Why we may fail Lightning

The State of the Lightning Network

Lightning is considered as the flagship of Bitcoin innovation and for good reason. A few years ago it was just a wild dream on a whiteboard, and now you can interact with thousands of LN users all around the world without caring about bank clearing hours or segregated payment networks.

The nascent Stack of Bitcoin Contract Protocols

That said, narrowing exclusively Bitcoin innovations to Lightning, you will miss the forest for the trees. Other protocols that are being developed at the margins of Bitcoin are fascinating. As a side-note, let’s define a contract protocol as a wider scope rather than the off-chain one as some of the steps can be played on-chain and thus even in optimistic scenarios.

The Tribes of the Bitcoin Stack

What might end up hindering our attempts to build a stronger Lightning and Bitcoin isn’t any particular technical difficulty. That is something we will address with creativity, craftiness and sweat as per usual. When we look back at Bitcoin’s short yet intense history perhaps we should be more concerned with the risks presented from community disagreements.

The LWN Tribe

We have the OG tribe, they built the Bitcoin of today. Their determination, craftsmanship, intellectual rigor and uncompromising ethics have built and saved the system from both technical and social attacks over the years.

The Product Hunt Tribe

Then we have the more startup-like tribe. They are talented at listening to users’ needs, executing and serving those users. They make complexity intelligible by wrapping it inside attractive products. It is they who build the gateway to connect to the outside world which allows liquidity to flow in. All oiled with burn rate, ARR and churn.

Beyond the Tribes, our Living Community

Bitcoin is a unique experience, and if we want to pursue it forward we have to draw bridges between the divergent tribes. We need to learn all we can from each of them. But sincerely we shouldn’t bind to their past failures or accept outdated models.

What Bitcoin do you want to see ?

Bitcoin presents a fantastic game theory equation to align the long term interests of all of its players. Understanding and respecting its internal rules are the surest path to maximize wealth creation for everyone.

Hacking Forward

Welcome those words with prudence. Don’t take them for granted. Make your own opinion. Then act on your own definition of Bitcoin. As a friendly whisper, you’ve always been free to contribute.

  • On the Bitcoin Core side, there are a thousand interesting things happening. Personally I will be working on improving transaction relay and fee models for off-chain protocols, AltNet, to make it easier to deploy alternative transport communications and hopefully addressing some of the off-chain security issues I previously referred to. Contributing to the Bitcoin Core review process with a focus on refactoring and code modularity changes, as the health of the Core codebase is critical in the long term.
  • On the Rust-Lightning side, refining our cutting-edge features. Adding more test coverage and auditing the critical parts. Onboarding our new contributors. Moving towards deployment. On top of it scratching the wider Lightning Development Kit ecosystem with the awesome Square Crypto team.
  • On a more research-oriented side, contributing to the Discreet Log Contract specification as the setting up of reliable oracles will be such an exciting breakthrough.

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