I’m a little sceptical of the sidechains concept.
To be clear, my scepticism does not relate to the pure technology involved - I’m not qualified.
I question the motives behind the proposal, particularly in regards to altcoins.
The White Paper begins with listing some problems / areas of innovation with Bitcoin. It then goes on to say (page 5):
“An early solution to these problems with Bitcoin has been the development of alternate blockchains, or altchains, which share the Bitcoin codebase except for modifications to address the above concerns.”
The authors continue to discuss issues with altchains (altcoins), but always within the context of Bitcoin. There is at times a tacit assumption of cohesion within the cryptocurrency space, as if every altcoin dev is on a mission to improve problems with Bitcoin.
At other moments there is an equally odd patronising attitude, writing off altcoins in one fell swoop as dangerous, both to users and to the future of cryptocurrency as a whole.
There are core arguments that are simply taken for granted, such as the argument that Bitcoin has significant network effect and no other cryptocurrency has significant network effect.
I find this tacit attitude and for-granted argumentation misleading. Despite the funding rounds, the news and the hype, Bitcoin is still very very small in the wider scheme of things. A tiny fraction of a percent of the world’s population has used Bitcoin; a fraction of that number actually uses it.
In my opinion all the claims of Bitcoin’s powerful network effects are being made far too early. The space is still wide open. And the fact is, despite the tacit assumption that everyone is willing to work together for the betterment of Bitcoin, there is no acknowledgement made by the blockstream team – made up of core figures within Bitcoin – of the simple nature of competition.
The fact is, the driving force behind a lot of the altcoin development going on is competition, not the altruistic wish to solve problems for the sake of Bitcoin. And this is perfectly normal and healthy.
It is worth remembering that Bitcoin is going through a crisis regarding scalability. Indeed, Greg Maxwell states as much in the AMA: “I’ve expressed a lot of caution loudly and publically [sic] going back years on this, and finding additional alternative ways of scaling Bitcoin is what stared me working on sidechains” At least here, we are getting a sense of the real motivation behind the sidechains proposal: not to save hapless users of altcoins from themselves but to bolster the functionality of Bitcoin, which is looking decidedly clunky compared with some altcoins.
Let the blockchain wars continue, I say.
@laudney sorry to make a non-technical post in the Academy :). I would be really interested to hear your opinions on sidechains, and on the implications you could envisage for altcoins and Reddcoin in particular.