- A protocol wins if it gets adopted, where adoption is a large number of people using the protocol on a daily basis (DAUs).
- In order to gain widespread adoption, the protocol needs to be in use in a few popular applications.
- In practice, protocol usage will be dominated by a few major applications or platforms.
- In general, developers won't adopt a brand-new protocol until it has already shown proof of adoption.
- Protocols need the evolutionary pressures of real-world usage to shape them into usefulness.
- To get to the few popular applications that will drive the majority of the usage, you need lots of applications. Why?
- It's impossible to predict in advance which applications will drive the most usage.
- The "latent space" or "possibility space" of a new protocol is unknown and can only be discovered through exploration.
- In order to efficiently explore the possibility space looking for hits, it's important to apply portfolio thinking.
- Exploration needs to begin by emphasizing diversity and randomness, while taking into account "hunches" based on current understanding.
- As attempts are made to build applications, new information is learned about the shape of the possible, and should be used to inform next explorations.
- Brand-new protocols often suffer from a "cold start problem" before network effects start to kick in. Tactically, there are several ways a protocol could overcome this:
- Give seed funding to startups using the protocol (RedwoodJS Startup Fund, some FileCoin grants).
- Internally incubate applications.
- Commons Funding.
- Start a movement and invite others into it.
- Adoption is also enabled and accelerated, but not caused, by best practices in DevRel:
- Documentation needs to be top-notch.
- "Getting started" experience needs to be optimized to speed up first-time usage.
- Where to ask questions needs to be obvious and someone's dedicated responsibility.
Driving Protocol Adoption
Drafting December 2022
Work in Progress: These are a set of working notes about how to drive adoption of new protocols.