Contributors who are active in multiple communities are often seen in DAO organizations. The author explains this phenomenon with the theory of “best difference”: multilateral work is driven by the dual needs of belonging and differentiation, while Web3 and DAO are stronger this trend. The paper also points out that the design of DAO tools should take into account the objective realities and needs of contributor mobility. At the end of the day, it’s all a reflection of a fluid identity and contribution.
Contributing to multiple communities at the same time is the norm for many who make a living at Web3. Feel free to open up the Twitter profiles of some DAO contributors and you’ll find that they usually have 3-5 communities listed. Doing so may seem unfocused, but academics have something to say. In fact, the academic community has been studying for decades how to obtain the “best difference” for brain workers in a decentralized network.
The best difference is to study the theory of cascading multiple affiliations within a single identity, which not only makes sense intuitively, but can also be predicted mathematically. Essentially, people are always looking for a balance between the two needs of belonging and differentiation. The polyglot job (or “multi-job”) created by Web3 is not a random betrayal of Web2’s “9-to-5 job” – it’s a logical step for mental workers in an increasingly competitive labor market step. An employer may want an employee to work for him full-time, but in a more competitive market, a self-reliant employee would prefer to work for multiple communities.
The rise of digitally-native work will make us all act like scientists—a claim that stems from my own personal experience. I have explored the digital native community from many different angles. I was previously a laboratory neuroscientist and helped build ResearchGate, the main platform for scientists to connect with each other. More recently Backdrop was created, a platform that leverages tokens and other Web3 infrastructure to make community engagement easier and more fun. The reason I left the scientific world for Web3 is because I strongly believe we are building a foundation where distributed communities like academia can get a better share of the value they create. I love talking to people working in Web3 because they sound so much like scientists, especially with the layered awareness they have when thinking about identity building.
Best Difference – “Different Fireworks”
Dr Marilynn Brewer is a psychologist who has devoted her entire career to studying “how individual identities are shaped by group identities”. She first wrote about the optimal difference theory in 1991. The beauty of this theory is that not only can it be a 50-page paper, but it can be summed up succinctly in one sentence:
“The human individual has two fundamental, competing needs, the need for belonging and the need for differentiation. Both of these needs can be met by joining groups that are moderately inclusive (optimal differences).”
In order to survive and cooperate, the desire to join the most differentiated social group is the most fundamental human nature. This explains why we are so happy when we feel a true sense of belonging in our beloved community, and why lefties are more likely to develop deep social bonds than righties (as a community, righties child does not have enough differentiation).
In the scientific world, the sweet spot for the best difference is: working in your desired field without being “cut” by others (other scientists publish your results before you publish). Our research at ResearchGate shows that scientists often define their field of study by the intersection of 3-5 topics, such as “CRISPR gene | cystic fibrosis | fruit fly” or “regeneration | multiple sclerosis | mouse” ( my laboratory area of expertise). 3-5 topics seem to be the “best difference” for most scholars.
Hopefully the 3-5 average still works in Web3. Although the Venn diagram looks different, for example it might be “NFT | lawyer | music”, the logic is the same. Contributing to NFTs, legal and music DAOs at the same time doesn’t make someone lose their focus, it makes them unique.
In the scientific and Web3 worlds, there is one common exception to the 3-5 community rule: founders and core contributors. If you create a successful community, or invent a certain technology or field of study, you don’t need to cascade additional affiliations to get the best difference directly. This confrontation brings a contradiction in user experience to DAO tools: founders are less concerned about diverse work, and even protect their own communities in some aspects; DAO tools designed for founders do not take into account the majority of contributors Need to manage multiple concurrent affiliations.
UX lessons learned from COVID-19 research
What problems can arise in a design that does not consider cascading communities? Products built for communities engaged in Covid-19 research can make a good statement:
In response to Covid-19, many scientific organizations are doing what they can to help scientists working on vaccines and Covid-19 treatments. In the early days of the epidemic, scientists were unable to follow up with published information in a timely manner for three reasons:
- quantity. As the entire scientific community turns its attention to COVID, the rate of publications about the coronavirus has increased dramatically in a matter of weeks. Some studies estimate it to be about 100 times larger than it was before the pandemic hit.
- quality. In addition to the increase in volume, there has been a corresponding increase in low-quality publications, as most of them bypass the traditionally slow peer review process and are published on (anyone can publish) preprint servers.
