Organizational Shift

DAOs are a revolutionary way for connected humans to organize, coordinate, and pool resources without the need for centralized authorities or intermediaries.

These community-led groups transparently establish operating agreements and manage a shared treasury. By leveraging smart contracts, all decisions made by a DAO (“Decentralized Autonomous Organization”) are recorded on an immutable blockchain and governance tokens are used for gathering consensus.

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This caffeinated contribution was written by Alex Myers. This certified futurist is a DAO Agility Coach at Aragon, a web3 platform for building DAOs on open-source infrastructure with governance plugins. Alex is also a web3dsm organizer who believes the more we teach, the more we learn.

There are over 11,000 DAO’s in operation, encompassing $11B+ in treasuries, varying widely in size, scope, and AUM (“assets under management”). All of DeFi utilizes DAOs to govern their treasuries, yet many are simply small groups of like-minded individuals who want to quickly gather, pool capital, and make decisions. 

DAOs, like companies, come in many forms. Venture funds, investment groups, grant committees, philanthropy, media, and more. Here are the world’s largest DAOs and here are different types of DAOs.

Besides a wallet and owning cryptocurrency, no technical skills are required to create a DAO. Several no-code operating systems (Aragon, Tally, Colony, DAOHaus, and others) enable anyone to create a DAO in minutes by simply selecting governance capabilities, funding options, and voting requirements. Given many DAO operating systems are open-source, custom smart contracts and powerful plugins can add tailored functionality without additional cost as well.

To join a DAO, new members go through an onboarding process. Once confirmed, members can be given a digit asset, such as an NFT, to verify the details of their participation. Members are then granted access to a communication tool (like Discord, Telegram, or Slack) to collaborate with other members as decisions are made on which projects to pursue.

DAOs are different from traditional companies in that there is no hierarchy and decision-making is done through pre-set protocols and smart contracts. This decentralizes power and allows for more operational versatility. Members can work from anywhere and focus on work management rather than people management. Contributors can work in multiple DAOs and choose to remain anonymous or more identifiable within the group.

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Cheers to this web3 series brewing on the future of how we connect, communicate, and collaborate online!

As hype cycles and funding began to deteriorate in 2022, due to (mostly) macroeconomic forces, DAOs realized that community over performance was unsustainable. Today, sustainable DAOs utilize battle-hardened methodologies like Agile and KPIs to enhance coordination and productivity, while still maintaining a sense of community.

While all DAOs use crypto-assets to establish themselves, the size and scale of a DAO can impact its operations. Larger DAOs require more planning and coordination around governance optimization, commonly breaking into smaller, goal-oriented teams to define their own budget proposals, objectives, and success metrics. Since treasuries are often much more significant, DAOs members expect historical performance and analytics before voting to allocate funding.

DAOs are built on open, borderless, neutral, and censorship-resistant blockchains. This distribution is paradigm-shifting and a big reason for DAO growth. However, such dispersion also exposes DAOs to legal ambiguity. Since DAOs aren’t beholden to country-specific laws backed by traditional business structures (LLC’s, S-corps, C-corps, etc.), they must consider incorporation to minimize liability for members. Smaller DAOs with reduced financial capital are not as complex and more nimble, which allows them to define budgets, proposals, and goals with less effort.

Depending on the size, composition, ongoing activity, and how a treasury is funded (seed funding, ICOs, airdrops, grants, etc.), taxation and regulatory compliance is another presiding element for DAOs. This is especially true if a DAO is generating revenue by charging fees and distributing them back to token holders, as they could be redefined as securities and create taxable events. In short, the larger a DAO becomes, the more professional legal support, financial strategy, administrative attention, and overall leadership is required.

As we consider the future of work, DAOs have the potential to revolutionize the way organizations are structured and operated. DAOs re-imagine human coordination to be more equitable and transparent. With exponentially improving blockchain technology, alongside network effects, joining and contributing to DAOs will become a self-sustaining cycle of growth. As the world digitizes and becomes more decentralized, DAOs are poised to become a powerful force for change, disrupting traditional institutions and fostering a new era of innovation.

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You’re now ahead of the curve! Welcome to Web3 is a shareable reference and follow the Web3 tag for more reflections flavored in futurism.

Non-Fungible Fabric

Ownership is a fundamental principle of web3. NFTs (“non-fungible tokens”) are digital assets supported by smart contracts that connect to a blockchain. Each NFT is unique, which allows code to autonomously apply, track, and transfer digital signatures and verifiable ownership.

