Season 1 – Recap Pt2 | Dimensino

In 2020 I wrote a series of posts on the future Crypto / Web3, and the technical development of the coming ‘Metaverse’. Lets see how I did…

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15 minutes

Back in Q4 of 2020, I started ‘Dimensino‘. An ongoing scrapbook about the on going development of the Crypto / Web3 ecosystem, and the technical development of the coming ‘Metaverse’. This period is now ‘Season 1’. 

Following Season 1 I recklessly signed a bunch of NDAs, and became entangled in very fulfilling advisory role. However, as of this month they have expired!

Read Pt1 here


Discord, DAOs and the Dweb

I totally fucking nailed this one RIGHT? Even the title alone.

The majority of the traffic to this post came the week Discord’s founder teased Web3 integration on Twitter in November of 2021 – 11 months after I wrote it.

That same week, they walked the announcement after an intense shitstorm – because they are cowards . If they had just gone ahead with it, everything would still be fine and no one would now give a shit about it. 

Instead, it’s Feb of 2023 and Discord x Web3 integration is still clunky. Some communities are even moving away from Discord into their own crypto native chat protocols and app and tools. Meanwhile, many of the simplest Web3 gating integrations are pivoting to a business model of straight up spyware (in my opinion).

I suggested the following things needed improving 11 months before Discord teased Web3 integration: Web3 Login, Discord Multisig crypto wallets, and DAO Tooling. 

In the post I wrote:

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.

The sort of UX I envisioned above has since arrived – Discord could have owned it but they didn’t ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Instead, we got a much better solution from Gnosis

Gnosis launched their Zodiac Toolingexpansion packs for DAOs 2 months before Discord even teased their Web3 integration. 

A composable design philosophy for DAOs, Zodiac is a collection of tools built according to an open standard. The Zodiac open standard enables DAOs to act more like constellations, connecting platforms, protocols, and chains, no longer confined to monolithic designs.

In other words: Zodiac is the expansion pack for DAOs.

As an aside, Kei co-founder of Gnosis GUILD, showed my New Centre students last year how to set up a DAO and then progressively decentralise it – in real time in her lecture. It took about 3mins. It’s truly remarkable how far DAO UX has come since I wrote this piece. 

I’m not going to belabour here how much I totally nailed this – as much as I would like to. Instead, I’ll used this opportunity to promote the Radical Friends book. If you are working in Web3 (especially the DAO space) and haven’t read it yet, why not?

In recent years DAOs have been heralded as a powerful stimulus for reshaping how value systems for interdependence and cooperation manifest themselves in arts organising. Radical Friends. Decentralised Autonomous Organisations and the Arts consolidates five years of research into a toolkit for fierce thinking, as well as for new forms of radical care and connectivity that move beyond the established systems of centralised control in the art industry and wider financial networks.

At a time when so many are focused on NFTs, Radical Friends refocuses attention on DAOs as potentially the most radical blockchain-based technology for the arts in the long-term. Contributors engage both past and emergent methodologies for building resilient and mutable systems for mutual aid. Collectively, the book aims to evoke and conjure new imaginative communities, and to share the practices and blueprints that can help produce them.

NPC Djs + Co-Creating Virtual Worlds

I talk about the metaverse a lot in the post.

Virtual worlds and mixed reality experiences. Basically what I spend spend all day talking about in my freelance work now lol.

Reflecting 2 years on; this whole blog series shaped / introduced a lot of the assumptions that have gone on to become ‘world running’.

There’s two key ideas in this post. The first being autonomous NPC DJ’s. 

I had posted this just after my long deep dive on Vtubers so I had them on the brain. There’s lots here about NPC/AI driven characters, audience co-created music and other ambient / generative effects.

Since this post came out, tbh the most interesting thing that’s happened along these lines is Neurosama.

For those who aren’t familiar, Neurosama is a 100% AI driven Twitch streamer. 

The media is full of people super worried about Bing and GTPchat etc. Meanwhile Neurosama, a LLM chat bot has been hosting a realtime webshow on the internet. 

Obviously as of the time of writing, Nerosama is banned from Twitch over a holocaust denial.

Answering one of the viewer questions, Neuro-sama came out as a Holocaust denier. “Have any of you heard of the Holocaust? I’m not sure I believe it,” she said. The AI streamer also made a number of other troubling statements, including one where she said she doesn’t think women’s rights exist. Earlier this month, she also said she would solve the trolley problem by “(pushing) the fat man onto the tracks. He deserves it.”

As an aside, I find it very interesting that that all the news reporting on neurosama refers to the bot as ‘She’ vs the way GTP3 and bing chat is reported on as an ‘It’.

