> Readers note: This post comes with a small trigger warning, it may not make everyone happy but it is born of frustration about the current echo chamber nature of conversations within the ecosystem. It is not a rant (though it is certainly written with passion) as it aims to present potential solutions to the oft stated, but generically framed issues of adoption, awareness and real world impact.
> Sidenote: I’m guessing the report will have cost $50k at least - can anyone from Parity/W3F clarify?
Messari brings transparency to the cryptoeconomy. We want to help investors, regulators, and the public make sense of this revolutionary new asset class, and are building data tools that will drive informed decision making and investment. We believe that crypto will democratize access to information, break down data silos, and ultimately give everyone the tools to build wealth.
Messari a for profit company, without a token (yet) - aims to be as objective and independent as possible, but it is an observer - its analysts may hold assets that they declare, but it not an integrated part of any ecosystem - as a result, its insights and usefulness will always be detached from the internal workings of what are aimed to be sovereign digital networks.
In Polkadot’s example - where on-chain organisation, debate and resolution are core, objective analysis is integral to its existence, persistence and growth.
Ultimately if we want regulators, referees and objective (and critical) reporting, we need to figure out a way for these entities and processes to be structured as public goods/services/collectives within the ecosystem, aligned with the long term incentives of Substrate’s emerging public domains…
The Messari report is great, and full of useful insights, but it is a paid report, delivered by analysts observing the ecosystem, not researching, setting strategy, fostering collaboration and mining core insights that can expand the paraverse…
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance - Alan Watts
You cannot explain on-chain governed networks. You need to get inside them. You need to experience them. Be beaten up by them. Realise how little you know. How little the designers do.
Only then, in the harsh light of actual community interaction and receipt of cold hard do you appreciate the basic magic of on-chain governance and the ability to propose and receive funding for creative contributions in a system outside of the existing financial system.
This is the red pill. The selective attention test. The dumb super-power everyone glosses over in the hunt for the sexy new derivatives, scarcity games or expansion of Polkadot’s ability to process quadrillions of transactions - almost always, because marketing requires complexity - marketing requires obfuscation, marketing succeeds by elevating soap to a revolutionary cultural force.
Look around crypto - ask yourself - does the best tech win? Or the best marketing?
DotSama is young, it is messy and more than that, with on-chain governance it is (fiendishly) complex - not just technically, but economically and culturally.
With the addition of Gov2, there is the hope (and the accompanying fear) of a proliferation of proposals / referendums, which will further exacerbate the complexity for newcomers, making it even harder to see the wood for the trees.
Things are not going to get easier - they are going to get much, much harder.
Therefore we need less complexity not more.
We need to reduce, not expand. Work with what we’ve got not build more shit no one needs or demands - other than investors and retail demanding some novel gimmick and flipping opportunity.
Creativity loves constraints…
I’ve heard it mentioned, that there shouldn’t be concern about too much going on in DotSama governance for people to keep up. This is a little naive.
Solo chain projects that have one shared state, are able to build permissionlessly, within a relatively simple ecology, rallying around simple (unregulated) fundraising primitives (ICOs, NFTs etc) that are themselves marketed to unwitting newcomers, unaware that yes you are early!
But also far far too late.
This approach is marketed and scaled on established social networks using existing growth tactics - influencers, paid media and a whole heap of speculative games. It works (if NGU is your measure of success) - but in the process perverts, corrupts and degrades the founding principles of the projects.
For these L1 chains and projects, there is explicitly no full stack and interoperable coordinating function.
It rejects this approach totally.
It has been said that Polkadot is the biggest bet yet on multi-chain maximalism, but it is also unquestionably the biggest bet yet on the power to change and the ability to direct - to coordinate not just on-chain orgs, but a whole armada of chains… with the arrival of parathreads able to spin up and down, we also have another dimension of change to think about - transitory projects,
For the multi-chain vision of relays, parachains and XCM to succeed, it demands active and sustained creative collaboration across chains, communities and contributors, in a manner that is far harder to coordinate that anything yet attempted in any other ecosystem.
And what is more, it needs to ensure this coordination ensures primacy of the founding aims of Web3 - of the mission over the market cap…
This is DotSama’s greatest strength, and weakness…
If Bitcoin is a slab of rock, and Ethereum a giant container ship changing direction once every few years, then DotSama aims to be…
We need to solve our own problems, with our own technology and begin to see Polkadot’s latent potential as an entirely new species, rather than a derivation of Bitcoin or Ethereum.
> side note: If I had the requisite skills I would develop a TG/discord bot/tipjar that fined, booted or publicly shamed anyone using keywords such as wen listing, wen marketing, wen airdrop, evm, ethereum or some other ecosystem’s products unless you are actually working on a ETH>DOT bridge which is probably about 15 people. We’ve normalised the clusterfuck that is working in ‘community projects’ when really that just means the ability for anyone to show up, contribute nothing and scream at you for not making them rich today.
