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Bell Curve

The Reboot | Uncommon Core 2.0 with Hasu and Jon Charbonneau

Mon Jul 17 2023
Crypto InfrastructureWriting as a Learning ToolWorkflow in CryptoMEVRoll-upsChallenges in Roll-up GovernanceDecentralization and Governance in Roll-upsCentralized and Decentralized SequencesGovernance and Proof of StakeLiquid Staking and Roll-up GovernanceRoll-up Governance and Interoperability


The episode covers various topics related to crypto infrastructure, writing as a learning tool, understanding the workflow in crypto, research and dedication, MEV, roll-ups, challenges in roll-up governance, decentralization and governance in roll-ups, centralized and decentralized sequences, governance and proof of stake, liquid staking and roll-up governance, roll-up governance and interoperability, and decentralization and governance in roll-ups. The speakers discuss the importance of writing in learning and understanding complex topics, the research process for creating reports, the interconnectedness of different areas of crypto infrastructure, challenges in roll-up governance and the role of sequencers, the trade-offs between centralization and decentralization in sequences, the role of governance in selecting validators and making decisions in roll-ups, and the potential of liquid staking for delegating validator selection.


Writing is an essential tool for learning

Writing about complex topics helps in understanding them thoroughly and structuring thoughts.

Research is a crucial part of creating high-quality reports

Extensive primary source research and talking to people in the field adds depth to reports.

MEV/transaction supply chain and roll-ups are closely connected

Understanding the relationship between MEV/transaction supply chain and roll-ups is important for working on crypto infrastructure.

Decentralizing sequencers in roll-ups is a challenge

Decentralizing sequencers does not necessarily solve issues like monopolistic pricing or censorship resistance.

Governance plays a crucial role in roll-up systems

Governance determines the control over updates, selection of trusted operators, and decision-making in roll-up systems.

Centralized and decentralized sequences have their place in the roll-up ecosystem

Both centralized and decentralized sequences are used to provide good user experience and prevent monopolistic behavior.

Liquid staking offers a potential solution for roll-up governance

Liquid staking can be used to delegate the selection of validators in roll-ups, but it may not be the end game for governance.

Interoperability and shared standards are important for roll-ups

Enhanced interoperability and shared standards across different roll-ups can improve interoperation between chains.

Decentralization and governance intersect in roll-ups

Decentralization and governance are key considerations in designing roll-ups and making decisions about smart contracts.

The hosts plan to continue the podcast every two to three weeks

The podcast will continue to explore various topics related to crypto infrastructure and roll-ups on a regular basis.


  1. Introduction
  2. Writing as a Learning Tool
  3. Understanding Crypto Workflow
  4. Research and Dedication
  5. MEV, Roll-ups, and Infrastructure
  6. Challenges in Roll-up Governance
  7. Decentralization and Governance in Roll-ups
  8. Governance and Trust in Roll-ups
  9. Centralized and Decentralized Sequences
  10. Governance and Proof of Stake
  11. Liquid Staking and Roll-up Governance
  12. Roll-up Governance and Interoperability
  13. Decentralization and Governance in Roll-ups


00:00 - 07:11

  • The podcast 'Uncommon Core' is back after a long hiatus with new co-host Jon Charbonneau.
  • The focus of the podcast will be on exploring the technology and incentives that make public blockchains work, with special attention paid to MEV, blockchain security, and roll-ups.
  • The values of the podcast, including deep curiosity and intellectual honesty, will remain the same.
  • The new co-host John Chabuno is deeply passionate about understanding and improving crypto infrastructure.
  • They spend a lot of time on Twitter to find information and do research.
  • Writing is an important part of processing information for them, as it helps them understand concepts better.

Writing as a Learning Tool

06:49 - 14:23

  • The last 5% of my reports, when I send them out to others, significantly improves the quality.
  • John is a prolific technical writer in crypto and his reports reflect his thought process while exploring various topics.
  • Writing about complex topics becomes easier when you are learning it from scratch and explaining it simply.
  • Writing helps in learning and understanding the topic thoroughly.
  • AI may make writing less important, but John would still write every report the same way even if they were not read by many.
  • Reading what AI writes won't help you learn as effectively as going through the process yourself.
  • Writing is essential for thinking and structuring thoughts on any topic.
  • Building a second brain through writing notes and connecting ideas enhances brain plasticity.
  • John joined crypto in March 2022 after being an obsessive hobbyist throughout 2021.
  • Learning through writing allows for feedback loops, building a brand, and networking with others in the field.

