There once was a community that wanted a blockchain.
Its members wanted to be a part of the coming transformation of society.
This is the story of how they got their chain, and why you might want to join them.
Decentralized architecture, coupled with the power of smart contracts, is a once-in-a-century opportunity for society: It is far more than programmable money, it is a canvas for valuable human interactions.
The opportunity is materializing now. While the common narrative is that it is still “early days,” the reality is that the value of individual crypto networks reach toward, and even surpass, one trillion US dollars. As such, the budgets to enter this space and stay relevant are astronomical and ever-increasing. It is possible that the leading platforms of today, and their stakeholders, will permanently dominate the space. And that’s even before the roll-out of corporate and national blockchains.
It can certainly seem like there is not much low-hanging fruit for anyone that has been left out of this story so far. The window to build a new meaningful network is closing.
But there is one unusual (perhaps unique) opportunity left.
If you’re new to the blockchain space, you will soon learn that the technology is not *the product*. The product is the game the technology enables.
The players, the interactions, and their outcomes, are the design elements of blockchain. And there are many ways to craft gameplay.
Blockchain networks inherit an ethos from their creators. Communities — and their norms and goals — precede the technological artifacts of a chain. Perhaps then it is not surprising that many groups design their game to reflect existing patterns and myths. You can, for example, design a blockchain where the economic game resembles a corporation, maximizing profit for winners with exit strategies. Or you can design what is called an *infinite game*; a framework that perpetually sustains new players, new rules, new settings, and new possibilities. We think infinite games depend on people opting-in out of excitement, and not out of lack of alternatives, or fear of missing out.
We wanted to create a game that anyone could play; a game everyone would want to keep playing.
Before Silicon Valley built Robinhood the company, there was Robin Hood the legend. The story is set in a kingdom whose king is absent, off fighting distant crusades. The young prince, a usurper of power, has occupied the void and turns ordinary life into a hopeless maze. In the depths of this unfortunate situation, a group of individuals arise who take exception to the status quo and attempt to rebalance power and equity.
This story is timeless. It has a villain who we all recognize. The usurper is familiar across centuries; it changes in name only: sovereigns, incumbents, bureaucracy, big-tech.
The legend lives on not because a single player wins, but because the circumstance of inertia, subjugation and injustice recur. The winner is the Robin Hood game itself. Humanity perpetually plays it; an infinite game. The rules of play are simple. You can take from authority, if you give back to your people. You should aim to do well for yourself, whilst remaining a fun-loving rascal.
Snatch the jewels
In June 2019, something curious happened: A consortium of the most powerful financial and technology houses on the planet banded together to build a new, global cryptocurrency, prompted in their efforts by Facebook. They preached equality and financial inclusion, with assurances that decentralization of this network was just a matter of time.
As the project progressed, things began to change and a grimmer reality set in. What began as a blockchain-powered digital currency aimed to improve financial inclusion became a payment network governed exclusively by incumbent corporate actors and enterprise compliance requirements.
Behind the scenes, away from the growing controversy about money and regulation, a talented group of engineers was creating breakthrough technologies. To make this planned digital currency work, for the scale of billions of users, they built a bejeweled blockchain. It was a blockchain as fast and secure as anything in the market. Most importantly to this story, they released that code under an open source license for others to modify and remix. It was called Libra (later renamed, Diem).
The situation created an inherent contradiction. While the code was open sourced, the network that ran the code was fundamentally closed and controlled exclusively by a private consortium of big brand actors who were required to provide large pools of capital for membership.
We didn’t think that was right, so we jailbroke Diem. We forked the open-sourced Libra code back in 2019, and kept up with the changes under its new name, Diem. Since then thousands of developer hours have gone into making that code ready for release. We are now ready to share it with you. We call it 0L, not only the 0th Libra-consensus blockchain, but also an open Libra network.
0L’s vision is to turn that jewel of a blockchain, and the network which it instantiates, into something that is open, permissionless, participatory, and egalitarian.
This was hard work, and took two years to complete. The job was far more complex than simply making a copy of source code. The original project was designed to be run on a private network with a tightly controlled set of economic incentives that vested power and economic return solely in the network operators. A new economic model had to be designed, a new Sybil resistance algorithm invented (Delay Towers), and a number of related mechanisms had to be adjusted to optimize performance under these new conditions. The result is thousands upon thousands of lines of new code designed to make that blockchain fit for use in a public network.
