Allocationism: Towards a Holistic Purpose, Vision, & Strategy

:bulb: This is intended to inspire. To spark conversation. To challenge the status quo.

Gitcoin Provides New Political Options

Gitcoin is building a new power distribution substrate.

A bet on crypto, real decentralized crypto, is a bet that the divine right of one person to retain power over all others is a bad idea. A bet on Gitcoin furthers this by saying that people know what they want and collective decisions can be made without single points of failure.

A bet on Gitcoin believes that a higher resolution developmental democracy will outperform the democratic structures which serve as our only option today.

“…democracy is the worst form of government - except for all the others that have been tried.” - Winston Churchill

Democracy has been a brilliant experiment with half a millenia of learning. However, this learning has been subject to geographic strangleholds on how accumulated power is dispersed.

A bet on Gitcoin believes that we haven’t yet tried the best options. That recent technological breakthroughs will enable us to experiment and find new ways of making collective decisions, especially those which control how capital is allocated in society.

Our Current Political Hellscape

We already know that our political system is not working for everyone.

Pick your political party in the United States today and you can easily find that we are not funding the things we care about. Perhaps it is the fault of the other party. Perhaps the system itself has a feedback mechanism which forces us towards polarization and inefficiency.

As this trend continues today, it wreaks havoc on communities in and outside of the country. From supporting a military industrial complex with funding and foreign lives to ignoring the existential crisis of climate change, the government and the systems it runs on cannot keep up with our changing world.

Why are we locked into representation based on meaningless geographic lines? How is the separation of money and state not seen the same as the separation of church and state; A fundamental right that no one, not even the government, can tell you what you can and cannot believe? Why does money corrupt the system in a way that constantly increases inequality?

Plenty of experimentation is happening in other countries like Taiwan, Singapore, and Estonia. These countries are inspired by the options technology is providing to prevent capture & corruption created by the systemic pressure of having a single point of failure in any capital distribution system.

Allocationism

We need a new -ism.

Capitalism and socialism both carry the stigma of the evils they have caused. Our depressed expectation of governance allows us to virtue signal arguments for one or the other because the fundamental belief that there could be a better way is a non-option.

Capitalism and socialism have killed millions of people. They have also raised our standards of living to the best in history.

Capitalism without a high-resolution democracy which can clearly articulate the will of the people results in opioid epidemics, proxy wars, and raging inequality. The democracy should be able to set boundaries, to collectively afford the ability to counteract the negative externalities of unchecked capitalism. Unfortunately, today’s systems do not provide this.

Socialism without a high-resolution democracy can strip the productive motivation from a nation, thus starving its people and creating a power vaccuum. The democracy should be able to stop the con-artist from rising to ranks which should be reserved for greatness. Unfortunately, the collective ability to share our positive externalities is easily compromised.

You will hear arguments for and against capitalism and socialism. Perhaps they are your own arguments. It is less common to hear the cry for a better democracy. One which can wield the tools of productivity, motivation, compassion, and justice with precision. Capitalism and Socialism are simply tools which our democratic systems to date use with the precision of an atomic bomb.

Allocationism is our new ism. It is a new tool which can empower democracies as small as a softball team or a household and as large as an interplanetary species.

Allocationism is made possible by a coordination substrate which only recently has reached a maturity level to make it possible. When allocationism fights moloch, it does so with whatever tool it needs to ensure human flourishing. It uses higher resolution democracy to fine tune its approach to solving problems.

Allocationism is:

  • Always attempting to be the best representation of the governed interest.
  • Always evolving. A way political systems interact through high resolution democracy.
  • Always balancing externalities, both positive and negative.
  • Agile enough to tackle humanity’s existential crisis.

The Quadratic Lands

GitcoinDAO is the vessel which is taking us to the quadratic lands.

Allocationism is a political concept that every QL citizen knows. They associate their politics with the pride (and earnings) of participation. It’s as easy as using Tinder for them. They regularly do their duty of expressing their interests and the allocationist systems fund public goods in a way that creates more positive sum returns for the economy. These returns are split between funding more public goods and rewarding individuals for doing their duty as citizens.

There are of course some people who just don’t care. Rather than being homeless, in QL there are enough people who care about these people that they have their basic needs met. There is no UBI, but everyone’s basic needs are met and they have an option to earn more simply by expressing their self-interest.

