Community-sourcing & Crowdfunding a book on Token Engineering

2 Chapter contents nailed 9 to go! and a series of plot twists

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TL;DR: web3 all the way! new modus operandi & Christmas Special! Linked at the end of this post - Don’t skip over the juicy plot twists, tho!

Replenish the Reserve

How it all started

TEGG 2019, was an ecstatic event, where “all” puzzle pieces fell into place for the first time: the open sourcing of cadCAD - computer-aided design framework, a board game for open system game designers, called Le Grand Jeu - and an extremely simplified and generalized version of canvases one encounters in “Business Model Generation”, called Ecosystem Design Toolkit - just right to capture what we need to model the value flows of token networks. And of course the 1st Edition of Token Economy was out.

The tugging of an idea: we need a “Token Model Generation” book! A “book” that helps the token designer/engineer to speak the various languages of various “stakeholders” - without everyone being lost in translation; and without sounding crazy… but also without the harmful oversimplifications. Mostly building off of frameworks and publications of Zargham, Jeff, Shermin, and Trent - curating these into a toolchain that makes assumptions of our models transparent and traceable.

In the following months, trying to onboard developers for a token project involving cyber-physical systems, I realized we also need to cover architecture: Web3 architecture is fundamentally different from architecture variations of previous eras of Mobile, Social, Cloud, Big Data, Deep Learning. We need not data pipelines but data pods. No platforms, but an ecosystem of apps, platforms, and smart contract interfaces. The architectures we build need us to think & design inside out: “Participatory, privacy-preserving Architectures” that will be woven into fractals of value through protocols. I reached out to Anish, the most security & architecture experienced, and most no non-sense person I know. It became clear we want to give a lay of the land before digging deeper into any one area.

That was the birth of the idea “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Token Engineering” back in April 2020: we would crowd-source chapters with leads and contributors who are in it because they deeply care about the topics - yet know it is only one of the many dimensions of this “transdisciplinary discipline”, because they’ve been in the intersection of at least two of these:

Very soon more chapters emerged and their respective leads joined: “Cryptoeconomic Patterns” with Vasily, “Legal Engineering” with Esen, “Decentralizing Organizations” with Lawrence and basically all TEC community stewards :) And our Editor Jess, who is the type of writer who can create a context in which others can think. Whilst I was just writing down the initial draft of the chapter “Token Model Generation,” Angela started Token Engineering Academy with its first course “Ecosystem Valueflows” to test and improve the Token Model Generation - the rest is history?

Well, 47 participants and 18 projects later, and after participating in the first KERNEL cohort myself, one pattern became visible: Participatory means, participants are self-sovereign individuals able to govern well together the initial designs that engineers co-created. Token engineers are peers, participants in this new system, too. Everyone is an active contributor. The death of the user. The death of the interventionist without soul- or skin-in-the-game. Do not intervene if you’re not part of the system - if you are unaware of your own paradigms.

We all needed some “inner engineering.

Plot twist! Start from 1st Principles

and brand new content - again:

“Philosophy, Law & Ethics” all of a sudden became accessible, when we met with Fabian (ex-ECSA) mid October. He is the lead on the “Epilogue: An Interface to Moral Philosophy for Token Engineers.” This exchange also resulted in creation of the TE-Philosophy channel in the Discord - and opened the door for Regis to enter & pickup the thread towards how we can help these insights emerge inside-out, be clearly communicable. We see the silver lining of an onboarding & bootstrapping process that helps individuals and the collective in uncovering their value systems, communicate them clearly, and know when and how to connect to other communities or spin-off communities for organic scale. It starts with ethics, internal governance, legitimacy and projection into formal (legal) structures. Certainly will also inform Chapters on Legal Engineering and Decentralizing Organizations.

This is us now hitchhiking towards Psychology & Decision Science.

We are after all algorithmic policy makers, and we need to level up to be able to see beyond the damn old dichotomy of subject-object:

The 2nd cohort of Ecosystem Valueflows course got a taste of this new fab4rel8” frame of reference, which we will expand with Regis’ insights to make it more accessible and practical for use by token engineers - and by testing and iterating in the Token Engineering Commons working groups (which is called “eating our own dogfood”).

This is about curating a method that can serve as a compass - for the complex adaptive dynamic and humane networks we are navigating. We need everyone onboard - we need to improve our abilities to onboard every participant:

This compass is for every participant.

One cannot truly participate in a system that can only be parameterized by polymaths.

Updates to Chapter 4 Token Model Generation:

Enter games. This is another large and long term R&D topic, that became part of Chapter 4 and part of the Ecosystem Valueflow course. However, in its purest form, game too only clicks for “natural born” game designers or players - not for everyone. We need games we can easily customize for any community and ecosystem. Better yet, games that community members can start playing and adapt through playing. Think of games as more dynamic and interactive canvases :) which directly run on top of a simulation engine! After the play: download the financial model or the system specification, whatever language is needed for the job to be done. But getting there was participatory and fun.

Speaking of which: cadCAD now has an online course, covering the fundamentals of modeling & simulations in Python. It is highly recommended! In a cadCAD study group we also put together some annotations for putting cadCAD in Token Engineering context.

So, are we ready for a 2nd iteration on Chapter 4 Token Model Generation that will kick ass? You bet! With all worksheets and canvases - and examples - the simple and sophisticated versions.

