Decentralised Iconoclasm: Should Crypto Leaders Walk in Darkness? by@benjaminbateman
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Decentralised Iconoclasm: Should Crypto Leaders Walk in Darkness?

by Ben BatemanMarch 25th, 2021
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Do cryptocurrency projects need a leader? Or are there alternatives to celebrity culture in decentralised communities? Free TON may offer a better way forward.

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Half-way through a conversation last week, a friend uttered a phrase to me which has been ringing in my little ears ever since:

"Every crypto project needs a Satoshi".

Arguably, Satoshi Nakamoto is the closest we have seen to a real-life Tyler Durden since the movies seminal release. If you're not familiar with the film (where have you been for the last 20 years?), then, without giving away any spoilers, Tyler is a radical anti-capitalist with a dream of resetting the worlds financial economy. He sees himself, not as a leader, but as a catalyst of a movement, as shown roughly halfway into the film with the line:

"Now nobody was the centre of Fight Club except the two men fighting. The leader walked through the crowd, out in the darkness."

Now, while the true identity of Satoshi (hint: it is definitely NOT Craig Wright) remains as mythical as the legends of Tyler Durden, many other projects have authority figures with far less mystery surrounding them. In fact, a quick scan of the crypto market cap top projects seems to show it is more often the case than not. Ethereum has the baby faced assassin himself, Vitalik Buterin. Cardano has Charles Hoskins. Binance's BNB coin has Changpeng Zhao, AKA Lucifer himself, I mean CZ (I'm sure he's a nice guy really!).

In influencers we trust?

More recent meme food coin branding campaigns have also revolved around the heralding of an anonymous overlord. Take the example of Chef Nomi, and Sushiswap. Although the ship seems to be steering in a far better direction now, it's early-days were embroiled in scandal. The mysterious founder apparently cracked under the pressure of becoming an overnight icon for a ~$30m entity. Who would have thought?

So why is it, in a world of decentralised ambitions, the masses still seemingly flock toward Messiahs? Some may place blame on celebrity culture, suggesting it is simply in our mindset to swoon around those we see as being on a higher branch of the social tree than us.

Another theory suggests it is simply a case of comfort zones. Traditional businesses have figureheads; Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Tony the Tiger. When we invest (be it in money, time, or reputation) into a brand or platform, we take a risk. Particularly in cases of reputational investment, the danger of metaphorical egg on our faces is very real. Looking at it this way, is it any wonder the majority of us prefer to have a direction in which to allay these potential consequences? When Charlie Lee publicly dumped his Litecoin, shillers of the coin were able to pass the buck of burden from the ensuing downward price spiral. Much like Milgram and his white-coated stooges, an authority figure gives us a 'get out of jail free card' should s**t hit the fan.

Crowd-Sourcing an Alternative

Whatever the cause, there are alternatives for those of us willing to forsake a customer service department in favour of further decentralisation.

I've been working with the Free TON community for a little over a month now, and although every day is still very much a school day, the one thing I have yet to find in the community is a boss. No single person is steering the ship. If someone has the passion and skills, they are free to propose, design, implement and then even enter a contest to bring their vision to fruition. These contests can fall under the remit of various subgovernances (sort of like decentralised think tanks), or float individually as one-off events. Either way though, this attracts talent and drives development. No captaincy needed.

Who Built the Free TON Blockchain then?

The original code was developed by Pavel Durov, founder of Telegram messenger. However, following the SEC's dissatisfaction with the original token sale, his involvement was cut short. However, the open-sourced project was revived by TON Labs, but even they have no specialised influence over the direction of the network.

This is, for the most part, thanks to the aforementioned unique meritocracy based governance model implemented. Tokens are earned, thereby giving direct ownership of the platform to those involved. It might all seem an odd way of doing things at first glance, yet, to me, it makes sense. After all, which item of clothing would be worth more to most folk? One they bought from a shop, or one they made themselves (or at least contributed a few stitches toward!)?

Why Free TON?

While Free TON may not be the only platform to operate without a commander in chief, there is no denying the results this methodology is producing. This past week alone has seen the first demonstration of an MVP on-chain smart-contract based order book system for a DEX (just one of several entries to a contest organised by the DeFi subgoverance group), as well as the launch of the first NFT's on Free TON (with an NFT marketplace contest also running now!). Other recent milestones include PokerTON surpassing the 1000 regular daily users mark, partnerships with the Sigma Group, and how could I not mention the all-important launch of the Dune Network/Free TON atomic swap infrastructure design and implementation!

Final Thoughts

When all is said and done, there will always be those who prefer to follow, rather than lead themselves. It's not all bad, if nothing else, these crypto influence icons are an endless source of entertainment. Are we all simply lost little lambs without them though? To me, Free TON is proving this doesn't have to be the case.

If you want to know more about Free TON, or just want to tell me I'm plain old wrong, join us in our main community telegram group and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.