Blockchain Communities and Their Emergent Governance

Thoughts on Legitimacy and Narratives

BlockChannel
Dec 12, 2018 · 10 min read
  • Governance of humans by blockchains (e.g., via DAOs or bounties)
  • Governance of blockchains by blockchains (e.g., on-chain limitations and permissions)
  • Governance of humans (blockchain users/developers) by other humans (government authorities)
Figure 1: Blockchain Governance Map

Legitimacy, or . . .

As a jumping off point, let’s examine what Vlad Zamfir has called “legitimacy”, in one of his more recent posts on governance.

. . . Authoritativeness

When Zamfir talks about legitimacy, he’s referring to an important subject in blockchain governance, and his analysis is lucid. But we do not think “legitimacy” is the best word choice. “Authoritativeness” would be more appropriate.

So What Are Blockchain Communities, Anyway?

Yuval Harari has an interesting and concise take on what communities are. He says they are collections of people who believe in shared stories. Shared stories allow people to work with people they don’t already know, thus creating a community extending beyond mere family and friends. For example, we wouldn’t ordinarily trust a stranger. But if we learn that he/she believes the same religious/moral (i.e., normatively significant) stories that we believe, everything changes. We can trust him/her. And we can start cooperating accordingly without fear of repercussion or malice.

Comparing Bitcoin, Ethereum, and ZCash

Figure 2: Three major assets, from most conservative, to most progressive.
Figure 3: As communities grow and get more liquid, the importance of having a large funnel to bring in new talent grows in importance.

ZCash belongs somewhere between these two poles. As a newer asset that only launched in October of 2016, Zcash had a lot of ground to catch up on when compared to Bitcoin and Ethereum.

This also lends credibility to the theory that the newer your major public chain asset is (one that is deemed sensible and worthwhile by the technical community), the greater the need for your community to be slightly more progressive than its most legacy incumbent, in order to “catch-up” in liquidity and be integrated into existing services to gain a proper foothold. Though, still forked from Bitcoin’s original codebase, and utilizing a UTXO set, ZCash must still maintain a level of conservatism compared to the seemingly unmatched pace of technical innovation that persists in Ethereum’s smart contract, account-based, token-focused model.

Conclusion

Going forward, we will be looking out for blockchain communities with open, fluid governance, and a proven tendency to translate speculative energy into a concrete developer opportunity. And perhaps most importantly, we will be looking for communities tied together by a compelling, inspiring story.

More On Governance:

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BlockChannel is a new media & educational hub focused on the socio-cultural/economic issues related to blockchain technologies like BTC/ETH/& ZEC. Visit BlockChannel.com for more resources; and SoundCloud.com/BlockChannelShow for our official podcast.

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BlockChannel is a new media & educational hub focused on the socio-cultural/economic issues related to blockchain technologies like BTC/ETH/& ZEC.

BlockChannel

BlockChannel is a new media & educational hub focused on the socio-cultural/economic issues related to blockchain technologies like BTC/ETH/& ZEC. Visit BlockChannel.com for more resources; and SoundCloud.com/BlockChannelShow for our official podcast.