But wait, there is one more plot twist!

The initial plan was to print books to flow value back to the reserve of the minted TWL (pronounced /ˈtaʊ.əl/ and about the most massively useful token an interstellar hitchhiker can have) - well that plan started sucking bad, the more we understood the game of (web) publishing! 65% of that value will flow to Jeff Bezos as rocket fuel - and not in our bonded token’s reserve. To the point of: this is not the right thing to do. So as of yesterday the “Hard Copy” presale option “is so over”.

The entire gitcoin grants will solely flow to open source maintenance and sustaining a healthy happy community of contributors and maintainers around A Hitchhiker’s for Token Engineering open source repo. There will be sections and content that can be sourced through even wider token engineering community engagement. A living repository of knowledge co-creation and curation.

But what about our intellectual investors? Those who will take a bet, and invest their time to curate, their muse to write initial content and editing? The initiators, the co-authors? Writing is a lonely business.

Collaborative, crowd-sourced writing is new to all of us. “We’re figuring out how to hand out driver’s licences whilst building the car and the roads” holds true about token engineering holds true about the book on token engineering, too :D We use Google Docs! I didn’t think of it initially, but we cannot expect people from such diverse backgrounds to collaborate on text for a coherent book on GitHub, like devs do on code.

And what about “the audience” who actually do want an e-book on their reader? Those who enjoy a well edited curated collection, more than clicking through GitHub pages? Or those who’d love to listen to it as an audio-book on the go? Those who’d rather get the gist in a video series?

I wasn’t thinking at first that this is an issue, but why would we even restrict ourselves for replenishing the reserve of TWL, to one channel, which sucks 65% of all revenue out of our value network?! After all we are writing a book about re-engineering of value flows on the programmable web :D

We are writing history!

Rollin’ our own

So, in Tannr, who is a programmer in Token Engineering since the early beginnings and who took part in the 2nd cohort of Ecosystem Valueflows with project Pictosis - An NFT playground for design & co-creation, we found a great collaborator for web3 publishing infrastructure. Why Pictosis?

  1. royalty-sharing policies are modular and can be remixed based on impact analysis, dynamically with the co-created content; in fact these policies will be created by developers, which makes them part of the game, rightly so.

  2. the attribution information and content can be imported through Google Docs meta-data or GitHub and SourceCred.

  3. content can be served through any web interface.

Shermin with her experience in publishing books through traditional and through web2.0 channels is advising the process.

I’m keen on publishing this book, and help publishing an entire Bundle of “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to…” …well, name any topic you want to have a deep dive into. I have at least 3 I would stake personally:

  • … to Information Society, Universe and all the Rest”

  • … to Anti-frAGILE Software Development in Open Systems”

  • … to Onboarding the Spaceship Earth for Hackers & Gamers”

What is next?

Tannr and his team at Pictosis have created a TEC Proposal. We believe it will enable not only publishing this book as a cultural Token Engineering Commons, but will empower many types of collaborative content creation, sharing, remixing, and dissemination - which would further the Token Engineering Commons mission, but also enable many Web3 content creators to finally exit the rent-seeking Web2.0 Platform Economies. The MVP alone will possibly take 5-6 months.

However, we are keen on publishing Chapter 4 Token Model Generation with accompanying multimedia content as a proof of concept on whichever prototype interfaces Pictosis can send our way ASAP. We don’t mind cars being built whilst we take them for a ride as long as the design is safe ;)

In fact, we are so ready to have some programmable publishing action, whilst we are finishing up the 2nd iteration on Chapter 4, we’d like to mint the uncut manuscript of the Epilogue, in its original conversational commentary style. We will publish the original using _Prtcl, which enables compiling a document from different sources with their signatures, i.e. attributions in our conversational manuscript. The initial idea is that we then mint a 1/1 NFT - à la Simon de la Rouviere’s “This artwork is always on sale”. The patronage of this 1/1 NFT should flow towards the contributors and to A Hitchhikers token (TWL) reserve.

The new found modus operandi

This is our outline with editor notes. Chapter leads and contributors write a first version in dedicated folders in GDrive, where they organize their references, depictions, worksheets, interviews etc.

Every chapter when ready will be published on GitHub for crowd-sourcing refinements and ingenuity in perpetuity in the repo.

In parallel the editing, design and layout for online, ebook versions process is triggered. At which end, any crowd-sourced improvements that should make it into the mint are curated and included from the repo. Attributions are imported along side content. Each chapter crew shall decide on a royalty-sharing policy. Experiments and A/B tests are highly encouraged!

The first few chapters might come online rather sequentially, with an influx of the remaining. So that should go well with the roadmap of the Minimally Viable Revolution of a web3 publishing infrastructure.

We highly reckon with multiple special editions after the 1st Edition NFTs:

  • the Solarpunk Edition for our clean energy & climate action networks

  • Editions dedicated to the communities who support and inspire the book

  • Limited Editions with programmable gimmicks you just can’t get on paper!

Special dates:

If you want to exchange on any of these topics join the TE Book Club this Thursday 7PM CET. We will meet bi-weekly in 2021 on Thursdays.

And join our Christmas Special with Lisa Monday 21st: on Publishing and NFTs, who will be sharing her recent experience in publishing the 1st textbook on Token Engineerin and DeFi.

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In the meantime, tell your friends!