DAO Camp: The DAO coming of age moment

DAO Camp: The DAO coming of age moment

By Nick Almond

·

May 26, 2022

Introduction

I don’t get to go to many crypto events these days. The responsibilities of middle age tend to make it difficult to go and get deep into the vibe flow.

I’m cool with that. I don’t like being away from my wife and daughter and I completely rinsed the crypto scene in the previous cycle. I’ve had my time.

So when I venture out of the metaverse it has to be for a great opportunity, or something that feels like it’s going to be special.

When the opportunity to go to DAO Camp was presented in the groundw3rk channels, I knew I was going to move mountains to go. I didn’t need to know anything other than it was going to be an event curated by the wonderful people at creatorcabins and groundw3rk.

It was everything I expected it to be and much more. In fact, it felt… significant.

This was DAO IRL. A physical manifestation of the philosophy of DAOs, populated by the most concentrated collection of brilliant people I’ve ever met.

I can’t possibly do the experience justice and in fact I’m not going to provide that many details on the actual structure and nature of the sessions there, partly because I don’t want to ruin any surprises for those who might go in the future, but also to respect the special interactions that happened there and should stay there.

So, I’m going to stay high level and pull out what feels like important aspects of DAO philosophy that were in play at the event and then talk about some of the DAOs and projects represented there.

Presence

The raw humanity that emerges when you plunge a group of diverse people into an interesting space simply cannot be replicated online.

This is something that’s been theoretically engaged with in the education technology / online learning space for many years, without many clear outcomes. I’m not sure it can ever be rationalised. No matter how metaversey, the metaverse gets, you can’t replicate the vibes that arise with real meatspace social interaction.

It’s a real problem for DAOs. Not only do I think Discord is a poor environment for real social interactions to form, I think it’s potentially bad for your mental and physical health. It sometimes takes an event like this to remind you how far away digital interaction is from face-to-face.

Beyond that, presence is more than just turning up, it’s being there, in the moment, experiencing something collectively. That just can’t arise with the disembodied separation that a digital interaction creates.

What does this mean? Well, almost every DAO of meaningful size is going to have to run events like this. An opportunity to meet IRL in a safe space, where trust can be protected and nurtured is crucial. I’d like to see DAOs with scholarship-like programmes to pay for people to travel internationally from their DAO to a space IRL for a collaborative moment like this. Can’t think of a better treasury spend tbh.

Context

This was in a camp, like a proper kids summer camp as featured in those American coming of age movies, where kids find themselves and have profound realisations that lead to personal growth etc.

There’s a reason why those things happen at places like this. It’s a frame breaking context switch. You’re away from your home, with lots of new people and it’s a little bit tough. Sleep deprivation, bunk beds, heat, exhaustion all puts you in a position of…

Vulnerability

By the end of this, you’re basically a dishevelled mess. Well I was at least. The extreme sleep deprivation, jet lag, margaritas and two years of compounded web3 burnout left me rekt by the last day. But weirdly, feeling content, accepted for who I was and welcomed.

Creating a space where you can feel like you can judgement free be yourself and reveal who you are with people you’ve never met before is a rare thing and has to be carefully curated. It doesn’t happen by chance.

Curating spaces of belonging needs to be a central conversation in DAOs.

Throughout the weekend I had so many deep and meaningful conversations with people (many of them prompted by the facilitators) it was overwhelming, which leads to more exhaustion, which leads to these conversations becoming more honest and open. This vulnerability creates…

Connections

So much of this event was positioned to encourage the formation of strong connections between different and interesting people. Throughout this event I met people I’m convinced I’m going to keep in touch with for a long time and even become lifelong friends with.

Working in web3 is hard work and frankly there’s a lot of ‘not great’ people out there. A good friend with a shared mission, that’s someone you can trust and build a mutual support relationship with is perhaps the most valuable thing you can have in this space. I encourage you all to find these people and build strong bonds with them.

Beyond that, cross-DAO connections is really going to be what separates this space from the silo’d world of Web2.0. Here, even DAOs chasing competing use cases will team up and find interesting ways to collaboratively build public goods, share resources, innovate together, build together and generally support each other. I’m sure that many such collaborations will arrive from this event.

Humans and Identities

Almost everyone at this event had a metaverse identity and an IRL identity. You get to know someone as a telegram / NFT / Twitter / discord handle and then you meet them IRL in human form.

This is going to be such an interesting feature of this space. The ability to have multiple identities that you use in different DAOs and contexts is super interesting.

