Cardano for the Masses Read-a-Long Ch 4

We’re reading the latest edition of Cardano for the Masses and want to encourage community participation by doing a read-along.

After introducing the basics of blockchain, Cardano, and Proof-of-Stake in chapters 1-3 of Cardano for the Masses, author John Greene turns his attention to the “eras” of Cardano roadmap. Each named for an interesting historical figure, the eras represent the planned milestones of Cardano’s development plan, and they make a neat organizational structure for the book’s next chapters. The book skips over the first era, Byron, which represented Cardano’s launch and its first years as a newborn network, still largely dependent on its centralized progenitors. Chapter 4 jumps straight to the second era, Shelley, when network growth and development led to newfound independence and excitement for the budding blockchain.

When discussing the Shelley era, most sources focus on the theme of “Decentralization”. Shelley debuted the public staking and reward systems that incentivized thousands of people around the world to get personally involved with the project. Author Greene makes a striking choice to put his survey of the Shelley era into a slightly different frame: Consensus. The angle here is that before decentralization can happen, there has to be a plan for how decentralized entities will maintain agreement about what is true, and what should happen next, and who is in charge of doing it. In blockchain, that plan is called a “consensus protocol”. In Cardano, the consensus protocol is named “Ouroboros.”

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