Just a couple weeks ago, on October 27th 2021, a new network genesis took place. It is a blank canvas. This blockchain network is maximally compatible with Diem, but capable of permissionless innovation and decentralized economies.
There are millions of people working in crypto today. We need billions. To get there, the protocol must be safe for use, and avoid a variety of attack vectors. Stated differently: We need to protect the game.
Paying homage to Bitcoin, 0L went back to the basics: There is no pre-mine, no corporations, no investors, and no permission.
- We chose to stay close to Bitcoin’s model.
- There’s a foundation which pays for Github hosting, and does nothing else.
- Early miners didn’t take any VC money.
- 0L doesn’t use proof-of-stake.
- We skipped the DAOs controlling a treasury.
- Coins don’t buy shareholder votes.
- There was no ICO, nor an airdrop.
- There were no side-deals with exchanges.
- No market-making.
If your instinct was to say a network without those activities is not viable, you are squarely wrong. It is 0L’s superpower. No one should be looking over their shoulder at governments because they participate in a protocol.
If you ever wonder what opportunities are left for entrepreneurs in the world, we urge you: Look for the *negative space*.
Companies and governments will not do – or cannot do – all the things we want from life. In this void lie an endless amount of problems at the intersection of information, economics, and social coordination. This is all of humanity’s unfinished work; a vast negative space which the markets and sovereigns have weak dominion over.
What are the things you expect from the government but can’t get? What then do you need to acquire from companies but are inadequate? Depending on where you live, making progress in healthcare, education, justice, news, or voting, can feel hopeless.
Hope comes to us in the form of new economic games we can play because of blockchains. Blockchain offers truthful notaries, durable memberships, transparent markets, and binding agreements. Modern economics provides new mechanism design gadgets: Prediction markets, Quadratic Voting, Dominant Assurance Contracts, Crowdsourcing, Curved Bonding, and things yet to come. The true potential is yet to be unlocked, to be imagined and instantiated by you and this growing community. Today, we merely lay a foundation upon which you can build.
This is the entrepreneurial blue ocean of our time, however solving these issues may not lead to viable startups. That’s perfect! This is the domain of *the thing that comes after companies*. We are all so early that there is not yet a good name for it. Web3 and the multiverse are still mere shadows flickering on the wall.
Don’t try to replace companies, they are good at what they do. Don’t pick fights with nation states that provide for their citizens, however inefficiently. Instead, go do the things they cannot. Mechanism designers are the new entrepreneurs. Design the negative space, and become the social architects in the era of blockchains.
We live in a society, and we must be wise towards each other.
Since 0L is based on an existing open source license, and it arrived to us freely, all members must think critically about the value inherent in the technology, and the potential which it can produce. How should we distribute that potential? On 0L there’s wide latitude to craft a better distribution game *because* the network is unencumbered by the pressures of generating a return to corporate and venture investors.
0L makes it easy for you to decide if and how to share your mining rewards. Using auto-pay, all node operators have the option to donate a meaningful portion of their node’s earnings to support a variety of programs, so that donating activities in the community (and beyond) is frictionless. You can auto-pay to your team, to your tribe, or to a cause. In our experimental network, we observed node operators donating on average over 50% of their mining rewards. This was not just toward the sustainability of the blockchain (engineering programs), but also humanitarian programs and baskets of high-impact nonprofits.
Underdogs have more fun
Among other things, Bitcoin is a weird and wonderful prank on sovereign power. There are many other powers-that-be which deserve the same treatment by a merry band of rascals.
Jailbreaking Libra/Diem was not a quick win. The fun started almost three years ago by many volunteers coding and puzzling over the technology. We successfully ran a real-world experimental network for nearly a year. We could have launched with that network, and we could have done a pre-mine, but we didn’t because it’s just less fun for everyone. We sunsetted the test network, and started a blank gameboard with you in mind.
With that done, the real fun can begin. Your first mission? Take the prince’s jewels.
Download an early beta release of *Carpe*, a light miner that you can run on your laptop and make coins. There’s nobody you need to pay to get coins, no company to ask permission from, and most importantly: No one that can take this back from you.
The future missions are entirely up to you. Crypto are the in-game points for the real world.
Game it, play it, carpe diem ✊☀️ ,
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