Hypha Reads


November 30, 2022

Articles, tweets, and videos that resonated with us this month

Paper tablet with bookshelf handmade from colored paper on a yellow background
Photo by Yaroslav Danylchenko via Stocksy

Everyone at Hypha does a lot of reading (skimming; information ingesting; what-have-you). This month, we are presenting a selection of findings that (mostly) touch on the topics of decentralization and the digital commons. This thread of inquiry is partly informed by the seismic upheavals at Twitter – a private company that has been mistakenly construed as a digital public square – and the subsequent interest in Mastodon and similar federated means of digital discussion and sharing.

Udit: OcapPub: Towards networks of consent

  • Good reflection on the challenges with federation and potential failure points around using a platform like Mastodon
  • Related Twitter thread

Vincent: Notes on Governance Experience Design: Toward a paradigm in the design of online spaces

  • A piece of collective writing first drafted at DWeb Camp (August 2022) and revisited during a writing workshop during Our Networks (November 2022)
  • Metagov’s Notes on Governance Experience Design reads like a manifesto and offers insight on self-governance practices in the context of decentralization
  • There are many examples of collective manifestos and declarations attempting to define operational frameworks for the digital commons. These writings provide the foundation necessary to build decentralized potentialities. They operate on a wide range of propositions from concrete governance strategies to general conceptual values. For an example of the latter, see A Declaration of the Interdependence of Cyberspace

Benedict: Revolutionary Networked Politics

  • As Twitter exiles flood towards federated services like Mastodon, I am again reminded of Dmytri Kleiner’s talk at Revolutionary Networked Politics about business models and cost scaling of services under different network topologies
  • In particular, the failure pattern that emerges often in federated systems, where “the material upkeep of the servers and admins become too large for voluntary operation”
  • As the Fediverse welcomes new account holders, infrastructure operators bear the cost of upgrading technical resources, service upkeep, and moderation labour, which makes this an especially important moment to threat model against Rich Uncle Pennybags
  • Alongside our endless pursuit of “more peer-to-peer” topologies, what are the opportunities for cooperatives and Web3 DAOs to innovate new business and governance models that will infrastructure the Fediverse?
  • We can draw inspirations from community network agreements like the FONN Compact and works like the Slocan Statement recently proposed by Blaine Cook

Sacha: Tweet by 219.eth

  • We are all in dire need of humour in these gloomy times, and this made me laugh :)

Lexa: The Rise of the Activist Validator

  • Thinking about how so many value the idea of ‘credible neutrality’ in the blockchain space–does such a thing even exist? Is it useful to have a collection of actors, all of whom intend to be credibly neutral, unbiased, and trusted because they care about the technology and not the politics?
  • Validators are key actors in proof-of-stake networks, and such systems end up being political whether we want them to or not. I don’t think the author of this article has clearly articulated what kind of political actor a validator should be (politician, activist, lobbyist, rebel, what-have-you) but it was refreshing to read a clear take that participating in the security of the network isn’t just a ‘technical’ job - it has to be political, and these entities have to have opinions

Andi: Platform Socialism Book Review: A must read for anyone interested in DAOs

  • James Muldoon’s book Platform Socialism is a thoughtful critique of the platform economy, and is super relevant given the outcry against the changes at Twitter, which many seem to view as the co-opting of a public square (rather than machinations of the capitalist paradigm)
  • If you don’t want to read the book, which is excellent and very approachable despite having a political economy framing, the Blockchain Socialist review of the book and his interview with Muldoon will give you a good idea of the basic arguments. Most importantly for the Twitter-related discussion, they talk about some possible futures for big platforms that we all (or many of us, anyway) depend on to live our digital lives in 2022