Engineering Communities — A New Member’s Perspective

My interest in Web 3.0 is not about amassing a fleet of Lamborghinis or finding the next ‘Bitcoin’. I am interested in the phenomena of trustless peer-to-peer systems and how these innovations offer a method for vastly improved human coordination. What I find most compelling is the social perspective, reducing the trust required to perform collective actions.

Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) are one use-case for decentralized technologies. DAOs enable digital communities novel ways to coordinate and manage shared resources. That is what first attracted me to this space and why I stay involved. My involvement has given me perspective from watching new DAOs form and from seeing the obstacles that accompany their creation and the continuation of their operations.

DAOs can help to coordinate the “wisdom of the crowd.”

One of the biggest challenges facing DAOs is the retention of community members. As someone who has now participated in many DAOs, both as a prospective and full member, I have seen many skilled and passionate people enter and exit communities because of the lack of clear paths toward participation and belonging. Early DAOs are suffering from the very thing they have set out to solve.

During my pursuit of better understanding the retention challenge, I came across the Token Engineering Commons (TEC). The TEC is dedicated to funding and supporting open source projects that advance the discipline of token engineering. They can be tools, research, education or publicity. The TEC is the first field deployment of the combined culture and technology stack of Commons Stack, the non-profit organization that is on a mission to realign incentives around public goods. Both organizations are impact-focused and not profit seeking.

While the TEC mission is important and the development of these digital public infrastructures will create significant public value, what really stands out are how values are embedded within the TEC community itself. When you wander into any random conversation on their Discord server or read a thread on their Forum, you feel an emphasis on ‘mission’ and ‘values’. This is because the TEC is highly focused on developing their cultural build, alongside the technical build.

The welcoming TEC Community

There are two other characteristics that separate the TEC from other DAOs.

First, there is a noted effort to create paths of participation for individuals who seek to apply these new technologies for the benefit of our society and our planet. Whether you are a smart-contract developer, an economist, a single-parent, high school student or a speculator with an insane amount of DOGE coin — there are ways to get involved with the TEC, learn about their mission and contribute your mind or capital to causes that are aligned with your values.

Second, this community actively puts the principles of decentralization into practice. Decentralization is difficult for many digital organizations because we as individuals are conditioned to think and act within a centralized context. That has been all of our experience up to now. As a new member of the TEC, I was presented with the task of writing this article — not because I’m a good writer or that there was something tangible to be gained from it, but rather as an opportunity for me to explore how I can best contribute to the TEC mission which aligns with my values and pursuits. The act of practicing new forms of decentralized coordination is an incredible building-block for scaling digital communities.

The TEC community is being developed in a holistic manner which places a priority around designing the whole system rather than the parts of the system. This is evident within community functions which are organized in a collaborative manner, creating opportunity for many perspectives to be acknowledged in an effort to establish social consensus around organizational processes, culture, and access. The benefit of decentralization within organizations is the ability to harness the skills and perspectives of a large number of community members that would otherwise be absent or lie dormant within traditional organizations.

There is real progress being made within the TEC to develop a framework for how decentralized communities can organize effectively and serve as a catalyst for positive change in the world.

The TEC is setting out to develop both the technical and social infrastructures required for digital communities to expand their capabilities and grow their membership. I wouldn’t say there is a lot of hype around the TEC yet… but there will be. All minds are welcome.

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Nathan Suits

Nathan Suits

M.P.A./Geology/Political-Science/Microscopy. I am many things to many people, but I am first and foremost a student of the world. Education Matters.