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Discord, DAOs and the Dweb

This is a post in an ongoing scrapbook series.
Exploring the emerging Dweb (Web3) ecosystem, the #supportnet, and the coming β€˜Metaverse’.


At the end of October 2020 Jacob Navok co-author of the Epic Primer posted a THREAD as they say. This is the 5th and final blogpost of notes based on Navok’s thread. I’m really grateful to Navok for their thread. Very inspiring.

This post proposes three areas Discord and Dweb Developers should explore in 2021. Web3 Login, Multisig Wallets, Discord DAO’s.

Previous ideas/entries: Verticals of One, Sources of Value vs Organising Value, PERMISSIVE IPs, Early Access Artists.


8. Discords Disruption

Given the potential of Dweb, I would expect game and film productions funded by the community to be time bound and operate as RAIDS.

The customer relationship Discord have developed has exposed a new sites of value in customer relationship. Huge potential.

9

The store was a huge mistake. Discord is about community development. It was a misstep. Value is situated elsewhere in the platforms ecosystem.

They have always been good to us even in the decision that impacted us very harshly. So they did give us about a month and change of warning of ‘Listen, we’re not sure this is the right direction for the platform as a whole, we’re thinking of migrating to this dedicated server model where people could still sell the games but only through their servers.’ Then eventually they said, ‘You know what, we’re just going to stop adding new games and supporting the store as a whole.’ 

10: Discords Community Disruption

I don’t really have an opinion on the rest of Novaks thread beyond the tweet below. Aside from being really excited by OnLive back in the day. Beyond trying to understand the server side features and tools for SpatialOS, cloud gaming isn’t really something I’m really that deep on.

Discord is the most important PLATFORM on this list.

Discord exploded out discrete features that has been traditionally tied to console ecosystems. (voice chat etc).

Discord’s opportunities for platform disruption lie given the new pools of value that is has created.

I hate Slack, it’s the open plan office of the software world.

This recent New Yorker piece on the tool hits the nail on the head:

The problem with this trajectory is that no one stopped to ask if it made sense to optimize this style of work in the first place. Though Slack improved the areas where e-mail was lacking in an age of high message volume, it simultaneously amplified the rate at which this interaction occurs

Unfortunately, a large segment of the tech world compares Discord to Slack due to their shared common ancestor – Internet Relay Chat.

Slack

Slack is a proprietary business communication platform developed by American software company Slack Technologies. Slack offers many IRC-style features, including persistent chat rooms organized by topic, private groups, and direct messaging

Discord

Discord is an American VoIP, instant messaging and digital distribution platform designed for creating communities. Users communicate with voice calls, video calls, text messaging, media and files in private chats or as part of communities called “servers.”

There is significant difference. Discord is explicitly a ‘designed for creating communities‘. Slack by contrast built a tool for ‘ineffectual communication in business environments’.

Discord was VOIP first, then built out their messaging platform. The creators of Discord didn’t set out to create the tool we know and love today. It was designed to service disparate groups of people to communicate effectively in and across virtual environments. It grew organically amongst gaming communities and later subreddits.

Putting Slack and Discord valuations aside. It seems really silly to me that the wider tech press has completely missed Discords rapid rise. Discord is facilitating the formation of huge communities, far beyond the scope of anything Slack can accomplish.

Partly this is due to Discords ‘server’ pricing model, vs the per user per head pricing of Slack that gets expensive fast. But also because of the nature of the tool. Its places based. Discord is a spot you swing by and check in on. See whats going, contribute to a discussion and then head out. Slack demands an always on engagement with the tool.

Discord of course can also be used as an internal communication tool for organisations, teams and squads.

Right now I wonder πŸ€” how many games studios are making their game using Discord as their core communications tool? Of those Orgs, how many of them also have channels in the same Discord full of people supporting the developer? With accesses gated via the #supportnet ecosystem (Patreon, Steam Early Access, Kickstarter etc).

Discord Should Lean Into The Dweb.

Discord’s most important disruptive features are: Building/managing communities AND being a vital business communication tool. Why not fuse the two?

Why not start coordinating some of the value produced between Gamers and Developers directly? RAC (As mentioned in 1.3) is doing this already with ZORA. Integrating these features and tools into Discord would be a huge leap forward for the Dweb and support net ecosystem.

Two excellent Other Internet adjacent essays are useful as we go forward:

Come for the Network, Pay for the Tool.

As high quality content and effective brand strategy move down the long tail, β€œcommunity” has become an important concept for every post-Web 2.0 player. Crypto token holders, influencer fanbases, DTC brand customers, creator audiences, and new social networks are all often referred to as communities, and each has a stake in developing community for itself.

A new business type here is the paid community: a direct subscription to join in. Today, most paid communities live on the outskirts of existing social platforms. But as they become normalized, paid communities are becoming a viable business model for smaller-scale social networks aiming to be both profitable and socially sustainable.

