By Josiah Wilmoth
When most people first learn about Metronome — a new cryptocurrency developed by Bitcoin pioneer Jeff Garzik — their attention is usually first captured by its ability transcend blockchains. However, equally as important is Metronome’s approach to blockchain governance — a topic to which many cryptocurrency users devote too little attention.
Why Blockchain Governance Matters
Blockchain governance, as defined by Metronome’s developers, is the “way(s) in which a community that built and manages the project defines that community’s explicit and customary norms.”
In most early cryptocurrency projects, developers prioritized engineering over governance, which made sense since they were largely experimenting with a new technology. However, Bloq believes that, over a multi-decade or century time-frame, governance is equally — if not more — important to a cryptocurrency’s durability.
To date, most cryptocurrencies have been governed either by a “benevolent dictator for life” or a highly-influential group of core developers to whose judgment the community almost always defers.
Jeff Garzik, an early Bitcoin developer who now serves as CEO of blockchain technology firm Bloq, told Strategic Coin that these types of governance structures create systemic risk.
Development teams can disagree about how best to approach a particular problem — scaling the network to accommodate more users, for instance — leading to fractures within the community and uncertainty about the project’s future.
A “benevolent dictator,” on the other hand, may abandon a project unexpectedly, dealing a mortal blow to its future — and the value of investors’ assets.
Metronome: a Self-Governing Cryptocurrenecy
Having seen the detrimental effects of these governance structures appear and reappear throughout cryptocurrency’s nearly decade-long history, Bloq consciously designed Metronome so that it would be self-governing — and have as few developer touch-points as possible.
“You don’t have an ongoing development team for Metronome, because it’s launched on day one as an autonomous machine,” Garzik said during a phone interview.
Metronome — which rides on top of other blockchains rather than existing in its own isolated network — is managed by a series of immutable smart contracts that no one can alter — not even Bloq.
Because Metronome does not have its own blockchain, there is no need for ongoing protocol development; this limits the potential for infighting over specific development proposals — the types of conflicts that have caused contentious divorces in both the Bitcoin and Ethereum communities.
The loser in these messy breakups is always the user, which Bloq believes is one reason institutional investors have been hesitant to allocate meaningful portions of their assets into cryptocurrencies.
“Being locked to a single blockchain means that you’re tied to the drama associated with that blockchain. You have only one way to escape — and that’s to sell,” Garzik explained,” and “selling, in turn, is a taxable event.”
Metronome, however, runs concurrently on multiple blockchains, and users can easily move their MTN tokens between chains. This ensures that users’ coins are never trapped on a dying network — or one beset with other systemic risks such as miner centralization and developer drama.
If problems do infect an underlying blockchain, users do not need to panic, sell their tokens at a loss, or risk that their assets will become worthless. Instead, they can easily port their MTN to another network by interacting with the system’s smart contracts.
This places users — not developers or miners — in the driver’s seat, and it gives institutions with decade- and century-long time horizons the assurance they need that Metronome will, as its name promises, remain stable over the long-term.
“The blockchain is our railroad, and Metronome is your boxcar. And if there’s a problem with that railroad, then you can switch tracks,” Garzik concluded. “You should have the freedom to choose where your coins go.”
Featured Image from Patheos