Protocol Entrepreneurship

I’m running the Summer of Protocols program for the Ethereum Foundation again this year. Here is the Call for Applications. I’d appreciate any help getting it in front of the right candidates. The core of it is what we’re calling Protocol Improvement Grants (PIGs): 90k for a team of two to work on improving a real world protocol (any kind, technological, social, organizational) over 4 months. We will be awarding 5 PIGs. We anticipate this is going to be tough because we’re trying to catalyze a new category of entrepreneurship: Protocol entrepreneurship. It exists in the wild of course, but naming and characterizing a wild pattern of behavior is often the first step to consciously cultivating it as a learnable capability that can be refined and systematically made more powerful.

I’ll be unpacking the concept a bit during a live information session on the program next week (Wednesday at 9 AM Pacific; details here). Attend if you’re interested in applying to the program, or even just curious about this idea of protocol entrepreneurship. In the meantime, here’s this Venn diagram I made for the short talk I’m prepping.

There is also a small grants program: 20 development grants of $1000 to work on a creative work, such as a short story or comic, that might “protocol pill” people. This is the PILLs program: Pill Incepting Lore and Literacy.

I can tell already this year is going to be much tougher than last year, since we’re trying something much more focused and ambitious and there’s the additional challenge of meeting and beating the standard set by the pilot year, which turned out very well. We’re effectively trying to speedrun the pioneer –> settler –> town-planner evolutionary trajectory. But if it works, the outcomes should really be worth it.

In case you missed my various posts about it in other places, the pilot Summer of Protocols program was an open-ended exploratory effort to map out the territory. You can read the research output as it is published here, and if you want to go deep you can request one of the limited number of Protocol Kits with printed copies of all the research (they’re not for sale; we’re distributing them for free people/organizations who might help drive the emerging protocols scene forward).

Wish us luck (“us” is a small team; besides myself, it’s Tim Beiko and Josh Davis of the EF, plus Timber Schroff and Jenna Dixon). We’re going to need it. And do forward this post to people you think might be a good fit for the program.

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About Venkatesh Rao

Venkat is the founder and editor-in-chief of ribbonfarm. Follow him on Twitter