Today we’re excited to present The Framework for Evolving Arweave, a model for protocol evolution through forking. This Framework is the result of countless hours of research, community discussion, modeling, and exploration done over the past years. Here, we discuss how evolution enables sustainable innovation and resilience for Arweave into the distant future.
One of the fundamental principles of open decentralized protocols is that they should be self-governing based on their built-in mechanisms, without any central authority or controlling entity. In addition, our protocol, which stores data permanently, needs to be able to adapt to an environment that will inevitably shift in unpredictable ways over time. Without proper mechanisms in place to allow for upgrades and innovation, a protocol risks becoming stagnant, vulnerable to exploits, and inadequate for new use cases.
Many protocols have codified governance mechanisms in an attempt to address similar needs. Unfortunately, many of the current practices of governance, such as token voting DAOs, have proven to be less robust than initially hoped. Recent cases of dysfunction in Uniswap and MakerDAO — amongst many others — illustrate examples of governance slipping back to the behaviors of traditional companies, abandoning the core principle of guaranteed immutable rights for users. These dynamics pose serious threats to the neutrality, utility, and longevity of these protocols.
To avoid these problems, Arweave embraces an entirely different approach: protocol evolution. Outlined in The Framework for Evolving Arweave, launched today, protocol evolution enables a thoroughly resilient and market-based process for network upgrades that embraces competition.
Anyone who wishes to innovate on the protocol can do so by introducing their own fork, and may create an additional reward for themselves. Competitive market forces incentivize innovators to provide maximal value to users in return for fair rewards. Protocol evolution ensures that the best improvements and features get adopted.
Most importantly, the evolutionary process allows Arweave to be upgraded and improved by motivated individuals, who are rewarded by the market for helping the protocol adapt. This is in stark contrast to traditional models of protocol governance that rely on innovation by committee. The evolutionary process becomes rapidly iterative, akin to a quickly moving startup industry, rather than a slow, monolithic, and risk averse corporation. Evolution guarantees that protocol upgrades will always be determined by a market of ideas and merit, where users and token-holders are free to adopt or reject new innovations as they see fit.
Protocol evolution creates a profound shift in the competitive landscape. Instead of creating a protocol from scratch, builders are now highly incentivized to innovate on top of Arweave and claim a reward, turning competitive energy into prosocial cooperation.
At the heart of Arweave is a set of immutable binding principles. These principles must inform every stage of Arweave’s evolution. In a world where centralized control and special interests threaten to undermine the integrity of protocols, Arweave provides a blueprint for how open decentralized networks can maintain their neutrality, longevity, and guarantee user rights through time. Through evolution, Arweave will remain truly resilient and capable of thriving in the face of every challenge and opportunity, permanently.
Read Understanding the Framework for Evolving Arweave, and Stamp it to be a part of the protocol’s history.