Mezcal, A New Vision For Celo

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Were Celo to move in a L2 direction, it would make sense to do so on Ethereum, given its network effect and aligned ecosystem. Alternatively, there’s a potential route of trying to align more with the Interchain ecosystem, for the same reasons.

This feels like an unwieldly proposal at first glance that doesn’t play well with the reality of the blockchain ecosystem as it exists today, but I’d love to hear if I’m missing something here.

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Can you expand on why you chose the word “unwieldy?”

I ask because so far the overwhelming sentiment we’ve gotten from the Celo community (and the 750 new Twitter followers in 6 hours after posting that blog) has been very positive. Including adjectives such as:

  • Bullish
  • Legendary
  • Innovative
  • Incredible
  • Trendsetting
  • Awesome
  • Dope

However, nobody has ventured close to using a word like “unwieldy” or really expressed any negative sentiment at all that comes close to that. So, very curious as to what that word means for you in regards to this proposal? Established web3 teams that have never considered working on Celo are suddenly very interested.

While I understand that those teams who have a large stake in the foundation’s vision for this open-source network (due to grants, support, investors, etc…) may have reservations around embracing such a different direction than the foundation’s vision - but realistically Celo in its current state will atrophy itself unless it innovates in a way that allows the network to achieve the mission at scale.

Even our stablecoins can’t actually say they are true programmatic stablecoins because there’s never been enough volume to actually put cUSD, cEUR, or cREAL to the test. We must evolve the current approach if we want to see this mobile-first blockchain tech actually impact the world at scale.

I encourage you to re-read the Ocelot blog post. We also host regular community calls that have been quite engaging. We also have updated the forum when needed and maintain our blog regularly. This idea was brought to fruition for the community, by the community.

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Hi papa_raw, the proposal can still enable Celo to become an ETH L2 Rollup that settles on Ethereum but still use Celestia for Data Availability, allowing for huge scalability potential for Celo to keep transactions cheap long-term to continue enabling affordable payments in emerging markets.

I do agree it’s a massive project which is why an incentivized testnet like Mezcal is designed to at least prove this proposal as a proof-of-concept. It’s going to be a long roadmap, but it does provide at least a roadmap and a vision and something radical to experiment with on the core level. Application developers can still be able to test out things on Mezcal before deploying to Celo, given that this change only impacts consensus and not the EVM itself.

If after the Merge, Celo Mainnet sees the benefit in this experiment, then at least the community would benefit from all the work done on Mezcal to bring a major improvement to Celo Mainnet.

Happy to further clarify any questions.

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You’re not strengthening your position with this response.

Would you be willing to share more documentation on the problem of data availability and why you see this as being the best architectural solution, keeping in mind the current state of the ecosystem? I’d love to dive into these topics.

I appreciate your clarification as to the positioning here as radical experimentation. The original Mirror post feels framed as a sort of “official announcement” rather than the framing you’re providing here.

Hi @papa_raw The post is definitely an official announcement of the intention of Ocelot. First we need to go through Phase 1.

Phase 3 concerning The Merge and using data-availability will provide us with several options that the community can help decide on:

  • Celo becoming a settlement layer that utilizes Celestia for Data-Availability for increased scalability. L2s can be deployed on Celo as a settlement layer, yet Celo still benefits from not worrying about consensus, which is handled by Celestia.
  • Celo becomes an L2 Rollup: In this scenario, it can choose to settle on Ethereum as the settlement layer or another settlement layer. It would still rely on data-availability from Celestia, allowing it to scale the block size so transactions remain cheap.

In both scenarios, scalability due to data-availability being utilized is the main attraction, due to keeping transactions low. Literally everything else about Celo, bar the consensus, will work the same as before, which in our mind is the best way to achieve Celo’s mission at scale. For Celo’s mission to succeed, putting too much resources on consensus and L1 doesn’t make sense. Consensus on L1s over the long term becomes a burden to maintain, so decoupling it from Celo but still focusing on the Celo mission provides huge advantages to fully focus on the mission.

For readings on data availability and the problem:

Let me know if you have more questions, these are great resources to learn more about data availability and how it can improve Celo long-term.

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@papa_raw I understand why you might be upset, But asking for linguistic clarification has never weakened a position.