Many more people are artists and creators. Technological advancements are celebrated because putting people out of work is a good thing! When a job is automated, the positive externalities of public education, the infrastructure needed, and the everyday interactions of the inventor with a supportive community are all considered and reward both the inventor and society in a balanced way.

In the Quadratic Lands you might encounter a scenario where people are huddled around in the street and you think to yourself, “Oh dear, did something bad happen!” As you walk over, you see that it is only a pothole. You hear someone next to you mutter, “That is weird. The government never allows this kind of hole in the street.” (They no longer have a term for “pothole” because it is so uncommon.) But right then as concern is taking over your thoughts, the city vehicles show up and begin to patch up the hole. Crowd dismissed.

The Path Ahead

We are collectively the hero in this journey.

Everyone needs to step up and take the time to strategize and build towards a common goal for us to be successful. The grants protocols are launching and we must find our path forward. How can we all align on what expenses the DAO should take on, and what sacrifices we must make, without a clear purpose, vision, and strategy?

As we sensemake around these strategic decisions, what will hold us back?

Capture by centralized entities.

The data layer is especially vulnerable to capture. Services like Infura, Dune, or Flipside use centralized indexing to serve data at different levels of the stack. A neutral grants protocol will require data to be easily accessible from the source. Additionally, that data will need a level of observability that will enable reproducibility and verifiability of algorithmic policy decisions.

Services will likely be able to show better results (early on) if they are using data outside of shared ETL infrastructure like Gitcoin Passport. Education will be crucial for the community to build composability into the software including the tradeoff of short term better results from long-term ecosystem learning.

Additionally, some expertise held by the Gitcoin team can be held close or spread far and wide. Our open source organizing will be a critical component to prevent the capture of services.

A Weak Purpose Statement

“To help communities fund their shared needs.”

Looking back I’m a little ashamed that I didn’t object to this. It is boring. And weak. A purpose statement needs to inspire. It must be bold and almost unachievable. It must be specific.

Hell, with this purpose statement we might as well throw up the “mission accomplished” banner. We can all go home now!

Facetious. Maybe. Wrong, probably not.

Lack of Vision & Strategic Clarity

There is no holistic vision and strategy for the DAO.

We can’t currently point at an agreed upon shared vision & strategy. We have some norms which are advancing what we do, but they aren’t solidified to the point where they could be. Ideally, we would easily be able to tell what is inbounds and out of bounds for funding. The funding process could be made shorter or longer for larger or smaller amounts and nothing would change provided we trust the requesting party.

We Don’t Have Time To Wait

The world needs us NOW.

Existential crisis coming from human innovation combined with human ignorance put us in a precarious position as a species. Future generations are already tasked with insurmountable problems to accompany their insurmountable debt. Climate change, threat of nuclear war, pension liabilities, Fentanyl, and a slew of other disasters require us to accelerate.

How might we accelerate the rate at which we approach the Quadratic Lands?

This is the key question which should drive our planning.

A Quick Disclaimer

The rest of this post is written as if it was settled. That is because it is an easier way to share the message. What Gitcoin should do is discuss the following points and collectively decide.

Purpose

Why would people store their capital in GTC? Because it is the best opportunity for us to outcompete the entire political system we currently have. We exist because people believe this. It is literally our purpose.

Our purpose is to outcompete the political systems of today because it is our only hope to address existential crisis and to promote human flourishing.

Our purpose is as the vessel which will take us to the quadratic lands.

Our purpose is to catalyze capital into real world impact building systems which enable higher resolution democracies to truly represent the will of the people.

Our purpose is to make allocationism a reality.

Vision

The total number of grants programs and the total value of capital allocated using the grants protocol has been increasing at an accelerating rate for 4 straight seasons.

This vision statement is something we can aim for in the next 3-5 years.

Strategy

We will continue to re-evaluate our “Essential Intents” every 6 months to set boundaries on what should be funded by the DAO. We are currently due for an assessment. This assessment would likely be ratified mid to late Season 16 to help guide our efforts in Season 17 as the protocol is fully launched.

I believe that the strategy should be tightly linked to Gitcoin’s 4 Quadrants of Success plus any overarching needs. Each quadrant must then be broken down to it’s own Product Vision & Strategy.

