Why the development of next-generation blockchain platforms must be led by the community
Blockchain is a communal effort; why would building the next-gem blockchain platform be any different? In this article, Vladislav Dramaliev explains why community input is imperative for the future of blockchain and the key to mainstream adoption.
“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” — Margaret J. Wheatley
Every truly great movement begins when a group of people identify a problem, engage in dialogue and deliberation, and then act together to solve it. Ten years on from the launch of Bitcoin, it is by following this process that the most innovative blockchain projects will achieve mainstream adoption.
Third generation blockchain platforms aim to improve upon Bitcoin’s innovative technology in order to make it more commercially attractive. However, they are faced with numerous challenges. Instead of solving these challenges by relying on a single team, sacrificing decentralization, and creating a single point of failure, the “blockchain way” to address them is to present them to a global community of bright minds. This makes community-building in the public blockchain sphere an essential component of project development. A strong and motivated community will be an important vehicle for the transition to mainstream adoption.
Adapt and achieve adoption
Community has always been extremely valuable in driving the success of blockchain projects, from contributing ideas and offering feedback, to hands-on development work and spreading of the project’s message. Community has never been as important as it is right now, as everyone in the blockchain industry is finding unique ways to enable mainstream adoption of the technology.
To successfully achieve mass adoption, it is first necessary to adapt the technology to the needs and desires of those who would use it. This means making it scalable and user-friendly and then creating unique incentives for users to use it. These will be best achieved by engaging a diverse, global community of developers, UX/UI designers, entrepreneurs and users. They should be able to express their visions for the future of a public blockchain platform with tangible means – tokens, apps, and code. Social media and digital content are becoming less relevant as vehicles of expression in a world where, thanks to blockchain technology, “putting your money/code/app where your mouth is” will become the default approach to support an opinion.
Blockchain 3.0 is about adapting to achieve sustainable adoption. Adapting existing technology to fit the needs of a diverse community is an important first step.
Encouraging community-led development can be a difficult task, but is absolutely invaluable to highlight and correct issues that arise with the technology. There are a number of ways to encourage community members to get involved.
First and foremost, it is absolutely essential to make the technology accessible to anyone who is interested in improving it or building on it. Having an open-source codebase that is free to access but that no one can understand is not helpful at all. To address this, documentation, guides, and tutorials must be developed and remain updated as time progresses. These can also be prepared and updated collaboratively, involving experienced community members and the team that developed the code originally. Currently, at æternity, both the developer and æpp teams are working on the foundations of these resources. The idea is to make them almost completely community-driven.
Second, it is important to make the community interact with the code and apps as frequently as possible. This could be done through code or app-related challenges or online hackathons. Incentives could vary, but tokens are usually the most preferred option. Distributing tokens to community members that have created value in the form of improved efficiency, functionality, or usability is a great way to build a healthy community. Expect a lot of these activities from æternity this year!
Third, hosting meetups and empowering ambassadors are simple and effective ways to spread the word about your blockchain project and get users interested in the philosophy and technology behind it. Presenting engaging opportunities to individuals to become part of the community by contributing ideas, code, or any other kind of useful effort can also be effective.
Finally, bounties have proven to be an important community-building tool in the digital world. From bug reporting/fixing to creative contests and app ideas, bounties usually provide token-based incentives to a diverse, global crowd to do what they love and become part of a community.
One of the fundamental ideas behind Bitcoin and public blockchain projects is to identify and put to the test new methods of generating consensus on a global scale. After all, central to the mission of the technology is the empowerment of micro and macro-value creators around the world. Especially the ones who are unable to realize their full potential due to limitations imposed by major concentrations of wealth and power existing in the world today. In order to manifest this change, thorough consideration must be given to those who will ultimately use, improve, and benefit from the technology.
With new powers come new responsibilities. Cryptocurrencies and tokens are confirming the validity of this statement. Existing governance models are losing their attractiveness to citizens who are fed up with waiting years to provide feedback (voting cycles), inefficiencies, corruption, and lack of accountability. By providing modern tools that enable users to participate in the governance process directly and in real-time, one can ensure that project development will be led by a community in a transparent manner.
æternity’s governance mechanism is implemented via delegated voting, weighted by the number of tokens each account holds. It is a form of direct, liquid democracy that will give the community a voice on any relevant topic, including platform development. The æternity community will be able to formally provide its opinion on any topic using the native AE token and an easy-to-use mobile application. This is the future of decentralized governance.
For blockchain to achieve its true potential, it needs to inspire value creation in any form imaginable – ideas, visual creativity, code, content, and actions. As we begin 2019 and reach a critical point for blockchain – widespread adoption – blockchain 3.0 needs to recognize that a core team can only take a project so far. What is needed is an active community with a stake in the project that is empowered by a system of communication, collaboration, and creativity. To achieve this, it is imperative that documentation, guides, and tutorials are developed, while various activities rewarding engagement and value creation are organized. User-friendly governance tools should be made available on mobile devices and complemented by a new generation of communication tools that are private, secure, and user-friendly.
In the ten years since blockchain’s inception, we have seen several projects attempt to push their solution to the forefront and achieve mainstream adoption. Undeniably, the technology has achieved great success in this regard. But as the dawn of next generation blockchain is upon us, revolutionary ideas now need more than just conception, they need community leadership. Taking this approach will fulfill the goals that were laid out in the foundations of blockchain technology ten years ago and ensure that it reaches its full potential within the next ten. Or even sooner.