This is new to everybody. That’s a challenge to us, but there are also interesting opportunities.”

ICONSENSUS is a voyage that boldly goes where no blockchain project has gone before.

It can be a rough trip at times, but as ICONLOOP director of public affairs Josh Choi points out, challenging endeavors bring opportunities, too.

Choi is a member of a five-person task force assigned with overseeing the P-Rep campaign, the first step of ICONSENSUS, ICON’s process for transforming itself into a truly decentralized network. ICONists will select through their stakes the nodes that will host and largely govern the network. It’s a milestone full of symbolism. ICONSENSUS means the agreement of the ICONists, says Ha Bong An, the project manager of the P-rep campaign and the de-facto head of the task force. The election of the P-Reps is done through the agreement of many ICONists.”

All hands on deck

ICON’s P-rep task force brings together a healthy mix of skill sets. Ha drew up the campaign’s logistics and mechanics and manages the overall projects. Choi, meanwhile, focuses on promoting the P-Rep campaign globally in order to find “really capable and reliable” candidates. Communications specialist Kim Hye-jin handles the important task of explaining to the community what the task force is doing and why it’s important. Another member does the paperwork, including drawing up proposals. The remaining one assists Choi with global business.

The team meets every morning for quick, 10-15 minute-long standing meetings. The meetings are free, informal and crucially important. “These days, many tasks should be done on a daily basis,” says Choi. “So we really want to update each other. We don’t want anyone to miss out.”

Five people alone cannot handle something as big as the P-Rep campaign. Their colleagues at ICX_Station in San Francisco have been doing much of the grunt work in the United States, meeting with potential candidates and expanding business. When the task force has major updates to report, important decision makers – sometimes including ICON’s senior management – take part in the discussions.

Choi says, This is a foundation-focused project in which everybody should be more or less involved because it’s a core essence of the decentralized network we want to build.”

Turning over command

The ultimate goal of the election is to select 22 main nodes and many more sub nodes. Those nodes would assume from the ICON Foundation the role of service provider for the network.

In all, the task force would like to see about 100 candidates. “We are talking to three to four potential P-Rep candidate teams on a daily basis,” says Ha. “When the election time comes closer, more candidates will register.”

Ideally, ICON would love all the candidates to be unsolicited volunteers. However, while ICON may be Korea’s best regarded blockchain company, it is still relatively unknown overseas, especially in Europe and emerging markets. Choi says that in these areas, the committee makes outreach efforts. “Sometimes it’s like finding a needle in a haystack to be honest, he says. You have to really research on the web and social media to see and identify who might be interested.”

Outreach efforts include sounding out entities that might wish to become a P-Rep, including cryptocurrency exchanges, developer communities and university computer labs.

Needless to say, potential candidates frequently ask about compensation – it’s not cheap running a node after all, either in terms of money or time. But they also ask about the long-term potential of the network.

“It seems [potential candidates] want to know about rewards and the potential of the ICON network, says Ha. “Because becoming a P-rep isn’t just about running a node. It’s investing in the ecosystem, entering it, becoming one with it.”

Learning as part of the job

As they scour the globe in search of a few good nodes, task force members find they learn a lot from the people with whom they talk. In fact, this is one of the most rewarding parts of the job. Ha says, “Meeting with various people who could have an interest in the ICON network and become a P-rep, directly getting feedback on the economy, on governance – I think it’s good that we can get so much feedback on the development of the network.”

Choi adds that some of the candidates or would-be candidates have experience running nodes for other platforms. “They know the reality of running a node and provide invaluable resources and opinions,” he says.

This is particularly helpful to a project like ICON. “ICONLOOP’s business is very much focused on the Korean market, but [ICON’s public blockchain network] should be truly global,” says Choi. “Meeting with global candidates who are in blockchain ecosystems very different from Korea and have very different perspectives on public networks and business environments has been very good.”

Unchartered territory

A decentralized public network is the blockchain dream. A dream many projects are heading into uncharted territory to pursue. “It means that you have to find the way to do it,” says Choi. “In your mind, you think maybe something will work, so you design it and expect other people to react to the model you developed. But sometimes it doesn’t work like we expected. So you have to improve and adjust and keep on doing that.”

“Internally, we are now on a process we’ve never tried. It’s a new road,” he adds. “So we still have to learn a lot from other platforms.”

Still, the process is a potentially rewarding one. ICON is faced with options as to how it should move forward. To do those things, Ha explains, it should build fundamentals. By selecting the P-Reps, this allows for the building of more ecosystems, greatly enriching the network.

And since ICON is open source, says Ha, the bigger the community, the better. He says, “One of the P-Reps’ most important roles is to build the community, to build the ecosystem.”