Essential Intents

The DAO level essential intents should be linked to the Quadrants of Success.

Gitcoin Programs

Gitcoin Programs learn from the best practices of the community and run controlled experiments to continually improve our knowledge while dogfooding the protocol. (Maybe it should strive to be the program with the best allocated capital of all?)

Community Programs

Community Programs learn from each other and build decentralized service DAOs to support revenue generating services and public good infrastructure which improves communities’ ability to avoid capture and provide higher resolution democracy.

Gitcoin Built

Gitcoin built should specifically focus on building the infrastructure pieces which don’t have a natural business model - digital public infrastructure. This could include anti-capture open source components for the open data community. It could also include

Community Built

Community built is our weakest point now, but our biggest opportunity to shine. This is where we run grants programs to let the greater Gitcoin community decide how a workstreams funding is spent! The community will build modules on top of grants that may help lower administrative costs, improve fairness/reduce fraud, reallocate funds within the system to rebalance externalities, and much much more that we couldn’t possibly imagine.

Conclusion

Join our DAO wide strategy session tomorrow at DAOvibes to continue thinking about how we will transition when the protocol has been launched!

12 Likes

Awesome post. So enjoyed reading this. Shame I missed the strategy session!

Super grateful for the amazing work that you and everyone else at GitcoinDAO is doing. I think it’s great to re-evaluate mission, vision, values at key milestones and this seems like a clear opportunity to do so.

3 Likes

Please elaborate on the mechanism at work here. I think you know my position that universal dividends (with choice) will eventually add up to enough to meet peoples basic needs and then far exceed them, allowing self-actualization (which includes participation, which you mention) rather than mere subsistence. Four Virtues of Universal Dividends — C. Adam Stallard

2 Likes

Your ideas here definitely are a part of my perspective! I don’t know that I can elaborate much because the experimentation which results in a compassionate, yet effective, mechanism winning the evolutionary race is still to come.

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How does a vision and strategy differ from a purpose and essential intent (i found this that says it was ratified June 22)?

Purpose = 100 year big audacious and potentially unmeasurable goal (We have this)

Vision = Measurable future state perhaps 3-5 years from now (We don’t have this)

Strategy = How we will get to the vision state. Essential intent is one component of strategy. Another good one is “Even/Over” statements deciding between two good things. (Example: Launch protocol even over long term sustainability planning - fwiw this isn’t one we decided on, we don’t have these now) There are other good strategy exercises like SWOT analysis and MECE analysis. (We have some of this, but without articulating a vision it is not as useful)

Essential Intent (A component of strategy) = Guard Rails signaling what we want to work on during the next 1-2 years (We have this)

One problem we have here is that our essential intents follow a purpose, but not a measurable, achievable vision. Additionally, a best practice for essential intent is to make them measurable, which ours are not.

Those strategy exercises (MECE, SWOT) seem important. Could you please post more about them?

Instead of making DAO alignment more complex by adding Vision to Purpose/Essential Intents, why not just fold what you call Vision into the Essential Intents, such that they are synthesized? It seems like Essential Intents are measurable/12-18months, where as vision is measurable/3-5 years. So you can simplify like this:

  • Protocol Adoption
    • Build a widely adopted, modular Grants protocol that creates a flourishing ecosystem of funding mechanisms.
    • Build a widely adopted, modular Pluralism Passport protocol that creates a flourishing ecosystem of network effects around Decentralized Society.
    • Build momentum such that the total number of grants programs and the total value of capital allocated using the grants protocol has been increasing at an accelerating rate for 4 straight seasons.
  • Financial Sustainability
    • Have a comprehensive, diversified strategy for financial stability of the DAO in order to effectively achieve our mission.
  • DAO Organization
    • Create and promote clear and engaging rituals, communication channels, and messaging that build emergent shared context among GitcoinDAO’s contributors, stewards, and supporters.
  • Grants Program Success
    • Enable a successful grants protocol launch by dogfooding it internally and supporting ecosystems in adopting it.
    • Continue to support the Ethereum ecosystem and public goods in web3 and beyond through Gitcoin-led rounds.
1 Like

Yes. I’d agree with something similar to this. I wrote about back when we set these essential intents in the second half of this post: A model for Gitcoin sustainability