Have you heard of the DAO Anthology? After about four months of my copy staring at me from my desk, I finally got around to reading it. They say better late than never, and indeed, the DAO Anthology stands as a noteworthy collection of articles about decentralized autonomous organizations. Curated by Samantha Marin, designed by Daniel Bromberg, and produced by Austin Robey, this anthology was unveiled in the spring of 2023. Better yet, here’s the full product description from Quorum:
In the age of infinite creation, curation has never been such an important act. The DAO Anthology is a curated zine of the best articles in the DAO space published over the last few years on all corners of the internet. We travel through DAO time in three sections: 1) The basis of DAOs in Theory; 2) On-the-ground experimentation in Practice; and 3) Predictions and hopes in Future. We explore where DAOs need to improve and offer insight for building just, effective, thriving internet-native organizations. (source: https://quorum.metalabel.app/dao-anthology)
Given my active involvement in the DAO space, my interest was piqued when this project was announced. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy! Today’s article shares my reflections on the DAO Anthology along with my five key takeaways.
While physical and digital access was available, I chose the physical zine of the DAO Anthology. There’s an unmatched satisfaction in holding a book and flipping through its pages, wouldn’t you agree? The shipping process took a bit longer than expected, and I was in the dark about the order status and estimated arrival times. Nevertheless, I did receive my copyby mail within a few weeks.
Upon unwrapping the package, I discovered that the anthology leaned more towards a newspaper-esque quality than a traditional book. Both the cover and internal pages were crafted from the same pliable material, bordering on what some might consider flimsy. Although the initial description lacked specific details, considering the visual depiction and the $44 USD price tag, I had envisioned a more substantial feel, complete with a defined cover and higher-quality paper. Adhering to the adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” I managed to move beyond this expectation. Additionally, I can appreciate that printing a physical book can be very expensive, especially when doing a smaller run, so please don’t interpret this as a knock to the project. These are simply my candid reflections on my experience.
The DAO Anthology is laid out in three sections: Theory, Practice, Future. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
This section establishes the groundwork for the subsequent segments, exploring a spectrum of topics ranging from ideal web3 design and blockchain’s influence on self-sovereignty to the comparison of socialware versus trustware in DAOs and the nuances of DAO leadership. Particularly resonant for me, as a DAO co-founder, was the impact of Article A.5, titled “DAO Leadership: Building on the Shoulders of Giants” by Mr. Noby and Lisa Wocken. This article systematically debunks the misconception that leadership is incompatible or absent within a decentralized community. Instead, it provides valuable insights into the potential forms of leadership that may evolve within DAOs.
“No one should lead all of the time and everyone should lead some of the time.” (Noby and Wocken, p. 29)
The second section provides insights from thought leaders in the DAO space, focusing on the practical aspects of engaging in DAO activities. It encompasses perspectives on gamifying participation, decentralizing capital flows, exploring tooling, refining governance structures, optimizing coordination, and marketing strategies.
This section provides a glimpse into the potential future landscape of DAOs. A standout article for me within this section was A.13, titled “Finding Freedom and Agency in DAOs” by Siddhearta. It served as a refreshing reminder of the reasons behind my engagement in DAOs. I was particularly drawn to the analogy that portrays working in a DAO as entering a dance hall, where one’s level of participation aligns with either observing from the sidelines (The Lurker), actively joining the dance (The Contributor), or taking the initiative to lead the way on the empty dance floor (The Leader). It offers a valuable and grounding read for new and seasoned contributors. I encourage those at the fringes of the DAO space, deliberating on taking the jump, to explore this article.
Here are my five main takeaways after reading the DAO Anthology:
- Documentation is of paramount importance! Establishing a comprehensive historical record of the evolving state of DAOs over time is pivotal for numerous reasons. It not only facilitates a deeper understanding of the origins of DAOs but also serves as a yardstick for measuring progress, contributing to the overall advancement and refinement of the space. A reliable historical reference will guide us away from repeating past mistakes. Additionally, there is an urgent need for improved curation and enhanced accessibility to trustworthy information and articles. Despite the abundance of valuable content, the challenge lies in navigating through it. It’s much easier to mindlessly scroll crypto Twitter and absorb sensationalized FUD posts. While not exclusive to the web3 space, this problem needs to be fixed, and leveraging blockchain technology and decentralization can pave the way toward a solution.
- The evolution of DAOs is happening at lightning speed. While the days may feel long, especially in a bear market, the years are flying by. In Article A.15, titled “Go Fork Yourself” within the DAO Anthology, the authors borrow the term “speedrunning” from the gaming world to describe the rapid transformation of DAOs. “[DAOs] are experimenting with the same governance models that local and national governments and corporations have tried. They’re just doing it really fast, compressing thousands of years of experiments into less than a decade.” (McCormick, Phelps, Prosperi, p.61)
- Identifying, recording, and sharing reputation reliably across projects and blockchains remains at the forefront of needs. While it’s encouraging to witness numerous projects addressing identity and reputation, the seamless transferability of this information is still lacking, with reputation data typically siloed within a particular application or platform. Nevertheless, it should only be a matter of time before a solid solution is available.
- More research and documentation is needed on non-DeFi DAOs. Undoubtedly, capital holds significant sway and financial prominence often takes the spotlight. Consequently, DAOs with substantial treasuries in the DeFi sector naturally attract considerable attention. However, there exists a plethora of remarkable DAOs operating in other sectors. Our responsibility is to heighten awareness and expand the public’s perspective of DAOs by spreading the word about non-DeFi DAOs making significant contributions, particularly in areas such as Decentralized Science (DeSci) and Regenerative Finance (ReFi).
- Last but certainly not least, as a community, it is imperative that we unite and reach a consensus on the definition of a DAO. You might wonder, “Why is this necessary, and could it potentially hinder the early growth of DAOs?” Hear me out. I am not advocating for an overly specific DAO definition; rather, there should be a few universally agreed-upon elements that all DAOs share. Establishing the fundamental tenets of a DAO will bring clarity to those outside the community, foster progress, and contribute to making DAOs a commonly recognized term when describing collaborative groups. My aspiration is that the term “DAO” (or any alternative name we may adopt) becomes as commonplace as “cooperative” and “corporation” in our shared vocabulary.
In conclusion, my journey through the DAO Anthology has been an enlightening exploration of the past, present, and future of DAOs. It provided me with valuable insights and encouraged me to reflect on the challenges and triumphs within our evolving ecosystem. I am more determined than ever to contribute to the flourishing and ever-evolving landscape of DAOs, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Bromberg,Daniel, Marin, Samantha, Robey, Austin. (2023). The DAO Anthology. Metalabel. Retrieved from https://quorum.metalabel.app/dao-anthology
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