Here is the perspective of people who understand the technology and are deeply web3 native. Once again, overwhelming support. https://twitter.com/arjunbhuptani/status/1512403228117377028?s=20&t=hd8TkTAfFxJO9DB3N8rQOA

Considering the amount of support we received I would say our position is strong enough. Toxic positivity is not what you will find here.

I would encourage you to re-read the blog post about the testnet.

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To be clear, that’s not what I’m getting at here. The confusion was that you seemed to be speaking on behalf of Celo more broadly, as something already finalized through governance, and not yourselves as a single actor within the network. When I communicate intent of action or results I try to limit the scope of my language to the extent of the parties I represent with that language. Or, simply: it’s not clear to me what other key Celo actors have bought into this vision, and it doesn’t really seem like it was announced with any great buy-in. That is why the framing was initially confusing to me.

Thank you for the documentation – looking forward to reading them when I have a chance.

I’m not upset, and the gaslighting needs to stop.

I am speaking on behalf of Ocelot as a member of the Celo community. I don’t see how it’s different than the Celo Foundation speaking about their projects for Celo.

If you subscribe to the idea that this is a decentralized network, then in reality, anyone can propose a vision for Celo and the future of the protocol. It can’t be just sanctioned by the Foundation, otherwise, we have bigger problems here than an experimental testnet.

A testnet doesn’t need to go through governance, the same as a hardfork doesn’t need to go through governance. We aren’t making governance proposals for Celo Mainnet to go through governance to decide on this. It’s still very early for that. First, let’s prove Mezcal can work as an experiment, then we can check in with the community on the future roadmap of Celo. If Celo wants to go that route, then great, Mezcal would have laid the groundwork and the community can easily follow. If not, then that’s also OK, as this at the end is a proposal being proved via a testnet.

Respectfully, I am not here to get buy-in from the Foundation or cLabs. If we were to do a testnet on Ethereum, 0 chance I would get buy-in from the Ethereum Foundation. That’s how permissionless systems work. Outside the Foundation and cLabs, a lot of folks we spoke to are very keen on the idea given how expensive it is to maintain consensus layer.

@papa_raw you should definitely come to our community call next week if you would like to chat more.

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I’ve never once spoke about any sort of official “sanctioning” here, nor did I mention the Foundation. That being said, having their opinion on this would be great, I think, as they are a key actor as well: dismissing them as some mere centralized actor ultimately eschews the herculean level of effort they put into making Celo succeed. Interestingly, when it comes to the Ethereum Foundation supporting testnets, they actually have in the past done this, and this is the norm rather than the outlier – the latest example is Gorli, for instance, which received a grant from the Ethereum Foundation, and all of the ETH2 testnets have received considerable subsidies from the Foundation for their work. The one instance I can think of is where this isn’t the case is when Gnosis saved Kovan on their own, for the most part. You’re mostly wrong on this point.

There’s a greater nuance to governance than official statements by official figures, and something to be said for the soft-alignment that goes into any sort of proposal formulation. The position of “it’s decentralized, therefore I should be able to do whatever I want, and we’re going to do this” isn’t quite the entirety of the truth here, it’s more “we are going to invest huge time in resources into this initiative, and down the line we will want to bring it forward as a proposal that adjusts the core blockchain protocol” and this second understanding is actually pretty meaningful if we think about the way governance will play down the line here.

If you would indulge me in a historical analogue:

When the SegWit2x fiasco was going on in Bitcoin a few years back one the key arguments put forward by certain proponents (namely, the collective of developers who built SegWit2x) was that already a certain level of investment in time, energy, and resources had been made and it was too late to turn course, trying to leverage the principle of a sunk cost fallacy towards passing a key protocol change (SegWit2x did not ultimately pass). A lot of the engineering work that went into SegWit2x could have been avoided if healthy dissensus had been channeled earlier on in the process, but this was something that same group of developers explicitly did not want, as it would throw a wrench in their plans overall. If there’s a key takeaway we can make here, it’s that developer collectives articulating protocol-level visions and changes without first getting a strong governance signal that the network has an appetite for their ambition is both problematic and a tactic for pressuring their network to adopt their vision down the line. There’s something to be said for cat-herding early on and asking for the soft blessing of key groups within that network.

