What is Kusama? Polkadot’s Canary Network Explained

Polkadot has undoubtedly become one of the more popular projects in the cryptocurrency field.  However, one of the most innovative aspects of its ecosystem is Kusama, Polkadot’s canary network. While new blockchain projects can seem extremely repetitive and derivative, Kusama stands out as it is genuinely useful. This guide aims to answer some of the following questions about Kusama: What it is, what it can do, and what risks are inherent with a canary network. Overview of Kusama Before we dive in, we need to establish two key items:  Polkadot and a “canary network.” To recap, Polkadot (DOT) is a blockchain network that: Connects blockchains to each other Enables users to easily build a blockchain with their Substrate framework Hosts blockchains, handling their security and transactions Bridges blockchains on Polkadot with other networks such as Ethereum and Bitcoin Next, the term “canary network.”  The name stems from the term “canary in a coal mine.”  Miners used to carry canaries with them into the mine because the birds would sing in their cages and stop signing if there was a dangerous gas leak and they died. They acted as an early warning to the miners and alerting them of danger. Kusama performs the same function as a virtual copy of Polkadot, allowing the most realistic testing environment possible for blockchain projects.  The good news is, Kusama acts as a “canary network” without actually harming any birds. Photo by Jelle Taman on Unsplash Features of Kusama Kusama has several obvious features but also acts as its ecosystem within the larger Polkadot ecosystem. The biggest one is its nearly identical resemblance to the Polkadot architecture and structure. It acts as a testnet, but the term doesn’t quite cover the level of testing projects can conduct before launching their parachains on Polkadot. Kusama is continuously battle-testing not just the various projects on it but the ecosystem itself.  It is always one step ahead of Polkadot, trying out new features that the latter would like to eventually deploy once the kinks are worked out, providing the team with a vehicle that allows them to be much…

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