Genesis DAO Community Blog #1

October 17th, 2018

Welcome to the first entry in the Genesis Community Blog! The Genesis DAO is DAOstack’s native decentralized organization, currently running as an alpha on the Ethereum mainnet using DAOstack’s app Alchemy.

This feature will be a recurring digest featuring the contributions of participants in the Genesis DAO, which at this point include DAOstack’s staff and official early-adopter community known as the Pollinators, but will soon open up to a wider group.

The Genesis Community Blog project was created by the passing of a proposal to the Genesis DAO within Alchemy.

We are pleased to present here the first three pieces in the series.

My Experiences as a Pollinator with DAOStack

by Yannick Hoffmann

When I first found DAOstack during my research for my master thesis, I was blown away by the possible uses of such a project. I found the project because I was interested in solutions that tackle problems in large-scale decision making, and I was very new to the blockchain technology and projects. Erik invited me to connect with other researchers and promised I would meet an “interesting collection of individuals…” and this turned out to be true in a very positive sense.

After a few quiet weeks from my side (since I had to write my thesis etc.), I began taking part in the weekly Genesis DAO calls, and one thing led to another. Ezra asked me if I would be keen to run a proposal and make it happen. Of course, I was very up for it, and a few days later, the proposal was ready and uploaded on “Alchemy,” the first D-App built on top of DAOStack for budget and resource allocation.

After three days, the proposal went through, and it was accepted. That meant I got the budget allocated to my wallet and was able to start my work. There I was: from knowing nothing about blockchain and DAOs at the beginning of the year to getting paid in cryptocurrencies from a DAO in order to bring forward an amazing project with amazing people. I went around and told everybody I thought could understand about the DAOStack project, and that I got paid in cryptocurrencies. Responses varied from “What is a cryptocurrency?” to “So, it might be worth nothing tomorrow?” to “How do you even tax that?” (looking at you my fellow Germans), and those questions were important feedback for me and DAOStack since they apply to everyone taking part.

Lucky enough, I was able to attend the Berlin Blockchain Week. There, in the first-ever event to be funded by a DAO, I met many of the team that I just knew from the weekly Genesis calls. It was exciting to meet the “interesting collection of individuals” in person and I could not have asked for a better first meeting of “our” DAO. I could not say it better than Pat, who said something like, “I think I have never been in a room together with so many intelligent people.”

I can tell you working for a DAO and being part of the pollinators of DAOStack is a thrilling and new experience I never thought I would have. The verdict on the outcome of my work is still yet to come from the DAO, but I can just encourage everyone to get involved and try this new form of organisational structure, which I believe will be a great alternative to existing systems.

Storytelling Matters

by Erik Rodrigues

One of the topics that fascinates me the most regarding the DAO universe is storytelling, which is how a DAO curates (and casts) its narratives and how the collective agreement of shared perspectives influences the behavior of the community. One of the aspects of DAO storytelling that I’d like to highlight here is the role of off-chain inputs (like this very Community Blog piece) in DAO governance and how it’s deeply connected with attention scarcity and on-chain decision-making inputs. Basically, any activity happening in the DAO (voting, staking, creating proposals and so on) tells a story about perspectives the agents hold, their sense-making of “what is.”

For an example, a proposal to approve some kind of work for the DAO is built upon perspectives the agent holds, perspectives which are constantly evolving as this agent is exposed to off-chain inputs (thoughts, theories, 3rd party data analysis, personal experiences by others, etc…) and on-chain history (voting and staking statistics, fund allocations, etc…). It’s more likely that agents with greater attention bandwidth will be able to have more autonomy over their own sense-making of the data surrounding the DAO, and this agent will be more likely to participate in the DAO as well. Agents who have less attention bandwidth will be more likely to import existing perspectives created by highly engaged participants and follow their steps. Since there’s not a centralized party making decisions on behalf of the community, there’s also not a central narrative (a single sovereign perspective) orienting what gets done. Instead, there is a landscape of competing narratives driven by the crypto-economic game that incentivizes agents to participate in the DAO.

So when the DAO signals (through staking) which proposals should or should not pass and then votes on which proposals should pass, it also reveals the ruling narratives orienting its agents — it reveals its belief system. This creates a case for agents to agree on literal perspectives (instead of the invisible ones abstracted by the events that happen in the DAO), so that the beliefs agreed upon help orient the DAO’s collective action, allowing agents with less bandwidth to import perspectives at reduced cost, since those perspectives will be outlined by mechanisms not unlike the bounty offered for submissions to this Community Blog. This layer of belief is intermediary between the blockchain and the decision-making layer, and it will help the community to educate itself about what’s going on and what needs to get done. Therefore, developing more sophisticated mechanisms for the community to reduce its information asymmetry is crucial for high engagement between agents, for pre-agreement over high-level strategic outlines the community intends to follow (decentralized planning if you will), and for the community to achieve independence (as it matures) over the current sovereign narrative ruling the DAO’s direction at any present moment.

We Have to Talk about Flow Control

Tendencies that can turn a decentralized organisation into just a badly centralized one.

by Felipe Duarte

What am I calling flow control? Flow control is the voluntary maximization of information asymmetry, permanent or temporary, to seize an opportunity.

The higher the stake an agent has in a system, the more likely he is to hold information on its processes and history, the more he’s prone to desire considerable authorship over its visions for the future. Whenever such a well informed agent feels there’s a positive opportunity to bring these visions to life or a chance to keep other agents from manifesting a competing narrative, there will be the temptation to purposefully control the information flow.

The more useful and present in decision making an agent is, the more peer-approved contributions the agent accumulates, the more opportunities will come about to maximize information asymmetry, decreasing ‘agency clarity’ for other agents. The more incentives align as to reward this practice ubiquitously, the more we favour the emergence of gatekeepers so strong that the necessity to win over their approval might stifle generosity, trust, and collaborative innovation in the system.

The presence of financial incentives is not the only trigger for this instinct. All chances to earn power and privilege will trigger this response in individuals. The more we are able to spot it, design against it, on and off-chain, the more distributed the organisation will become. Not all manifestations of flow control are necessarily malevolent by nature or intention. But it felt to me that this needed a name.

We’re likely to be at both sides of this equation multiples times per day during our lives, and flow control is the norm rather then the exception in centralized organisations, job relations, nuclear families, and romantic relationships. It’s the excess of its manifestation that turns culture toxic. It might lead agents to walk on eggshells, forgoing autonomy for safety. In its complete absence, an army would not be possible, and in its absolute presence, we’ve witnessed humanity in its most horrendous.

True friendships are the sort of bond that can only thrive in emotional environments of low flow control. As soon as mistrust seeps into the system, when instances of the practice come to light — gone is the spontaneity, joy, and the true potential for the development of a sensation of support and belonging. It’s up to us to design for generosity and spontaneous creation.

Don’t worry. Collaboration and competition are two incomplete attempts at naming something bigger and more mysterious. We should be fine. But at some point, we might have to talk about flow control.

For a more in depth discussion, please refer to the “DAO Defense Protocol.”

Learn more and get involved with DAOstack/the Genesis DAO:

  • Interested in joining our official early adopter community and participating in the Genesis DAO? Email our Pollinators program coordinator.
  • Part of an organization interested in funding a pilot DAO or building on DAOstack? Connect with us here.
  • Experience Alchemy, DAOstack’s first Dapp, currently live (in alpha) and in use on the Ethereum mainnet
  • Check out and/or follow the DAOstack Github, or jump into the stack with our friendly Hacker’s Kit.
  • Follow DAOstack on Medium, Twitter, or any of the other channels you’ll find on our website.