Typically, given the level of engineering manpower required for such an initiative, most projects would opt for a Snapshot, poll, or other governance signal before even starting, to save themselves the cost. Given that Snapshot is now available on Celo, why not open an instance, to save yourselves the potential time and energy it will take to run this testnet? Ideally you could have cLabs share your Snapshot across all key comms channels. This would be a good start, is a common norm for most cryptonetwork/DAO governance today, and would lend quite a bit of legitimacy to your work efforts.

I’m happy to continue the conversation here, but thank you for the invite!

the latest example is Gorli, for instance
You’re mostly wrong on this point

Funny you mention this, as I was the one who funded Goerli to start as part of the Ethereum Classic Cooperative before any funds came from EF for almost a year. So thanks for telling me what actually happened with Gorli and who is wrong, lol.

If there’s a key takeaway we can make here, it’s that developer collectives articulating protocol-level visions and changes without first getting a strong governance signal that the network has an appetite for their ambition is both problematic and a tactic for pressuring their network to adopt their vision down the line.

Again, we are just building a testnet first. Celo Mainnet can still function as it is without worrying about any buy ins for a long time. Your argument would make sense if we aren’t building Mezcal, but the existence of Mezcal is to prove the concept as a way to get buy-in from the community.

Snapshot for protocol level changes isn’t a good idea IMO. It’s best for dapps, not for networks. You should never vote on technical changes with the community, this should be left for folks building the protocol. Imagine if the All-Core Devs Call resorted to votes for every EIP with snapshot. Never happened.

Anyways, come to the community call if you’d like to chat in person more, best wishes!

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You’re welcome.

Let’s be clear, here: there’s a differentiation between voting and signaling. Signaling is designed to aggregate community signal; voting is the governance process by which a protocol updates itself. I’m advocating for signaling on your behalf to save yourself time and effort – I’m curious why you wouldn’t want to save time and effort prior to making such an investment? As the business lead of a 15-person engineering team I’d find it hard myself to justify myself building in a direction that doesn’t have strong buy-in first.

I think fundamentally we disagree on the nature of blockchains, if you are trying to articulate a strong difference between the technical and social aspects. I see chains as integrated sociotechnic systems with an associated aesthetics and governance process. A sociotechnic system that entirely relies on technocrats to determine its collective future is ignoring and perpetuating certain injustices, which sits contrary to Celo’s mission. I would argue here that the burden of education sits with those technical members to fully articulate, in plain language, the design principles and conclusions reached through the implementation of protocol changes; to fully engage all stakeholders in a participatory design process.

That’s great, but returning to my original point – when it comes to the public relations aspect of this, in no way should this be framed as a Celo announcement, as it is being framed on Twitter, for instance. Creating a testnet to test your ideas is exciting, but it’s not a vision of and by Celo for Celo – it’s an idea, a concept you’re cooking up, a pilot your lab is stewarding, but certainly not a community-aligned vision.

I’d love to continue chatting here – we have a great public discussion going and not all folks can make such a call. Cheers!

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There’s no public relations aspect of this. It is becoming clear that your issue is rooted in a direct misunderstanding of what a decentralized community is. We are Celo, Celo is not a thing to be owned and operated by any singular group or person. Your fundamental misunderstanding is one that leans toward supporting authoritarianism and a formal hierarchy of decisions. This just isn’t how we see web3 communities and we never will so we will disagree indefinitely.

Also, let’s clarify that this isn’t a proposal, this is happening. Development is underway, funding is secured and active.

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@techboiafrica @papa_raw @YazKhouryTest .

Folks I’d recommend taking a step back here for some perspective . The exchanges above don’t seem productive .

Let things settle a little.

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Agreed Pinotio there seems to be quite a bit of circular discussion. This is why we repeatedly are inviting folks to our community calls.

We believe it’s important to hear the whole community, not just the hyper positivity or (toxic positivity) that’s often used to quell dissent or in this case downplay innovation.

