Aragon could pay more heed to Conways law

Hey guys,

Quite some time ago, I pretty much decided to drop out of/avoid the Aragon ecosystem. Instead of just disappearing, and on request from an interaction at Web3, I’m going to take a little time to explain why publicly! I feel the primary driver for this is due to the organisational design patterns inherited from an industrial era mindset.

So, before I carry on I’d like to note that this extends to the larger blockchain world; the dreams are nice but most approaches are not grounded in reality. Simplistically reduced; things are not sequential, normative and consensus orientated. These are patterns that I consider to be top-down and feel are deeply neurotic.

Conways law:

organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations. - Wikipedia

In other words: we build tools in the making of our world view, which then go on to shape our world view in an infinite feedback loop… which I can see this actively unfolding in the Aragon/Blockchain ecosystem, if manifested this is actually a pretty scary path!

Permissions. Unfortunately this is repeating the internets biggest fuck up - by not paying attention, unintended consequences created an association where the subject (identity) was made primary and object secondary. This resulted permissions; a top down internet architecture that wasted trillions of admin hours and dollars… not to mention Identity capture by the big four. Capabilities on the other hand (which are roughly the same association just in reverse) were invented by Xerox Parc in the 70’s… but a governance war between the creatives there and the money people at Xerox (essentially a different department) blocked the deployment - to the US gov no less. Just Imagine that; a bottom up US gov!! Remember Snowden talking about bearer tokens at Web3? Thats a capability design pattern.

Consensus. In relation to most governance, this is an anti-pattern - it assumes consent and prioritises normative behaviour. The second order effects is that this creates an asymetric risk due to a reduction in divergent thought. Same thing goes for the notion of DAO’s… They are typically prescriptive and the future is unpredictable, this is why Moloch is proving popular. However “rage quitting” a DAO is the same as quitting an organisation and still provides no mechanism to integrate and evolve. It’s zero sum rather than positive sum. We need to think more positive sum.

• I mentioned Aracon earlier because it was also emblematic of the above framed top-down thinking; it was people elevated on a stage telling you about a product and what to think about it - there was one room and minimal participatory activity.

The solution to the underlying cause of these symptoms is mindset change, which is not an easy perturbation but a necessary one. Have a listen to this interview if you wish to gain further perspective. Holochain appear to be following these patterns at the moment, so perhaps a good alternative to Parity if your going for faster distributed tech.

I’ll probably drop off the radar now though so if anyone wants to come find me please feel welcome to reach out :slight_smile:


Thanks for sharing, but why now? What inspired you to circle back and speak your mind rather than just moving on?

This year we’ll be focusing on lots of meetups and workshops all over the world :slight_smile:


Is this an innocent question? Because directly after it you quoted an answer - it consequentially feels like a sophistic line of inquiry. Lets stay on message rather than get weighed down by illegible motivation, the driver is that I’m concerned over framing:

The lens of Capabilities rather than Permissions is exceptionally important. Let's avoid the 50 year setback that was a result of squandering our last opportunity!!

I’ll also edit the title and first post to be less salacious because it seems to have hindered our effective communication through emotional bias… but I’m glad I got your attention :slight_smile:

Edit: cleaned up first post to include some motivation for the sake of clarity

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I’m really not sure what you’re saying here. I care about understanding the community and what inspires people to engage or disengage. Since you haven’t posted in a while (8 months), I’m asking why you’re circling back to post this now - esp considering your stated intention to opt out of the ecosystem. Seems a bit contradictory to opt back in to the ecosystem in order to share a post saying that you’re opting out lol

Curious if there’s something else outside of the ecosytem that inspired you to share. From the update to your post it sounds like you’re thinking about blockchains and system design in general and sharing those thoughts with communities that might be interested? If so, awesome! Thanks for sharing.

Also, this thread was created in the Requests category. What is the request here? Is there a concrete change you would like to see implemented, or is it more that you would like to see the Aragon community thinking more about capabilities vs permissions?

Apologies, I probably posted in the wrong category - I’m a bit unfamiliar with the process here. My request would be that Aragon takes bottom up governance more seriously as it seems a number of anti-patterns (like process/permissions orientation) are not being recognised.

Please let me know where this thread should be placed and I’ll move it (or you can since you probably have the capability)

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Awesome! Thank you so much for bringing this to light. While most requests are for product features, this is a totally valid request so it’s in the right place. Based on these anti-patterns you’ve identified, what would be the steps to take to improve the situation? Also, to confirm, is your thinking primarily related to the way permissions are setup in Aragon DAOs or something else?

Aragon Coop was a serious proposal/experiment to test out bottom-up organizations. Although, it was extremely contradictory that people building conflict avoiding/resolving (aka governance) tools, quitted and/or lead a roll-back as soon conflicts appeared.

Caring for diversity and Engagement from diverse people is the first thing to do, and honestly there is some feeling that Aragon leaders and most active members only cares about engaging like-minded people. This leads diverse-thinking people to dis-engage therefore making impossible the raising of the proper bottom-up organizational structure.

I believe diversity & inclusion is a subject that DAOs and people building frameworks for DAOs should prioritize if we really care about making decentralized or bottom-up organizations better than centralized or top-down orgs. I admit Josh point about consensus is a tricky one and people shall have the right to disagree and disengage (at a low cost) when things are not going as they would like to see, still there is more potential in having the bigger number of people (people, not tokens) agreeing on the same thing, and if we are talking about diverse people, even better… See Groups of diverse problem solvers can outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers paper for more technical insides about the importance on diversity.

Hey @JoshAFairhead,

Thanks a lot for sharing these thoughts and resources :slight_smile:

I’m interested to dig deeper into capabilities vs permissions in Aragon? Are you referring to the Aragon project itself or to its product (Aragon DAOs)? Or both?