I Have Gambled and Lost Devcon5. Meditations on Why I am Here

I Have Gambled and Lost

Some of you might have seen or participated in my poll:

The outcome was:

  • 99/124 yes votes. I needed 200 yes votes
  • $726.41. I needed $1500

Why 200 Votes, Why 3 Days

Many of you have said that 3 days were not enough for the poll to be retweeted and seen by 200 people voting yes. Especially that Berlin Blockchain Week and Dappcon were happening. Or enough days for raising $1500 in a bear market.

Why So Last Minute?

Some of you suggested that I should or should have applied for various other grants or sell NFTs (non-fungible tokens). I assume some of you also thought: why haven’t you prepared with multiple grant proposals earlier?

Post-poll Donations

I have received sponsorship & donations offers after the poll has ended, to fund the Devcon trip. The poll results were clear: I did not deserve to go, therefore I could not accept. I withdrew my workshop immediately after the poll ended, to make this point.

Meditations on Why I am Here

I shortly mentioned in A Vision of a System Registry for The World Computer that Ethereum wanted to be The World Computer, back in 2016. That is when I first discovered Ethereum. The World Computer concept was what intrigued me because I saw it as a concept that fitted my ideal view of the world (a collaborative, machine-readable, open and transparent world) and it was in line with what I was working on at that time (open, machine-readable medical data).

What I Thought About the Ethereum Community

I viewed the Ethereum community as the closest community to the ideals that I consider important. Ideals that I presented in The Ethereum Unicorn.

  • decentralization
  • striving for perfection
  • righteousness / meritocracy
  • open collaboration
  • freedom of expression

How I Thought I Could Help

I initially started my Ethereum journey in 2017, helping a company to develop two payment channel systems, for almost two years. I enjoyed the work. I also implemented their smart contracts and oversaw E2E testing for their token sale. I can only hope that the projects I worked on will keep the promise made to their supporters — they have a good chance of doing that. Otherwise, I deeply apologize.

What Are the Signs of Change?

Open, Easily Retrievable Data

Smart contract sources are kept either in GitHub or in centralized hands. Block explorers take from the community and don’t publish their smart contracts data, though that data was intended for the public. But we all prefer to use them because it is easy.

Transparency and Public Scrutiny

Thanks to GitHub and web2 tools (forums), there is transparency in development and EIP proposals. But not when it comes to administrative processes.

  • make the above information public
  • have a feedback system
  • make grant applications public, open to debate and voting
  • make conference applications public, open to debate and voting (pre and post-conference)
  • make it easy to contribute and expose your work at their events & conferences: tele/remote participation (not everybody has money for trips, not everybody wants to be tied in sponsorships, it is less costly), tracks with 5-minute pitches from projects that are good but did not make the cut
  • use a meritocratic system, to protect from spam — at least start with ecosystem contributors
  • have clear processes and deadlines, announced in advance, so you can plan
  • I applied for an ECF grant for Pipeline in October 2018, where the only feedback was: we need to see interest in Pipeline from the community; no other technical feedback, no other offer
  • Gitcoin wanted to discuss a grant for Pipeline in December 2018, but by that time we decided to work more on our vision and planning, to make sure we receive grants for the right reasons: our tech
  • I applied for an EF grant to improve the existing ContractFinder in June 2019, entered the interview process on August 14th and was rejected without a clear technical reason, other than — you should collaborate with another project that is just starting now (I open-sourced our +4000 contract data; I think that is a good collaboration start)

Less Unearned Profit

Considering the global effects that ICOs have had on the entire Ethereum ecosystem, I have changed my views on ICOs. I first viewed them as decentralized crowdfunding tools for public good products. But no one should receive money without being held accountable for their output and no one should contribute with money just to withdraw it soon afterward and make a profit. Not for products that target public good, because it has the potential to destabilize the project — bear periods bring job instability unless the project sold their crypto for fiat and helped destabilize the market itself.

Collaboration

Most technical collaboration across projects is done through EIPs. But even the existing standards for smart contract patterns (tokens, registries, etc.) have a hard time being discussed and accepted. There are just a few editors, who are not paid to provide the technical feedback needed to evolve an EIP and projects prefer to develop their own internal standards instead of spending the time to go through the lengthy EIP process.

Moving Forward

I want to see where the Ethereum community’s stands on the above topics. If there will be no response, no discussion, then the message will be clear — we don’t share the same values. And I will not bring up these subjects in public anymore, because no one would be interested to hear them anyway.

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