Back in January I joined a DAO — a decentralized autonomous organization. It’s called JUMP and it was founded as a community for branding, marketing and advertising professionals to learn about web3. What started by Jeff Kauffman Jr. as 30 people in a group email in June 2021 has mushroomed to a membership in excess of 1,500, and growing every week. And while I admit I break out into a cold sweat every time I log onto the JUMP Discord, I am finding my way in a world that offers the faintest tugs of memory, back to the free-wheeling days of my youth spent working in food coops and participating in feminist and leftist politics.
I joined the DAO because I was a web3 naysayer, sniggering from the sidelines. I only saw the greed of cryptotraders and the theatrics of the Metaverse. None of it seemed to have purpose or the potential for greater good. And as I began to get my hands dirty and understand how this DAO thing works, I also began to see potential for radical change.
In this strange DAO land, we are all peers. No leaders. No followers. No hierarchy. No formula for how to define your identity, which also means that how you seek status is up to you, and requires a tuned-inedness to others. This isn’t the place for bombasts, bullies, chest beaters, pedants, pessimists, cynics, showoffs or power-mongers. But it is a perfect place for doers.
I’ve also come to appreciate the simple fact that PEOPLE PLAY NICE IN THE JUMP DAO — GENUINELY NICE — while engaging with others in a safe space to learn, to teach and to cocreate around ideas and projects that have shared purpose. This is what self-organization by networks of peers looks like. Sometimes the goal of a DAO is to make piles of money. But with JUMP, as a social DAO, it isn’t. An ethos of being better and doing better together — without a concentration of power — is the driving force. And that ethos is mirrored by the Ethereum blockchain that allows us to create and manage a platform of social tokens to generate incentive for participation and help people define their reputations based on merit. And as we go live with our NFT, we’ll have the added benefit of revenue to fund the needs of DAO members to support meaningful expansion without disrupting culture.
Wow. How idealistic is that?
I love my JUMP buddies. People are interesting, interested, full of energy and ideas. Many of them have day jobs and moonlight in the DAO, waiting for the tipping point in their work lives to go full-throttle web3. We hang out on that pesky black-screened Discord, with opportunities to have voice-only conversations that are either planned and promoted as events, or spontaneous. I’m getting more adept at navigating the numerous “servers” that act as channels for specific interests and activities so I have options for observing, grazing or digging in. In the JUMP DAO, as we are getting ready to launch a membership token while growing the weekly programming and supporting members with IRL “clubs” around the globe, there is much work to be done, and all of it has value. There are no cushy jobs. Or grunt work. With my peculiar approach to learning-by-doing, I’m collaborating on projects like creating playbooks for planning member events and distributing bounties to active JUMPERS.
It’s been a long time since I have participated in a work world that is defined by generosity and reciprocity. Just what we all need right now, don’t you think? I’m learning every day, helping build something of substance and integrity, and doing it in the company of people I may never meet in person. And the icing on the cake is that my experiences in the JUMP DAO are transportable. They give me new intellectual muscles — not to mention toolkits for invention, creative problem solving and working with our staff and clients at Otherwise in ways that usher in a new framework for the future of cooperation.
And they say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.