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Building understanding of Holochain & Holo’s progress

Leadership & Org Update 09

We know many of you are wondering about the state of the project. We see this in a lot of ways — questions like “When HoloPorts?” or “What does Art’s article mean?” and “When is Holo Closed Alpha or Open Alpha?”

As David shared on Telegram a few weeks back, we notice that as at the same time the internal team becomes increasingly excited about the progress being made, there are concerns across the community about our progress. So we are looking at how to bridge this gap in understanding and perspective.

We want to look at this in a few ways:

  1. How we operate with agile processes, and hold a long-term perspective
  2. How we approach coordination
  3. How we communicate and how we make commitments
  4. How we build our business and
  5. How we encourage and enable personal agency within our community

First, we are oriented to operate in a rapid and agile way, simultaneously holding a long-term perspective. We have a huge mission for Holochain, Holo, and HoloFuel. Huge missions take time, though the world of crypto is seemingly all about the now.

Some look to the world of blockchain because they don’t like the ‘short-termism’ of being driven by quarterly profits and shareholder expectations. But there are a few examples of long-term thinking there as well. Bezos demonstrated this with Amazon in the 90s — to the distress of many of his investors.

Holochain is committed to a long view, but for a different purpose than simple profit extraction. We are out to create the maximum possible impact towards lasting patterns that reinforce distribution over centralisation, and we have accepted short-term pain because we believe it will make the project more successful.

An example of this is the Rust/Go trade-off that Art talked about in his recent post. In this case, we took a long-term perspective that hurt our ability to hit short-term timelines and added a certain complexity — but it is the better choice for the future of Holochain. We are grateful to our community for sharing that perspective.

The second is our approach to coordination. We believe in the future of distributed applications and we know that this requires new ways of working and coordinating with people. So we are wary of patterns with too much centralisation even within our own organisation. The world today has a particular lens, and tends to look for a single leader in an organisation; and when they don’t see something they are used to they expect us to put it in place.

This is not how we work — nor intend to work. For example, we currently have a four-person executive team, not just a CEO, and we each take on different responsibilities based on our strengths and experiences. Thus you hear from our visionaries, architects, and operating executives. It allows us to see from a much broader perspective and handle enormous complexity — and we believe this sets us up to deliver the future we imagine.

We recognise that this can make it hard for people to know what to listen for; because the signals that may be used to interpret other organisations don’t work as well in our case.


This leads us to the third point — our approach to communication and commitments. In 2018, we communicated dates far too aggressively. We were communicating with the voice of the visionary architect rather than the builder. We were slow to adjust and clarify our timelines. In 2019, we have the following communication patterns in place:

  1. Delivery dates are only communicated through the Holo Leadership Medium Post and reinforced on AMAs with our community. We will communicate our best informed timelines whilst being transparent about any risks or unknowns.
  2. Progress is communicated through our regular comms — Holochain Dev Pulse or Holo Emerging Clouds.

SpaceX was delayed years from its original commitments, and now it powers much of the space industry. Elon Musk almost always stands at the forefront of ideas and puts a stake in the ground about when something will come to pass. Teams of builders stand with him, doing the hard work of making it so — and often they have been late — but they are still shaping the world. We are creating the next Internet. Art Brock, like Elon Musk, will continue to put a stake in the ground for rapid progress towards a huge goal. He will continue to envision, predict, and inspire us all in order to bring this project into fruition — maybe just not as quickly as he wishes.

We know that you want more certainty and clarity. As a company we are sharing the progress we are making often and in a granularity sourced from the people who are doing the work. Building something this big takes time.

We are not cloning Ethereum or building a dApp. We’ve built a protocol for distributed applications — and with Holo, we are building an infrastructure for a new Internet. This requires the unlimited networking of P2P hosts and a dynamic supply micro-transaction currency. This is new, and we are confronting challenges that nobody has faced before and working to solve them in ways that make it easy for an ecosystem to grow and succeed. We are not experiencing delays because we are doing the wrong things or due to a lack of cohesion or skills. These challenges and this progress is what it looks like when it’s working.


The fourth difference is in our approach to business. With Holochain, we are building the Linux of the DLT world. This means that we are building infrastructure technology — Holochain that does not profit or extract from its ecosystem but instead exists to create and serve it. And so our business lens is about creating a vibrant ecosystem powered by community — like many other open-source projects. The more capability Holochain offers developers and the better the experience of building on Holochain, the faster our ecosystem will grow.

We are regularly asked about when we will fund or incubate projects. In some verticals, partner organisations, like the Commons Engine, are doing this. As an organisation, we are not following this strategy at this stage. We would like our community to set up incubators, put capital into projects, and build the business infrastructure that powers Holochain applications. We don’t want that owned by Holo or our leadership — we want you to own it.

The fifth aspect is our approach to community and agency. We deeply believe in individual agency and want to see you claim yours. Holochain exists to ensure you own your own data and build your own agency in the online world. We are seeing people emerge with great vision in our community and many more will be coming, powered by their own individual agency. We want you to be one.

You can already dig deep with our experienced team at hackathons and intensives. You can connect with the core team and other projects during our (soon to be announced) weekly office hours. We are celebrating you through our Community Matters Post — and even better — there are community projects like Humm.Earth, Next Legal, Junto, and Sacred Capital who are pioneering businesses built on Holochain.

So where are we?

  1. Holo is more efficient than ever in our organisational ability to get things done, solve our technical and business challenges, and coordinate across our teams in 10+ countries and timezones.
  2. As those of you who follow the Holochain Dev Pulse already know, Holochain is ready for startups to begin building on, all the way through to enterprise. There is more networking and performance work to come, and plenty of features to add; however you can build and run apps connecting Holochain nodes today.
  3. Holo is moving forward in closed alpha with nearly all components and integrations in working or completed capacity — as you can see in the architecture diagram here, where green indicates complete and light green indicates working. A few integrations are still not done as indicated in yellow or red. We will expand the closed alpha testing when we have ~30 nodes concurrently communicating across different networks. Additional updates will be shared about our progress through Emerging Clouds and when we are ready, we will announce dates for Open Alpha, both in an AMA and via our Leadership Series here on Medium.

4. As you know from the regular images and updates, HoloPorts are nearly all assembled and moving toward being on the boats in the near future.

We look forward to seeing you at the AMA, hearing your thoughts and answering your questions.

David Atkinson and Mary Camacho

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***Disclaimer: Please note that this post has been reviewed for structure, flow, content, grammar, and punctuation. Some parts are written in informal/colloquial language.***



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