With cryptocurrency supporting the economy of web3, NFTs can be thought of as property within this space. Leveraging the immutable nature of a blockchain, NFTs allow anyone to instantly verify authenticity or trace provenance through the history of ownership.

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This caffeinated contribution was written by Will Schneller. This artist turned founder, graduated from Iowa State University and is now an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Drake University. As a curious creator, volunteer organizer for web3dsm, and owner of Totality – #14, Will has been exploring web3, AI, and how community brings it all together.

The hype of Beeple’s $69M NFT sale led to an explosion of interest in 2021, but the first NFT-like implementation can be traced back to Bitcoin’s Colored Coins Project proposed, in-part, by Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Butrin. Within this 2013 project, the process of making something distinct, like a fungible Bitcoin, was scrutinized by adding metadata into a coin. Smart contracts that include trackable metadata has become a critical component of NFTs. The most common standard for representing ownership of non-fungible tokens, is ERC-721, which has been battle-tested with the most recognizable NFT collections and is continually being refined.

There are two main misconceptions with NFTs. The first is that an NFT is only digital art. This overlooks one of the most powerful attributes of NFTs — flexibility. NFTs are web3 primitives that can represent nearly anything. They allow us to weave together a future that removes the barriers between the physical and digital worlds. The second is that an NFT is only a URL. While some NFTs use generative algorithms to write an image or other types of data directly to a blockchain, most NFTs reduce computational costs (which translates into higher gas fees) by innovating around the theory of ordinals or hosting larger elements of the asset on a decentralized storage system. The token itself goes beyond simply being a pointer and acts as an immutable record of ownership on a decentralized ledger. In an environment where code is law, the entire network recognizes and enforces your ownership via consensus.

Each NFT has no exact equivalent, but they can still evolve. How a token is organized within a collection, where it’s created, who collectively governs the network, and what future states may unfold, gives each NFT its own life cycle.

Before creation, NFTs are often organized into collections, regardless of how many tokens are minted. A blend of “token” and “economics”, tokenomics determine issuance, supply, and any mechanisms that will either reduce supply or incentivize holding. Since NFTs are immutable, a collection’s tokenomics should be carefully considered. Testnets allow for experimentation in the development stage, which aids in NFT development. While coding smart contracts directly into a blockchain is the most powerful, cost efficient, and flexible way to create NFTs, platforms like OpenSea, Thirdweb, Crossmint, and Manifold aspire to make NFT management more accessible.

To begin life on a blockchain, an NFT first needs to be minted. During this creation process, smart contract functions are executed. This assigns token IDs from the collection and may perform metadata randomization before broadcasting the ownership record over the blockchain. Mints can be public, or limited to allow lists. To reduce the potential for scams, allow lists (also called “whitelists”) collect, prioritize, and manage interest using wallet addresses from potential NFT buyers. The release of NFTs within a collection can be done all at once, scheduled over time, or perpetually open. Highly anticipated collections can cause congestion on a network, creating gas wars in which buyers can push their transactions to the front of the queue by paying higher fees.

Once minted, NFTs can be exchanged in many ways. They can be bought and sold using cryptocurrency on marketplaces like OpenSea, Blur, SuperRare, or Foundation. Marketplaces provide key infrastructure which, in addition to facilitating trade, aids in collection discovery. They can also be transferred via an airdrop, which is when NFTs are gifted into a digital wallet. Airdrops provide a creative way to share assets with each other, with senders usually paying any gas fee.

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Pay close attention when using your wallet to complete signature requests. Signing a malicious smart contract can grant token approvals for all assets in a wallet. One common hack is packaged in NFT airdrops. If you receive an unknown NFT in your wallet, do not interact, transfer, or sell it as these actions can activate unwanted access. There are many stories of epic heists, so do your research and stay vigilant.

Once acquired, you’ll receive the NFT at your wallet address. Despite the token appearing in a wallet, it’s not really in your wallet; your wallet is like a web browser for the blockchain. Using a wallet address, you can see NFTs you own, and due to the transparent nature of public blockchains, you can also see other people’s collections.