This emerging new media thing, the paid community social network, has new rules and new risks, and just as it will require new skillsets to operate, requires a new way of understanding what both business and community mean.

A lot in this essay, Shorin explains that late Web2.0 platforms have encouraged Content and commerce (to merge) to create new publishing endeavours that make no distinction between advertising and editorial. It has resulted in the fusion of paid communities and social networks. The most interesting example in the piece are the microapplications embedded inside the Bloomberg Terminal. And provides a long list of businesses and community types that could benefit from paid social network like SERVICES.

I would also like to suggest that Discord could be a key ‘terminal/portal/place’ that can begin to merge content and commerce and financial plumbing. Discord has the potential to become an important SERVICE to provide the TOOLS and mechanisms for the creation of PERMISSIVE IPS.

Squad Wealth

SQUAD PRODUCTION

Group identity. Shared space. Vibes. These not only enable the creation of social capital, but strengthen the squad’s capacity to organize, minimizing transaction costs and leading to greater productive capacities and resilience; this is “the nature of the squad.” But while squads can be viewed as a “nexus of contracts”, unlike the Coasean firm, they are without legal structure. Social contracts are instead effected through the unspoken bonds of mutual respect and ingroup norms.

But to sustain this solidarity economy the squad may look for ways to translate vibes into monetizable modes of public engagement: clients, subscribers, sponsors, music deals, yields. SQUAD PRODUCTION begins with the creation of processes and interfaces to convert creative labor into units that can be transmitted by global network participants. Here SQUAD TOOLS come into play. Vibes generated at the DAW, on the Figma board, or in the gaming lobby are turned consumable cultural instruments. Then it’s just a matter of distribution. Young artists create online galleries and independent labels because they allow groups to interact (and transact) with the world through familiar organizational patterns. Bandcamps, Twitch pages, DAOs are public APIs for squads to interact with entities beyond their trust boundary.

Squad Wealth is written in a pitch perfect mode for the current moment, it also covers many of the threads articulated across the Dimensino blog series so far.

Contributions to the squad are positive sum. And in return for their contribution, members have access to an expanded set of opportunities, claims on future economic flows and guarantees backed by the group. By risking together, a scrappy group can gain access to multiplicative yieldsβ€”the path to SQUAD WEALTH.

A strong social fabric and the right tech stack will unleash a new wave of bottom-up economic experiments: interest-free P2P borrowing, anonymous lending pools, collective insurance, socialized ETFs, DAO-based freelancer unions, rotating savings schemes, revshare guilds, meme venture syndicates, crypto ponzis, exit scams, in-browser miners, upstate yield farms, boy bands, cults, and sovereign vacation funds.

Squad Wealth is the most Important essay I think I’ve read in 2020. Check out the first hour of Other Internet Squad‘s recent appearance on the Interdependence.fm podcast. Or you know, subscribe for the full fat show!

Discord and Dweb Developers should….

Web3 Logins

Consider Web3 logins. Token ownership or ‘Proof of community’ should be come a common login default ASAP.

By the end of 2021. Communities will be forming DAOs, issuing community access tokens, minting Meme NFTs and sharing value. Discord can decide if they want to be a part of this or not.

A Dweb login however would be a first step in rolling out wallet infrastructure (Either something like Metamask or native to Discord) to a large user base. The first sign of Verticals Of One.

Multisig crypto wallets

If everyone on a server has a wallet, it figures that Discord should implement shared wallets and other mechanisms for organising and sharing value.

Shared multi sig wallets could quickly start to also hold in game metaverse currencies for players on a server.

Guilds in WOW or corporations in EVE online already have shared bank accounts ‘In universe’ but tying them to communities outside of a metaverses via financial plumbing is important for the future of virtual environments in general. New monetary fabrics could then begin knitting themselves into Discord and virtual worlds.

These early experiments may be fraught with problems, some disasters etc. But the audience is an important one for the mainstreaming of Web3. Folks who play Fortnite and use Discord will understand NFT virtual objects etc intuitively.

Once users have wallets, and we have communities with shared wallets the next step is:

Decentralised Autonomous Organisations

In order for Discord to fully lean into the Dweb; it will need to provide mechanisms for both core community members (EG games developers) and the wider server to nominally enter into ‘semi formal’ relationships with one another. If large groups of people are to produce Permissive Ips together. Experimenting with digital ownership, effort accounting, value return and attribution will need to be baked into a communities DNA.

Discord (I belive) is a space that could rapidly prototype the habits, manners and mores and UX that will eventually become commonplace for users in alegal metaverse environments. Discord’s background as ‘3rd space’ enabling effective communication between users, across virtual environments means a lot of cultural logic required to operate in this emerging space is already extant.

DAO’s are a virtual organisational form where the source code defines the bylaws.

The mechanics and specifics of DAO’s are complicated technically, to be fully formed they require many of the suites of TOOLS mentioned throughout this post. A Vertical of One is the user experience required to fully interact and participate in DAO’s of the future.

