Sovryn - Purpose, Network Effects and Scaling

Hi all,

I have uploaded a short video series, about my personal views on Sovryn. I think that these videos will help explain my view on the importance of Sovryn - and the importance of “sub-Protocols”.

  1. In the first video, I cover the mystery of the missing productivity gains from the internet and how Bitcoin & Sovryn fix this. (Please note the video - but not the audio - freezes near the end.)
    Personal Views on Sovryn: What even is Sovryn? - YouTube

  2. In the second video, I argue that the non-Bitcoin “smart contract chains” have weak network effects. I also suggest why I think Sovryn, with a different approach, has superior network effects.
    Sovryn's Network Effects - YouTube

  3. The third video is my high levels of how we scale Sovryn, not as a technology - but more importantly, as a set of rules-based institutions.
    Scaling Sovryn - YouTube

Comments very welcome.
Stay Sovryn!


I really appreciate these video’s! Been noodling over these views, which made me see the subprotocols in a new light. Would like to share some of my thoughts.

[A brief summary of how I understand @yago’s view; feel free to skip]

The starting point is that Bitcoin is an institution: a ruleset governing monetary transactions. It’s unique in various ways, including the following:

  1. It’s a ruleset without rulers. There is no active governance and hence reliable stability, a basis for long-term planning and thinking by individuals.
  2. It’s a minimal ruleset with general application, making no differentiation in different ways to use these monetary transactions. Opting-in implies behavior restricted by the most minimal rules, and hence no superfluous restrictions.
  3. The rules enable ownership over monetary value and hence property rights.

I wholeheartedly agree with this view of the nature of Bitcoin. A further aspect (that I’m currently still a little less sure of but that is part of the story): the ruleset enables robust ownership over monetary value that lives within the digital sphere, a realm where we lack robust property rights and where we mainly live as a resource for a few large tech companies. Bitcoin therefore promises a more general emancipation of users within the digital sphere: from resource / serf to individual with property rights.

Sovryn aims to extend Bitcoin’s principles by building rulesets that constitute ownership over further matters. This create challenges that stem from the simple fact that further property rights imply more rules and a differentiation of different uses of (monetary) value, such as exchanging, lending, etc. This is Sovryn’s challenge: how can we extend property rights whilst ensuring continuity with Bitcoin’s ethos, given Bitcoin’s minimality, generality and lack of rulers.

Some further thoughts on Sovryn, governance and sub-protocols, premised on accepting the view summarized above.

Bitcoin offers rules without rulers and this is absolutely essential to what Bitcoin is. Question: how is active governance through the Bitocracy compatible with this principle? As long as there is active governance of the new rulesets built within Sovryn, it seems that there clearly remain rulers (namely, us stakers). We are the middlemen, whether we like it or not. Concretely: say I make long term plans (say I want a blockchain-based mortgage), I need to trust that a future SIP doesn’t change the conditions and rules. Taking this point to its conclusion: our end goal should be some form of finality in the rulesets and a lifting of active governance altogether. Seen this way, the Bitocracy is for the creation and fine-tuning of new minimal rules (legislation), and not for continued ruling. Fiat lords should not be replaced by Sovryn lords; there should ultimately be no lords, just as there are no lords within the Bitcoin network.

Note first of all that this provides partial support for the sub-protocol idea: if we could only create finality for the total ruleset governing all extensions of property rights within the Sovryn ecosystem, it would not realistically happen. It also wouldn’t be desirable because we would create a closed ecosystem. Since new uses for property rights might emerge, we need some open-endedness. So, on this picture, it seems we clearly need to compartmentalize rulesets now in order to one day be able to execute local finality of rules (for example: we want to be able to come to a point at which we say, let this be the fixed ruleset for lending).

Note secondly that this would require a form of finality (non-upgradeability at the protocol level) that we currently do not posses afaik. (One speculative idea for this: @Mintlayer or something like it (such as a fork of RSK) could perhaps provide this: finality could mean that the ruleset becomes baked into OP_codes of the L2 itself, created through a L2 hard-fork instead of an upgrade; this means that miners provide one final check of the rules, functioning like a Chambers of Congress. Just one idea. Perhaps there are others).

Note thirdly that this idea of local endpoints to our governance itself implies organic scalability: there is a point at which a local ruleset is done, voted on as complete, then rigidified and ejected from the sphere of active governance, freeing up space for intense focus on another ruleset. So, although this idea makes me see a clear need for compartmentalization (something I was opposing before over at the Origins SIP), there remains doubt whether the model of guilds (with separate tokens) is the right approach to such compartmentalization. Because, with guilds, local finality would now effectively require a guild and a subcommunity to choose to selfdestruct, and being a subcommunity with its own token seems to me to create social network incentives that work against this, against steps to remove the rulers from the ruleset. Guilds seem to me to set up little local lords with incentives for continued changes instead of stability (because changes create SIPs and attention, which create reasons for people to join the sub-community). The sketched view might support sub-protocols and compartmentalization but arguably one without the creation of sub-communities and separate tokens.

Creating an ecosystem of rulesets without governing rulers helps us orient our governance: we need to judge SIPs for minimality, as only the most minimal, non-arbitrary rulesets move us closer to something deserving finality. SIPs are not instruments for the individual expression of needs and interests but need to be evaluated against the standard of minimality, timelessness and potential stability. Perhaps this was already clear to everyone, but I find that the sketched view helps me see why these are the standards against which to govern.

Just some thoughts.

Thanks again for the great video’s @Yago!
Stay Sovryn!