While creator compensation and basic commerce has been the most publicized aspects of NFTs, with over $40B in transaction volume in 2021 alone, there are also ways to extend the life cycle of NFTs. Concepts like “burning”, and “staking” create extensions to what an NFT can become. When an NFT is burned, it’s sent to a null address for which nobody has the private key. Burned tokens are effectively removed from circulation and reduce the initial collection’s supply. This action can support the tokenomics of a project, while also adding depth to ownership within an NFT collection. Another concept is staking, or the act of locking an NFT in a specialized contract that prohibits transactions. Staking also reduces the circulating supply, but does not permanently reduce the size of the collection, as an owner can reclaim the token. Staking is often used as a way to incentivize holding for long periods of time and often yields rewards.

Alright, we’ve covered what an NFT is and how they work. Let’s pour into some current applications of NFTs, such as digital art, curating collectables, celebrating ownership within video games, administering membership benefits, managing events, enhancing security, and even raising financial capital for a new business.

To date, digital art has emerged as the most common use of NFTs. Artists can now monetize their work, push creative boundaries, and even earn royalties on secondary sales. Platform take rates have thankfully plummeted, which further extends the runway for artists to stay creative. Art buyers also appreciate fewer intermediaries, verifiable provenance, and new ways to connect with the creator. Along with access to art, NFTs can also help identify authenticity alongside the dynamic rise of machine learning and generative AI.

Collectables are also being enhanced with NFTs. Sports memorabilia, trading cards, toys, clothing, accessories, or classic cars can now be supplemented with digital assets that go further than a linked QR code. NFTs can add discoverability, more ways to socially trade with fellow collectors, and have enabled creative ways to digitally interact with physical items. For example, imagine buying a fresh pair of shoes that come with an NFT. Whether you decide to wear this prized possession IRL or not, using the connected NFT, your upgraded character can now rock these collectable kicks in your favorite video game. This is just an example, but the convergence of online status and identity makes NFTs a prime way to create communities where people feel a sense of belonging.

Speaking of gaming, NFTs provide a natural fit for gamers to celebrate ownership and authority in video games. Currently, in-game items, whether consumable or cosmetic, are effectively rented by the players. If a game developer shuts down the servers, these treasured items would vanish. In a web3 world, NFTs would support more lasting ownership. A few early examples are blockchain-based games like Cryptokitties and Axie Infinity, but consider when in-game items in Minecraft, Fortnite, or Call of Duty, are NFTs that can be transferred between players and different games. Web3 is inherently permissionless and interoperable, so innovative tools and conventions need to be created to foster these harmonious initiatives. While there’s more to be done, we are seeing more trust-minimizing technologies championed by industry leaders like Yuga Labs and Polygon, who are focused on unlocking such compatibility at a fundamental level.

Beyond entertainment, NFTs offer a decentralized method to managing memberships and associated benefits. A few examples include NFTs that grant access to events with commemorative NFTs, such as POAPs, serving as artifacts to mark the moment. Like a ticket, NFT ownership can also grant access to communication platforms like Discord, decentralized autonomous organizations (“DAOs”), and commercial copyright licenses, enabling token holders to create products or services with built-in network effects. Founders can build real-time brand equity in a crowdsourced startup and established corporations like Starbucks, Lowe’s, and Reddit are inventing new ways to add value, enhance security, and deepen brand loyalty using NFTs.

If we accept that our world is becoming increasingly digitized, there’s a natural fit for NFTs to enhance products, services, and verifiable value. In the neon future, it’s not crazy to think NFTs may soon power simple assets like concert tickets, but also critical belongings such as birth certificates, college diplomas, real estate titles, and more. As web3 matures, the challenges of digital money, property, ownership, and commerce may introduce new barriers, but mainstream adoption into more advanced economic constructs can seamlessly reshape today’s barriers into tomorrow’s non-fungible future.

Welcome to Web3

“Where should I start?”

I hear this a lot when web3 terms like decentralization, blockchain, cryptocurrency, NFT, minting, gas fees, DAO, smart contracts, dapps, metaverse, tokenomics, and wallet addresses emerge in conversation. This month we’ll explore this futuristic frontier together!

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Before we drip in, it’s good to recognize that there is already a ton of research, content, and resources around web3 online. I share this disclaimer to add an approachable sense of lightness here. My goal is to share some early observations while teaming up with a few web3 crusaders to help translate a few compelling concepts. Whether this voyage is the first time you’ve heard of web3 or this is just another island in your ongoing exploration, pour another cup of curiosity and let’s drip in.

Back in the 1990s, we dialed up and waited for CDs in the mail to avoid paying for every minute of access to the world wide web. This early version of the Internet was built by developers and primarily delivered content in one direction. Websites were static and really only available for people to read. This read-only experience is referred to as web1.

