The last day of CoinDesk's Consensus 2016 featured a deep dive on enterprise standards for blockchain applications, a topic that drew a capacity crowd to the Wednesday event.
Featuring author William Mougayar; Barclays blockchain and distributed ledger lead Simon Taylor; and Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin, the session featured an open-ended question-and-answer session that ultimately morphed into a back-and-forth conversation on the nature of standards.
Early on, Buterin drew a distinction between the standardization drive of business executives and managers – and the potential standards needs of developers actually working on technology applications.
He told attendees:
"Standardization is one of those things that people, and business people especially, like to talk about. It's a bit removed from the standardization needs of developers. I sometimes think, 'Okay, where do we even start? How do you even know what kind of standardization are people looking for?'"
The subsequent question-and-answer (Q&A) session raised concerns about interoperability, competition, the process of tailoring standards to specific industries and what exact components should go into any kind of proposed standard.
One common topic that emerged was the desire on the part of participants to avoid "reinventing the wheel", or moving to develop standards that may mirror or reflect existing standards already in place for other technologies.
Equally as vital, those who attended the workshop say, is the need to avoid putting in place any kind of standard that would create burdens for developers and startups that could dampen that work. This point was raised both during the question-and-answer session as well as later breakout group presentations.
"We need to give the technology time to evolve, and give developers time to create their products," said one participant.
Other areas of interest included developing standards regarding the relationship between open and closed blockchain networks, programming languages, privacy and applying standards to specific elements such as smart oracles.
Ultimately, the panel concluded with the sense that more discussions and debate are needed. Although, according to a number of participants, any long-term solutions for blockchain standards are better off emerging from the industry itself.
Photo courtesy of William Mougayar