Was Forking Ethereum A Mistake?
If the unforked software of Ethereum has not yet died, at its point of greatest weakness immediately following the fork, then it may only get stronger as users begin to realize the core value proposition of blockchain technology is, as has always been, the concept of code as law.
Since the inception of bitcoin, we’ve seen that these types of networks have a remarkable characteristic of anti-fragility, and the perseverance of the original Ethereum implementation is a perfect example of such. If Ethereum is to be a platform where applications run “exactly as programmed”, then it should follow that no foundational change to the software be necessary when a program executes precisely as designed.
Already, major players in the digital currency ecosystem have voiced their support for retaining and continuing development of the original Ethereum blockchain – now dubbed “Classic”. Ethereum Classic has seen a surprising surge in activity, surpassing the Ethereum Foundation’s own implementation in trading volume on Poloniex with over 100K BTC on July 25th.
Barry Silbert, Wall Street juggernaut and creator of the Bitcoin Investment Trust, also has voiced support, claiming to have quadrupled his initial investment into Ethereum Classic and to have “moved ~5% of personal bitcoin holdings” to the original Ethereum blockchain. Further, Silbert states that he is “philosophically on board”.
A Development Team Is Forming
A development team behind Classic is beginning to form as a grassroots movement to preserve the original Ethereum implementation. This week we saw former Ethereum project CEO Charles Hoskinson state his intention to join the development team behind the Classic project. Hoskinson announced on July 27th “I’m rejoining Ethereum to start making contributions to Classic.” This surprising addition follows the recent release of geth binaries built exclusively for Ethereum Classic.
Hashrate Is Climbing
Ethereum Classic is clearly the “dark horse” pick in terms of collective network hash power, brand recognition, and developer support. Yet, despite a roster of core developers dwarfed by the Ethereum Foundation, Classic has seen a surprising surge in network hashrate and difficulty.
Letting The Market Decide
The ongoing competition of forked Ethereum vs original Ethereum may be drawn out over the course of several months. This competition however, is not a zero-sum game. In the near-term however, one network is poised to win the favor of market participants while the other will take a backseat to core development efforts. Regardless of the development plan behind either project, it remains to be seen whether market forces will favor an unforked, immutable blockchain or trust the guidance of the Ethereum Foundation as they steer the project into new waters.
The DAO hack, which occurred near the end of June, saw an anonymous hacker exploit a recursive call function in a faulty smart contract to withdraw approximately $59M worth of cryptocurrency. One interesting caveat to consider, is that on the Ethereum Classic blockchain, the DAO hacker is still an active participant. This as-of-yet unknown assailant controls approximately 12% of all cryptocurrency in circulation of the non-forked chain. This sizeable portion of cryptocurrency could cause chaos at any time if the hacker decides to liquidate their holdings. The Ethereum Foundation backed hard fork has effectively removed the hacker from participating in the system.
One must wonder why Ethereum Classic is being viewed as a new sort of cryptocurrency, when in truth it is the very technology that held a market capitalization just shy of $1 billion mere weeks ago.
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