We wanted to start a conversation here about Govbase, an open database of projects, tools, and case studies in online governance. Many of the details about it can be found in the Medium article “Introducing Govbase.” Currently, it is designed for researchers in governance and blockchains, but anyone can access and use it here:
(Airtable - Govbase).
In this post, we wanted to share a bit about our plans over the next few months, explore a few possible use-cases for Govbase in industry and research, and discuss a few of the open questions we’ve been thinking about. This post is the first in a series; we’ll be posting updates and thoughts in this thread+forum over the next few months. We would love to hear your comments!
Over the next few months, we will:
1. Collect data and begin work on a front-end website
2. Release a public “standard” following the Metagov format and present our new entity-decision data model
3. Draft an anthropology paper, “Ethnography of Governance Models in Blockchain,” that will implement Govbase’s data sets to construct analysis
4. Publish a front-end website and begin a marketing campaign
5. Plan a presentation describing a publication pipeline that communities and practitioners can use to publish their governance systems to Govbase
6. Report on results of marketing campaign
Exploring some use-cases:
Govbase is a data warehouse that contains many subsidiary data sets. Different projects (e.g. Cryptogov, Metaethnography, Governance Archaeology, and soon the anthropology paper described above) will use it for different purposes.
One example: Ethnographers can use Govbase to conduct a cross-comparative analysis between Web2 and Web3 governance models and infrastructures by examining the tools and projects different organizations use for governance. Another use-case: Govbase also serves as a historical reference for cataloging and understanding trends in online governance, or for understanding the history of a particular community you are interested in studying or joining. The Cases table of Govbase, for example, catalogs significant events in the history of online governance by capturing qualitative and quantitative data on a wide range of events that have had implications for community governance.
You can also use some of Govbase’s datasets to analyze the extent to which structures in Web3 are decentralized and how they can be applied to facilitate greater trust in Web3. Govbase is also designed to enable researchers to share and cross compare ethnographic data on various online communities, thus allowing contributions to the canon of data on decentralized governance and enabling stronger, collective research efforts to better understand this field.
On the technical side, Govbase can help developers interested in token engineering and DAOs (but who may lack the technical skills) to be able to perform the kind of computational modelling workflows that are usually dominant in algorithm design. It can also provide an efficient mechanism for members to contribute to the governance design and documentation of an organization or a commons.
Govbase is a work in progress, and we’re actively developing it in order to make it more useful to people in the wider community. Here are some key questions we’re considering as we work on it:
- What is the best way of representing governance in online communities?
- What do we gain from better data and better representations of governance?
- How can we make Govbase more accessible to researchers in industry and academia?
- How do we make it easier for projects to contribute data to Govbase?
- What data sets do we need to wrangle in order to build a good decentralization metric?
- Is a better metric even necessary, or is Are We Decentralized Yet enough?
Do you an idea about how to use Govbase, or do you want to use it for a specific research project? Let us know how we can help.
Ann and Josh