ConsenSys has told its many subscribers that “J.P. Morgan is using Ethereum to launch a digital U.S. dollar.”
In the mail body they clarify it is actually Quorum, which they describe as “an enterprise iteration of the Ethereum blockchain.” Is that misleading?
In many ways, Ethereum and Quorum have almost nothing to do with each other. Quorum is its own network, with its own nodes, has permission requirements, has no miners, and on and on.
It is based on Ethereum, but ETC has a lot more in common with ETH than Quorum ever will. Even bitcoin has more in common as both are public blockchains, permissionless, decentralized, and have miners.
Yet no one would ask whether it is misleading to say that something launched on ETC was using eth, or that a Tether like token launched on bitcoin through the Omni Layer is actually using eth.
Sometime you might approximate on a headline. If it’s breaking news you might even get it wrong. If a matter is very complex, you might make a mistake here or there, but the JP Morgan news is quite old while the mailing list went out just yesterday.
Moreover Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Capital, probably knows full well that Quorum and Ethereum are two very different things. Nonetheless he is used as the only source on the mailing list with the headline seemingly coming from an article he wrote.
Finally, “an enterprise iteration of the Ethereum blockchain” sounds like the ethereum blockchain, but spruced up for enterprise requirements.
Infura, for example, is an enterprise node infrastructure provider, as in it has a lot of resources to meet your needs even if you have significant requirements.
Quorum, on the other hand, has little enterprise iteration of the Ethereum blockchain itself. It doesn’t even touch the ethereum blockchain.
Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it’s just not ethereum, it has its own name. Even ethereum-based might be a stretch, but excusable. Straight out Ethereum, however, raises questions.
A Position of Trust
The highly specialized natured of blockchain development where there is a skills shortage means many have to rely on consulting like companies, such as ConsenSys, or on developers themselves.
What they say could influence ordinary ethereans, but also media like these pages. Estimated time-lines, what the capabilities will be, what are the plans, and much else, gives them a privileged position which comes with responsibility.
It is true however that in open source code anyone can read the code and/or contribute and/or launch their own client or fork. Yet it is also true that sometime surprising decisions are made without any public input.
The realistic solution is for public blockchains to reach a stage where no changes that matter are needed any longer.
Until then, however, we rely on developers to say what are the plans, and we rely on developers to say what are the capabilities as well as the tradeoffs. Making factual communication an important aspect.