A Normie’s Intro to DAOs
One BanklessDAO Members Experience Learning About Web3
Web3 — Overview
This article, and possibly series of articles, came out of me trying to explain this cool new thing I’m excited about to my dear friend Jason. You see, Jason, as wonderful as he is, is a normie. He has yet to dive into the world of web3/crypto/blockchain, or whatever the gatekeepers of this community would have you call it. This world could very likely be our future — and this is my attempt to convince you how that may actually be a good thing.
Six Months in the Making
I’ve been a part of it for all of six months now; like many, I started as a degen aping into shitcoins, but as I delved deeper I learned there is so much more to this space than flipping pengus, which is fascinating in its own way.
DeFi is disrupting the banking industry and NFTs actually have some interesting use cases, but what I’ve become most excited about is DAOs and how they’re revolutionizing the way people organize. If there’s one thing about this entire journey I want to talk to all my friends about, it’s this. And if all the acronyms in this paragraph have you scratching your head thinking, “shut up, Safder”, you’re in the right place.
The problem is, it took me months of being in the space — countless hours curating my Twitter feed, reading techy long form articles, and lurking on Discord to come to a place where I felt comfortable enough to begin talking about it IRL (In Real Life) as well as playing a more active role in some of these communities. As I’ll explain, that hasn’t been a fault of the communities themselves — which have been some of the most supportive and uplifting I’ve seen — but the steep learning curves that you have to get through to reach them. Most of the educational content I’ve found seems geared towards those already drinking the kool-aid, and/or goes too deep into technicals that aren’t useful for getting started. My goal is to make that less of a barrier, blur the lines between “web2” and “web3”, and bridge people over.
Back to our topic for this edition of “A Normie’s Intro to Web3”. DAO stands for Decentralized Autonomous Organization. Decentralized as in they are not controlled by any single individual or group (this doesn’t mean they can’t have hierarchies), and autonomous because they are most often governed by pieces of code called “Smart Contracts”. To me, what differentiates DAOs from something like a co-op (which is the closest analogy I can think of) are these Smart Contracts, which allows them to be, among other things:
a) Trustless — the code is final and there aren’t any intermediaries that can block things from going through once the community has voted on them, and
b) Transparent — because all transactions are on a public blockchain (ledger), everyone, even those outside the community, can see in real-time how the DAO is receiving and spending the funds in its treasury.
The potential this has to create communities that are open and accountable to their members cannot be overstated. In addition, these communities often have their own “social tokens” that can be used for governance (i.e. holding the token allows you to vote on certain decisions), and as a framework for incentivizing contributions from members. There is currently tons of money floating around in this space; no matter what your interests and skills are, you can probably find a way to contribute to a DAO and get compensated for it.
Like any form of organization, DAOs exist to serve a variety of different purposes and communities. There are DAOs that function like member-owned venture capital funds investing in NFTs and/or blockchain apps, ones that are creating carbon economies to promote carbon removal, and even ones that are trying to build a city, or buy the constitution or an NBA team. I’ll leave it up to you to discover the scope of what’s out there, but a few I feel inspired by include:
From their Twitter page, “BanklessDAO is a decentralized community with one mission: Help the world #gobankless.” In practice, this looks like building a community around encouraging blockchain development and bringing it to the mainstream, particularly to unbanked populations. The community is divided into “guilds”, which are essentially talent pools.
Projects are created by the community, voted upon, and executed by sourcing talent from different guilds to create products. Bankless Academy is an example of a project that combines Writing, Design, A/V, Software Development, and other guilds to create educational products. They also frequently host calls on topics from diversity to mental health to working groups for the various guilds, which are a great way to start building connections within the DAO.
Dream DAO is an intergenerational initiative by Civics Unplugged that aims to equip the next generation of civic leaders and innovators with the power of blockchain technology. They have an excellent whitepaper explaining how they plan to do this; the novel governance structure and other models being proposed could shape the future of the web3 x social impact org space.
Membership to the DAO requires purchasing an NFT (proceeds of which go to the DAO treasury), which then allows you to start contributing to a number of different working groups, from design to community to fundraising. Being the product of an already thriving organization, this DAO also demonstrates how existing projects could benefit from incorporating web3 strategies into their operational framework.
Future Foundation helps social impact organizations leverage web3 to amplify their respective missions. They are focused on creating new ways to raise and distribute funds, utilizing the technology that blockchains enable. Future Foundation has a lively Discord where you can follow along on some interesting web3 x social impact conversations, and also host regular community calls.
They’ve also curated this great list of examples of social impact organizations in the web3 space — great place to start your deep dive!
If I could restart my web3 journey, one thing I would do differently would be to start with DAOs. To me, community is what makes any project/space/idea worth getting excited about, and the communities I’m seeing form around DAOs are some of the most cohesive and supportive ones you can find. They’re buzzing with positive energy, and through their various incentive mechanisms, they’ve found a way to greatly increase member engagement — one of the things that’s often most challenging with other ways of organizing.
3 Steps to Starting With DAOs — 1. Create Twitter Account 2. Create Discord Handle 3. Participate
As far as getting started with a DAO is concerned, I recommend the following:
- Create a Twitter account if you don’t already have one, and start following thought leaders and DAOs in your areas of interest. See who they’re retweeting/engaging with and this will help you find others in the space. Twitter seems to be a big part of web3; I created one just for this (give me a follow! @safderwords).
- Create a Discord handle, and start joining some of the DAOs you’re interested in. Do a vibe-check by just lurking for a few days — if they’re not having discussions that inspire you, move on to the next one. Get a lay of the land on how work is done in the group. If your DAO is listed on Snapshot.org, you can see what kinds of decisions the members are voting on. There are often “bounty boards” you can start with, which are lists of outstanding (usually simple) tasks that need to be completed. I usually spend a few days to a week on this.
- Become an active contributor by introducing yourself, and include what skills you bring and how you’d like to get involved. I’ve had some excellent conversations with people I met through these introductions! You can also join meetings — most DAOs will have at least a weekly meeting that gives newcomers an opportunity to introduce themselves and ask questions.
Really, this is about as far as I’ve gotten in my journey, and it’s been enough to make me feel incredibly excited about all the opportunities that have opened up. The most important thing I’ve learned in this space is that if you give out positive energy, the community will return it tenfold in the form of support, engagement with your ideas, and even mentorship. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
DAOs — The Future is Bright
I believe that DAOs — along with some of the other things web3 makes possible — are the future, and it’s up to us to ensure that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. Once you’re able to look past the mainstream rhetoric of “bad for the environment”/“ponzi scheme”, you’ll find that there is truly exceptional work being done here. I see this as an opportunity to have a say in the future of organization — social, corporate, and even political — and we have a chance to make sure that this future is diverse, sustainable, and accessible to all.
Saf is a crypto newbie who is interested in creating diverse and sustainable communities in the web3 space. Thanks to AceBeautii and Cheetah, editors at BanklessDAO.
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