![[devnote002_JonnStryder_Ai.png]] Maybe I'm a fool, but questing towards a human DAO takes a lot of wandering in the wilderness and hard knocks. This #devnote records a bit of my journey, and a vision of a map to a "promise land" of distributed, ethical governance that has emerged from wandering with others. # Journey It all began with a dawning realization that distributed ethical governance is not only theoretically possible but within reach: socially, legally, and technologically. This realization dawned as I researched and wrote the book [Blockchain Faith](https://www.abebooks.com/9781948956000/Blockchain-Faith-Guidebook-Future-Promises-1948956004/plp)[^1]. After the book was published in 2018, I explored testing the theories I had written about. In 2022 I met a group of fellow travelers who knew of my book and were working to implement similar ideas as a business venture, under the banner of "Z4A". I joined in, and learned that my prior understanding of the technological landscape was naïve and incomplete. I also learned that organizing a legal DAO entity with truly distributed governance requires innovation in both legal documentation and culture. For most people, even in the DAO space, sweat equity and a seat at the governing table are not enough to motivate strong participation, especially in an innovative but untested business model. Most if not all workers need to be incentized by lead investors with skin in the game. Giving jobs for equity is not effective for more reasons than that. By late 2022 we were discussing organizational frameworks and drafting corporate documents. Early in 2023, we formed our legal entities and got to work building prototypes. Early on we adopted [Notion](https://notion.so)as a user interface and database. Being a cloud platform, Notion is inherently centralized. Although it contradicted our long term goals, we thought that its versatility and polished user interface would help solve our short-term problems by attracting users and grass-roots funding. By late 2023 it became clear that our initial business models were untenable. Late in 2023, we began migrating our back-end documents and data from Notion to [Obsidian](https://obsidian.md), and our front end to [Minds](https://minds.com). Unlike Notion, Obsidian is based on a local-first, portable data format. It's not so much a platform as it is an open-core, developer-friendly portal to datascapes of [Markdown](https://markdown.github.io/) documents that are stored, not in the cloud, but on networks of local devices. Each user controls who they will sync their local data collection with, and how. Out of this distributed agency a datascape emerges. # Current Map The diagram below illustrates an example of a datascape. Four devices participate in Vault One: the laptops belonging to Bob, Joe, and Tim, plus Tim's laptop. Typically, each member of a vault will have two or three local devices where they want their private data stored and locally accessible. Vault Two has three device members: the mobile devices of Sue, Joe and Ann. Joe is synched with both vaults, bridging the two vaults in his person and only in his person. The two vaults are stored in separate directories and encrypted with different keys. There are and can be many useful instances of vaults like Vault One and Vault Two, with various different architectures. Obsidian vaults are useful for building and using datascapes of Markdown documents almost as illustrated (the main drawback being that owners are not strictly peers), but many other front ends are possible, and needed. You may notice a similarity to federated social networks, or to an interconnected system of [NOSTR](https://nostr.com/) private client/relays. Due to its configurability and simplicity, NOSTR provides an especially promising open platform for implementation of the datascape, but does not currently have published client/relay applications made specifically to support document management at the level needed for distributed governance. A NOSTR "client/relay" is an application that performs the functions of a client for its user and that of a private relay for other authorized users in the network. ![[Distributed Datascapes PNG.png]] Every device synced via the designated Sync Channel[^2] contains an identical copy of the synced document. For example, every device in Vault One contains a copy of "doc1" and every device in Vault Two contains a copy of "doc2"and "doc3." Someone belonging to Vault One registers a "hash-address" of doc1 in the WikiWe Vault, and stores an encrypted copy under the hash-address in the Share Vault. The hash-address is a combination of a fingerprint hash of doc1 and a storage address, expressed in the same value or in multiple values. Someone belonging to Vault Two similarly registers a hash-address of doc2 and stores an encrypted copy in the Share Vault. Doc3 is not registered and is accessible only by the members of Vault Two. The WikiWe Vault is open and semi-public. It