So, what should we do?

In my previous post about the inefficiencies of monolithic blockchains, the responses can broadly be classified as:

  1. Ad-hominem attacks

  2. Contradiction between demanding action around applications & discussing long-term infrastructure

  3. Even ardent monolithic chain fans agree that validity proofs and such are awesome, and they will add it and be non-monolithic in the future (OK, there are some semantic disagreements. IMO, integrating validity proofs & DAS to a monolithic chain makes it not monolithic - as per my definition you no longer need all nodes to naïvely reprocess all transactions to verify integrity. But these are just semantics. I should note, I did not use the word “modular” anywhere in my post)

  4. The post’s tone was toxic, and I’m a hypocrite for calling out CT toxicity

I’ll acknowledge 1) and 4) first. Yes, I fully agree about the tone of the post, and I apologise for it. I’m also fine with the many ad-hominem attacks - I chose to fight fire with fire, so I certainly accept fire back. (Btw, I’m grateful for everyone who didn’t have nasty personal attacks) Would a more neutral tone have worked better? I don’t think so - that’s what I did for most of 2020/21, and content only gets attention in crypto if it’s provocative. As much as it makes me uncomfortable, this is the game you have to play. Of course, despite the aggressive tone, everything I said in the post was intended to be as clearly and truthfully stated to the best of my ability and there was zero attempt at misdirection or obfuscation with needless technical jargon.

As an aside, another criticism was I was being too negative and not providing solutions. Please read my other posts over the last couple of years - I have tried my best to do so over 50 blog posts. But this post is also a response.

To address 2) - I thought my post was very clear that it was embarrassing for me to talk about infra at a time where we desperately need to consolidate existing valuable applications, and invest in novel ones. But also, there’s no contradiction, and this is another case of false dichotomy. We must do both, and everything possible, to make things better.

I thought it was pretty obvious, but let me explain in detail, and I apologise for coming off as preachy:

  1. The L1s and L2s and all infra players must focus on consolidating existing applications, investing in novel applications, and massive outreach programs for onboarding users and developers. I did not mention any specific L1 or L2 for good reason - it doesn’t matter. It applies to every L2 or L1 where blockspace supply exceeds non-spam demand.

  2. They must also continue improving their chains so that they are more efficient, sustainable, and thus attract more users for the long term. No point onboarding users to an unsustainable chain that’ll not stand the test of time.

  3. But most importantly, the crypto industry must not waste time and money fighting over infra, or piling on a majority of capital to infra. Community members of each chain must not waste time hating on and fighting with other chains; instead, each worker must focus on adding value to whatever chain they work for, and broadly, invest way more in applications and user onboarding.

  4. While I clearly acknowledge now is not the time to be obsessing over infrastructure, it is also prudent for researchers to continue thinking about the best long-term sustainable solutions, meanwhile engineers and business developers continue focusing on applications and user onboarding. These are parallel tracks and not mutually exclusive.

  5. I did most of my scaling and infrastructure related posts in 2021. The reason why I’ve spent most of 2022 and 2023 talking about sustainability, governance and applications instead is precisely because the bottleneck stopped being infra after 2021. Alas, a fraction of the audience cares about these compared to infra.

So, to spell it out once again, what should we do? IMO, it’s really quite simple:

  1. All existing L1s and L2s and their investors must focus on onboarding users and saturating their blockspace supply which has thus far gone underutilized, instead of wasting time hating on each other;

  2. All existing L1s and L2s must continue improving their infrastructure, making things more efficient and enabling new applications (e.g. onchain games that may require hundreds of fast chains [each faster than the fastest chain available today] interoperating in tandem at scale);

  3. But most importantly, build towards sustainable solutions that’ll stand the test of time, tech like validity proofs being a critical ingredient;

  4. Any existing L1s and L2s that are failing to see traction after several years of being live must downsize appropriate to their level of activity potential, and their investors must not give into sunk-cost fallacy and keep shilling the projects with misleading campaigns - instead, invest more in L1s and L2s that have traction.

  5. Lastly, as an industry, collectively, we must invest in consolidating our existing applications which have product-market fit, before traditional incumbents catch up and take away market share; and simultaneously continue investing in novel applications that make some sense. (Instead of just ponzifying traditional apps)

I hope to see a crypto world where the industry does not destroy itself with constant infighting over underutilized infra, constant pandering to false dichotomies, and where applications are neglected into irrelevance. At this point, after shouting about all of this for years, I have given up. Yeah, sure, number will go up, but that’s not what I’m talking about. But I still hope to be pleasantly surprised.

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