image, some of the world’s most highly-skilled software engineers have shunned this lifestyle, instead choosing to live in so called communal “Cybersquats,” as reported by BBC Click's Jen Copestake, who spent a week living in one such community.

Casa de la Montana is one of the most known of these squats located in Barcelona, Spain - it has been occupied for the last 25 years and is home to some of Europe’s most influential hackers, hacktivists and developers of cryptocurrency tools and open source software.

Casa de la Montana

Amir Taaki is a British born video game, computer software developer. Amir is a self-taught, open-source software enthusiast and developer who has embraced this alternative lifestyle. His name was recently included in Forbes List of Top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs.

These conditions are an unusual setting for someone who has been dubbed as a “future billionaire,” living in squats with very little money and getting food that has been thrown out by supermarkets, which he playfully refers to as “dumpster-diving.”

Him and his close associate, Pablo Martin, have been working on Dark wallet - designed for the less tech-savvy individuals. They are hopeful that this project will accelerate the adoption rate of crypto currency technology around the world. The wallet will be open-source and free to use for everyone.

Free to all

Eventually, Taaki and his team hope to create a wide variety of open-source crypto currency related tools. He is an ardent supporter of privacy, financial sovereignty, and leans towards libertarian views, stating: 

“The software on the internet runs linux, which is built by communities and is worth billions; more than Microsoft or Mac OSX. It’s incredible, people all over the world coming together and developing software around principles.”

He goes on to explain one of the reason for his lifestyle:

“It’s really important that when you’re developing tools to empower people to give people more responsibility, give them more sovereignty over their lives; it’s not enough that you are developing them in a black box, you need to actually deploy them with people who are actually using your tools.”

Some of Taaki’s many projects in the pipeline include is a Dark wallet-friendly Bitcoin ATM, which the layman could use to buy and sell Bitcoins and exchange them for euros.

Other projects include telephone encryption and guifi.net, which provides free WiFi to people in rural areas of Spain using peer-to-peer technology.

Cryptospace and beyond

Besides local applications, Taaki also views his work as a political tool that could influence situations like those in Iran, where his father is from.

He explains that cryptographic technology such as Bitcoin could be a liberating tool that could not only help isolated countries like Iran evade US sanctions but help regular people circumvent the government’s monopoly of currency and be used as a hedge against the Rial.

Taaki says that he certainly experienced many difficulties, sacrificed a lot, and was at one time homeless with no money, feeling completely isolated. But using software for political purposes is common practice in in these underground communities and is the main reason why these talented individuals give up potential millions to live in these conditions.
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