ROTW: Y Combinator's Handshake Deal Protocol

Interesting question about the relationship between protocols and path dependence. I think we can reasonably extend the statement “all models are wrong” to also apply to frameworks and protocols:

All models are false; all frameworks and protocols are provisional.

Protocols often emerge from and contribute to path dependence. They are both a product and a perpetuator of the historical and contextual pathways that have shaped them. This dynamic can result in cultural and technological lock-in, even when more advanced alternatives are available.

In other instances, protocols are deliberately designed or revised to break away from inefficient or outdated path dependencies, thereby introducing new pathways or possibilities. This aspect of protocols aligns with the idea that all frameworks and protocols are provisional and subject to change based on new information, insights, or changing conditions.

Protocolization represents an attempt to codify current shared knowledge, best practices, and procedural standards. Recognising the contingency and fallibility inherent in any such process acknowledges that today’s protocols may require future revision, updates, or even replacement as understanding evolves.

Similarly, deprotocolization shows a willingness to adapt and reform protocols in response to changing conditions and new evidence. Thus, both protocolization and deprotocolization demand epistemic humility to be pursued responsibly and effectively.