As one of the founders of Grow Your Own Cloud, I have become fascinated with how such ideas might be able to leverage the emerging community driven organizational models that are emerging in Web3. Since the early part of 2020, I have been researching and immersing myself in DAO models (Decentralised Autonomous Organizations) to understand how such approaches might help Grow Your Own Cloud achieve some of the goals I have envisioned since its inception; such as growing a Data Forest.
The project itself has been developing ideas for green data applications since 2018. The mission that underlies the project is to make the exponential rise in data benefit the planet. This is enabled through an approach that combines DNA data storage technology with plants and trees, to enable regenerative data storage.
Over the years we’ve created proof of concepts that demonstrate we can store and retrieve digital files from plants. The project has won international awards from the UN and EU and has been showcased across the world at places like SXSW, WSJ Future of Everything and Telefonica Foundation. I was even part of a Netflix documentary talking about the technology and idea behind my work.
The long-term goal is to develop data infrastructure that is carbon negative, based on DNA data storage technology. For example data forests replacing server farms, with the potential to bring new value to nature. Forests which not only carry an environmental value, but an economic value through data storage, natural capital and carbon credits. To do this is to put it mildly a challenge. It will take time, and enormous resources that seem quite out of reach to a project that was initially a simple art-science thought experiment. However, through incremental steps of product development and research, I’ve mapped a path to build data systems that could work in harmony with living systems for maximum impact.
Beyond protocols and sophisticated accounting tools, I see Web3 as an enabler for community led growth. By running more decentralised and distributed operations, we can activate projects and ideas that more closely resemble a public good than a traditional tech company or startup. A DAO in this model then can be seen as an internet native organization dedicated to a particular mission. That mission might be to own a basketball team or to grow a data forest.
The fundamental notion though remains the same. People can come together to create a particular future that they align on. They can do this fairly informally compared to establishing a company, and can do this with enormous geographical and interdisciplinary reach utilising the Internet to coordinate on tools such as Discord. Web3 enables a way to collect and govern funds transparently in a permissionless way.
In addition to the financial capital and social layers inherent to Web3, new areas are also emerging that are highly relevant to research grounded in positive change or scientific knowledge. DeSci (decentralized science), can be employed to help develop and fund an unconventional idea through a community led approach that serves the public interest. ReFi (regenerative finance) is all about developing regenerative applications that can boost natural capital, enhance biodiversity and improve the quality of life for all beings.
Through careful reflection and research I have developed the idea of GYOC DAO as an organization of reflective, regenerative and strategic thinkers and doers. The intention is to create a community where members collaborate to form ideas and collectively make decisions. As the project is a DAO, members are simultaneously users, fans, owners and operators who ultimately share in the benefits as GYOC DAO develops new projects, products and initiatives.
The most powerful aspect of any DAO is the possibility to align incentives. Web2 models are built on principles like network effects and Metcalfe's law, yet are extractive in nature since most value accrues to the entity such as Amazon (reviews) or Google (search). Within Web3 there exists a possibility to change this so that everyone shares in the success and growth. Thus far of course the space has proven itself to be a mixed bag - a giant casino on the one hand and an experimental playground for utopian economics on the other. It is my hope that projects like GYOC DAO can promote the latter, through the creation of organisations that are oriented around a collective mission, but that can grow from various sources.
What does that look like? I think it looks a lot like a living ecosystem such as a garden. For a garden to thrive, the relationships planted must be symbiotic and mutually beneficial. I see a community growing in this way, guiding the future of GYOC DAO by facilitating precious collaborations with scientists, ecologists, artists, technologists, like-minded organisations and anyone who wants to encourage and enable truly green futures.
As a community we will collectively work towards the long-term dream of rebuilding data storage in a regenerative way, working with nature as technology.