Cryptogovernance Is Alive and Well at AraCon 2019
Audience members were walked through the many features of cryptogovernce during Aragon’s premier community event, AraCon 2019. The two-day gathering brought together many of the key players in the crypto scene including Parity Technologies, Giveth, 0x, and others. Although the topics were diverse, the principal focus converged on the different ways in which a project manages governance.
Aragon’s Vision for Web3
Naturally, a project focused on developing and deploying decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) will also become a hub for governance dialogue.
For the uninitiated, Aragon proposes a borderless vision for coordinating multiple parties in a trustless manner. The thesis behind the “21st Century Organization” provides the tools to launch a non-profit, gather a group of people around an idea, or take advantage of an autonomous payroll. Where bitcoin took modern finance to its limits by providing censorship-resistance value transfer, Aragon is attempting the same with organizations.
Aragon’s services also use Ethereum, and so naturally members from both communities made up the bulk of the conference content. A presentation from Web3 Foundation’s Ryan Zurrer, for instance, explained how moving beyond money is the inevitable next step for decentralized technologies. The ideas proposed by Gavin Wood, founder of the Foundation and the lead developer of Parity, outlined how the next generation of the internet will have monetization built in at the protocol level and will not rely on any centralized servers. Zurrer elaborated on this narrative by adding that:
“Web2 got the user growth right, but not the monetization. Web3 has got the monetization, but not the user growth.”
One of the major difficulties in enticing users to join platforms based on the Ethereum blockchain is scalability; slow speeds and clunky interfaces make a freer, more just internet experience difficult to adopt. In an attempt to overcome the industry’s greatest obstacle, Aragon One’s CEO Luis Cuende, announced the project’s intended exploration of Polkadot for an upcoming smart contracts platform called aragonOS.
Polkadot provides a platform that allows multiple types of blockchains to interact with one another. This is achieved at three levels: Relay chains, Parachains, and Bridges. According to Zurer, Zcash and Ethereum will soon be building parachains with the technology. Polkadot has also recently announced another $60 million token sale to help fund these and future developments.
Getting Political: What’s at Stake?
The Web3 director concluded his presentation with a citation of another project under the Foundation’s umbrella, Edgeware. The Edgeware stack is built on Parity’s Substrate and offers an all-in-one solution for DAOs. This includes voting rights, developer tools, and establishing the identity of membership among other services. The experimental governance protocol has reportedly even attracted the attention of formal political scientists, a testament to the scale that certain models could eventually achieve.
The leap from decentralized technologies to traditional political structures was not lost on Meltem Demirors who described where cryptogovernance would soon be heading. The Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) of CoinShares explained that it’s only a matter of time before networks move from maximizing their market cap to disrupting government systems. Bloggers will be ousted by campaign managers, and according to Demirors, staking tokens will become a massive tool for political agendas.
Demirors underlined this point by comparing a number of protocol votes, notably the DAO hard fork event within Etheruem, to voter turnout for Brexit and the 2016 elections in the United States. While the latter heavily outweighed all major crypto staking events, the CoinShares CSO speculated that it’s only a matter of time, and correct incentivization, that things like hard forks will become the equivalent of political events.
“Welcome to the Ara-Family”
Luis Cuende closed the event with a reminder of how current governance has been failing us for far too long. This failure has hindered, in many ways, the growth of values. The Aragon chief cited the corruption in countries like Venezula and the censoreship of individual voices worldwide as results of our failed systems. “We need to move into new states of technology that can redefine systems of law,” Cuende told the audience.
Cuende delivering his closing notes to the “Ara-Family”
In welcoming listeners to join the “Ara-Family,” Cuende positioned Aragon, and its suite of products, as the new technology that will bring humanity beyond its current state. These tools include a fundraising application, voting mechanisms, and a token manager, each of which could serve as tentpoles holding up the Aragon vision of autonomous governance. He concluded the conference with a reminder that February 10 is Fight for Freedom Day a holiday approved by ANT holders in the last Aragon Network vote and stepped off stage.