Understanding Crypto Workflow

13:56 - 20:49

  • Understanding the workflow and process in crypto is more important than pre-existing technical knowledge.
  • Being able to focus time and resources in the right places is key to success in crypto.
  • The Ethereum report was a big project that provided comprehensive information on Ethereum, which was scattered across different sources.
  • Finding interesting new ideas in crypto is easier if you are already an expert in a specific area.
  • Outsiders can often see obvious gaps or blind spots in the crypto community's knowledge.
  • Renewal of communities and fresh blood from outside are important for bringing new perspectives into crypto.
  • The research process for articles involves extensive primary source research, ignoring other responsibilities, and diving deep into the subject matter.

Research and Dedication

20:23 - 27:09

  • When creating reports, the speaker spends a significant amount of time researching and synthesizing information.
  • They start from scratch, even looking up basic concepts like polynomials.
  • Their computer is filled with open tabs related to their research.
  • Talking to people in the field adds depth and interest to their reports.
  • The speaker's workflow has become more efficient over time, taking less time to complete reports.
  • They dedicate most of their time to a report for a week or two, then return to other responsibilities before starting on the next topic.
  • The speaker was most proud of a report they did on Ethereum that received recognition from Vitalik Buterin.
  • Crypto infrastructure encompasses several key areas including MEV/supply chain, new blockchains and their trade-offs, scaling solutions like roll-ups, and consensus and security such as staking and liquid staking.
  • These areas are interconnected and require careful consideration when working on them.
  • The speaker is currently focused on MEV/transaction supply chain due to their work with Flashbots, but all areas are closely connected.

MEV, Roll-ups, and Infrastructure

26:43 - 34:19

  • MEV/transaction supply chain and roll-ups are closely connected
  • Roll-ups need their sequencing needs met
  • Decentralizing leader election mechanism in roll-ups is a challenge
  • Flashbots is thinking about the best mechanism for roll-ups
  • Liquid-staking protocols are dominant in the staking area
  • Market dynamics of liquid staking have network effects
  • Best staking protocol should be decentralized and trustless
  • Infrastructure is important due to personal interest and innovation
  • Interest in technical aspects of infrastructure over NFTs or applications on crypto
  • Infrastructure has seen more rapid change and innovation compared to DeFi
  • Roll-ups and scaling have brought a completely new direction to infrastructure

Challenges in Roll-up Governance

33:55 - 41:04

  • The podcast discusses the need for a new consensus algorithm to make blockchain more scalable.
  • The limitations of current blockchain applications are highlighted, including lack of privacy, efficient routing, and competitive decentralized exchanges.
  • Solving problems related to MEV (Miner Extractable Value), scalability, and security is crucial for building high-quality applications in crypto.
  • Roll-ups are discussed as a topic of interest, particularly their decentralization roadmap.
  • The speaker mentions that roll-ups are still in early stages of decentralization and progress has been slower than expected.
  • Sequencer decentralization is considered less important compared to controlling contract upgrades through multi-sigs or governance mechanisms.
  • Questions regarding the right approach to contract upgradability and governance in roll-ups are raised, including considerations of token holder control and instant upgrades for bug fixes.

Decentralization and Governance in Roll-ups

40:42 - 47:26

  • The governance and control side of Rollups is a thorny question that requires attention.
  • The person or entity who controls the roll-up is more important than the exact sequencer mechanism.
  • Decentralizing the sequencer does not necessarily solve issues like monopolistic pricing or censorship resistance.
  • Constraining the powers of sequencers is crucial, even if it means having one person in control.
  • Roll-ups need to make different trade-offs on thinking about MEV compared to Ethereum.
  • Decentralizing the sequencer in a completely permissionless way is difficult and may not be necessary for most roll-ups.
  • Governance should have the power to remove malicious sequencers.
  • Trustworthy sequencers can be selected by governance, with private mempools and no front-running.