performs a function that could be performed by a blockchain or hash table, that of immutably timestamping a signed event. In WikiWe, the vault is a folder of Markdown documents kept in sync by an encrypted channel. Founders of the WikiWe Vault agree that its keys will not be distributed except to administrators of good character pledged and accountable to follow a defined governance protocol[^3]. Administrators are incentivized by fee opportunities for services such as dispute moderation, regulatory compliance, and matchmaking, such as are enabled by their privileges and permitted by their responsibilities. Security is an important issues. In the described architecture, any one of the members might spoil the data. Or all of them might collude to corrupt records provided by others. As summarized, the economy and topology of the WikiWe Vault resembles that of a blockchain network, in which the operators of servers that run the network are incentivized by transaction fees and secured by staking or proof of work. However, unlike blockchain networks which are "trustless"[^4], security in the WikiWe vault is rooted in accountable identities of its human administrators. The more numerous and well-governed the administrators, the more reliable the vault. Trust based on identity might be old-fashioned, but confers great advantages for flexibility, anti-fragility, agency, and personal trust building by joint service of common causes. To protect against corruption, hashes of important records should be kept in an immutable data structure such as a blockchain. Other vaults may have different policies and incentives. The Share Vault, for example, can be any publicly accessible data structure that is compatible with the WikiWe hash-addressing system. Documents can be posted there protected by keys, or in the clear. The Share Vault can be centralized or distributed, public or private, depending on the application. It's a repository for sharing authenticated documents between synced vaults. Documents can be or include any type of data suitable for being indexed and recorded in the datascape's medium. Different documents need different authentication protocols, depending on the document purpose. If Sue in Vault Two wants to authenticate doc1 from Tim of Vault One, he provides access by sending her a signed message containing the hash-address of doc1 in the WikiWe Vault with his public key and a symmetric key. Sue sends the hash-address to a portal for the WikiWe Vault, which returns a signed certificate of prior existence showing the date that doc1 is registered in its file system, and other metadata of interest that WikiWe has permission to disclose to Sarah. Sarah sends the hash-address to the Share Vault, which returns a copy of the encrypted file stored at that address. Sarah decrypts the file with the symmetric key, recovers doc1, hashes it, and compares the hash with the hash-address. If the hashes match, Sue knows it is the same document that is certified by WikiWe. Simple, right? And versatile. The real power of the datascape is not immediately evident. WikiWe is not just about sharing notes and pictures of kittens. It makes a suitable backbone for person-to-person transactions of all conceivable types[^5]. This power and versatility stems from its ontology, which can be implemented in various machine languages to turn our smartphones and laptops into machines for merit-making, access-granting, licensing, and any other human transaction involving documents. I hope to provide a concrete example in my next #devnote of how ontology intertwines with functionality, and what I mean by "ontology."[^6] 🗄️ Licensed under [CC BY-SA 4.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/) by [WikiWe™](https://wikiwe.org/) Commons • Updated on 2024-02-17 ##### Producer Comments [^1]: Is there markdown version of this book I can download, summarize, and annotate? **Coming soon to wikiwe.org!** [^2]: Where can I learn more? **[Obsidian Sync](https://obsidian.md/sync) conveniently supports this architecture as does [Signal](https://signal.org) , other platforms may also.** [^3]: More specifically the [[Principled Peacemakers Compact]] or more? **"Intentionally vague; although the PPC is an example, it may evolve or be adapted for special use cases.** [^4]: What does "trustless" really mean during this age of uncertainty? Is it really possible for me to trust no one? **Good question; arguably crypto networks depend on a certain faith that most verifying nodes can be trusted, but we digress.** [^5]: Is it like NOSTR? What can I compare it to? **NOSTR does not support all functions currently but can be extended. It is most like an electronic version of old-fashioned paper data systems where everybody keeps a copy of their own important documents and registers some of them with a trusted registrar, except that the trusted registrar becomes the datascape itself.** [^6]: Nice cliff hanger. **Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion!**