Crypto NYC Hosts Common Interest

Crypto NYC hosted Common Interest for our weekly lunch on Tuesday, June 26th. Every Tuesday Crypto NYC hosts a member of the community to give a lunchtime presentation of their project. Tarrence van As, one of the co-founders of Common Interest, presented the project at Crypto NYC’s office in TriBeCa, with roughly twenty-five attendees from across the blockchain community. Common Interest, a platform which harnesses the power of the blockchain to catalyze and grow decentralized communities, was founded roughly six months ago by van As and Franz Tschimben.

Van As and Tschimben met in Seoul in 2012 while they were both working for Samsung. They shared an interest in blockchain technologies and the emerging cryptocurrency ecosystem and stayed friends after leaving Samsung.

The pair launched Common Interest approximately six months ago. Common Interest raised an initial seed round from two investors, and the pair has been at work since then building out their platform. Van As and Tschimben expect to have an alpha version of the platform available in two months.

Van As credited three events with prompting the founding of Common Interest. The first event was the launch of Bitcoin, the second event was the emergence of Dogecoin, and the third, the fork of Ethereum and Ethereum Classic. In each of these cases van As and Tschimben saw how blockchain is an expression of a belief system. Bitcoin’s Austrian economic and libertarian ideologies powered its adoption, Dogecoin was an expression of meme-based culture, and the Ethereum and Ethereum classic fork was driven by ideology and beliefs, not technology.

“The Ethereum Classic fork was entirely an ideological fork, it wasn’t based on technical parameters. It was about the ethics of the people involved,” van As elaborated.

The blockchain allowed these shared beliefs to express themselves in the real world. The Common Interest platform will bring this power to a broader group by building a simple point and click interface, allowing non-technical users to create and participate in decentralized communities.

“Cryptocurrencies are a vessel for the perpetuation of ideologies … Common Interest is a way to apply that dynamic to any community, to communities that exist outside of the blockchain world… where the values aren’t necessarily encoded in a protocol, but in a social consensus,” explained van As.

Common Interest will be organized around decentralized communities, each centered around a set of interests, goals, and values. While the exact mechanism for organizing communities is still being established, van As envisions each group creating a charter that outlines the groups values and mission.

Once a community has been created, members of the community will be responsible for maintaining and growing the community. Group members will oversee and vet new member applications and set goals and tasks that can be completed by the group. Each community will issue its own unique token, which will be used to regulate and incentivize the group.

Common Interest uses a Token Curated Registry to manage communities. To join a group, an applicant must purchase that group’s token. The applicant can then apply to join the group, staking tokens on their application as a deposit. If the applicant is approved by the group they become a member, if rejected the deposit is redistributed to participants doing the curation. This mechanism will discourage spam applications and will incentivize each community to be diligent in curating its membership.

Each community can set goals for its members and reward them with community tokens. Community members can decide to reward the completion of goals using tokens already held by the existing community or instead to generate new coins via inflation to compensate community participants for goal completion.

Goals can be discreet actions, which would be directly funded by an individual or subset of individuals in the group. Goals can also be ongoing processes based around growing or improving the community.

“Any individual can propose a task that they think would increase the value of the community … community members get to decide whether or not that task gets added to the approved task lists, and those tasks can be parametrized to suit the community’s needs,” said van As.

While each community would be free to set its own incentive structure, van As envisions that most communities would elect to use inflation based compensation for the completion of goals that improve the infrastructure of the community. Paying for task completion via inflation-generated tokens would allow these costs to be amortized across the entire community. Through this mechanism, existing token holders would suffer from inflation as their stakes are devalued, but this devaluation would be offset by an increase of the value of the community.

Van As envisions Common Interest as being useful for a variety of organizations but highlighted three areas where Common Interest’s model would be a natural fit: credentialing services, regulatory or self-regulatory bodies, and cultural movements. These types of organizations have typically been hierarchical and centralized, structured similarly to a typical for-profit institutions. Decentralized communities can incentivize all members to participate directly in their organization’s mission, whereas existing top-down structures typically limit member participation to donating funds.

In line with TCR best practice, each community’s token will be traded along a bonding curve with a smart contract acting as an internal market maker to provide liquidity to token holders. As the community improves, the demand for the token increases, and the token appreciates in price. Common Interest will allow communities to decide on the structure of their bonding curve, thus experimenting with different monetary policies.

Questions were raised regarding the policing of content in decentralized communities. Common Interest will use a “community of communities” structure to police unwanted content. Similar to how each member of a community needs to apply and be vetted to join, each new community needs to be approved by the community of communities to begin operating. This type of decentralized community-based policing, along with the deposit required to start a new community, will discourage malicious actors from joining Common Interest. Van As will collaborate with and share updates with the community over the next few months. If you’re interested in hearing more sign up at http://commoninterest.io.

Every Tuesday Crypto NYC hosts a lunch at our office in Tribeca. The goal of the lunches is to allow builders in the community to showcase their blockchain projects, and to allow community members to come and learn about interesting projects. The lunches are brown-bag, you bring your lunch, we will provide the coffee! You can register for our lunches here.

We won’t be holding our weekly lunch next week due to the July Fourth holiday. Lunches will resume the week after. Register for the event, and follow our Medium account for more updates on Crypto NYC!