Governance and Trust in Roll-ups

47:05 - 54:14

  • Governance should have the power to remove malicious actors in roll-ups.
  • Roll-ups inherit censorship resistance from Ethereum.
  • Trusted operators can be used in roll-ups during the interim period.
  • Different chains have different requirements and goals.
  • Privacy and front-running protection are difficult on Ethereum due to high block time and geographic diversity.
  • Cosmos chains have their own validators and governance with the ability to slash misbehaving validators.
  • Roll-ups are decentralized because they post data and proofs to Ethereum.
  • Roll-ups can choose a more centralized approach if it provides benefits like improved user experience or reduced custody risk.
  • User opt-out and governance upgrades are important for ensuring trust in centralized aspects of roll-ups.

Centralized and Decentralized Sequences

53:53 - 1:00:16

  • There is a place for both centralized and decentralized sequences in the roll-up ecosystem.
  • Centralized sequences are being used early on to provide good user experience and build network effects.
  • Users can leave a roll-up if they choose, unlike with decentralized social media platforms like Twitter.
  • The ability for users to opt out keeps operators in check and prevents monopolistic behavior.
  • Having a PBS auction is important for both centralized and decentralized sequences to allow users to express their preferences.
  • Trusted mempools can be used by sequencers to keep user orders private while still allowing bidding for block positions.
  • Governance should have more power in selecting trusted operators for sequencers, ensuring geographic distribution and accountability.
  • Proof of stake without delegation tends to centralize power, while proof of governance allows intentional selection of operators.

Governance and Proof of Stake

59:50 - 1:05:58

  • Sonny tweeted that proof of stake was a mistake and suggested using governance pick instead
  • For Ethereum, relying on governance to select validators goes against the goal of being permissionless
  • For roll-ups, if they have robust governance mechanisms, there may be no need for proof of stake
  • Implementing proof of stake leads to liquid-staking tokens becoming dominant
  • The principal-agent problem arises when a third party like LIDO picks delegates for stakers
  • Dual governance, where stakers have veto rights, can mitigate the principal-agent problem
  • If most capital is delegated and slashing doesn't affect personal funds, its value is questioned
  • In the best case scenario, rollup governance picks sequencers and has veto rights over delegates
  • Questioning the need for a middle process if rollup governance can decide without staking tokens

Liquid Staking and Roll-up Governance

1:05:51 - 1:13:07

  • Liquid staking could be interesting for roll-ups as a way to delegate the selection of validators.
  • Governance in roll-ups can be challenging, and liquid staking offers a potential solution.
  • The argument that liquid staking would be the end game for roll-ups is not convincing.
  • Roll-ups already inherit decentralization from Ethereum, making them relatively trustless.
  • For chains with ambitions to become settlement layers, governance becomes more important than sequence selection.
  • Different layer two solutions have different plans and may not coordinate on implementing pre-compiles for verifying proofs.

Roll-up Governance and Interoperability

1:12:47 - 1:19:05

  • The governance of roll-up systems is more important than the number of sequencers.
  • Outsourcing governance to optimism is an interesting concept for chains.
  • Figuring out roll-up governance is a difficult problem.
  • The vision behind the super chain is to have enhanced interoperability and shared standards across different roll-ups.
  • Shared validity sequencing would tie multiple chains together as if they were one chain.
  • There is a spectrum of trade-offs in terms of shared sequencing and standards.
  • Different applications will have different needs for interoperation between roll-ups.
  • Designing roll-ups differently from Ethereum makes sense due to their different purposes.
  • Opinionated governance will likely be important for roll-ups.
  • Governance will determine the role of sequencers in roll-up systems.

Decentralization and Governance in Roll-ups

1:18:47 - 1:22:00

  • Governance will become an important topic for roll-ups to figure out.
  • Stewardship of smart contracts and control over updates are key governance considerations.
  • Decentralization and governance intersect in the context of roll-ups.
  • Roll-ups will have a smart contract that controls a significant amount of money, unlike Ethereum.
  • Contract governance will hold a lot of power and drive decisions in roll-up land.
  • Liquid-seeking protocols face challenges in marrying immutability, security, and decentralized governance.
  • There is overlap between the roadmaps of Lido and roll-ups.
  • The hosts plan to continue the podcast every two to three weeks.