The author of two widely acclaimed books on cryptocurrency offered advice to developers building ethereum, the world’s second-largest blockchain, this weekend, arguing they should be careful to avoid fragmenting their technical community through infighting.
Andreas M. Antonopoulos, whose books “Mastering Bitcoin” and “Mastering Ethereum” are now standards for developers learning both protocols, gave a keynote address about the importance of building “unstoppable code” to hackers and enthusiasts at ETHDenver, a conference that drew thousands to Colorado to discuss the future of the protocol.
“Don’t give yourself the power to stop unstoppable code. Embrace the fact that what we’re doing is important and it requires courage,” he said onstage.
He added later in interview with CoinDesk, a word of caution to the ethereum community, saying:
“Be careful of fragmentation … When things get difficult, people become more insular in their thinking and they start magnifying differences instead of focussing on commonalities.”
Antonopoulos’ remark went on to acknowledge the effects of market decline, in context of which ethereum’s main cryptocurrency, ether, has dropped in value from $1,100 to just over $100. Speaking to CoinDesk, Antonopoulos argued that he expects depressed market conditions to add pressures to existing online debates.
“The really most extreme maximalism we’ve seen comes at the absolute peak of the bear market or the trough of the bear market when people are feeling very afraid and threatened,” said Antonopoulos.
“When things are easy, it’s easy to get along. When things get hard, that’s when you need to stop and remember the things we share rather than the things that divide us.”
Antonopoulos went on to call on others within the ethereum community to stand up in future instances in which those propelling the project forward are subjected to undue abuse.
“The bystander effect is very insidious, but it’s also very easy to beat and the way you beat it is by having one courageous person. That’s all it takes,” said Antonopoulos to CoinDesk.
Antonopolous’s words have taken on a new resonance, however, in light of the subsequent departure of ethereum core developer Afri Schoedon who quit the project this week over attacks launched against both himself personally and his work on the open-source software.
Schoedon’s decision to leave ethereum was spurred by an onslaught of criticism over a contentious tweet he made Thursday comparing ethereum to blockchain interoperability protocol Polkadot, which also has its own cryptocurrency.
Already, dozens of ethereum developers and contributors have published an open letter to signal an end to continued “toxic behaviour that discourages open discussion.”
The letter states:
“We, the undersigned, contributors and workers behind scores of projects, and those seeking to build better systems, feel … threats against a person’s well-being can never be justified and we categorically reject such toxicity in digital communities.”
Further, voices in ethereum, including the community relations manager for it’s leading non-profit, the Ethereum Foundation, have denounced the online abuse aimed at Schoedon.
Such actions are, in the viewpoint of Antonopoulos, exactly how real change can occur within communities – crypto or otherwise.
“Words change history … To me, part of empowering people is empowering them to be able to act with reason and logic and words, instead of with force, with coercion, with violence. And to also be able to defend themselves with reason and words in the face of coercion and violence.”
Andreas M. Antonopoulos image via Christine Kim for CoinDesk