One of the first-ever projects online that showed that internet user communities could be collaborative, instead of perpetually antagonistic, was the Linux operating system. Anyone with an idea could contribute to different versions of Linux, and if a change proved to be popular with the community, it was incorporated into subsequent official versions thereof.
This has proven to be an effective model, as 90% of all cloud infrastructure is powered by Linux including supercomputers and cloud providers, while 74% of smartphones in the world are Linux-based.
Yet, there is an aspect of the project that is somewhat overlooked - the subsystem architecture, the kernels, are designed in a loose hierarchy where the more experienced programmers, who have contributed more and have volunteered for this responsibility, are assigned more important jobs.
In other words, given the loose and free-flowing nature of the project, there are often civil wars where there can be forks and deviations in specific means of structuring the system. Some people have even gone as far as saying that Linux evolved through natural selection, given that the more useful aspects get replicated by subsequent generations, while the less useful ones do not.
Many developers consider this a feature, and not a bug, as due to the wide range of possibilities available, it’s best to try them all. Other programmers, on the other hand, take the argument that software shouldn’t be something that gets tested randomly.
After all, it’s like the famous Facebook quote - “move fast and break things” - which lost its charm once they actually started to break things. In other words, there are people who support the concept of open-source software but would rather keep it a tad more structured while still having the freedom to explore.
This is why Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) are a fantastic middle-ground. DAOs are blockchain entities wherein participants can decide on governing policies and principles, while the system itself can take custody of relevant assets. DAOs are a means by which you can create leadership without leaders through voting protocols and transparency.
Particularly relevant for open source projects is the fact that voting power can be adjusted instantly according to contribution. For instance, individual DAO members could link their GitHub profiles, which effectively serve as their code repositories and portfolios, and you could draw inferences on the quantity and impact of their contributions to the project and assign them an indexed value score based on this body of work. To further incentivize people not sitting on their laurels, you could also diminish the influence of older contributions, which means that recent code is more highly valued.
Then, this number would serve as a force multiplier or a diminisher. Put simply, if someone has built a considerable portion of the project, they have a bigger say on the future development of that project; while if they’re a newer contributor without a significant reputation, their vote is not given the same importance.
This method ensures far more equitable governance and promotes active participation before being able to introduce and encourage new ideas. In other words, it is an open system that invites change but is cautious and conservative about what policies it alters.
Hence, it still encapsulates the initial seed that birthed Linux, but formalizes the process and avoids hard deviations by creating a consensus creating mechanism.
This is the power of DAOs, and the WACEO can help build the governance and regulatory principles from scratch so open source projects can scale without wasting a lot of effort in random directions that ultimately don’t have a purpose.
From now on open source doesn’t mean that a project needs to be unfocused and random.
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