With the rise of personal computers and online connectivity growing fast, around 20 years ago, the Internet started paving a two-way street. Remember endless chats on AIM? How about the sense of belonging on bulletin boards, the first time you managed your own content on a website, or the time spent designing your MySpace page? The ability for everyone to read AND write into the Internet is our current state and can be considered web2.

As supercomputers landed in the palm of our hand, the bionic connection to machines accelerated the connectivity worldwide and ushered in our connected era. While such affinity allows us all to do more with less, the platforms that support this connectedness have become centralized. This gives immense power (and liability) to organizations that control ownership, data security, privacy, and scalability. As our shared dependency on technology fed web2 archetypes, humanity became numb to the endless exchange of our personal data for convenience. This convenience has activated absolute accessibility, but how can we now use the connected era to power what’s next?

web3 is a concept that describes the future of how we will connect, communicate, and collaborate online. Web3 technologies strive to optimize opportunity with distributed, permissionless, transparent, proportionate, and verifiable decentralization. If web1 was read-only and web2 is read+write, web3 is read+write+own.

If your jargon alarm just exploded, it’s because this space is still undefined. There are few industry standards, as we’re in the midst of labeling a wide variety of efflorescent activity. One interesting thing about web3 jargon, is that it often describes things we already know. Advancing technology supports key attributes that make web3 concepts different, but here’s what I mean. Currency for instance, is the oldest story humans have used to exchange value. Access to a securely shared database is old hat for web2 wizards. We’ve lived in Sim City long before the metaverse, everyone already has flight tickets landing in digital wallets, and communities always thrive when they are brewed from within. That warm take is not to discount the magic that may be web3, but instead, to make it feel less distant. As web3 concepts move through the technology adoption life cycle, innovators and early adopters will continue to agree on terms that help translate the way different technologies work together. Tomorrow is today and as innovative ideology is normalized by mainstream adoption, it will be fascinating to see what concepts prevail.

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No AI support was used in this writing.

Let’s temporarily terminate this approachable welcome to web3 by chewing on key terms. With this being a working draft (current version below) supported by linked resources, take one more minute to give yourself a serious boost of confidence as we continue to explore web3 together.

Decentralization – Sufficiently transitioning from single authorities to proportionately deliver verifiable ownership, access, control, transparency, communication, and governance to many stakeholders.

Dapp – A decentralized application built on a decentralized network that combines a smart contract and a frontend user interface. <more on dapps>

Wallet – This is your tool to access the world of web3. A wallet is used to interact with dapps, store public/private keys, and connect digital assets to a specific network location. Each wallet has a unique wallet address that can be used for cryptocurrency transactions and digital signatures. <more on wallets>

Wallet Address – Wallet addresses refer to a specific location on a network and look like this: 0xb794f5ea0ba39494ce839613fffba74279579268. These hexadecimal strings are generated from the wallet’s private key, which is required to securely send or receive data from one address to another. Like URLs for a website, ENS masks long wallet addresses with more approachable names like yourname.ETH. A wallet address can be treated similar to an email address and shared with care, while seed phrases and private keys should never be shared.

Blockchains – A decentralized immutable system that records every transaction with transparent logs on a dynamic ledger. There are private/permissioned and public/permissionless blockchains, with different levels to build on. <more on blockchains>

Smart Contract – Code-based agreement that establishes terms for how a transaction is executed for stakeholders involved, automated governance, arbitration procedures, and more. <more on smart contracts>

Cryptocurrency – Fungible assets used to support immutable financial transactions between stakeholders. There are four categories (payment cryptocurrencies, tokens, stablecoins, and central bank digital currencies) and over 20K+ different cryptocurrencies that total a market capitalization of $850B+, with Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) maintaining the largest market caps. <bitcoin white paper>

DeFi – Acronym for decentralized finance, which helps to weave cryptocurrency into the existing financial industry.

NFT – Short for “non-fungible token”, these are unique digital assets that use smart contracts to connect to blockchains, which autonomously applies, tracks, and transfers digital signatures and verifiable ownership. Non-fungible means that something is unique and can not be replaced. In contrast, physical money and cryptocurrencies are fungible, as they can be traded or exchanged for one another. <more on NFTs>

POAP – A proof of attendance protocol, which uses NFTs as tickets for an event or attendee confirmation at IRL (in real life) and online events. <more on POAPs>

Minting – The process of locking a cryptographic asset (such as an NFT) into a blockchain.

