Researching Ethereum

Hi all,

I am Simon, a Belgian academic working in Singapore Management University.
I am interested in studying "decentralized platform emergence", which is academic jargon for how does a new platform come about.
Most of the work in this area has focused on big corporates like Intel, Microsoft, and Google, but Ethereum does not seem to work like a massive corporation because of its decentralized nature and not for profit status.
To study this, I can use all the help you can give me.

- If you know of any particularly useful videos that I could look at that focus on Ethereum's history, how it came about, where it's going ... please let me know
- The same goes for any other articles, web information, reddits ...
- If there is a way to get access to all the discussions that have been held at various forums about this topic (some kind of data dump) that would be extremely valuable
- If you know something about this topic yourself and you would be willing to do an interview with me (via skype or so, ideally recorded), that would be awesome as well.

Please know that I am not a coder, but I hope that in the course of this project I will learn at least the basics.

Thanks in advance,

Mail: [email protected]
Skype: simon.lebex


  • LarsPensjoLarsPensjo SwedenMember Posts: 35
    Notice that the system is not only decentralized, it is also trustless. That is, it works even if you can't trust the network or the participants. Another thing I find very interesting, is that the development is (or will be) decentralized. That is, there is nobody in control. That adds a whole list of interesting issues. Anyone is free to contribute or change. Anyone is free to clone Ethereum and do whatever changes they want.

    The relation and interaction with Open Source is important. Open Source is also similar in that anyone can do changes. But for a system like Ethereum, a change is usually not going to be effective unless it is accepted by a majority.
  • SJDSSJDS Member Posts: 7
    Hi Lars,

    Thanks a lot for pointing that out. It's a very good point. I know that block chain technologies indeed replace trust necessary for economic transactions with euhm, let me call it a technical solution, that erases the need for trust. It is one of the very interesting things about this entire project. If you know of some online resource in which this is discussed in some detail, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know!

  • ppohjappohja Member Posts: 10
    Your research proposal sounds interesting and very timely. To me, there seems to be a continuum in emergence of new platforms, most primarily regarding the models on how the platform is authored. I'm mostly thinking about the range from Bitcoin's anonymous development model to e.g. HyperLedger's centralised development. Ethereum is standing somewhere in the middle: the technological ideas have emerged from few central, known individuals' ideas, which gives these individuals the moral ownership and leadership in the project; but those ideas include the vision of de-centralised development and governance model. This is to contrast Bitcoin's model, where 'nobody' owns even the moral rights. At the other end of the continuum, there are traditional IT business models, who are just employing the blockchain technologies, but are either keeping the IPR strictly in-house or using the traditional business source approach, with the aim to make enterprise business.

    If we look 25 years back in time, I can see big similarities with the early days of Linux development. An open source project, with unambiguous leadership. You've probably read all that stuff, about Linus' trusted lieutenants and The Cathedral and the Bazaar and so on. Another important similarity to ideas from that time - at least to me - are the collaborational characteristics of the Ethereum platform itself: how it enables many developers to collaborate in the same runtime platform. There might be the research from the MUD community that could prove beneficial in understanding what this can mean in platform emergence. Unfortunately, most of the few text's I'm aware of are mostly from the user's point of view. Reports of developer experience seem to be rare, although those would be critical for understanding platform emergence.

    Here's some more recent resources I've found useful. Probably you're already aware most of this work, but nevertheless:
    Aaron Wright and Primavera De Filippi. Decentralized Blockchain Technology and the Rise of Lex Cryptographia. (March 10, 2015).

    David Johnston, Sam Onat Yilmaz, Jeremy Kandah, Nikos Bentenitis, Farzad Hashemi, Ron Gross, Shawn Wilkinson and Steven Mason. The General Theory of Decentralized Applications, Dapps. Online. (Feb 2, 2015).

  • SJDSSJDS Member Posts: 7
    Hi Ppohja,

    Thanks a lot for your comment. Very insightful and I much appreciate the links you shared. In all honesty, I was not aware of them so I will add them to my rapidly reading / watching / listening list. If you could recommend a book or other source about the early days of Linux development, I'd much appreciate that as well.
    My background is heavily rooted strategy and sustainability so this is quite a new area for me but after listening to Jessi Baker from Provenance, I decided that it was time I learnt more about the blockchain in general and Ethereum in particular.
    As mentioned, I am interested in talking to anyone about their views on how this project works and where it is going. So if you find 30 minutes of spare time some day, get in touch!

  • LarsPensjoLarsPensjo SwedenMember Posts: 35
    ppohja said:

    There might be the research from the MUD community that could prove beneficial in understanding what this can mean in platform emergence. Unfortunately, most of the few text's I'm aware of are mostly from the user's point of view. Reports of developer experience seem to be rare, although those would be critical for understanding platform emergence.

    Couldn't agree more. I created such a game (LPMUD), which turned out to be an interesting project. In practice, part of it was a decentralized development where participants (players) could add their own adventures to the game. There was a special incentive system to encourage good design (nice adventures).
  • SJDSSJDS Member Posts: 7
    Hi Lars,

    Very interesting to find out you are one of the original MUD founders. Impressive! If you would be willing to, it would be very insightful for me to hear your perspective about ethereum, where it comes from and where it's going.

    Thanks again,

  • ethereumnickethereumnick Member Posts: 49
    edited October 2015
    I can't promise that everything is Ethereum Relevant but from a GNU/Linux & Software Freedom perspective there is this list which catalogues many of the motivations for developing decentralised systems and Free/Libre software.

    From a more Economics heavy point of view there is this list which is more of a background in economics but has a good bit of crypto-currency stuff in there too.

    Sorry about the format and there is a lot of material but it might help.
  • sensoricansensorican Member Posts: 3
    edited October 2015
    We often differentiate disruptive platforms by their structures and growth. There are hybrids like UBER, a decentralized platform with a corporate structure. With its single point of failure it is doomed from the start plus lets not mention the clash of values and of course socio-economic tech on the horizon :smiley: ) that will force them to change their business plan or replace them. These are platforms that have no "seed value", fuelled by VC's and often dropped on the world.
    On the hand we have something like SENSORICA and its Open Value Network, a decentralized open source hardware development platform that's been a growing grass roots movement in peer to peer commons based production. We call this "seed value growth" that has taken time to develop based on human and network dynamics. Its based on values and not profit, which is different than a "platform" that's developed for investors.
    Essentially we're like a company flipped inside out that is open to the world. But there is no company, no boss, just a meritocracy based on various flexible parametric factors decided democratically by project. We've developed two unique tools to track activities, a Value Accounting System to capture individual contributions and manage deliverables plus a Network Resource Planner to manage resources (commons) across networks. At the heart of projects is a Value Equation and Governance Equation.
    We are currently looking to migrate our tools to ethereum for obvious reasons and believe we will be a strong use case for it since we have the history, the recognition and adoption of our model for decentralized production of goods or services in the collaborative economy.
  • SJDSSJDS Member Posts: 7
    Hi Ethereumnick and Sensorican,

    Thanks for the lists (indeed a lot of stuff on both!) and thanks for the introduction to Sensorican. I had not come across it quite yet but will surely look into it. If any of you would be willing to have a Skype call with me to talk about your involvement in blockchain tech and especially Ethereum, that would be awesome.

    Feel free to add me on Skype (simon.lebex) or reach out via mail ([email protected])

    Thanks again,

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