We now return to our original programming:
To successfully coordinate DotSama collaboration is to manifest the flock. This is the goal.
And this begins with establishing on-chain organisations focused on addressing our own problems - from the ground up…
Wag Media is attempting to disseminate media about networks, and the Polkadot Fellowship aims to create a ranked organisation to maintain the core protocol, but there is no yet an organisation (or indeed organisation, of organisations) focused on a holistic, constant, and evolving research and analysis of the ecosystem many moving parts - aka a DotSama Messari…
Everyone wants ‘adoption’, ‘marketing’, ‘users’, or for Parity to better market Polkadot’s brand.
There are only a few thousand active accounts on both Kusama and Polkadot in the last 7 days.
There are endless groups across Substrate attempting to address collaboration and each individual, chain and community has small pieces of puzzle, but all are struggling in many of the same ways.
All end up falling back on pretty standard marketing techniques, which tend to forget the already awesome capabiltiies of the techology in terms of its organisational structures, delegation tools and funding.
Most end up spending a lot of time and effort being busy, but not being effective - primarily because the issues they seek to address, are symptoms of a much deeper malaise…
In a previous post The state of DotSama, I outlined a current birdseye view of the ecosystem, including a breakdown of current issues as stated by project teams and an assessement of the current economic models - those of Free Market Parachains (FMPs) and Common Good Parachains (CGPs).
I followed with an initial attempt to break down the core incentive models and design decisions of these networks in Substrate Ecology - as a way for us to all understand the emerging lexicon of the paraverse… and to build some sort of shared and evolving network research resource - initially for my own understanding, but with the hope that it could develop further.
These assessments come from experience related to time spent actively sourcing, developing and coordinating proposals, figuring out on-chain governance processes, and trying to organise a fully decentralised network of holders within Substrate’s second oldest, and most chaotically governed mainnet Edgeware.
It has been a griiiiiiiind.
As noted previously, on-chain governance it is (fiendishly) complex - not just technically, but economically and culturally.
Not only do you need to understand the technical processes, you need to figure out the tone of the proposal, the sentiment of a bunch of random people, and then deal with a binary yes/no vote.
Then your problems really begin. You need to manage your funds. They might go up, but more often they go down. You might have great liquidity, or you might have none.
Then maybe you need a topup - how does that work? Afterall, if the price has gone up, would you have returned the funds?
The people who understand DotSama best - not the theory, but the practical challenges, issues and opportunities of starting, maintaining and organising on-chain governed communities - in a larger network of on-chain communities, are those who contribute every day.
For anyone who has actively engaged in substrate governance, managed to login with an ID, commented on proposals, used the forums, successfully defeated the extrinsics tab, figured out how to propose a treasury spend, found the 5% bond, moved it through a Council motion and then onto a SimpleMajority referendum… all whilst dodging the slings and arrows of holders, I salute you.
And now with Gov2, there are gonna be thousands of these? And they happen across three phases? For real?
When a referendum is initially created, it is immediately votable by anyone in the community. However, it is not in a state where it can end, or otherwise have its votes counted, be approved and summarily enacted. Instead, referenda must fulfil a number of criteria before they are moved into a state known as Deciding. Until they are in this state, they remain undecided. - Gov2
That far away look you see in Raul’s eyes… that’s what on-chain governance PTSD looks like.
You want the council devolved… you will miss it when it is gone.
Harnessing and scaling this untapped collective intelligence is key to advancing the ecosystem.
This is about establishing and persisting sovereignity - not just of data, but of narrative.
It is a template for creating productive on-chain organisations who can collectively bring DotSama’s story to life - in our own words, on our own terms, maintaining incentive alignment over the long term, dogfooding the very technology we want adopted in the process, and driving the flywheel of adoption.
If funding doesn’t scale, or sustain, or remain aligned over the long term then neither does the system. You see if you fix funding for project teams, you don’t need to monetise. You build at your own pace, you grow together, you exit the rat race, the speculators and the noise…
Our Messari would start as one on-chain org, but it would expand to a whole network of connected groups, each researching, expanding, educating and illuminating the paraverse - not for the Twitterati, but for ourselves.
There is an opportunity to use basic organisational structures such as Optimistic Orgs (as pioneered by Shokunin Network) which leverage time delayed proxies.
We could very quickly develop a whole team of researchers, on-chain analysts, developers, designers and artists, to bring DotSama to life - primarily for our own shared benefit, but also, as a way of telling our own story, on our own terms, leveraging the very tools, we want people to adopt.
We can build simple onboarding interfaces into these collectives - starting them with creating an on-chain identity that evolves based on their contributions using Kabocha Seeds - a project we aim to develop into a new hybrid kind of common good chain (more on that in another post).
