Introducing Web3 Work
Other Internet is embarking on a new research journey exploring work and social security in DAOs - here’s what we’re up to.
Since 2021, Other Internet has conducted ethnographic work in DAO communities, designed web3-focused learning environments, and facilitated large-scale governance initiatives — in addition to developing a theory of the squad and pushing further the public goods agenda in web3.
Now we’re bringing this body of research and methodologies together in a new project called Web3 Work, led by program manager Laura Lotti and researchers Tara Merk (CNRS/Blockchaingov) and Nick Houde (European Graduate School). We’re exploring web3 as a work environment, with a focus on understanding the daily life of DAO contributors and the context in which they operate using the tools of workers’ inquiry. Our goal is to identify common challenges and collectively build web3-native structural support around them.
We know from industry analysis (e.g. Gitcoin/Bankless, Tally, MakerDAO SES, the forthcoming LaborDAO compensation report) that web3 workers — DAO contributors and operators, web3 creators, and decentralized service providers — face several organizational challenges. These include: unclear compensation (especially for social and care labor), contributor burnout, lack of clear frameworks for accountability and conflict resolution, implicit power asymmetries, uneven social discovery through social platforms, and a host of new tools whose affordances are not widely explored.
And yet, so far we haven’t seen any practical proposals to address these issues or actionable plans to provide holistic safety and welfare for contributors, economically and socially. We believe that is due to a lack of clarity as to what constitutes DAO work and a fundamental misalignment between individual contributors’ expectations and motivations, and the organizational frames that are evoked when discussing DAOs — that is, The Corporation, The State and The Co-Op as three primary socio-technical imaginaries of DAOs.
Social and economic welfare is more than the manifestation of good vibes. It requires intensive research to get at the heart of the DAO contributor experience and thoughtful design of supportive infrastructures, mechanisms, and policies. That’s what this project is about.
Our research comes at a critical time. During market uncertainty, there is a tendency to revert back to the work cultures and funding models that DAOs were created to challenge. If the DAO space is going to remain a place of experimentation, it needs to retain its ability to produce paradigmatically new conditions.
Web3 Work operates on three levels:
by collecting extensive background information on historical analogs in dealing with labor and social security;
by doing an expansive ethnography of contributor experiences in the DAO space;
by bringing these two elements into the design of deployable mechanisms.
Call for DAO Contributors!
We want to speak with DAO contributors and operators, protocol politicians and tool builders about their aspirations, motivations and challenges.
Contact us HERE to be part of mapping the web3 contributor experience. We are looking to engage a number of DAO contributors in ethnographic work that could involve interviews, conversations, and digital shadowing (where we follow you around virtually for a day) to get an in-depth understanding of people’s day-to-day lives within the space.
This research is led by Other Internet Research Institute and supported by Station.