The nature of open networks

Rami James
5 min readNov 5, 2021

I’ve helped build an open-source wallet, and now I’ve helped build an open network. It’s been an honor the last four years to spend my energies on things like Scatter and Ultra. They have been learning experiences both from a tech perspective (which is deeply interesting) but also from a personal growth perspective (way more exciting).

At this point I think that I know a thing or two about the nature of open networks.

The EOSIO network cluster

When created the EOSIO protocol, much of the focus from the community was on building a Mainnet that ran it. This, in turn, became the EOS Mainnet.

Nathan James, founder of Scatter, who helped launch the EOS Mainnet in 2018

Enormous amounts of effort were put in by hundreds of teams across the world to build out the infrastructure necessary for the block producers and all the associated supporting nodes.

What was really being built was much bigger than that, in the sense that those teams themselves, who had tons of experience and knowledge, were then put to work in building other, different networks.

These networks tried to either solve specific business problems: gaming business deployment needs, in Ultra’s and WAX’s cases, or solving governance and network management problems in Telos’ case.

I did a quick survey and by my estimate there are now over a hundred individual block producer teams across at least 7 public networks based on the EOSIO protocol. Additionally, there are private networks like Voice and Blankos who have built on top of the same open-source stack to solve their specific needs.

That is real value. The experience stored in those people’s heads really means something.

This is why I don’t put much thought into the specific state of the Mainnet these days: I now think that it was never really the end goal of this ecosystem. It’s just now one network in a wider, more interesting cluster of networks that together make something truly great.

I know that not everyone will agree with my characterization of the positions of these specific networks. Please add your complaints at the bottom of this article so that we can debate the merits of your being wrong.

Let’s take a second and talk about that image above, because I think that it is really interesting. The fact that there are no networks in the DECENTRALIZED/PRIVATE space actually says a lot about what I think open networks can be, at least in the context of the world of EOSIO.

There are two main groups of open networks represented:

  1. CENTRALIZED/PUBLIC— Those that are run by a limited set of parties who believe they must control the development of to achieve a very specific business goal. Examples are legacy telecoms, modern corporations, and networks like Binance.
  2. DECENTRALIZED/PUBLIC — Those that are lead by a core group of visionaries who lay out a plan of attack and help orchestrate a wide array of loosely aligned groups who together push and pull development towards a chaotic, innovative future. Examples are the Linux kernel, Ethereum, and Telos.

The weighting is definitely more towards centralized in this cluster. This concerns a lot of people, but really I’m not sure how else this is going to work until we all have super-fast internet pipes into our houses. Infrastructure must be built where it is most efficient to do so. That’s centralization. It’s not the monster people make it out to be. The real concern should be about how that infrastructure is used, and who it benefits at the end of the day.

Another point worth mentioning is that there isn’t really such a thing as a DECENTRALIZED/PRIVATE network. You need to be public to be decentralized, and having a private, members-only network is simply never going to work.

No such thing as one network to rule them all

The tribalism inherent in the hopes that one network will be the one that “wins out” is simply short-sighted and misses the forest for the trees. This is true in EOSIO-world, but also true for Eth-flavors (Ethereum, BNB, Polygon, et al), and all the wondrous other networks that brave experimenters are building today.

It’s not about “your” network winning some abstract market prize. It’s about the generation that decided to come together and build something new.

I predict that there will not be one ‘winner’, but a wide universe of networks that all work together to perform transactions that fulfill the gamut of the user’s computational network needs.

When people talk about scaling, this is what I think it actually is. It’s horizontal across the entire space, and not vertical within just one network. If you naively calculate the multiplied TPS of all the above networks, you end up with well over 50KTPS on the aggregate. That is scaling. I hope that it will end up being one, great mega-network that spans everything being built today.

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Nodenode Contributing Members

We are starting small and will be expanding the team of experienced minds as the project grows. If you’re interested in joining this collective, please reach out to

Rami James is an active member of the EOS Mainnet, Ultra, Telos, and Scatter. He also creates NFT art in his free time.

Felipe Faria is a long standing member of EOS Rio, has worked previously at Ultra, and currently works with The Sandbox.