Vice President of the Wormhole Foundation Interoperability is more than just a buzzword

The Role of Vice President in Wormhole Foundation Beyond Buzzwords, Embracing Interoperability

Author: Robinson Burkey, Executive Vice President of Wormhole Foundation, Blockworks; Translation: Song Xue, LianGuai

The essence of blockchain has always been open source and decentralized, building something together without any single entity in control.

However, as the ecosystem expands, many blockchains have become isolated islands, lacking the infrastructure and capability for mutual communication. This isolation hinders the true potential of a unified and interconnected blockchain ecosystem, further highlighting the importance of cross-chain messaging protocols.

When it comes to blockchain, interoperability is not just a buzzword. It is a key factor in driving towards a more interconnected and inclusive crypto ecosystem. Cross-chain platforms are constantly emerging, facilitating communication between blockchain islands. It is imperative to build these bridges in the spirit of open source and decentralization to fully unleash the potential of blockchain.

Blockchain interoperability alleviates existing challenges by breaking down these islands. We have already seen its practical application in projects such as Pyth Network, bringing first-party financial data into more and more blockchains, and DeGods/Yoots migrating from Solana to Ethereum.

But there are other challenges as well.

When interoperability is controlled centrally, it is often composed of a single organization or a group of stakeholders with aligned interests. This could be dominant blockchain companies, a group of developers, or even a consortium of enterprises with significant investments in a specific blockchain. This can lead to a lack of transparency in decision-making and who benefits. When multi-signature wallets rely on a few individuals or entities, especially as many bridging protocols adopt centralized multi-signatures, it also poses a significant threat. In fact, improper use of multi-signatures resulted in an attack worth $625 million in 2022.

The involvement of venture capital also complicates matters, as it introduces the risk of biased approval and unfair governance. For example, if the founder of a blockchain, the foundation, or VCs hold a majority representation, community voting may ultimately be meaningless. This practice can marginalize regular users and deviate from the democratic core and mission of blockchain, which is to provide a fair solution that benefits all participants.

Decentralized open-source interoperability is the lighthouse of trust in the blockchain space. Platforms that openly share code repositories and implement innovative mechanisms are examples of building trust, enhancing security within decentralized environments. In stark contrast, closed-source frameworks bring risks, introducing potential manipulation and centralization pathways that severely hinder innovation.

The open-source ecosystem is a crucible for vibrant innovation, and numerous success stories in the cryptocurrency field have proven this. Community-driven initiatives turn into assets, creating powerful and adaptable protocols. They provide a platform for developers and blockchain enthusiasts to collaborate, solve real-world interoperability challenges, and learn from each other.

Decentralized protocols play their role in this larger story, but it is a collective effort. We call on everyone in the blockchain space to join this mission.

While focusing on the core value of blockchain, we must also recognize and address hesitations around interoperability. Some protocols may resist this shift, not only for economic reasons (which is a direct incentive), but also out of concern for maintaining their established systems and user base – all factors that contribute to their “hype.” Here, “hype” refers to market excitement that can drive user adoption and investment in a specific blockchain, potentially causing these protocols to be unwilling to dilute their brand or user experience through interoperability.

Interacting with others in an open system can bring about effective technological and security issues, which can be complex and risky. Some protocols may be concerned about losing control over their governance structure, compromising security, or facing increased operational complexities.

While these concerns are understandable, it is crucial to challenge them with the long-term vision of a unified blockchain ecosystem, advocating for open-source values and collective progress rather than individual success.

As we continue to unite more and more distributed blockchain ecosystems, returning to the core principles of openness, decentralization, and collaborative ecosystems is not just a choice, but a necessity. This involves not only technology but also the spirit that supports it. A freely flowing encrypted economy without isolated chains is achievable, but only under the security of openness and decentralization.