There was several people working on the identity piece and most, if not all, recognised the complexity of the problem but also the need to protect pseudo-anonymity in the process. In fact, IRL events need to respect that some people there want to stay a metaverse identity. Simple things like rules about photography and not sharing personal details on-line is central to creating a welcome space for this kind of private expression of identity. This is also why I won’t be using specific names in this piece.

Sovereignty

The respect for personal sovereignty at DAO Camp was central to the event. Be on time for key events if you’re going, but ultimately do whatever you want, be who you want to be.

This was a concrete reminder that this is a foundational concept in the DAO space. Turning up for something because you want to be there, changes the dynamic from ‘expected to be there’, or ‘have to be there’ (as is often the case in most non-DAO organisations).

Authenticity

It takes bravery and a commitment to exploring openness to authentically be yourself with people you don’t really know.

It’s something that might more meaningfully arrive in DAOs than in other orgs, and I truly believe it could be the game changer. The destruction of authority chains and ‘expectations’ breaks the context of having to conform your energy to that of the ‘organisational culture’. The spirit of radical openness and transparency in DAOs, will permeate through the people and lead to many more authentic interactions than you would typically find in a conventional org.

Emergence

The true genius of the structure of this event was that there were no rules. Frameworks rather than instructions, location based and temporal schelling points rather than a strict agenda.

Emergence happens at the edge of chaos. I like it there. If anything I have lived a bit close to it for too long, but that’s where the action is.

You can think of emergence as that surprise thing that happened due to a collision of seemingly random events. The thing that wouldn’t have happened, unless that other thing happened, and that other thing, and...

Not all emergent events are productive, in fact they can often be uncomfortable (there were some of these), but DAOs should be designed to not just generate them but capture the good ones. This is where creativity, novelty and innovation lives.

Ritual

I witnessed a MolochDAO summoning and it was one of the most beautifully nerdy things I’ve ever experienced.

Watching transactions cheered as they were confirmed on a blockchain is a thing, and doing it in a socia l context adds significance. The lore, the language, the engineering and the intellect connected to the MolochDAO pattern makes me unreasonably bullish on it. Now I understand it more, it’s already slotting into some important places in my cognitive map of the DAO space. I’m going to be keenly looking for opportunities to integrate it into my thinking and practice.

This was a place to geek out; honestly, it’s my favourite thing to do, and it was for many people here too. And that’s what made it so much fun.

The DAOnbar Number

What’s the number of people you can have in a DAO and still maintain genuine relationships with the other members?

In many ways DAO Camp was an exploration of this concept. By the end it was jarring to see people you hadn’t had a meaningful conversation with at some point during the weekend. 60 seems like a sweet spot for an event like this and I’m sure many people wouldn’t like to see that number expand far greater than what it was.

Scaling beyond this number is one of the central problems of DAOs. It’s not at all that clear how this is possible, but IRL events, curation mechanisms and social consensus and signalling tooling is part of the picture in my opinion. Questions around the boundaries of exclusivity (through token gating and the like) and how best to meaningfully grow a community without it turning elitist or exclusionary are going to be something that DAOs and events like this will wrestle with.

DAOs

Finally, I want to dive into some of the DAOs and tools I discovered this weekend. It’s important to know this this isn’t exhaustive by any stretch and as some of the scattered (and often blurry) conversations come back to me I’ll make sure to find a way to convey them.

Groundw3rk

The DAO that was summoned at DAO Camp, and holds a special place in my heart. Groundw3rk is turning out to be one of the most significant pieces of my DAO journey. I was invited to this DAO via a nomination and vouching process and to feel welcomed into a close knit group like that has been a wonderful experience.

The DAO here will fund its work in the future and true to its emergent roots this has largely yet to be plotted. From the work I’ve seen so far, I’m super grateful that groundw3rk exists and firmly believe it will hold an important role in guiding the DAO space to where it needs to be.

SquiggleDAO

A true curation DAO and one that has made me super bullish on squiggles and NFTs as fine art. I was one of the mid curvers who watched squiggles at mint and thought “squiggles?? Surely not!.” And what a mistake that was.

The conversation of how NFTs will interact with fine art will be heavily influenced by these early curation DAOs and SquiggleDAO will be at the heart of it.

Bloom Network

I spoke to two wonderful people from the Bloom Network at DAO Camp who greenpilled me on the regen community, which I’m certain is going to be a profoundly important movement within the DAO space.

