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Simple Thoughts on Hard Forks

- Januari 03, 2020
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Simple Thoughts on Hard Forks

By David Paul

1/  Simple thoughts on hard forks: there's an obvious tradeoff between innovation and stability.  "no hard forks ever" is an amazing schelling point.

2/ when I was first diving deep into bitcoin in 2014-2015, I (mistakenly) thought it should embrace forking to upgrade and avoid obsolescence.  Evolve or die.  By 2016 though, I realized that Bitcoin occupies a unique competitive spot, and fell firmly into the "no HF" camp.

3/ Bitcoin (the layer 1 protocol) can't compete on innovation.  Changes to layer 1 would be like trying to upgrade a car into an airplane.  But it can win on stability.  And that desired innovation can come from layer 2s.

4/ newer protocols occupy a very different competitive spot.  A new protocol can't compete on stability (in the HF sense), it has to compete on features.  Especially while small and immature, they should iterate aggressively.

5/ this is the same dynamic we see in almost every industry in business.  There are giant incumbents that compete on trust and stability, and new upstarts that compete on features.  Often the upstarts coexist with the incumbents by offering different value propositions.

6/ ideally, projects should innovate as aggressively as possible while as small as possible (in terms of monetary value and other projects or use cases relying on them).  This isn't easy however, since

7/ you can't build a fully formed advanced consumer product in a laboratory.  It almost always requires live testing with real users and real risk.  For example, the real tests of security can't come until there's money at stake.
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