In our work on Kiva Protocol, we wrestled with a number of key issues, ranging from our technical design choices, to our ecosystem-building approach, to the ethical considerations of "do no harm" and mitigation of potential negative usage of the system. Here we summarize some of these in the hopes they might be useful to the communities of practice in which we operate.
New technologies, particularly those that are open source and open standard, can be very attractive for different reasons, including drawing targeted funding, contributing to an innovation story, reducing certain development costs, and increasing attractiveness to customers who don’t want vendor lock-in. However, leveraging emergent tech also introduces new costs and vulnerabilities, particularly where core infrastructure has not yet been battle-tested for security, scale, and usability. Open source work can also move very slowly and requires proactive investment of staff time to participate in draft development and community calls.
Come back to your customer/user/stakeholders immediate needs in the context of their goals, and then work backwards to the minimum critical technologies-including emergent and open-source technologies-that will meet those needs.
Take the time up front to evaluate the potential value and risks of core tech. Helpful questions to ask include: