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The Ethereum community started as a small group of dedicated engineers. It has ballooned to thousands of engineers, entrepreneurs and investors, all of whom have a stake in the direction of Ethereum. Ethereum is an open source project, and the direction of a popular open source project can get complex.
Ethereum is figuring out how to govern itself. It’s not clear what the perfect model is, but there are a few historical examples to think about: namely Linux and Bitcoin.
Linux is similar to Ethereum in that there is a clear leader—Linux has Linus Torvalds and Ethereum has Vitalik Buterin. Linux is massively successful, and the Linux development team does have a top-down, hierarchical approach. But does a hierarchy with clear leadership make sense for a project like Ethereum, which has decentralization at its core?
Bitcoin is headless—Satoshi disappeared in 2010, and there is not an official leader. Bitcoin has succeeded without a well-defined hierarchy–depending on what your definition of success is. Bitcoin development does not move as fast as Ethereum (this is by design)—but there is more widespread trust that the integrity of the system cannot be compromised by its creator.
Hudson Jameson is an Ethereum developer and entrepreneur who has been part of the community since the early days. He works on Ethereum governance, which defines how changes to the Ethereum project are proposed, accepted, and implemented. Hudson joins the show today to talk about Ethereum governance, smart contracts, and the DAO hack. We did not discuss on-chain vs. off-chain governance, but I am hoping to cover that in a future episode.
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