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I think these details are important to the discussion, can you please add those? engineering resources that will work on this, the time this will take, how much of the Celo grant you got, Ocelot will use for Mezcal and all other details would also be welcome at the next Celo community call. Thanks

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Hey folks, Eric here. I am one of the original folks on the multi-sig for the Celo Ecosystem Treasury now known as Ocelot. The origin of the CET started when I first shared an idea with Yaz about investing funds in Open Source software projects that Celo is based on (geth, js libraries etc) using funds from the on-chain governance Community Fund. The idea has since evolved quite a bit, as ideas do. We initially spoke about things like helping hire engineers on the geth engineering team, funding community programs that could drive more technical and non-technical contributions in the Celo Community, and other big funding ideas that would help grow developers in the overall web3 community. The community shared lots of useful feedback, and Sep helped to focus that feedback into actionable steps here. The Mezcal proposal seems like a departure from the original ideas that the community initially supported.

I’m a believer in investing in community and new ideas, but this proposal seems inconsistent with feedback and centralized in the decision making process. I’d personally like to see Ocelot return to its original premise. For these new ideas, I’d also like to see the Ocelot team find more productive ways to engage and rally support from the Celo community.

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Thanks for misrepresenting the truth @ericnakagawa

Ocelot wasn’t ever your idea. It was mine and when I spoke to Rene about it in Paris, he proposed getting an allocation from community fund. You asked to be on the multisig if you recall and you burnt bridges after that with your behavior.

Now, regarding Mezcal:

  • The founders were informed months back that Ocelot wanted to build an incentivized testnet and both Sep and Marek thought it was a good proposal.
  • The idea is simple, make the Kusama of Celo so that dapp developers can test with real incentives pre-Mainnet. Here is a question I would like everyone to explore: do you see a value in an
    Incentivized testnet on Celo regardless of long term architecture vision?
  • Phase 3 (The Merge) realistically won’t happen for 2 years and by then anything can change in web3.
  • Celo being an L2 is a vision. Realistically maintaining your own validators and consensus means you are prepared to go to battle. Validators are your most fragile component of your ecosystem and even the Validator Voting program at the Foundation is a burden to maintain for all involved. The issue isn’t unique to Celo btw, consensus maintenance is hard. Ask any of the L1s.
  • Consensus doesn’t impact the mission and ecosystem of Celo. You will run into issues with transaction costs staying cheap unless you think about protocol design. I know there’s some contract with Mysten Labs but they also announced their own blockchain network Sui so I am very curious how much work is actually done with them to support Celo. Seems like it doesn’t make sense for them to both build their own awesome chain and also work on Celo’s. Perhaps some transparency on the scope of work and what progress has been made by Mysten labs would help answer the question of how we are planning to keep transactions cheap so that dapps like ImpactMarket can still rely on celo to pay their beneficiaries long term.

In regards to decision making and Ocelot, the proposal and CGP clearly specified that the multisig will go after different projects in 4 categories. It wasn’t designed to be community voted for every proposal because otherwise capital wouldn’t be deployed quickly. We did state we will have community check ins every specific periods to get feedback and we are planning on doing that as well. It’s very rich of you to call it centralized Eric when you sit at the Foundation where the decision making for most of the assets on Celo is allocated to projects by the Foundation. Clearly the foundation doesn’t request the community vote on every decision it makes, yet it controls a lot of the assets in the network. So why aren’t we be afforded that same treatment as an
Independent entity?

The question I ask to community members is this: do you think an incentivized and canary testnet on Celo is a good idea, irregardless of its long term
Vision? I’ve spoken to many folks who think a Kusama for Celo is needed where we can experiment heavily on the protocol as well.

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This kind of way of speaking and addressing others amounts to little more than bullying and harassment, and is only one of many shots you’ve taken towards multiple parties in the past few days (myself included).

I did not approach this proposal with any intent to shut it down, only to understand from a sense of curiosity as to what is going on and a point of confusion as to the framing. As it stands now, though, I would not allocate any of my engineers to an incentivized testnet run by Ocelot. As a “independent entity” as well, we prioritize our engagements towards those who represent themselves and treat others with dignity.

I’ll be working with other Celo stakeholders and neighbors on our side of the ecosystem this week to figure out exactly what to do here, but what an absolutely petty way of building community consensus behind your “vision.”

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Respectfully you don’t have context on the origin of Ocelot. I won’t stand for misrepresenting the truth by former members. I don’t see how that is bullying. Folks not agreeing on a chain of events is now bullying?

I never bullied you, yet one can argue you’re concern trolling too. However I am more than happy to have a dialogue with you, that was always offered. Happy to also jump on a call, tone is often always missing when one types messages. Best wishes.