Learn about Ethereum’s vision in one article

This article is inspired by  Nic Carter  and  Hasu  ‘s article  Vision of Bitcoin  [1].


-Image source: Dmitri Popov on Unsplash-

The cryptocurrency community is constantly looking for new stories or improving existing stories to gather centripetal forces. They also refute criticism by isolating the premise on which external criticism relies (for example, “Bitcoin is too expensive to use-but Bitcoin is not designed for frequent use”).

Whether it is active or passive, the pursuit of such meaning is endless.

No one can understand all the truth. Because the complexity of society cannot be simplified . In order to understand a phenomenon, we have formed some modes of thinking and chose to work with groups that hold the same views.


-The picture shows the development plan circulated in 2014 [3], at the time when Ethereum was on sale-

Belief is not only derived from reality, it also defines reality. In any social scene, people are racing to express “what is happening”, “why is this happening” and “what else will happen next”, and they are caught in an endless tug of war. In view of the inherent complexity and technicality of the field of cryptography, the role of controlled narration in the cryptocurrency community is particularly powerful [2].

It just so happened that the Ethereum community held events in Berlin and Prague for a few weeks in 2018. Visual inspection is now a good time to talk about this topic.

What should Ethereum look like? In the past 5 years, how have our expectations of it changed? In the following, we have recorded the answers people gave at different times.

The evolution of the Ethereum vision

In the case of losing contact with the leader, Bitcoin supporters argued about the spirit of Bitcoin based on the genesis document (such as “decipheringSatoshi Nakamoto ‘Real ideas'”).

Ethereum is much younger than Bitcoin. In the process of seeking legitimacy, there have been many overwhelming mainstream discourses in the community  [4]. Not long after the creation document was written, the authors are still there, and they will fight each other[5].

The mission of Ethereum is gradually constructed (like bees build a nest), not determined at the beginning (like the thread that eventually leads Theseus back to the exit of the maze).

Here, we analyze the seven main themes in the history of Ethereum development. The order in which they appear is roughly as follows:

1. Bitcoin 2.0

Ethereum was made public at a Bitcoin conference[6]. Therefore, early media reports focused on comparing Ethereum with Bitcoin, the predecessor of cryptocurrency (see Al Jazeera’s 2014  “The Most Ambitious Successor of Bitcoin”  [7]; Bloomberg’s “Bitcoin Coin 2.0” ). The original motivation for founding Ethereum came from Bitcoin’s scripting language limitations. In the context of Bitcoin’s 10-fold rise at the end of 2013, the story of “a young idealist leaving the’evil’ Bitcoin circle” particularly attracted mainstream media reporters. Although this narrative lost its momentum after Ethereum established its own image, it is still a popular cognition for newcomers who have just entered the circle.

2. dApp (also known as the world computer)

At the beginning of its birth, the technical goal of Ethereum was to become a ” smart contract deployment and execution platform. ” Past propaganda texts described Ether as ” Crypto fuel “: Ether is to smart contracts what gasoline is to cars. However, the vision of the “world computer” later did not have any gas (gas), because the scalability problem has not been solved for a long time, dApp has not attracted explosive growth, and other competitive smart contract platforms have begun to attract people’s attention.


-Since the birth of Ethereum, tokens, derivatives, domain name registration and DAOIt has always been part of its on-chain function. The picture above is taken from Ethereum.org in 2014-

3. DAO

For people with political leanings, the temptation of the vision of an ownerless organisation is hard to resist. In the early days of Ethereum’s development, proposals such as the famous  DOUG People’s Republic  [9] (the first DAO based on Ethereum ) were very popular. Vinay Gupta  , the co- founder of the Ethereum Foundation,  once dubbed DOUG a   ” country in a box ” [10]. The DAO  [11] obviously broke everyone’s expectations and cooled people’s enthusiasm for autonomous organization experiments. This narrative gradually declined, because none of the DAOs really prospered; but now there is a phenomenon of recovery, because the organizations that use ICO financing are nothing more than this; moreover, the management tools of unowned organizations are finally going to be online on the mainnet .

4. Cryptocurrency crowdfunding platform (ICO and STO)

Ethereum is the best proof of the power of Crypto currency crowdfunding without borders. Cryptocurrency crowdfunding was once regarded as the most important role of Ethereum, because it is clear that issuing tokens is the most straightforward thing that smart contracts can do . However, withSEC The censorship of this industry has been strengthened  [12], the survival of the fittest has begun to show its power in the market  [13], and this narrative has also declined.

