Practical Pluralism Essay Draft (req for feedback)

I have been working with Auryn from CLRFund on writing an essay about the pluralism that connects us all in web3.

The plan is to launch it as a verses-style essay which people can sign if they agree.

I’m sharing a draft below. My asks.

  1. Would appreciate feedback from yall.
  2. Any devs out there wanna help us spin up the verses.xyz signing infra? ( Here is Verses’ Github. Here are the two repos for the Declaration 1 & 2. )

Thanks in advance. And thanks especially to Auryn Macmillan for helping get the draft this far.

Practical Pluralism

The Ethereum network is secured by block producers (currently miners, soon to be replaced by validators). They are the foundation of consensus in the Ethereum network, upon which are trillions of dollars worth of assets and untold untapped potential for human coordination.

Having well-designed, secure, and dependable block producers to protect this value is a great strategy to defend the network.

One of the key strategies employed by the Ethereum network to ensure secure and reliable block production is client diversity. If a single client is used by 2/3rds (66%) of validators there’s a very real risk this can result in disrupting the chain and monetary loss for node operators if that client has a bug. By treating client diversity as a public good, by fostering an environment where many diverse client teams are incentivized to implement the Ethereum protocol in disparit code bases, by ensuring diversity, the Ethereum community bakes in a measure of anti-fragility and resilience against bugs in any one implementation.

Client Diversity is pluralism in practice.

Pluralism – the understanding that diversity of people, beliefs, opinions, mechanisms, approaches, implementations, etc within a given context generally results in better outcomes than in the absence of such diversity. Nowhere is this more evident than in ecosystems with rich biodiversity; ecosystems where radically different flora and fauna work in a harmoniously competitive act of mutual regulation and perpetuation. Wherein the success of one species feeds and is kept in check by the success of another species, and so on.

Pluralism itself is a primitive for antifragile, resilient, and regenerative systems. As an ecosystem, Ethereum has done a great job fostering diversity in its mining and validating clients. But we should insist on pluralism across the full stack of web3 technologies and culture, from wallets, RPC nodes, DAO tooling, public goods funding mechanism, AMMs, stablecoins, and developer tooling, to the people, groups, communities, and opinions which participate in and hold sway over our ecosystem.

We are writing this essay because we believe in client diversity. We believe in Pluralism as a primitive. And we want you to join us in extending the focus on client diversity & pluralism to other layers of the stack. By having pluralism as a core value of each niche, we ensure the space is capture-resistant. With each participant able to choose to use or not use any one of a number of options for any given need.

By having pluralism at the beating heart of each niche, we ensure the space is antifragile. If there is a major bug discovered in one system, the resulting cascading harm can only go so far because there will always be another dApp ready to pick up the slack.For web3 to truly express itself, diversity and pluralism must be core values.

To all those who would seek to build, enshrine, and defend moats in our shared virtual machine, to build systems incapable of composition, incapable of componentization, incapable of being permissionless replaced by some alternative.

To those people we say this is a pattern of the past, this is an antipattern in web3, it’s a pattern enabled by permissioned access to, and control of, data.

One which has been made redundant in our version of the internet, made redundant by our shared virtual machine.

The future will be dominated by much more emergent systems; organic compositions of many discrete and interchangeable components, built by disparate people, in combinations never dreamt of by their creators.

It is through this diversity that we build anti-fragility, and a resilience to capture, censorship, and stagnation.

We challenge the protocols at the center of the NFT, DeFi, DAO Tooling ecosystems to adopt practical pluralism as part of their design philosophy & broader Ethos.

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Feedback as requested:

Overall this is inspiring and visionary Kevin. I will surely sign it once published. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and requesting feedback from the tribe. I don’t have any major comments about the overarching philosophy -fully agree- but I did notice a couple passive/active voice inconsistencies and I stumbled over one sentence a bit, and so I offer two minor comments which might boost readability.

Consider changing from: “We are writing this essay…”

to:

“We write this essay…”

This may better align with general style/voice of essay.

Consider deleting the words ‘would’ (and maybe ‘those’) from start of this sentence to improve flow. The final result is:

“To all those who seek to build, enshrine, and defend…” , or,

“To all who seek to build, enshrine, and defend…”

Lastly, I am not sure what you mean by “…our shared virtual machine.” Probably the general internet but the similarity with name ‘Ethereum Virtual Machine’ creates potential for confusion. Might be worth clarifying what exactly is meant by “…shared virtual machine”.

thanks for the feedback!

actually we meant the EVM :stuck_out_tongue:

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As a biology geek, I love ideas like these which draw parallels between systems we see in nature and systems we’re building in Web3. I particularly enjoyed:

Nowhere is this more evident than in ecosystems with rich biodiversity; ecosystems where radically different flora and fauna work in a harmoniously competitive act of mutual regulation and perpetuation. Wherein the success of one species feeds and is kept in check by the success of another species, and so on.

Here are my questions/comments :

  • Who is your target audience?
    • I ask this because I’m not sure everyone reading will be familiar with what exactly a ‘client’ is and this understanding is crucial to your argument for client diversity. Personally, I am unsure if I properly understand clients because I’ve never run a local node (something I really need to do!)
  • This essay made me wonder what technical areas of the ones mentioned (clients, wallets, RPC nodes, DAO tooling, public goods funding mechanism, AMMs, stablecoins, and developer tooling) do actually lack pluralism or diversity today. Are there any resources or statistics for this?
  • I’ve heard you speak about the Infinite Garden and was surprised not to find that phrase used anywhere in this essay. I think this is a beautiful analogy that extends the meaning of the word ‘ecosystem’ into richer, more descriptive territory. Would you consider it appropriate for this piece?