This is the of a piece of writing I am doing reflecting on the experimentation with money that I am seeing. It is rough first draft. I am happy for people to comment or question, but I may not have capacity to answer or take on board comment. If you would like to contribute you can either comment or help with the draft here: https://hackmd.io/usp39WoETCybRGZd3oI_Ig
I am mostly writing this for my own clarity of thinking and also mainly for the Chorus, but may share with Default at some point
Experimenting with Distributing Funds within SSB
This post is about one of the many things which I find very interesting and unique about the secure-scuttlebutt ecosystem
What is Scuttlebutt
Scuttlebutt is a peer-to-peer open protocol for social networks. It was started by Dominic Tarr (and other NodeJS hackers) in 2014.
Initial Funding Experiment: DFINITY
A year ago Dominic made a post with the following:
Hey everyone, this is a Big Announcement
Back when I was recently in the Bay Area, talking to everyone blockchain, dfinity offered us a large grant to fund ssb development for a while: 200k USD. This is not an equity investment - it's just a grant, we have basically total freedom to spend it how we like, we just keep track of what it is and send them invoices!
Now, because of Conway's Law was a little wary of suddenly having a big bag of money - I don't want to make our decentralized community less decentralized, as much as I'd like ssb to be sustainable, i'd like it to be sustainable in via various ways (and indeed those buds are sprouting).
The idea I came up with was to split the grant into many small grants! so, 200k, becomes 40*5k grants. Because it wasn't a sure thing yet, I started a private thread with some of the most commited ssb contributors who I knew and trusted the most - @cel @mixmix @andrestaltz @matt @dinosaur and well, sold them on this grant idea. I didn't discuss it in public because it wasn't a sure thing yet, and wanted to avoid a massive bikeshed.
What I noticed
There are a few things I noticed about this. DFINITY gave Dominic this funding. Dominic had an idea and pitched this idea to early (time, attention and effort) invested contributors. As I understand it there were different ideas at the time about different approaches to grow the ecosystem in a distributed way. This is the way that was selected.
Lets take note that a trusted and foundational person, Dominic, was given the funding. He then spoke with the early invested contirbutors all of whome were white (passing?), cis (maybe?), hetero (maybe?). As with most open source projects early adopters are often typically male, with access to the capcity to consider contributing to open source. I spoke about this more in Privilidge Petri Dish.LINK
Next Funding Experiment: Mobile SSB Quests
About 7 months ago Andre Staltz made a post
Hey folks! Some people gave Dominic 50 ETH to support development of Scuttlebutt on mobile.
Dominic has handed over figuring out what to do with that money to me, as I've been doing a bunch of work on MMMMM (a mobile Scuttlebutt app). SSB on Mobile has been a big challenge, but it's finally taking shape and there are just a few obstacles left to solve, and we need your help. In exchange for some ETH, you can perform a quest that pushes mobile development forwards.
Unlike the grant proposals for #ssbc-grants, in this process there is a predetermined pool of 3–4 tasks ("quests") that I've scoped out. People can apply for a quest, by picking one of them, and writing an open application as a public message on Scuttlebutt tagged with #mobile-ssb-quests.
There will be one person taking the "Coordinator hat", who will be the decision maker around awarding quests, and coordinating support around the quests (including technical support, and helping integrate work from various quests). The person using the coordinator hat is me, and as an experiment in valuing coordination, the coordinator will pay himself $3k USD (in ETH) once for this role. I'll be supported by Dominic and Mix.
A quest for a selected applicant is worth approximately $5k USD (the payment is done in ETH), and can start whenever, we are not doing beginning-of-month rounds.
What I noticed
We see here a different experiment. Rather than Dominic thinking of an experiment and then asking the advice of a subset of trusted peers he handed the choice space to Andre. The pattern of gifting and experimentation continued.
Most Recent Funding Experiment: Handshake Grant
Handshake reached out to Dominic 2 months ago to offer 50k USD. Dominic started a private thread which included me, elavoie, zelf, alanna, mix and andre.
I'm not intimately informed about everything they are planning or how they are running things, but they did say:
We have admired your contributions to open source for a long time, and we would like to pledge $51,000 to your organization for the first phase of the pledge.
elavoie made a public post %jTL7v2H...
- establishment of a institution ACCESS from DFINITY
- dominic actively taking backseat / boat
- elavoie actively investing in establishing wider contirbution to legitemacy
- elavoie facilitating a process with a vision
- 7 seats
- composition LINK
( #ssbc-grants )
cc: #grants #money #non-capitalistic-funds-distribution