5. Utility tokens and collectibles

Because the “method to obtain liquidity” for new tokens   has become more and more complex, many people’s attention has begun to shift to research  [14], imitating and improving the existing token framework [15]. Sometimes, “Utility” actually means “resisting the legal measures imposed on securities”, rather than just “shaping incentives.” In 2017, the introduction of the ” non-homogeneous token standard ” [16] detonated people’s exploration of non-homogeneous tokens and highlighted the value proposition of state-sharing games . This was actually mentioned in a video of Ethereum  in early 2014 , which hinted at which use cases will be hyped.

6. Open financial system

” Open Finance ” [17] This statement is made in response to the large number of air coins in the market. The abstraction of ownership through the information structure (titles, tokens) of social recognition is critical to economic development  [18]. Hernando de Soto  believes that the economic losses caused by improper property registration are as high as  9.3 trillion U.S. dollars , and most of them happen to the poor. His point is that unless people can enjoy the permission-free sharing economy infrastructure, to a certain extent only chaebols can capture the benefits of asset digitization. The meaning of permission-free ledgers is the key to this statement. The 0x protocol has created a relayer ecosystem from scratch, and its success has promoted the practice of financial instruments. DeFi Alliance is established by the first-class team in the industry. Following the  fat protocol  and the  fat currency  “theory”, the ” fat wallet ” theory [19] also began to rise, keeping pace with the concept of a ” completely open source banking system “.

7. “Radical Markets” [21]

“Open finance” is good, but how about redesigning the market from scratch instead of imitating the complex financial system of the real world? Can programmable currencies help transform private property rights contracts, improve (or eliminate) representative democracy, prevent data collection, and foster more inclusive and efficient markets? Where is the most need for license-free infrastructure ? How does a community maximize the social impact of unit investment? Starting in mid-2018, Ethereum began to be valued for the social value it produced , just as it provided the technical advantages. If Bitcoin is using the recent financial crisis to find its position, Ethereum seems to be ready to fill the gap  caused by the cultural, political, and economic decline caused by  “monitored capitalism” (such as the gradual corruption of the Facebook empire) , Transition to a more free future society.


Most of the analysis in this article relies on texts, Reddit posts, archived pages, DevPost comments, and GitHub discussions. If you disagree, I am looking forward to another point of view.


When… Bitcoin started, the anonymous magician was eager to test two propositions: One is a trust-free, decentralized database… The other is a robust transaction system that can eliminate intermediaries and allow value to flow around the world. . However, the painful lessons of the past five years have proved that we still need a feature that he has overlooked: a sufficiently powerful Turing-complete scripting language.

——Vitalik, Ethereum.org website, 2013-14


Vitalik used to work at KrypoKit (a wallet invested by Roger Ver and Erik Voorhees  ) and Amir Taaki’s Dark Wallet. He co-founded Bitcoin Magazine with Mihai Alisie and often contributes to it. However, due to Bitcoin’s indifference to change, Vitalik was disappointed and began to contribute to Mastercoin. But the proposal he tried to promote was also rejected there; he also considered implementing his idea on Primecoin, but in the end, he decided to build a new blockchain[24].


-A group photo of the founding members in Miami, at the 2014 North American Bitcoin Conference-

The Ethereum white paper began to spread at the end of 2013. At the North American Bitcoin Conference in early 2014, the Ethereum project was officially made public. At that time, most of the founding members had lived together for a long time [25]. They had already obtained seed round financing at that time, so they had to consider compliance risks and finally decided to establish a legal entity in Switzerland [26].

The team must choose between “crypto-Mozilla” (not-for-profit) and “crypto-Google” (for-profit) on the development route. According to reports, they preferred the latter at first, but ultimately chose the non-profit route [27]. Due to internal conflicts, Charles Hoskinson  left after serving as CEO for a short time [28].

In mid-2014, the Ethereum sale went smoothly, attracting close to 6,000 lucky participants.

A year later (the newly established foundation fell into financial management difficulties due to the sudden plunge of Bitcoin), they launched a competition to find bugs on the testnet. During the competition, some players eventually received Ether rewards worth 3,500 US dollars-at today’s price, close to 700,000 US dollars.


-The historic moment when the first block of the Frontier stage was unearthed. Image from Lefteris Karapetsas’ Twitter-

Subsequent Frontier (frontier) became the first version of the online mainnet. It sounds hard to imagine today, but at that time, many people wondered whether the Ethereum Foundation could survive the imminent financial collapse.

Having said that, code contributions are still coming from all directions, and the loose community is ready to organize Meetups in every corner of the world. Ethereum started its own path.

In the same year, ICOs began to proliferate and became more popular after the ERC20 standard was proposed on November 19, 2015[31]  . The first ICO on the mainnet was Augur. They launched the ICO just a few months before the standard was proposed. For this reason, they had to spend a lot of effort to migrate to the newly accepted token standard [32].


