Magicians, Philosophers, and Cat Herders

Self-Organizing In A Decentralized Galaxy

Who Am I?

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Our eosystem is difficult to navigate

Particularly for newcomers!

We need navigators. We need a map.

Advice to new ones arriving

  1. Read voraciously.
  2. Write, build, and help out. Join a crew or two.
  3. Cluster with others who believe in you.

What is the structure?

Myself. Team. Organization. Galaxy. Universe.

Bright and violent history of the galaxy

Structure emerged from key events and factors:

  • Ideas and proposals
  • Self-organizing teams
  • Early personalities fanning out
  • Enormous amounts of capital in motion
  • Shared values, shared culture

Galactic stew: Devcon0

Almost everyone at Devcon0, audience and speakers.
Many now lead the core teams and core organizations.

Galactic stew: Devcon1

A larger group by 2015.
Many now lead the key dapps of the ecosystem.

We pay attention to large "organizations"

Ethereum Foundation, Parity Tech, ConsenSys, Status

...but there are hundreds of indie teams!

Teams loosely cluster around resources

"Control" is more like pushing string than pulling strings
(except when the resources are suddenly scarce)

Teams do not follow orders

Decentralization ethos and mistrust of authority
"NOIIC" - No One Is In Charge (of much)

How to escape the
Tyranny of Structurelessness?

  • Strong leadership
  • Protocols, practices, policies
  • Effective communication and coordination


kybernētikḗ, meaning "governance"

kybernḗtēs, meaning "helm-person" of the "ship"


Control systems

Self-organized systems

Cybernetics Philosopher: Norbert Wiener

WWII anti-aircraft systems, automatic aiming and firing

Formalization of the notion of feedback

Use of information leads to a localized decrease in entropy

Cybernetics Philosopher: Friedrich Hayek

Catallaxy: "self-organizing system of voluntary co-operation"

The price mechanism as a means to transmit information in the cybernetic system.

Cybernetics Philosopher: Heather Marsh

"Stigmergic society", WikiLeaks, Occupy Wall Street

"With stigmergy, an initial idea is freely given, and the project is driven by the idea, not by a personality or group of personalities."

"No individual needs permission (competitive) or consensus (cooperative) to propose an idea or initiate a project."

Cybernetics Philosopher: Rick Falkvinge

Swarm organizations and The Pirate Party

"Swarmwise", Rick Falkvinge, 2013

Adopted by Status?

Ethereum Teams Have...

1. Shared Values
security/integrity | decentralization/anti-authority | liveness/productivity

2. Roles
organizers | builders | maintainers | philosophers

Ethereum Teams Have...

3. Social Code
mission | principles | practices | policies

4. Behavior
taking responsibility | managing resources | doing the work | self-steering
→ → coordinating with other teams ← ←


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