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Cartesi’s Technical Evolution Plan: An Innovative Experiment In Decentralized Coordination

Cartesi’s Technical Evolution Plan: An Innovative Approach In Decentralized Coordination

Tech/May 6, 2024/Brandon Isaacson

The Cartesi ecosystem recently unveiled its Technical Evolution Plan, a first-of-its-kind technical roadmap that sets the development and progression of Cartesi's technology.

This article explores the ecosystem’s process for creating the TEP, a new approach in decentralized coordination and governance for the Cartesi community.

Cartesi’s Technical Evolution Plan

To address the coordination challenges posed by building core infrastructure in a fully distributed manner, Cartesi contributors recently adopted a new governance process for setting the ecosystem’s technical direction in the project’s Mainnet era.

The pilot process, described in further detail below, contains three distinct components: (1) the Technical Vision Forum; (2) the Technical Vision Council; and (3) the Technical Evolution Plan.

  • Technical Vision Forum: This is the Cartesi ecosystem’s open canvas for proposing, exploring, and deliberating technical features that community members would like to see incorporated into the ecosystem’s roadmap (called the Technical Evolution Plan or “TEP”). Any contributor or community member who wants a technical feature recognized in the roadmap must start a new thread in the Technical Vision Form to invite public comment and deliberation. The pilot process saw nearly forty proposals in the Technical Vision Forum.
  • Technical Vision Council: This is the governing body responsible for deciding which proposals from the Technical Vision Forum should be included in the TEP. The council aims to be a representative cross-section of both technical and non-technical core contributors in the ecosystem. During the pilot, the Technical Vision Council deliberated over the course of nine meetings to determine the TEP’s composition.
  • Technical Evolution Plan: The final output of the process, this is the ecosystem’s dynamic and evolving technical roadmap, created through contributions and feedback from Cartesi core developers, ecosystem grantees, and the broader community. The TEP lays out a technical direction for the project in areas of R&D, modularity, dApp support, convenience, experimentation, and more.

In addition to setting the ecosystem’s technical direction, the TEP also acts as a signal for ecosystem funding allocation, with the Cartesi Foundation recognizing the TEP as the ecosystem’s collective vision for guiding the Foundation’s funding decisions.

A different approach to decentralization

Instead of a single development company with outsized influence over core development, the core Cartesi infrastructure is primarily developed by many independent and unaffiliated working groups (called units) and individuals. Contrast this structure with the common setup in many other ecosystems, where there’s often a large software development company that researches, develops, and maintains core technical infrastructure.

For example, Avalanche has Ava Labs. Uniswap has Uniswap Labs. There are many similar examples. These core development companies typically hold tremendous influence over the technical direction of their respective ecosystems. They also typically maintain traditional corporate hierarchies, with C-suite executive teams making top-down decisions.

By dispersing influence and decision-making authority across a much more horizontal plane, the Cartesi ecosystem minimizes the potential for any one single point of failure for the project. But, as is often the case with decentralization, this increase in resiliency comes with a tradeoff. The absence of a top-down decisional hierarchy for core infra-building introduces operational inefficiencies that make large-scale distributed coordination particularly challenging. The TEP is Cartesi’s solution.


The first iteration of Cartesi’s Technical Evolution Plan

The first iteration of Cartesi’s Technical Evolution Plan marks the successful culmination of the pilot process, resulting in a first-of-its-kind technical roadmap for the Cartesi ecosystem.

We look forward to seeing the process evolve over time, with procedures for amending the TEP, electing new Technical Vision Council members, refining the council’s role in the ecosystem, and applying these learnings to create more robust governance frameworks for the ecosystem as a whole.

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