This episode of SCRF Interviews is the second in a mini-series focused on DAO Star One, a “new alliance of DAO builders racing to build standards that will realize the promise of this emerging technology.” Featuring interviews with Gnosis Guild founder Kei Kreutler and Blockcscience founder Michael Zargham. Hosted by Eugene Leventhal, head of operations at the Smart Contract Research Forum.
- What does it mean to ask an organization like a DAO basic constitutive questions like who are you? What is an organization’s collective identity? If an organization can’t answer questions about its basic identity, membership and other aspects, then the scalable, organization-level collaboration that DAOs are supposed to facilitate becomes nearly impossible.
- Moving up a level, developing tooling for DAOs is as much a process of pattern creation as it is interoperability. DAOs need a persistent language of functional primitives to describe issues and solutions within their communities.
- Creating a culture of standardization will help communities communicate who they are to one another, attract supportive communities around them, and focus on their missions.
One of MetaGov’s projects, Govbase, was trying to figure out how groups of people actually governed themselves within DAOs and other web3 organizations when they realized they had a problem gathering data. “Turns out you can’t really expect an organization to do what a human or piece of software would do when you ask, ‘who are you?’” says Michael Zargham.
Zargham was left with a database filled with incomplete and rapidly expiring data, and no easy way to maintain it. Creating the DAO Star One standard allows organizations to self-report in a high-fidelity, accurate way. This solved the data collection problem, and a more important one too.
“If any organization can’t communicate who they are to simple request,” says Zargham, “Then how you expect people to find it, join it, or for other institutions to connect with it?” Organization-level communications and collaborations can’t happen without a trustworthy way of answering those basic questions.
The DAO Star One strike team developed a set of primitives, behavior, referring to the actions taken by the smart contract within a DAO, and membership, referring to the people who control the smart contract. They also developed the concepts proposals, referring to how the membership can influence the smart contract, and an activity log of what had been done. It was as minimal as possible to avoid constraining future definitions of what a DAO might become while still allowing software interoperability.
Developing tooling for DAOs requires more than interoperability and a way to understand the primitives defining what a DAO is. Kei Kreutler is working on a collection of tools for DAOs called Zodiac. The name is a nod to astrological constellations, and the clusters of characteristics and mythologies they represent.
Pattern languages are a concept borrowed from architecture. A basic problem like lighting and a programmatic solution that can be used to solve it, like sunlight falling on two walls within a space.
“We wanted to take this idea into the DAO space in a wiki format,” says Kreutler. “To create a shared vernacular for DAOs. Patterns have an aural, mnemonic quality that is almost as important as their interoperability.”
She points to a common example in DAOs. At a certain point, multisig signers often become a bottleneck for a community or a community being forced to trust signers to execute transactions. “One pattern could be called a ‘community sig,’ where you implement a mod that allows anyone to implement a transaction,” says Kreutler.
Zargham sees value particular value in this idea of analyzing DAOs in terms of patterns. “This idea of sub assemblages of one or two patterns might become sufficiently common that they become immediately recognizable and people begin to associate certain pairings with certain cultures.”
Certain subcultures might prefer to use a multisignature wallets, for example, while others might prefer a committee approach to sharing resources. Pattern recognition would allow subcultures to be instantly recognizable without overdefining what a DAO is before the ecosystem has a chance to really develop, while retaining enough standardization to write software capable of interoperability.
There remain fundamental rules outside of technology that govern DAOs whose effects also need to be explored. Does Dunbar’s number still apply?