OrgTech Review #18

A New Format, A Chain for Aragon, A Wiki for DAOs, and a Lesson from Wikipedia

Hello and welcome to OrgTech Review, a newsletter about organizational technologies and the digital organizations using them. If you're new here, check out this introduction to OrgTech and subscribe using the button below.


We’re trying out a new format in this issue. From the beginning we have strived to be the comprehensive source of OrgTech news, but this means we’re only channeling more and more noise as the OrgTech industry grows more vibrant. It’s a wonderful problem to have. This new format aims to strike a balance, providing more curation for our busy readers while still maintaining a comprehensive overview for those who want to dive deeper. Let us know what you think!

This issue was brought to you by Jack Laing and Theo Beutel.


📺 Previously on OrgTech


⭐️ Highlights


🛠 OrgTech

Aragon Chain: a proof of stake blockchain for the Aragon community

Why have Aragon decided to build their own blockchain?

  • Platform Risk: Ethereum network activity determines the cost of using Aragon, making it hard to provide predictable prices to Aragon users, and Ethereum updates can break Aragon smart contracts (e.g. the upcoming Istanbul hard fork). Aragon Chain will make the platform more predictable and reliable for users.

  • Scalability: With Ethereum scalability measures still in development, Aragon are concerned that they'll be held back from onboarding more users when they find traction. At launch, Aragon Chain is estimated to have 2-10x more throughput.

  • Sustainability: Owning the full stack will give Aragon the flexibility to capture value wherever it accrues, making Aragon's economy more sustainable.

What will Aragon Chain look like?

  • Aragon Chain will be a Tendermint proof-of-stake blockchain, using the Cosmos SDK with an EVM module that will facilitate the migration from Ethereum.

  • Along with proof-of-stake consensus, there will be a new staking token called ARA, which will be minted/burned by depositing/withdrawing ANT from an Aragon Fundraising bonding curve. This is similar to Aragon Court's ANJ token economics, which you can read more about here.

  • There will be a bridge between Aragon Chain and Ethereum, which will enable tokens to be transferred between chains and allow decisions originating in Aragon Chain to be executed in Ethereum by an Agent.

What's next?

  • Now that the proposal has been approved in Aragon Network Vote #4, ChainSafe will begin work on Aragon Chain and the Ethereum bridge.

  • Aragon expect to continue supporting Ethereum and upgrade when Ethereum 2.0 comes around.

Further reading: ChainSafe Aragon Feasibility Report here, Aragon Chain AMA with Aragon One, ChainSafe, and Cosmos here, ANT Demand Modeling Framework here, ANT and Aragon Court here, ANT and Aragon Fundraising here, Aragon Court v1 Technical Spec here.

Underscore Protocol + DAOstack Wiki

Underscore Protocol is a content versioning system inspired by git, the leading software versioning system. Documents are stored in IPFS on Ethereum, which means they can only be modified by the document owner's Ethereum address. Edits are made by branching the document into new perspectives, of the full document or optionally just a portion, and then merging with the main perspective according to whatever governance structure is in place. Portions of other documents can also be embedded within your document, then automatically updated corresponding with any changes made in the source document, or you can modify from within your document and merge with the source document according to the governance structures of the source document.

As a proof of concept, Underscore Protocol are developing a wiki tool for DAOstack's Genesis DAO, which assigns the DAO as the document owner of the main perspective, such that any proposed edits to the wiki must be approved by the DAO. As well as wikis, these mechanisms could be used to govern a DAO's constitutions/policies and enable DAO members to collaboratively edit proposal documents.

Similar work was done at ETHBoston by a DAOstack core team member, this time focusing on enabling a DAO to manage the state of the code for its own UI. Use cases identified include constitutional documents, product designs, multi-author articles, videos, and digital art.

Further reading: Demo of DAOstack PoC here, forum thread about DAOstack PoC here, Underscore Protocol demo here, podcast with Underscore Protocol founder Pepo Ospina here.


🦠 Orgs

OpenLaw's "The LAO"

OpenLaw have rebranded the concept of an LLC-DAO (a DAO legally wrapped in an LLC legal structure) as a "LAO" and are forming an eponymous for-profit venture capital DAO called "The LAO", much like the branding strategy of the original 2016 The DAO.

The LAO will be linked to an LLC incorporated in Delaware, require that all funded projects also register in Delaware and tokenize their stock, and require that all DAO members (currently limited to 100) be accredited investors as verified by KYC. It will make use of OpenLaw's tools for linking legal documents to smart contracts, in this case modified MolochDAO smart contracts which will include the "rage quit" mechanism.

During the funding application process, the LAO smart contract will hold the tokenized stock that represents its ownership interest and automatically release funding to the applicant's address (or return the tokenized stock) subject to the results of member voting.

Further reading: Launch article here, technical details here, critiques here and here, rebuttals here.


🧠 Brain Food

What the decentralized web can learn from Wikipedia

Editorial reputation is established over time on the basis of contribution histories. Edit counts are the basic quantitative measure of contributions; talk pages expand on this with qualitative data about actions and interactions with other Wikipedia stakeholders. Eventually, Editors with strong reputations should be able to successfully volunteer as Administrators. Such a reputation system allows users to remain pseudonymous, incentivises users to concentrate their time on accumulating reputation under only one identity (minimizing Sybil attacks), and slows down the evolution of power distributions (minimizing hostile takeovers).

Editorial disputes are resolved using a standard escalation process. If Editors are unable to reach peer consensus after discussions on the articles' talk page, they can seek facilitation from an Administrator, among other measures. If the dispute remains unresolved after all other measures have been exhausted, the matter is escalated to the Arbitration Committee, who have the power to remove Administrator privileges. Editors are incentivised to manage disputes cooperatively because their actions are recorded on the talk page and thus tied to their reputation.

Rather than seeking finality, as many blockchain designers do, Wikipedia's mechanisms are designed to iterate slowly and continuously. Even Wikipedia's governance policies are open to constant iteration, needing only an uncontested edit to policy pages to be changed. This flexibility is also deployed in Wikipedia's approach to security; the whole community is responsible for coordinating to amend malicious actions, rather than proactively restricting actions, meaning over time the community can keep itself clean of bad actors.

Headless Brands

Brands are consensus systems through which reputation and narratives emerge from consumers sharing their impressions. Centralized media enabled corporations to control one-to-many transmission of narratives, which was then undermined by the rise of decentralized media and many-to-many transmission of narratives (e.g. hashtags and memes).

Now, decentralized organizations are taking brand decentralization to the next level, by giving community members ownership and therefore a financial incentive to spread their own brand narratives. Headless brands are the extreme of this, where brand identities are decoupled from founder identities through pseudonymity or gradual ceding of control. This eliminates the founder's personal brand as a single point of failure, lends itself more powerfully to community mobilization and meme-driven virality, and enables the testing of parallel narratives in the search for product-market fit.

However, the lack of a central brand authority threatens the cohesion of the brand, which at its extreme leads to narrative forks (e.g. Bitcoin vs Bitcoin Cash).

To maintain brand cohesion, founders may try making brand ownership centralized (e.g. Ethereum Foundation‘s ownership of the Ethereum trademark), imbuing their philosophy into an organizational constitution (e.g. Bitcoin's whitepaper), hard coding their ethos into protocol design choices that serve as community guidelines (e.g. Bitcoin’s 21M fixed supply), or designing governance models that allow brand tensions to be resolved without forks (e.g. Decred, Tezos, et al's on-chain governance).


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🛠 OrgTech


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