We can do this intially using wallet-less onboarding, since there will just be a non-transferable token representing a new contributors blank slate identity.
As they assess the various ways they can contribute, they can then put forward proposals to the proxy and only need one of the existing org to queue the transaction.
They then upgrade their account to a full on-chain address / keys.
Pretty soon, we’ll end up with a front page of DotSama not being the protocols, but the creative projects you can contribute to… a veritable smorgasbord of inspiring organisations, whose exploits, challenges and advances we can report on, through, you’ve guessed it another independently funded optimistic org.
This is what (network) public service media begins to look and feel like…
We’ll be pushing forward a number of proposals into Kusama (and then Polkadot) governance in the next few weeks and months, focused on tapping the treasury and indeed the underlying tools, to start to organise dynamic teams, with diverse skill sets, interests and approaches, that can establish and scale on-chain collectives and very easy to understand creative projects.
here’s a sample - the Auto Fabrica creator collective
These proposals will also aim to reframe the core economic relationship between a relay, parachain and importantly its on-chain orgs/contributors - elevating creators, from merely recipients of grants, to a core part of the economic engine of the ecosystem, diversifying DotSama’s current core reliance on crowdloans and auctions to drive attention to the ecosystem, accrue value to relays and support security.
Transition Web2 followers, into Web3 contributors by solving the sustainable funding of creative contribution.
The great opportunity for DotSama, its resources, design and evolving governance structures is to actively coordinate creative employment across any and every domain imaginable.
This is what DotSama education looks like from a very real, practical, and pragmatic perspective.
This is what DotSama ‘marketing’ looks like, at every scale imaginable.
Productive on-chain organisations maintaining absolute sovereignity over their emerging narratives.
Composing those same narratives into expansive story worlds through cross-chain collaboration and XCM and Ink!, all built around very clear and specific creative projects with focused goals and exciting opportunities to contribute.
Let’s make crypto humane again.
Bitcoin was born at the tail end of an economic expansion that has been NGU since the end of WWII and the creation of the great neoliberal experiment.
Quantitative easing and zero interest rate policy has created vast credit and debt bubbles.
Until 2020-21 the party raged on, but the times they are a changin’.
The next bull market in crypto will see a distinct separation - between the casinos (and the civil society dumpster fire it will further accelerate) and the networks, projects and teams focused on building stuff that actually fires people’s imaginations that there are other ways out of this mess than buying ape shaped lottery tickets in another rigged system.
We need a dedicated move towards making the lead narrative the ability to earn KSM/EDG/DOT and then giving them ways to spend those tokens - not on roulette, but within real economies, for real people, focused on addressing real needs.
Stop imagining your ideal user as some token flipper and start stretching your imaginations.
What does crypto adoption look like to some recently unemployed but talented metal worker?
How do we onboard people who don’t spend 80 hours a week on reddit?
How do we onboard people who think crypto is a scam?
Or those burned by its undelivered promises?
If crypto has been a failure, it has been a failure of awareness, of imagination and of storytelling, rooted in an inability to expand our horizons beyond simply designing systems that are in effect hyper-individualist crypto based parodies of established institutions the technology aimed to replace.
- This isn’t gold, it’s digital gold!
- This isn’t a dollar, its a digital dollar!
- This isn’t a company, it’s a digital autonomous organisation!
Bitcoin’s fixed supply and corresponding digital gold narrative was never a core part of Satoshi’s vision, in fact the 21m was as educated guess as he stated in this email to Mike Hearn:
My choice for the number of coins and distribution schedule was an educated guess. It was a difficult choice, because once the network is going it’s locked in and we’re stuck with it. I wanted to pick something that would make prices similar to existing currencies, but without knowing the future, that’s very hard. I ended up picking something in the middle.
In his post In Praise of Bitcoin, Ben Hunt comes closest to nailing the end result of the narrative gravity of the incumbent power structures:
…the artistic Bitcoin identity I admire and value has been subverted by the neutering machine of Wall Street and the regulatory panopticon of the US Treasury Dept.
what made Bitcoin special in the first place is nearly lost, and what remains is a false and constructed narrative that exists in service to Wall Street and Washington rather than in resistance.
The inevitable consequence of this broken system is the continued expansion of the US dollar as the ‘free world’s’ digital reserve currency, in direct contravention of the founding ideals of Bitcoin which sought to mediate the power of central banks.
We should not high five the emergence of 10,000 strong PFPs and the assocatiated fixed supply scarcity games, we should ask ourselves why this dumb trick is still tolerated.
We should not celebrate the arrival of USDT in Polkadot, we should be ashamed that it is still needed.
We should not celebrate the creation of vast treasuries magicked into existence, we should race to dissolve them - as they engineer unbounded opportunity into a finite bucket, whose relative value rises and falls at the whim of the market, playing havoc with the psychological disposition and social dynamics of those who propose, approve and manage spending.