-Ethereum PoW And virtual machine visualization, atomh33ls as-

In early 2016, the second version of the mainnet was released, which is Homestead.

Since then, the entire network has not had a full year of life until today-they have to deal with bugs, hackers, DoS attacks, these things have repeatedly shifted the community’s attention from important decisions to more urgent On the matter.

It took 1 year for Ethereum from the ICO to the mainnet launch.

From the release of the first usable version to the second release, Ethereum took 9 months.

From the second version to the third, it has taken 2.5 years and it is still going on.

Soon after the release of Homestead (Homestead, the second version of Ethereum), the development of Ethereum has obviously exceeded the imagination of its founders, and has evolved into a system that can have a huge economic impact-this impact can be good, It can also be bad.

The DAO experiment has attracted the attention of the world. In March 2016, The DAO was (very) successful in fundraising; in June, it was attacked, and it was finallyBifurcationEnding [11]. After the attack, the White Hat organization was established , and the counterattack to restrict the actions of thieves was also successfully implemented, giving the entire community time to think about feasible countermeasures [33].


-Alexey Akhunov discovered the anomaly of TheDAO and posted it on Reddit, which became a historic post-

The thread under this post was discussed fiercely . Some people analyzed the structure of property rights, and there was a comparative discussion of interventionism and non-interventionism, and a discussion about the importance of social consensus [34]. Obviously, in the process of responding to TheDAO hacking incident, the Ethereum community has left some scars that will never go away. Subsequently, the main stakeholders in the ecosystem cooperated to hard fork the network .

This network consensus split indicates that the so-called absolute immutability of the Ethereum network is not native (and also makes the dominant expression of “DAO organization platform” lose its momentum). Social consensus is also publicly regarded as at least as important as “agreement consensus.” It should be kept in mind that the Ethereum we are talking about today is the product of the original chain fork.ETC It is the native token on the original chain.

-In countering DoS attacks during DecCon 2, “the family entertainment room became a temporary war command.” Twitter from Alex Van de Sande-



After the hard fork of The DAO, before the end of 2016, the network was caught in a severe DoS attack which occurred during DevCon 2 in Shanghai  [35]. In fact, a quick and coordinated response has become an opportunity for the developer community to show its maturity and stability, who have become stronger after 12 months of hard work.

2017 is also a year of unity. Ethereum, which survived the hard fork of The DAO, has successfully attracted widespread community attention. The prices of Ether and ETC have risen sharply, and Ether has also gained liquidity in all major cryptocurrency exchanges . Silicon Valley is very interested in this, and they are more inclined to help the capitalization of Ether than other trend-setting things that have emerged during the same period.

The ICO campaign has raised billions of dollars, and people’s expectations have exceeded its actual use. From  Floyd Mayweather  to  Paris Hilton  and then  Ronaldinho  such celebrities are ERC20 token endorsement (in three cases, two were sentenced to be a hoax , a verdict has not yet). (No matter from a legal point of view or a technical point of view) The caution and meticulousness of Vitalik and others in guiding Ethereum has not become a model and model for many tokens from 2016 to 2017 [36].


-The timeline of Ethereum development, quoted from Brave New Coin. The penultimate milestone is out of date-postponed to January 2019-

With the rise of competing smart contract platforms, people holding large amounts of ether have launched lobbying activities aimed at preventing this currency from being defined as securities by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) [37]. The agency has taken a more active stance on law enforcement, gradually targeting larger companies (as of today, dozens of legal entities have been involved in the “Operation Cryptosweep” movement ). Needless to say, ICOs (and STOs, and whatever comes next) have lost most of their appeal [38].

Most of the teams holding the tokens issued by themselves defend themselves by highlighting the game and economic attributes of the system they created. The term “Tokenomics” was very popular in mid-2017  [39]. Digital collectibles also emerged soon.

At the end of 2017, Cryptokitties , which blocked the Internet , gave Silicon Valley a pet project worth celebrating [40]. Millions of dollars in venture capital has poured into blockchain games non-homogeneous token markets, and art collectibles related projects. However, there was no considerable demand in the follow-up. The activity of Cryptokitties is stable at hundreds of users per day . A work by Andy Warhol was auctioned to a group of shareholders through the Ethereum- based  Codex protocol . As of today, there are still some people on the blog enthusiastically discussing how  to accumulate and trade real estate on  Decentraland .

Despite these exciting developments, this network has not yet proven to be a secure system that can protect funds, nor has it self-certified its decentralized governance properties. At the turn of 2017 and 2018, the community faced another deadlock.