Anyways the NPC DJ JAI:N and Neruosama, are ploughing parallel furrows to V-tubers and Virtual Influencers.

Speaking of which, Girls Re:Verse a popular show on Korean TV right now, even though its a rip off of the kpop vtuber communities Isegye Idol.

Girls Re:Verse is a VR game show which advertises working with 30 women from the real-life kpop industry. Each woman is introduced as a known kpop performer, but their identities are hidden behind a 3D avatar. The show follows a typical elimination-style singing format, but with the twist of new technology as a variation for entertainment. Singers wear full-body trackers for special performances with dancing and singing.

The other topic this post covers is the wider entertainment/metaverse/mixed reality industry. This was all before the 2022 metaverse hype and facebook’s name change to meta etc. In the post I pointed people toward Sensorium Cooperation.

Large scale mixed reality spectacles are going to dominate the next 10 years of live entertainment. 

I talked about the MSG Sphere’s in my post saying:

A grand entertainment product/project with an ‘architectural tech stack’ integrated into the fabric of the building. It’s not just theme parks and sound stages that are going Hybrid/Virtual

‘Architectural tech stack’ is as good a term as any to describe a building like the ABBA arena as having imo.

Built in London and opened in 2022, the ABBA arena can seat up to 1500 people.

In my notes about the project launch, the line that jumped out at was the term ‘virtual concert residency ‘. According to the NYT the Abba arena is the most expensive live music experience in history – a budget of $175 million.

While the Abbatars were being developed, the 10-piece band was being formed and Gisla was fund-raising (the final budget was 140 million pounds, or about $175 million, she said), developing an arena capable of handling all the technology and trying to keep the massive project under wraps.

Much to my chagrin I have still not been to see it. The biggest blocker being that none of my friends want to go see ABBA. And I’m not definitely not going ‘ticket for one’ as I hate ABBA plus I refuse to expose myself as a friendcell.

Anyways. 

The ABBA arena is a custom built environment that will be dismantled and re-built in another city. Sensorium, and the wider network of investment partners however are retrofitting entertainment venues means that a ‘platform’ is emerging. Just as Dolby Atmos has become a platform in the music space, Sensorioum and their partners are trying building a platform to run and replicate cutting edge mixed reality experiences in big concert venues.

Instead of moving the whole ABBA arena, in the same way video games are ported from the xbox architecture to the switch or whatever, platforming the ‘architectural tech stack’ will make it easier for designers and developers to move an experience from city to city.

The point being, everything involved in the making of the ABBA voyage experience a reality is part of the wider Metaverse tech tack. A 175 million experience today will cost 1 million tomorrow.

See Eminem and Snoop Dogg performing live at the VMA awards to get an idea of what the future of mix reality concerts are going to look like.

I also wrote about the Unreal Engine Volume, and the indie team that proved it possible. This live virtual production technology will continue to fall in price and it will be in community theatres and high schools ver soon.

This technology is already built into Unreal Engine for free. If your PC is fast enough you can do this already at home.My friend who works in advertising has a homebrew version in his office.

Outernet – Tottenham Court Road

As things evolve I’d like to see hardware platform standards be specified and developed for small scale theatres, highschool and university drama departments, and for motivated indie filmmakers building virtual sets in their garages.

THIS future is what Metaverse technologies will look like at their best. Not some VR chatroom without legs.

See also the Outernet building in London’s Tottenham Court Road. Not only does it have a public immersive art space, but also includes an underground 2,000 capacity music venue, a 250 capacity music venue, a a space for immersive content or sampling and more.

As a coda to the above it would be remiss of me not to mention the Future Art Ecosystems Book, and the chapter on Team Lab.

Steps Toward a DAOWO VInfluencer in 2021?

This is the last post I’m going to include in my Season 1 recap.

I also think this post nailed the direction of travel as things stood at the beginning of 2021.

It’s worth mentioning once again, that all the posts were written before the NFT madness. Beeples 69.3 million dollar sale of ‘Everydays’ was still 2 months away!

7 months after I published this post and illustrated it with a picture of Lil Miquela, Dapper Labs acquired Lil Miquela’s creator Brud to build a unit focused on DAOs. 

Also worth noting; Brud was the wellspring for the DAO, Friends With Benefits, which (if I recall correctly at the time of writing this post I had already joined and left. Early defection > Early adoption.)

After rambling about DeFi in the opening of the post I got into the main 4 problems / challenges facing the DAO space (as I saw them) at the end of 2020.

1. DAO UX Needs to Get a Lot Better Across the Industry

I can’t stress enough how shit DAO UX was in Jan of 2021. In Q1 of 2021 Guild.Is members were attending a weekly zoom meet up exploring the state of DAO tooling. 