The Bloom Network has a legacy tracking back nearly two decades and is going to be an exceptionally interesting cross over of the cooperative community and the DAO space. Please support their work.

Hats Protocol

Serious alpha here. Hats protocol is going to one of the key components of NFT governance (a topic that’s close to the top of my interest list) and involves the attribution of roles within DAOs via NFT “hats”. It is very early in the conceptualisation phase of its development, but the ideas and design are truly innovative.

DAO members will wear many hats in DAOs and driving those roles towards more trust minimised designs is going to be a foundational component of progressive decentralisation. I’m sure more information will be coming soon, but keep an eye out for hats.

EvenGov

On a similar tip, EvenGov is a service DAO that aims to support DAOs in their consideration of trust, decentralisation and authority within a DAO. I had one of the most incredible conversations with one of the members at DAO camp and the level of deep thinking going into decentralised governance at this level is huge.

Principally, this DAO is concerned with consensus-free coordination mechanisms. An important counter balancing narrative to the space’s reliance on simple voting schemes. I can’t wait to continue the conversation with EvenGov.

Govrn

Govrn is concerned with contribution tracking in DAOs, which is incredibly foundational to their future development.

In DAOs, contributors can be plentiful, anonymous and be at various stages of their onboarding and Govrn is developing a framework to help track this journey and facilitate fair attribution. Important work.

SyndicateDAO

They just completed an impressive raise and I can see why. I met two of the team here and they were both gigabrains of the highest order. It’s a platform for allowing people to quickly spin up investment DAOs, but it’s going to be so much more.

I was super impressed with their intention of being a very open and permissive platform allowing integration across the DAO tooling space. Another project I have a deeper understanding of now and see as another crucial building block.

Clarity

Clarity is a workspace tool for decentralised teams with a dash of Roam-like data structuring and is built from the ground up with a deep knowledge of the nature of decentralised work.

It’s web3 native, is actively being used by DAOs and has immense potential as a collaboration technology designed with DAOs in mind. I haven’t played with it yet and plan to, but from the conversations I had about this it instinctively strikes me as great tech.

AKASHA

AKASHA is a project that has been running almost in silent mode for several years with some of the most OG Ethereans building behind the scenes. It’s a dApp browser and Web3 social network, with genuine and deep Ethereum integration. I have a feeling this will emerge at some point and be a crucial piece of Ethereum infrastructure. They’re taking their time and not rushing into market cycles and that’s what makes them cool.

Krause House DAO

I’ve been following Krause House and the team for a while and it was an absolute pleasure to get caught up on the almost too-awesome-to-comprehend things that they’re working on. They’ve recently taken a position in a basketball team, which was a tale involving Ice Cube, innovation in the rules of basketball and serious legal engineering. I’m convinced decentralised ownership of sports teams is a potential DAO killer app and Krause House are the leading trailblazers that I can see.

Coordinape

Coordinape is one of the most fascinating projects in the DAO space and is tackling one of the deepest problems there is, how to attribute value to work without a central authority.

I couldn’t be a bigger fanboi of the team and I got to hear about some of the important new editions to the design which are genuinely exciting. They are hunting for DAOs wrestling with this problem, so do reach out to them during their product refinement stage and get involved in helping support their v2 development.

creatorcabins

The organising foundation of DAO camp and what an incredible job they did. The camp thing is a vibe and to present this to a group of adults and was a stroke of genius. The whole event could be conceptualised as a collective learning through play experience.

I can’t imagine the kind of work that went into not only organising this, but doing it authentically as a DAO is next level. My creatorcabins NFT from this event is going to be a prized possession.

A Round Up

This felt like a coming of age moment for DAOs. The maturity of thinking displayed here is so far beyond the dog coiny ponzitastic state of the recent market that it gave me an even deeper and genuine hope that crypto is going to change the world.

I’ve been thinking about DAOs for a long time; and decentralised organisations even longer and I’ve never been more convinced that the DAO movement is one of the most significant and important conversations there is. Anywhere.

And it is a movement. It’s bigger than tech. This is humans and tech, in a synergistic collaboration and the possibility space opening up is vast and important. The movement feels emergent, organic and grounded in a solid foundation of ethical and pluralistic critical thinking, something the Web2.0 world evidently missed at its genesis.

It might be the fresh DAO hype coursing through my veins, but this moment feels like the start of something big. Revolutionary even. It’s not going to happen straight away, but one thing is for sure, DAOs are coming.

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