-After the discovery of the Parity multi-signature wallet incident in mid-2017, the core contributor’s tweets-

The events that occurred in July and November of 2017 (a hack[41] and an incident that was said to be an accident[42] both related to Parity software) caused the legitimate owners of Ether to lose their tokens, It is worth up to tens of millions of dollars [43].

The affected groups propose measures at the protocol level to ensure that people can still withdraw funds (or even roll back malicious transactions). EIP999  has become the focus of people’s tit-for-tat [44]. The handling of The DAO incident has become an elusive precedent. Although people had heated debates, they did not achieve any compromises. If there is any gain, it is that politics has been popularized in the public space of Ethereum during that period—that is, network governance must be made more inclusive. Things  that motivate people like  ETHPrize Fellowship of Ethereum Magicians , and the  Ethereum message board have begun to appear, dedicated to helping people understand the vision and goals shared by the entire community.

In 2018, the capital that had longed for ICO and issued tokens has dried up. Projects that launch products at the most determined pace seem to fall into the category of “Decentralized Finance”, and most of them do not have their own tokens in the basic technology (surprisingly) . From lend infrastructure a stablecoin , derivative instruments to unmanaged type relay it was once again attracted the attention of institutional investors and the SEC (visible  EtherDelta case ) [45]. This sub-category proves that with well-designed, open source, and modular components, synergies begin to work.


As far as I have personally observed in the past year, as an inevitable result of increased governance participation, the spirit of Ethereum has received more public discussions. On Devcon 4, there was an entire session on ” Society and System “, and the focus was entirely on inclusiveness.


-Some of the core Ethereum contributors are in Japan, quoted from Aya Miyaguchi’s Twitter-

The high-profile in the second half of 2018 is the conceptual integration of the Ethereum community and the RadicalXChange movement[46]. This integration   quickly emerged after the publication of “Radical Markets” co-authored by Eric Posner  and  Glen Weyl Vitalik  participated in refining the concepts proposed in the book, and co-authored a paper on “Liberal Radicalism” to explore better mechanisms for financing public infrastructure [47].

In the short term, a series of applications based on Ethereum will be merged into “radical” concepts, such as part of common property , self-assessed asset tax measures, and data production as labor  [48]. Recent works on hackathons show some experiments, such as  auctioning advertising spaces , pixels in pictures , and domain names under the Harberger-tax model  [49]. We may soon come to a similar form of resource allocation for guiding public art in urban spaces  [50].

After the speech at Devcon 4, Weyl eloquently pointed out that Ethereum  may be “the most serious, organized and broad-based movement for a positive, free, and forward-looking future.” The use case of Ethereum has evolved into “a purpose to provide us with a vision that will prevent us from repeating the mistakes of the 1930s when we encounter the next recession, rather than solving any specific technical problems.” This network does have to repair its chaebol attributes and a lot of design quirks, but, “There are other sports that allow you and others to unite around the decentralization of power regardless of region, race, or belief. Together” [22]?

in conclusion

The purpose of this article is to describe the mainstream narrative that drives the development of Ethereum at different stages. The research method we chose is to track through the analysis of Reddit posts over the past few years, discussions of early community members, literature, archived web pages, GitHub posts, hackathon developer work, personal blogs, and memories of mainstream opinions and media reports. The atmosphere of the community.

We do not believe that the above remarks are the absolute truth. Our goal is to keep people away from absolutism and realize that the face of this community is diverse, although it is far from stable. We might as well change our mindset for the emerging evidence. In the “BUIDL song” on Devcon 4, the  harmony of  Vitalik’s  “that didn’t work!” is a powerful alert, although a bit tacky (Translator’s Note: BUIDL song is the host at the end of the agenda on October 31st A song led by the core contributors of Ethereum to sing, to the effect of “A lot of great things are coming, we have to work hard to develop (buidl)”; and Vitalik’s “didn’t work” is interspersed in the middle, expressing The negation of the early upgrade plans of Ethereum (such as various rough plans regarding scalability).

Bitcoin is often hailed as a conservative organism. Ethereum is seen as the other end of the spectrum and tends to be progressive.

Ethereum can be a borderless crowdfunding, or it can be a revolution in financial channels. It can be a framework that promotes the prosperity of the autonomous data market, or it can be used to test smart contracts to operate a city in the desert .

Ethereum may also be just a collective illusion surrounding fantasy, a delusion that disregards reality. Ultimately, what is the status of this network, its assets, and its community?

Vitalik once pointed out that “against dogmatic libertarians, freedom is a high-dimensional space ”. Perhaps, Ethereum is the basis for exploring these dimensions.

This chilling uncertainty, on the one hand, is arsenic and the focus of criticism by critics; on the other hand, it is also honey, which is the source of the excitement of supporters.


-Image source: Unsplash by Ahmed Carter-

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