A corporation is a formal, centralized entity that is registered under state law. Technically immortal, corporations must continue to make profit to survive. The average lifespan of a corporation is only 15 years, and has been decreasing since the 1920s. Corporations are, in practice, quite transient things. Business models change, corporate structure can ossify. Eventually, corporations simply get old and die.
A community is a group of people who connect and interact over some shared object, location, idea, or belief system. A community can survive so long as the shared object maintains the group’s cohesiveness over the natural decay of time. Although communities can be short lived, they are capable of lasting centuries, even millennia, if the shared object is strong.
In the world of the internet, most of our communities are run and regulated by corporations. These corporations are not just ISPs, nearly all internet communities are attached to other profit seeking corporations. From Facebook to reddit, we are building our communities on shaky ground. Aside from a few stand-alone websites, think how much community would be lost if Reddit or Github went down? Sure, these sites seem healthy now, but a lot can change in a decade. So many of the core communities of the internet are dependent on advertisement revenue, what would happen if that collapsed? Even popular sites have had a hard time paying the bills without showing ads.
One of the reasons I am interested in blockchains is that they have the possibility of overcoming this problem, in part or completely, depending on advances in the technology. A permissionless blockchain can be kept online as long as some member are willing to pay the cost of upkeeping the chain. With recent advancements in Proof of Stake consensus technology, this can be done safely at much lower cost than with Proof of Work. Blockchains have the potential for much greater longevity then corporations do. Cryptocurrencies act ais natural shibboleths for a community, as they are a costly hard to fake signal that can unite people under a common version of reality. I’ve heard it said that despite massive differences of opinion, two people can come to consensus on how many bitcoin each of them has. This is impressive, giving that they might not agree what defines “Bitcoin” or which chain is the “real Bitcoin”!
I am very interested in building communities around blockchains. Most of the communities that are currently built around such things were created accidentally, before people knew what they were doing. I think we can do better. The Causevest protocol is designed to foster a community that helps fund good causes. I hope that, in time, it becomes a place where people can gather knowledge and information on good causes, big and small, and can police causes that act badly, using evidence that is uploaded to the chain. I also want to experiment with different fund transfer governance ideas, such as liquid democracy, and participatory budgeting, to see if these improve community governance.
Overall, I think there is a significant probability that a vibrant, new community could be built from these building blocks. One that could outlast Causevest the corporation and even myself.