How blockchain ecosystems are like living cities

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Living in a city might already give you a visceral understanding of how blockchain ecosystems evolve — even if you can’t articulate it just yet. 

You see…

One of the most intuitive metaphors for understanding blockchain ecosystems is being aware of the dynamics of city life. 

In fact, I’d like to introduce you to a mysterious force that drives the dynamics of not just blockchain and cities, but also that of ant colonies.

There is a hidden force that drives the evolution of blockchains, cities, and ant colonies called emergence.

Emergent systems start with individual entities making simple choices, which eventually evolve into a complex whole that is exponentially more complicated than the sum of all the individual parts that originally started it all.

The important thing to remember is…

It’s impossible to predict the future of an emergent system by observing its individual parts.

Ant colonies are a great example of an emergent system, as their collective intelligence is far greater than that of each individual ant.

The colony can sense food, evade danger, and accurately calculate the number of ants needed to forage or protect better than any single ant. 

Looking down on a city from an airplane, one can see similar emergent behavior to ant colonies taking place daily under the guise of mundane activities. 

Ants are scurrying around, foraging for food, and building up their colony.

Humans in the city are scurrying around, making countless binary decisions on how they should allocate their time, energy, and resources. 

But, in both cases, it’s impossible to predict how the ant colony or the city will evolve merely by observing the actions of individual ants or humans.

For example, it’s impossible to infer the collective intelligence of an ant colony by merely observing a single ant.

To illustrate the point further, let’s look at maps of two actual cities, like Paris and Brasília‌.

Paris looks like a sprawling, messy plate of spaghetti (figure 1) while Brasília‌ looks neat and organized (figure 2) 

A map of Paris looks like a giant mess from up above
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A map of Paris looks like a giant mess from up above (figure 1)
Conversely, the map of Brasília‌ looks very organized.
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Conversely, the map of Brasília‌ looks well-organized (figure 2)

If a tourist unfamiliar with geography were to pick where to visit strictly based on observing a map, they’d probably choose Rio over Paris.

But, in reality, Paris is a far more popular hotspot for tourists than Brasília.

You see…

Brasília’s central planning from the top down restricted the dynamics of emergence during its evolution.  

Conversely, Paris developed from the bottom up in a more organic manner, allowing for the dynamics of emergence to take its natural course. 

Brasília was pre-fabricated, while Paris developed organically, as the maps hint.

To really understand the vibe of a city, one must immerse themselves in that city, and many tourists would agree that the vibe of Paris is a lot more fun than Brasília. 

As Taylor Pearson once said:

“Though Brasília looks beautiful and elegant on a map, the result, in the words of one resident, is that “the city center feels markedly devoid of life in plazas, where the pigeons far outnumber the people.”

From the planner’s perspective, it should be better, yet it’s less popular and worse.

Similar to the best crypto networks, the best cities where people want to live (like Paris) are compelling from a bottom-up perspective, not a top-down one.

Despite their unsightly appearance on a map, people actually wish to live there, and so the cities continue to grow and thrive.”

Brasília’s elegant city structure is inflexible and exerts control. 

Paris is more loose and flexible, which favors individualism. 

People live in cities because cities offer more opportunities for social connections and amenities.

The vibe of each city results from the collective values, motivations, and actions of each individual living in that city.

Each individual’s values & actions catalyze unpredictable emergent results.

Blockchain ecosystems also have their unique vibe based on who is in the ecosystem and what values they share.  

The vibe of a blockchain ecosystem results from the collective values & vision of its community. 

To give you an analogy…

Ethereum is like New York City: expensive, and congested, but also a hotspot for business and emerging trends. 

Application-specific chains (like Polkadot and Cosmos) are like small towns that specialize in one thing, like mining, farming, shopping, etc. that are all inter-connected by a highway system. 

Solana, Avalanche, and NEAR are like new cities built from scratch to attract certain kinds of developers or users.

Before you move to a new city, it’s important to make sure the new environment is synergistic with your personality, lifestyle, and values. 

For example, if you’re single and childless, perhaps the quality of nightlife is more important than the quality of the school system.

Similarly…

Before you invest your time, energy, and resources into a blockchain ecosystem, it’s important to understand the collective values & vision shared by everyone in it. 

One of the ecosystems making a lot of noise is Archway, which is a go-to platform for developers & builders interested in capturing the value they create from their dapp or web3 project. 

Archway is a blockchain that allows developers to auto-magically capture the value they create at the protocol level.

It’s the only developer-centric chain that has woven its developer-centric values directly into the very fabric of its protocol.

For decades, people have flocked to cities like Paris to be inspired and empowered by its culture and ambiance—but it’s still not for everyone. 

Archway helps developers and builders launch their dapp and maximize the value they capture from all of their hard work. 

The other thing to remember is that…

The future of blockchain will be unpredictable, but that future will ‌surely be multi-chain.

Much like how our world contains many interconnected cities, we’ll have a variety of interconnected blockchain ecosystems (Like Ethereum, Cosmos etc.) — each serving a specific purpose.

But, ultimately, how vibrant an ecosystem is depends on the collective vision & values of all the participants within it. 

This includes you.

If you’re a builder interested in joining a thriving, developer-centric ecosystem that will welcome you with open arms, Archway might be for you.

Because, Archway is building the blockchain equivalent of Paris, with the vision of empowering builders to finally capture the value they create. 

 

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