Airdrop – Giveaways sent to a digital wallet. They provide a creative way for people to share assets with each other, with senders usually paying any gas fee. Be skeptical of anything you receive that is airdropped from an unknown source. Like clicking links or opening attachments in emailed spam, there are poisonous airdrops that can force access into your digital wallet when a malicious item is transferred. To be safe, if an unrecognized airdrop lands in your digital wallet, leave it alone.

Gas Fee – One-time transaction fee to cover the dynamic costs of computing, electricity, and network verification required to interact with blockchains.

DAO – Acronym for “decentralized autonomous organization”, which can be compared to organizational structures like co-ops, LLCs, or venture capital firms. The specific structure, treasury, rules, and governance depend on the DAO and the group’s collective goals.

MetaverseInteroperable virtual environments where users can interact with each other from anywhere. The rise of virtual and augmented reality has led to more immersive experiences.

Tokenomics – The abstract study of how digital assets work within social economic frameworks. Theories can range from how value is strategically perceived within a small DAO, all the way up to the global economy.

V1.0

Minting

I’ve been hinting about minting.

TL:DRI’ve minted a new NFT collection!

As a community builder and hybridized translator of technology, I’m proud to be surrounded by remarkable artists and nerds you need to know. As trailblazers continue to push boundaries, the decentralized, community-driven aspects of blockchain technologies has me in a curious state of pure wonder.

To test a blockchain technology, Nathan T. Wright and I teamed up to learn through action. We decided to explore non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”) by creating a new NFT collection called Roasted Reflections!

This caffeinated collaboration commemorates one year of YDNTB and is dedicated to connecting entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and community builders. Only 100 NFTs will be minted on OpenSea throughout the month of April. We’ve established two small, more exclusive categories of tokens that include bonus materials, VIP access, and tradable value. A third category has more NFTs minted as free airdrops for those who pickup the new YDNTB NFT Bundle to share.

This special NFT collection is now live, as the first NFT was minted on April 1st, 2022. This rare collectible comes with all sorts of perks and was appropriately titled, Hello World – #1, with a .412021 ETH price that pays homage to the 4/1/2021 publishing date for YDNTB. Two more tokens will be released into the RR collection each Wednesday until all 100 tokens have been minted!

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Did you catch the subtle hint for this emerging NFT project in Launch? This learning expedition was also the inspiration behind Perpetual.

What’s next? Watch your inbox for more details on this interactive NFT project, including a special invitation to a new Discord channel built for all of us to continue building together. My hope is that along with a fun way to collectively enjoy this digital treasure hunt, the Roasted Reflections NFT collection will be remembered as how my family and friends secured their very first NFT! In the meantime, here are a few of the lessons learned along the way.

– Humans enjoy collecting things together.
– Value is often based on supply, demand, and a sense of belonging.
– NFT minting creates a unique item connected to a smart contract.
– A smart contract for each NFT is then data stored on a blockchain.
– The first NFT was minted in 2014.
– Think less about how NFTs look or sound.
– NFTs represent ownership verified by data.
– These digital assets can also be used for various types of access.
– Categories in a collection provides scalability and diversifies value propositions.
– You need a digital wallet to receive, buy, or sell NFTs. (I use Coinbase)
OpenSea is the largest marketplace to learn, create, buy, and sell NFTs, but Coinbase NFT is coming soon.
– Floor price is the lowest priced NFT in a collection.
– Weekend minting is often less expensive.
– Computing power for the verification process creates a harmful environment impact that needs improvement.
– Successful NFT collections are community-driven.
– The most expensive NFT sold for $91.8M.
– Airdrop is a fancy term for giveaway.

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I can’t help but to think, perhaps the NES generation who grew up wasting all our allowance on sports cards as kids, was destined to bring this technology to life.

I thought NFTs were silly at first. Talking with others and thinking about smart contracts can transparently certify proof of ownership has made me think again.

In the future, perhaps NFTs (or similar blockchain technologies) will be applied to verify event tickets, legal documents, and personal property? What if a birth certificate came with it’s own NFT that had a smart contract secured to the same person’s death certificate? Weird stuff, eh! Tokenomics is still the wild west and NFTs are considered a speculative asset, but it’s fun exploring uncharted territory and it’ll be interesting to see if a community-driven NFT collection like Roasted Reflections allows more explorers to own a small piece of this new frontier.