Making sense of DAOs
Jan 12, 2022

Over the holidays, I wanted to understand the big new paradigms that blockchains offer. Sure, there’s a lot of hype, but having glipsed the epicenter of a few new paradigms before, I figured there’s probably something truly new and useful happening… so how to see passed my current lens to understand that?

I read a stack of whitepapers and thought leaders (Vitalik Buterin, Other Internet, Olympus…), and lessons learned shared which coordination practices actually work (MakerDAO, Uniswap, Moloch). After reading these original thinkers and makers, rather than the hypey content machine, a lot got clearer.

But it was still confusing so to clarify my thinking, I started writing summaries. That turned into something useful to share:

It’s still work in progress, and lots is missing, but writing it helps me understand more clearly. This process has made it easier to spot charatan “thought leaders” who misundersand what’s happening here, either by over-hyping or making strawman arguments. Honestly, a big part of that is realising that terminology is so different. You can’t compare a DAO to an NGO even though they’re both called “organisations” and you can compare Uniswap to HTTP even though they’re both called “protocols.”

For those who recognise paradigm shifts, we know we can’t understand the new paradigms in the terms of the old ones. So, hopefully this helps shed some light and at the same time, keeps us realistic.

I recommend starting with the mindsets section, in particular, Blockchains as coordination systems based on Laura Lotti’s academic paper on economic affordances, which really blew my mind.

What's new?

Ramping up for my Gitcoin Kernel Fellowship, working on new blockchain primitives for workgroup coordination.

Writing DAOistry which summarizes ideas from blockchain visionaries into practical chunks.

Helping BanklessDAO and Polygon with some peer learning stuff

For fun, made Nonfungo - completely on-chain NFT sale notification bot for Discord. (Look ma! No Opensea API!)

More about me.