Sunpunk : A Rethinking of Public Goods in the Age of Ethereum

Gitcoin co-founder Scott Moore and ENS community lead Alisha.eth recently shared a discussion about public goods, community engagement, and the tools we need to build the future we want to live in.

The Web3 community is essentially a community rooted in a deep sense of optimism and hope for the future. The increasing popularity and advancement of technology gives us reason to believe that a world in which everyone has the ability to survive and thrive is not just a fantasy, but a real possibility. Yet when we examine the depictions of technology in the popular imagination, it becomes apparent that we often envision a world we don’t actually want to live in; the price of collective freedom. It was an imaginative failure with far-reaching consequences. This is also something we can choose to correct by dreaming of better outcomes and the systems that help us achieve them.

Technopunk culture, from dysfunctional to aspirational

Sunpunk : A Rethinking of Public Goods in the Age of Ethereum

Cyberpunk = high tech, low living

Cyberpunk is a genre of science fiction that first emerged in the New Wave science fiction movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and in the 1980s with Ridley Scott’s Movies such as Blade Runner and novels such as William Gibson’s Neuromancer continued to gain popularity. Even today, it may be the most dominant depiction of our technological future in popular culture, and is often portrayed as cool, rebellious, and counter-cultural. But the image cyberpunk paints is fundamentally a cruel world: a world in which giant corporations sit in horrific buildings and tower over polluted grey skies; humans live in what might be called In the dystopia of capitalism. Although we are often confused by the idea of ​​it, cyberpunk society is technologically advanced yet highly dysfunctional.

Sunpunk : A Rethinking of Public Goods in the Age of Ethereum

Cypherpunk = high tech, medium life

The cypherpunk movement, which has a strong spiritual connection to cyberpunk ideas, arose in the late 80s and continued to be popular in the early Internet era of the 90s. In doing so, it offers a better, but still limited, view of the possibilities that technology can give us as individuals in the fight against an increasingly powerful (though not unrealistic) global surveillance state .

Activists like Eric Hughes are primarily fighting for a world where strong cryptography will allow systems to enhance privacy and individual autonomy so that we can be free and undisturbed to live.

Sunpunk : A Rethinking of Public Goods in the Age of Ethereum

sunpunk = high tech, high life

In 2000, a broader concept of a future world began to take shape: Solarpunk. While solarpunk started out as a niche environmental movement focused on renewable energy and sustainable technology, it has since grown into a key part of a global conversation about building an optimistic future together; a regenerative one focused on humanity and our The world around them thrives together, not against it.

Fundamentally, while cyberpunk focuses on what we should stay away from (dystopian giant corporations, corrupt governments, and fading rebel alliances), sunpunk offers a way we might want to go vision. It emphasizes deep integration, rather than separation, between technology and the environment, as well as friendly conservation, self-sustainability and social inclusion, even for those who are incapable. As far as the future goes, it’s hard not to get excited about a future that centers on collective human prosperity and local sustainability.

Sunpunk offers a fresh start

But we might as well ask ourselves: why are these movements really important? In particular, why are they important to what we do in Web3? Simply put, the narratives we tell ourselves deeply influence our reasons for being, and in turn, how we behave in the world. As Joan Didion famously said, “We tell our own stories for our lives.”

But as Adam Cutis and others have pointed out, sometimes the stories we tell ourselves don’t actually belong to us. Too often, it’s easy to get caught up in institutions or algorithms, trapped in narratives that don’t improve our well-being, rather than being empowered by narratives that we ourselves have collectively created. We must carefully and deliberately choose the narratives we want to see in this world, and together we must free ourselves from centuries of collective conspiracy. In the context of sunpunk, the narratives we tell ourselves can give us deep hope and agency to build the future we want to see, to explore the role technology might play in it, and to synergize collectively, not just as personal.

Beyond the regenerated world it depicts, sunpunk can also be considered a sort of hopeful Schelling point, especially for us Web3 folks. Many of us are struggling to figure out how to get rid of the baggage of historical power structures, or at least better examine them, whether those power structures exist in the form of governments, corporations, or other less obvious forces like the economy, It is a common narrative structure in itself; a collective illusion. Now, many of us are doing this independently, without a unified vision or approach.