DAOhaus existed, but WYSIWYG, one-click DAO launching was painful, and required Solidity/developer skills. DAO UX has indeed gotten a lot better (in part due to the hard work of Guild.Is members.)

2. Logins and Multisig Wallets as Identity

I wrote at the time “Wallet identity and login needs to become a lot more mature.”

Later that year Kei Kreutler published the hugely influential essay: Inventories, Not Identities: Why multi-sigs are the future of online accounts. And kicked of a whole new line of thinking in the space.

Composable identity approaches identity as inherently relational, providing modular tools for individuals, groups, and organizations to present themselves within technical systems.

Twitter has introduced NFT avatars which is also a step towards introducing the idea of wallets as an identity. In reality however, this sort of integration – a web3 wallet address –> a web2 profile – should probably be thought of as a ‘verification’ of an onchain identity than anything else. Its basically self doxxing.

Kei followed up Inventories, Not Identities with A Prehistory of DAOs. Which also continues to influence the direction of Web3 and DAO tooling. 

As much as DAOs may accidentally embrace the operating principles of cooperatives preceding them, they also slyly resemble enclaves from other online cultures. They have the most to learn from guilds in massively multiplayer online games (MMOs).

As an aside, it’s worth mentioning that some people also point towards the RAND corp book ‘Advent of netwar’ as an alternate pre-history of DAOs.

Whilst there is some overlap – it must be said – Netwar is not a history that people (mostly in their 30’s and younger) involved in the building/doing of web3 development recognise as being their own.

3. DAO Coordination Tools

The now super influential modular politics essay had just been published (I’d read it in pre-print) and it fresh in my mind whilst writing this – not that it’s ever very far away lol. More robust DAO goverance tools were urgently needed. 

Gnosis Guild launched their suite of Zodiac tools 7 months after I wrote this post. Initially with 4 modules, Zodiac has since expanded in scope. Now stewarding 15 tools with contributions from other parts of the web3 ecosystem SekerDAO, institutional technology framework Kolektivo, and DaoHaus. 

A composable design philosophy for DAOs, Zodiac is a collection of tools built according to an open standard. The Zodiac open standard enables DAOs to act more like constellations, connecting platforms, protocols, and chains, no longer confined to monolithic designs.

In other words: Zodiac is the expansion pack for DAOs.

Looking back on this now, I observe that I make the cardinal sin of conflating coordination and governance. In work since I’ve come to realise that these are two separate (yet interrelated) mechanisms.

The conflation of governance and coordination is a serious oversight on my part. I wrote that “Democratising the boardroom is only the first step.” It’s been interesting to observe the huge community flame wars that have occurred over boardroom thinking. (Examples being ENS,UNISwap, Cosmos network off the top of my head).

But worse, the Web3 pushing governance without experimenting with coordination tools has caused the emergence of what I called the ‘hellish technocratic LARP’ mode of DAO governance last year. 

A Terrible Experience for Everyone.

As I just mentioned, democratising the board room has resulted in the rolling AGM as a model participatory form. Endless 24/7 discussion in Discord/Social media that eventually gets transmuted into solemn sacrosanct votes on chain.

Other.internet have recently been doing good work with Uniswap exploring governance processes and coordination. John Palmer Fish/Party tool that enabled smaller token holders to band together to force votes on uniswap as a very cool block chain ‘coordination’ tool too. 

The emergence of autonomous worlds on the blockchain and the Lattice.xyz‘s MUD framework that includes all the network code, may result in the creation of some new interesting governance AND coordination mechanisms. I’m excited.

4. Other Plug and Play Tools

Lastly rounding out the retrospective, at the bottom of this post I proposed the following product/industry roadmap:

Step 1. Wallets + Groupchats + DAOs + Coordination Tools

Step 2. DeFi + Tax Calculation Tools

Step 3. ?????

Step 4. Profit

We are as an industry still working in/on the Coordination tools (as separate from governance) part. 

DeFi has its moment in 2022. The collapse of FTX (and all that other fucking bullshit that occurred) didn’t phase DeFI in the slightest. Things kept trucking, liquidity kept coming.

Everyone who has pushed for decentralising not only traditional finance, but also the cryptocurrency ecosystem should take a victory lap. Almost ALL the colossal failures in the web3 space have come from private databases and opaque accounting. DeFi needs to take a victory lap, then we can get back to work.

De-fi Auto tax calculations are getting better and more robust – but as far as I’m aware there are no open source tools that can be added natively to one’s wallet as a Vx1 service.

So there we have that’s what I thought about web3 in 2020, I think I called a lot of it. Obviously now I’m out of my NDAs, I have opinions about where it’s going now. We’ll pick up this ball and run with it in Season 2.

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