Online communities that share a common interest on the internet can range from social networks, grassroots organizations, and customer communities. We as a society are by nature collaborative, so it makes sense to engage with other people’s ideas and interests online. Regardless of whether we develop relationships with people directly or indirectly, communities are built. How we do this, however, differs.

In 2006, web expert Jakob Nielsen proposed a 90-9-1 rule based on inequality of participation in social media and online communities. According to Nielsen, in most online communities 90% of users are lurkers, that is, those who observe but do not contribute, nine percent of users contribute little, and only one percent makes the most contributions.

But as the influence of online communities continues, their nature is beginning to change. The previous era was characterized by a user, customer and creator relationship. However, now we’re starting to see online communities taking responsibility for what they want to share.

Related: Crypto social governance will lead to online freedom

The property and creator economy

With COVID-19 forcing many of us to work from home and socially distance ourselves from loved ones, digital connectivity has played an important role in how we stay connected. For many, this has resulted in a greater reliance on online communities. According to a study by Facebook in collaboration with The Governance Lab at New York University, 77% of respondents said the main group they belong to operates online.

Today we live in a world where content is willingly created and shared. This creator economy, built on human creativity, intellectual property, and technology, is a concept that continues to grow. And after a year of lockdowns, now more than ever is the time to appreciate the creator economy. As governments seek to rebuild their economies in the wake of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, creative industries will play an important role. According to figures from Deloitte, this sector could grow by 40% by 2030 and create more than eight million jobs.

The next logical step is moving away from this sharing economy towards an ownership economy. Jesse Walden, founder of the Variant Fund, calls the ownership economy something that “is not only built, operated and financed by individual users, but also belongs to users”. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are an example of the coming together of the economy of creation and the economy of property. NFTs allow creators to create a more intimate connection with their followers while also eliminating middleman-related issues. In this way, and thanks to the blockchain, the creators have full ownership of their works and have a free hand to protect their creations by copyright while ensuring their authenticity. NFTs offer creatives a unique opportunity and establish creative ownership.

Related: Bull or bear market, creators are diving headlong into crypto

And it’s the advent of crypto and decentralized funding (DeFi) that is helping to take online communities to the next level. With the sector using assets shared by all shareholders to create something that suits their interests, crypto and DeFi are a natural fit. Thanks to the smooth funding, the Ownership Economy enables novel approaches for real communities to use digital tools to create, capture and share value more effectively in positive cycles.

The property economy was pioneered by Bitcoin (BTC). Bitcoin hit the market in 2009 and suggested a new path to economic wealth while using technology on a computer. This way, anyone with an internet connection was encouraged to mine for newly minted bitcoins, which helped secure the network while also claiming ownership of the network itself.

Since then, the crypto market has grown exponentially and with it, online communities are seen through new tools and incentive designs that embrace the trend known today as Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs).

DAO online communities

A DAO is essentially a programmable organization of people who are formed around a common mission and promote an emerging online community. Together they control a crypto wallet with several signatures and ensure that the goals decided by the DAO members are achieved. The governance of DAOs and their operation is set out in intelligent contracts that consist of automated if-then instructions, making them transparent and verifiable.

The great thing about DAOs and their role in online communities is that the way they interact with each other is a wide open space and a lot of work is done in this area. Anyone can participate in a DAO, no matter where they are. All that is required is staking funds, which makes a great building block for interacting with a community. DAOs are not walled gardens and therefore their participants have intrinsic and extrinsic incentives to work with other DAO communities to strengthen each other’s skills while sharing the responsibility and direction of each project. With no central party standing in the way, everyone has the right to have a say in how something is or should be done.

Related: Airdrops, DAOs, token issuance, and public domains are the next frontier for NFTs

DAOs and DAO2DAO collaborations are still very much “a crypto thing,” but the real power for positive change lies in them when the methods, ownership models, and tools created from this movement touch real communities, big and small.

This article does not provide investment advice or recommendations. Every step of investing and trading involves risk, and readers should do their own research when making a decision.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Michael O’Rourke is Co-Founder and CEO of Pocket Network. Michael is a self-taught iOS and Solidity developer. He was also on the ground floor of the Bitcoin / crypto meeting and consulting firm Blockspaces in Tampa Bay with a focus on teaching solidity to developers. He graduated from the University of South Florida.


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