Some of us might investigate why the modern nation-state (another type of narrative that has only existed for a few hundred years) has quickly become synonymous with political and social coordination compared to traditional indigenous practices. Others may find inspiration in the writings of Karl Polanyi, who argues that our quest for continuous growth and economic optimization, without emphasis on local or historical context, creates dysfunctional market societies. We can explore the writings of Ivan Illich for a broader understanding of how educational institutions like universities (and measures like grades) are stand-ins for education and lifelong learning.

The Sun’s forward-looking focus on human flourishing provides fertile ground for exploring all of these topics at the intersection of social and institutional power, and gives us space to observe where we may be building differences around the connections we can have with each other. necessary wall.

other worlds are possible

A specific alternative model of political and social coordination worth exploring in depth can be found in the work of Elinor Ostrom, who won the Nobel Prize in 2009 for her research on the management of the commons. At a high level, this approach can be thought of as a substitute for state or market management resources. Instead, it examines what it might look like for a community of users to self-manage the resources they create in a more communal, reciprocal way.

Ostrom looked at arrangements for irrigation, fisheries and forest use in many countries, including Nepal, Spain, Indonesia, Nigeria, Bolivia, Sweden and the United States. By applying insights from rational choice theory and development economics specifically to ecological conservation, Ostrom’s work shows that “local property can be successfully managed by local commons without any regulation or privatization by central authorities.”

Her work is worth reading in its entirety, and we summarize her famous eight principles below:

  1. Set clear boundaries between communities and resources;
  2. Working with direct stakeholders to develop rules locally;
  3. Provide clear participatory procedures for updating the rules;
  4. Once the rules are in place, create accountability;
  5. Apply progressive social sanctions to resolve conflicts;
  6. Ensure conflict resolution is informal, accessible and low-cost;
  7. Make sure your rules are not obstructed by higher-level regional authorities if needed;
  8. Keep nesting rules in this way until everyone is consistent.

While most of these principles may be obvious to us Web3 folks, it’s uncommon to see these concepts implemented in a non-hierarchical fashion in much of Western society, even more than a decade later.

Another option, this time in contrast to corporations, can be found in the Rochdale Principles, a set of philosophies for the functioning of cooperatives created in 19th century England. These principles are still actively used today by cooperatives around the world. overall; in summary:

  1. Establish a voluntary and open membership system;
  2. Establish participatory decision-making processes;
  3. Make sure everyone has the right to play the game;
  4. Allow member autonomy in all arrangements;
  5. Education and advocacy to ensure equal participation of members;
  6. network with other cooperatives;
  7. Generate positive externalities for the community.

Both of these examples provide inspiration for us to adapt our standard model of how we govern ourselves using other tried-and-true but lesser-adopted tools. If we stay optimistic and work together, maybe we can finally avoid the binary opposition between giant states and cyberpunk activists presented in cyberpunk media.

Can we escape the tragedy of the commons?

Simply put, one of the challenges with commons or method-based cooperatives is that relationships are complex and only get more complex as the group grows in size. While communes of a few dozen people tend to run smoothly, the chance of conflict increases as we approach the “social Dunbar number,” the theoretical maximum at which the average person can maintain close relationships of 150.

From a network growth perspective, according to Metcalfe’s law, a group of two people can only make one connection, but 5 people can make 10 connections, and 12 people can make 60. Governance is one thing when a community is small, local and nested, but our relationships on the scale of modern civilization are large and sprawling. So what happens when our commons reach global scale?

The obvious solution is for everyone to take a bit and simply work together – but they tend not to do so without a coordinating mechanism to ensure everyone’s contributions. This is aptly called the tragedy of the commons. While, as Ostrom critically shows, it was avoidable, it remains a major challenge for all of us today (whether due to scale, culture, or humanity, it’s still hard to tell).

The regenerative economic tools being built in Web3, including “dweb (decentralized world wide web)” technology, are a promising solution to these global coordination problems. The regenerative economy tool is sunpunk. But fundamentally, no tool is perfect, and we have to choose, not only to focus on the right problem, but to keep iterating on potential solutions until we have the best possible solution. Getting this right affects every corner of the world.