- Crash of existing query and integration tools. Many of the tools scientists use to keep up-to-date on what’s going on take time to cope with the explosion of preprints. For example, Google Scholar and Pubmed, the two major scientific search engines, do not index most preprints.
In response, many organizations have developed tools to collect and organize preprints and publications related to Covid-19. We built the COVID community on ResearchGate, which is like a subreddit of Reddit connected to a fairly exhaustive publication database. Institutions such as Johns Hopkins University and companies such as Semantic Scholar have made similar efforts. We’re just trying to help front-line scientists and don’t take into account the long-term experience of users.
Working on these solutions used to feel motivating and helped plug holes early on. But later, most of them were removed or reverted back to the original product. (Just before I left ResearchGate, our COVID community came to an end.) The reason these products didn’t last is simple: the COVID theme isn’t a perfect bucket for scientists—it’s a mix of several themes within science. Stacked up, like clouds in the sky.
Suppose you are a mathematician studying the spread of infectious diseases in developing countries. You dive headfirst into COVID research, occupy the field “coronavirus|mathematics|epidemiology|developing countries” and get the best difference here. You need to stay up-to-date with COVID publications on math, keep an eye on math journals, and keep an eye out for epidemiological publications related to other infectious diseases. Providing only COVID-related publications is incomplete for a community targeted for discovery. But it’s not as simple as adding math and epidemiology sources. Because Sarah’s area of expertise may be “COVID | Epidemiology | Mouse Models”, she needs publications on mouse models for other infectious disease research. In other words, a product that treats the community as a stuffy jar is not going to be optimized for anyone.
Play with Web3
──Why Twitter works but Discord doesn’t
The simple solution to user experience problems is the Internet’s most powerful tool: the web. I build my best area of differentiation in the web, and so does Sarah. The reason Twitter remains the most important platform for Web3 is because people can more smoothly manage their interest graphs. Twitter is your one-stop destination for the latest news and connecting everyone and everything you care about.
In contrast, Discord envisions communities as smoldering pots or gardens surrounded by high walls, with little movement between communities. You can’t create shared chats across servers, co-host an event with another community, or even have to cut back and forth between servers to notify everyone just to get work done. These are times when you feel like a cloud trapped in a stuffy can.
However, none of this is black and white. Some of Discord’s features do take into account the cloudy nature of the online community. For example, private chat messages can be cross-server, or show co-participating servers on the profile. I don’t mean to belittle stuffy tools like Discord, they are very important for building deeper connections within a single community. However, as work moves toward multilateralization, especially with the data interoperability enabled by web3, there is enormous potential to build experiences around facilitating interactions between intersecting communities.
Why multilateral work will continue
Research such as the best difference gives the DAO and the convenience it brings to multilateral work a clear position as a response to trends outside of cryptocurrencies. The rise of side jobs and the emergence of multilateral work in DAO organizations are part of this macro trend.
Critics of the DAO argue that the multilateral way of working will ultimately lead to nothing. Such criticism should not be directed at cryptocurrencies, but rather a high-level debate about whether the sideline market will slow down or disappear. This discussion is far more valuable, and it’s harder to simply disprove it with rhetoric like “blockchain is expensive.”
As an academic, based on research and product development experience, my view is that only a reduction in competition in the global talent market can slow the trend towards multilateral work. But given the new dynamism that remote work brings, I can’t imagine that happening. As the job market becomes more favorable to the employed side, I hope other mental workers will have 3-5 multilateral jobs like the scientific field. People usually focus on their main business and explore with their side projects, but multiple simultaneous projects will become the norm.
When investing for myself and Backdrop, I also considered that the shape of the employment picture will become more and more like a cloud, and no longer like a stuffy can. This is a good thing because it represents a trend towards placing power more equitably in the hands of individuals. Multilateral work allows workers the freedom to move, fluidly define their identities, and to reduce risk by keeping one foot on the firm ground as they embark on a journey of discovery. This is a natural evolution in an increasingly competitive talent market. Helping people get on the cloud and integrate their lives will be an increasingly important consideration for developers.
The future of work is at hand,
And we are all contributors to it.
Newstand, defining the new world of online collaboration. We call on all writers, artists, technologists, and researchers across disciplines to share critically about the future of work enabled by cryptocurrencies.
Published by Station, Newstand is a toolkit for the Web3 digital community dedicated to putting power in the hands of the people. Station uses its own platform to curate and recruit authors for Newstand.
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/clouds-and-cans-the-best-difference-in-contributor-status/
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