Kei Kruitler‘s excellent recent essay ‘Eight Qualities of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations’ is very good primer:

DAOs can be viewed as software tools that encourage coordination through voting on proposals and allocating funding. As peer-to-peer institutions, DAOs have the potential to significantly decrease the barriers to and costs of starting an organization.

Today, DAO has strayed from its initial signifiers and become a more chimeric term that might best describe a voluntary association in favor of digital cooperativism. Its practical instantiation in the world varies widely depending on disciplinary context.

In summary, eight imagined qualities of decentralized autonomous organizations are autopoietic, alegal, hyperscalable, executable, permissionless, aligned, co-owned, and mnemonic. Drawn from observation, these qualities trace desires for interdependence11 growing in the cracks of legacy institutions, as well as the dubious inheritance of cybernetic dreams from a century of unprecedented war. The question of global coordination and patchwork governance will not be put aside during the 2020s. Mapping the organizational unconscious of our time, however impartially, may be one means to stymie its shadow. The term DAO itself may prove a temporary smoke signal under which co-conspirators can gather before it too must be discarded.

Its an amazing essay and I recommend reading it in full.


Various other parts of Dweb ecosystem are also coming together elsewhere which should not be slept on. Paypal’s recent Crypto integration announcement is being reported (by media still concerned as it with financial speculation story of the blockchain) as a step toward buying and selling Bitcoins. Birch in Forbes today reporting on the story admits he doesn’t have any idea whats going on. “Well, since the people who run PayPal are much richer and much smarter than I am, I am forced to conclude that they must have a plan.” 

It’s also important to point out that Paypal currently won’t let users transfer their cryptocurrency into or out of their PayPal wallets, nor would the users have control of the private keys that allow holders to move their digital assets. So it’s not really about buying or selling bitcoins at all. It’s about using bitcoins to pay for stuff. Crypto media has said this is #Fail. I Agree. On ramps between cryptocurrency ecosystem and fiat are currently marred in KYC and crazy regulation.

This becomes less and less important as projects begin producing and issuing tokens to communities of value. The more complex the MONETARY FABRIC of the Dweb gets, the less important fiat becomes. I expect most tokens in this new MONETARY FABRIC will never be exchangeable for fiat money, instead cross token/chain trading of goods and services will happen directly without the need to transmute into fiat.

The significant part of Birch’s article is the following:

Secondly, the technologies of cryptocurrency (shared ledgers, cryptographic proofs and so on) are going to be the foundations of a longer term shift to the trading of digital bearer instruments that are exchanged without clearing or settlement networks so building up institutional expertise is valuable. It is reasonable to imagine that these instruments might well be implemented as tokens traded across decentralised networks, so exploring the trade-offs around infrastructures and interfaces is a good investment of time and effort.

Paypal building institutional knowledge around DWeb TOOLS is important and encouraging for the future as we move toward Verticals Of One. PayPal’s mission statement after all is: β€œwe believe that now is the time to reimagine money, to democratize financial services so that managing and moving money is a right for all citizens, not just the affluent.”

I can Imagine all sorts of legacy Web2 companies like PayPal and ‘Challenger Banks’ allowing all sorts of wallet/vault integrations in future. Both for tokens in personal and multisig wallets.

Communities on Discord should be able to form DAOs, members of the community should be able to select from smart contract based constitutions, and forms of e-governance, collectively decide how assets / primitives (like tokens) will be distributed to members of the community (now and in future), all in the service os furthering a Discord communities goals.

When a new indie developer registers a new discord to begin work on a project it is a SQUAD, but has the potential to scale its wider community to whatever the size.

To do this, Discord will also need to also explore and implement better governance SERVICES and TOOLS. We’ll explore governance in later Dimensino posts but for now I’ll mention Loomio.

Whilst it’s not perfect, Loomio is one of the best in class tools for community governance. It also appears that they are considering integration with Dweb wallets and (I hope) later down the line smart contract integration with DAO APIs to better facillitate Squad production.. I can imagine Loomio (or something like it) will drift away from being a stand alone platform eventually and become part of the DWeb TOOLCHAIN as a plug and play SERVICE for uses.

For those unfamiliar with Loomio here’s their about video:

The chat APP Telegram is another place that could spin up DAOs. There are already sketched out proposals for DAO creation by members of a telegram channel.

Discord also has the potential to be an important player in the exploration the future of organising, funding, and creating work. Owned by communities at all levels of production.


Well, thats it for the Navok thread. I wanted to get this out before the end of the year and close the book on this particular endeavour. Thanks or everyone who has subscribed or supported so far. More to come.

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Thanks to: Ben Vickers, Guild.is Crew, Trust Squad, Blogger Peer Review, Other Internet, Interdependence.fm.

About Author

Jay Springett is a Solarpunk, and consultant strategist, currently specialising in the distributed web, metaverse, and world running. He is currently writing his first public book: Land as Platform.

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