But to do this well, we need to resist old-fashionedism. While it’s important to be critical of new tools (as Marshall McLuhan said, “We shape our tools, and our tools shape us”), we must first be optimistic, recognizing By the time we all have the ability to take back control of corrupt institutions, collectively design new frameworks and mechanisms to replace them, and harness the power of new cooperative currencies to fund our efforts.

redefine public goods

Arguably one of the most critical frameworks to revise is the traditional concept of public goods. A public good in Introduction to Economics has two immutable characteristics: it is non-excludable (meaning that no one can be prevented from using the good) and non-rival (meaning that one person’s enjoyment does not diminish another’s enjoyment) ). This is usually up to the government to provide public goods, as businesses have no incentive to solve the “free ride” problem (why pay for a good that won’t stop you from using it anyway).

Sunpunk : A Rethinking of Public Goods in the Age of Ethereum

Some traditional examples of different types of goods assortment

As Laura Lotti, Sam Hart and Toby Shorin say in Positive Sum World: Reinventing Public Goods, “To create a majestic and An egalitarian society requires a broader view of public goods than can be imagined with economics alone.” We have to think deeply about what is a public good in Web3, and then think about the tools we might build, because classification does not Not so easy to discern. For example, open source code is widely considered a public good. But what about developers? As those who create infrastructure, should they also be considered (and funded) public goods? Or are common goods because they are finite?

Critical but optimistic thinking about what a public good is will allow us to address the “free ride” problem that has plagued the financing of public goods in the past. The more clarity we have, the easier it will be to decide which projects are worth funding.

A framework other than the standard framework above has been used by teams such as Gitcoin and ENS:

Sunpunk : A Rethinking of Public Goods in the Age of Ethereum

Axis 1 is market failure, indicating how likely it is to capture any economic value from the project (that is, the higher you are on the market failure axis, the harder it is to monetize it).

Axis 2 is the value the project provides to the community (donation/funding amounts are determined by the project’s position on these two axes).

Now let’s consider what happens if we consider not only the value of a public good to a particular community, but also the positive externalities it creates on other communities. In this way, we can imagine how clubs or commons could function as generators of true public goods.

Consider open source software as an example of a truly global public good (in most cases, and increasingly, anyone should be able to access and use it). While Ethereum, for example, may be primarily responsible for the token holders who maintain the security of the network, the resulting code is public to everyone, forever, and can be the basis for other projects. In fact, we’ve seen this time and time again with EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) based chains.

Tools for social progress

Here are some practical examples in Web3 of projects that could help us reach a more solarpunk future, many of which are sustained by positive externalities generated by other projects, all of which in turn create their own positive externalities. Externality:

ENS’ digital signatures and online identities help us create sustainable, independent (and interdependent) entities online;

OPtimism’s retroactive public goods funding allows open source projects to be rewarded commensurate with the value they have generated in the past;

The quadratic funding established by projects like Gitcoin enables communities to signal their support for public goods in diverse ways and to co-fund public goods, which is both altruistic (supporting the public good itself) and instrumental (supporting products in their own ecosystem, in turn funding wider open source software through funding rounds) reasons;

Modular governance tools like Gnosis Guild help funded projects govern and sustain themselves in a fractal fashion.

Ethereum is sunpunk, but only if we choose it

Web3 isn’t just marketing hype and hoax, but if we’re not careful, it could easily end up like this instead of being a meaningful tool for social change. Technology doesn’t have to be in opposition to our environment, or our relationship to each other. Ethereum in particular, which is not tied to any one jurisdiction, can serve as a globally coordinated bottom layer to build new mechanisms for a broken world.

But as we’ve said many times, this is work that we have to actively choose, it doesn’t happen on its own, and in fact, if left to ourselves, we might oppose it. Let us use the stories we tell, and the regenerative economic systems we build, to push ourselves to generate the positive externalities we seek. At the end of the day, it’s all coordination.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:
Coinyuppie is an open information publishing platform, all information provided is not related to the views and positions of coinyuppie, and does not constitute any investment and financial advice. Users are expected to carefully screen and prevent risks.

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