Last year Haseeb wrote a post analogizing blockchains to cities. I really like it as a framework for thinking about blockchains in a multichain world. In this framing, it’s easy to imagine a future of blockchains with local cultures and local economies purpose built based on the infra of each chain and connected by robust bridging infrastructure. But that’s not how I see the world today. Unfortunately I see blockchains with sterile forks or copies of the same core protocols. Chris calls this heterogenous monoculture and I can’t unsee it.
Unfortunately heterogenous monoculture exists in the real world too. Yes, in cities around the world there is a plethora of local customs, cuisines, and traditions that have been practiced and handed down over the course of centuries making each place unique. But increased globalization and tourism is changing this. You could travel to San Francisco, Paris, Seoul, or Sydney and live the exact same day. You could start your day with a Starbucks coffee, eat Chipotle for lunch, shop at Rag and Bone or Louis Vuitton in the afternoon, and head to the nearest Nobu for dinner. And sadly, many people travel from city to city doing exactly this. For the experienced traveler it’s relatively easy to go from place to place and not participate in the monoculture exploring and enjoying the local customs and most importantly the cuisines.
But in blockchains it’s not so easy to avoid the monoculture. We have all of the problems of monoculture, without the centuries of local customs to counteract. Users on any of the evm chains can swap tokens using Uniswap, borrow and lend using Aave, and swap their stablecoins on Curve. On other non-evm chains you will find the same types of core protocols and primitives, but with different names and uis. Going off the beaten path and onto the cobblestone to find the mom and pop shop on the blockchain is much more difficult. Namely because they are far and few between.
If blockchains are cities we need to build a more rich eocsystem of local customs and cuisines, not copy the ones that worked in other places. If we don’t, the world we’re building will be a lot less exciting.
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