Animism is the belief that almost every place, every animal, every plant, and every material phenomenon have conscience and emotions, and that they can communicate directly with humans. It may further attribute a life force to abstract concepts such as words, true names or metaphors.
I like to think of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) as spirits with their own agency, sentiment, and life. They are forms of collective intelligence that interact with humans and others of their kind. We can think them as little goods with many superhuman capabilities.
I love how Miyazaki depicts spirits in his films. In Spirited Away (2001) for example, there is a river spirit that gets in trouble when its river gets polluted, and powerful as it is, only with the help of a human it can recover the freedom.
Now think on polluted rivers in the real world, how can their spirits ask for help? They are voiceless or we have stopped listening them for a long time when we embraced monotheism. It’s time to restore the communication but what kind of channels can we enable to do that effectively?
We can use cybernetic spirits (DAOs) to embody and coordinate the needs of those screaming spirits that nobody seems to see.
We begin with the spirit of Token Engineering. Building the TECommons we take care of funding and designing sustainably more powerful cybernetic spirits.
I’m expecting the day in which we can embody the spirits of rivers, mountains, and forests into Commons, crypto-entities capable of defending themselves thanks to aligned and sustainable communities that care and say no to whom want to exploit them. Those communities will be holding totems.
From tokens to totems
Tokens are flexible, they can be used for many different things: from paying, to voting, to even representing cute kitties. That makes Token Engineering so interesting, since the possibilities are huge.
Token (\ˈtō-kən): a piece resembling a coin issued for use (as for fare on a bus) by a particular group on specified terms
And as you can see, what makes the Token Engineering a wide and prosper discipline, is what makes the term so generic, so empty in significance, and so boring. Anything resembling a little piece of any material that provides any right can be a token. There is no way to feel compelled by something with almost no meaning. Why not to tweak it a little bit?
Totem (\ˈtō-təm): an object (such as an animal or plant) serving as the emblem of a family or clan and often as a reminder of its ancestry
Most governance tokens of our favorite blockchain-based communities, such as TECommons but also Ethereum itself are not just tokens because they embody membership in a community, shared values, and aligned incentives. An interesting way of thinking on them is not only as tokens but also as totems that represent a specific cybernetic spirit, and in some way contain it inside them.
Let’s use our totems wisely, and please tell me below if you find animism in DAOs/Commons compelling, and if you find other interesting connections we can make with the folklore.