Dashboards for decentralised finance, such as the first result on Google for “DeFi”, display and rank protocols by a metric called “Total Value Locked”, which is measured as the amount of tokens locked in the smart contracts or blockchain of the protocol in question multiplied by the current exchange rate of the token against a fiat currency, most commonly USD. Protocols usually compete for TVL with some mix of printing tokens in return for locking other tokens in the protocol (increasing the multiplicand of locked token amount) and content marketing and memetic engineering (increasing demand and thus the multiplier of fiat price). Implicit in the metric of TVL (total value locked), the competition to maximise it, and the broad structure of the decentralised finance ecosystem alike is this assumption that value can be measured and homogenised by price. This assumption is false, and its deep permeation is evidence that the web3 ecosystem has been largely coopted by the very incentive structures which it was originally designed to oppose.
Why develop distributed ledgers1?