Wed 24 Dec 2014 6:19PM

Crafting an Autocatalytic Community

JG jordan greenhall Public Seen by 62

After thinking about this for the past two weeks, I’m getting more clarity and more focus. I’m not sure what the MVP looks like - and I’m interesting in seeing what “GKs Razor” does to this to get it into that space. But here is my thinking:

Community is the key. What we are really trying to do is build a community. What that community does is less important than what that community is - i.e., its ethos or what causes it to hang together and identify itself as a community.

This, then becomes the narrative. A minimal viable narrative must:

  • Inspire and attract early homesteaders who are willing to venture into rough and unclear territory and add their own unique value to the emerging community.

  • Gently (or not so gently) repulse individuals and behaviours that are inimical to the emerging community. i.e., set boundary conditions that clarify and focus attention on what this community is and what it is not so that people who come in know how to participate.

Different narratives will reach and connect with different narrative communities in different ways.

In addition, some minimal viable architecture that:

  1. Allows anyone to come and add their creativity and value in the fashion that makes sense to them.
  • The more empowered people are to freely and creatively add their value the more creative and “intelligent” the entire community will be.

  • Yet still in a way that on the average moves the whole in a general collective direction (i.e., if everyone pulls in different directions the center does not hold).

  1. Rewards people who contribute value.
  • Ideally in a narrowly tailored way that matches their value contribution. But this is hard and usually not achievable.

  • Via some way of participating in the rising tide in general.

  • While having some mechanism to down-regulate free riders.

  • Rewards can be financial, equity, status, power (i.e., access or tools), emotional, etc.

  1. Does step (1) and (2) in a way that tends to “spiral outwards” with the evolving narrative to continually expand the total population of people who are attracted to the community and desire to contribute their creativity and value to the community.

Some propositions:

  • We know less than the community itself knows. Therefore, the more open and flexible we are to hearing what they want and helping them co-create the world they want to live in, the better. By contrast, the more we try to control the narrative and “convince” them to play our game, the heavier the burden and lower the chances of success.

  • No one creates a community. Instead one discovers and empowers a community. For example, Michael did not create the MP3 community. He empowered it (through narrative and tools). We did not create the DivX community. Even something like Bitcoin did not create the Bitcoin community. Instead, it presented a tool that allowed existing narratives to expand and mutate into a new narrative/community.

  • Early communities cannot coalesce around short-term financial gain. Their originary seeds must be idiosyncratic and passional. There can absolutely be a strong sense of ultimate wealth of some sort, but even this rarely will be financial. This is because financial reward can motivate behaviour - but never the kinds of behaviour that cohere into community.


Poll Created Wed 24 Dec 2014 6:29PM

Minimal Viable Architecture Closed Mon 5 Jan 2015 6:04PM

Given this, here is my current thinking as to the minimal architecture. Mark - please note that it this point, I’m entirely dispensing with any of the artificial artifacts of “what Playswell is doing.” If the above propositions are true, that stuff will hold us back more than it will help us.

A. Join the community. Get an identity and begin being issued an “intentional currency” that is capped at some maximum amount per person (e.g., no more than 1000 units in your account at any point in time).

B. Have the ability to present information to the community (i.e., “start a discussion”). This can be anything that you find interesting, useful or important. Ideally, it will be ideas and proposals for creative action around the community (tools, initiatives, content, etc.), but it could be anything really.

C. Have the ability to engage in the discussion.

D. Have the ability to “point” attention to other people’s information by allocating some of your “intention” currency to that information. Up to five points allocated to the “attention” slot indicating the degree to which you believe that other people should pay attention to this information.

E. Have the ability to generate a concrete and actionable "proposal" as a result of a discussion.

F. Have the ability to edit, modify, contribute to proposals to move them into a better form.

G. Have the ability to allocate as much intention currency as you want (up to how much you have) to actionable proposals in the “intention” slot - in order to focus energy on making them happen. Also have the ability to withdraw intentional currency from "in play" proposals that are shaping up into something that you aren't interested in.

H. Have the ability to participate in a collective decision to "greenlight" some proposal - which decision would allocate the attached intentional currency to the proposal for delivery.

Example: Mark posts a suggestion that we should expand on our ability to allocate attention to discussions by creating dimensions: "entertaining, informative, moving, important." Mike sees this as adds five points to the discussion. This brings it to GK and Jordan's attention. Gk then makes a concrete proposal on how to deliver on this notion and an estimate of how many points this sort of thing would require. A discussion on the proposal ensues and as it shapes up, Mark and Mike add points to the proposal adequate to what GK thinks it needs to be delivered on. They all agree that the proposal is solid and that the cost / benefit is good - and agree on the proposal. This greenlights the proposal and allocates the points to GK to deliver on it.

Ideally there will be some rigorous way to evaluate people's delivery on proposals, but initially that can be done through simple "post hoc" discussion.


Results Option % of points Voters
Agree 0% 0  
Abstain 0% 0  
Disagree 0% 0  
Block 0% 0  
Undecided 0% 2 JG MF

0 of 2 people have voted (0%)


jordan greenhall Wed 24 Dec 2014 6:30PM

My sense is that in a large and open community, only those who have contributed 5% or more of the necessary intentional points to the proposal should have a "vote" on whether it gets greenlit.