Security vs Freedom Gradient - A Potential Social-Role Model


I’ve reflected a lot lately on a misconception I had coming into this community which I think many of us may hold. Not being from tech I think I brought my understanding of the container of a job in capitalism and assumed out of lack of experience that it would play the same in the decentralization-heavy Web3 space.

The agreement with capitalism is: “I give you massive control over my life and my labor, you provide me with a certain amount of financial/healthcare security.”

Regardless of how I feel about it, I’ve realized that this is not the implicit agreement in the Web3 space. Open Source (OS), crypto, DAOs; when looking at these I see a hybrid of hobby and employment with a much higher emphasis on freedom.

The implicit agreement is more like: “I’ll come here to explore the opportunities you can give me, and we’ll mutually agree that we don’t owe each other promises of security.”

It creates more opportunities for freedom and agency over your labor. However, the environment is much higher risk and offers way less security than the ever-grinding wheels of capitalism**.

I think I came to this space trying to get freedom and expecting security. It makes sense; freedom is what I’ve always wanted, security is the one real thing capitalist jobs have given me (and I had to fight for it). What I didn’t see, but already knew in other areas of my life is that freedom and security are at opposite ends of a gradient. To get more of one, I need to give more of the other.

So there’s the thesis of capitalism: “give me your freedom in exchange for receiving security.” There’s the anti-thesis of Web3: “all the freedom you want, but high risk and low security.”

Is there a synthesis? Can we make use of the gradient between security and freedom?

It’s on this question that I want to offer a suggestion to the SourceCred community.


There are a lot of ways we can answer the question of “what the f*ck is next?” and what I’m offering is neither the only answer, nor a completely comprehensive solution. However I think it could be a good jumping off point for us to start tackling the question of how we would like to organize the container of SourceCred moving forward.

As we’ve been discussing this month, I’ve been listening and trying to understand the recurring perspectives that live in our space right now. I want to help us think through how we can create a better container for holding the nuance of our needs for freedom and security and the tradeoffs they demand.

I’ve been particularly inspired by Sociocracy ever since Thena first gave their presentation on it. At the beginning of our June break, I went back to the Sociocracy for All website and watched through their video series on the concepts and the exercise for creating a Sociocracy org map for your own community/project. I’ve also been very inspired by the FWB (Friends With Benefits) community and the ways they create a gradient of engagement between community and staff. The ideas I’m putting forward here are very influenced by both those systems.


Back to this idea of the security vs freedom gradient; maybe we can make use of the space between the two extremes. We could create more opportunities for individuals to intentionally choose where they want to land on the security vs freedom gradient.

One option for one line of friction in our project is to define a few containers along the security vs freedom gradient for folks to choose from. Creating specific spaces for cultivating cool connections (community, freedom) and others for focusing on producing outcomes (product, accountability to results).

Below are descriptions and a visual, explore them in the order that makes sense to you.

COMMUNITY - Most freedom, least security, least expectation

A space where newcomers first arrive. A low-stakes and low-responsibility space where aligned folks can come together to both relate as humans and talk about the Web3 related topics that draw us all together. I imagine it like a low-key “collaboration/idea nursery” that new groups/circles/or even projects may spin out from after finding like-minded collaborators and purposes. I imagine this as a low financial-payout space with trails that lead to higher responsibility and payout opportunities. Community members can follow those trails based on their skills, interest, and the of the needs of domains and teams. My ideal vision would be something like the richest of tutorial-villages at the beginning of a video game that both teaches you how to play and is a vibrant space in its own right. A space that passively selects for aligned interests and that nurtures connection, healing, and ideas without a lot of pressure to produce. Keeping the community’s demand for resources low allows the space more freedom to disengage from producing. During times of plenty, I imagine extra funds flowing over into the community for enriching experiences like events.

CONTRIBUTORS (TEAM MEMBERS?) - Middle ground, maybe dogfood?

The next step along the security vs freedom gradient is the Contributor’s space. Not everything is fleshed out, but I imagine this as a distinction for community members who have joined a team or circle. Teams can identify their needs and find community members who have interest and talent in their domain. Maybe this is where we try dogfooding again with an aim towards distributing a portion of an approved team budget to contributors on that team based on the impact/quality of their work. Or maybe we’re done with dogfooding for a while until we can imitate the communities in the ecosystem who are using our product more effectively.

STAFF - Most security, most expectation to produce

The last category of engagement along the security vs freedom gradient is Staff. I imagine these folks doing vital work that is mandatory for success. I imagine them on a salary creating a lot of security, and also holding the most responsibility for, and accountability to, outcomes that move the product and its financial stability forward. Perhaps these are our necessary experts and the folks that lead vital teams/circles by helping guide, balance, and move outcomes forward within their domain.

I’m not making any assertions as to what the Circles/Teams and their domains should be, who should be on teams, or who should be leads, delegates, or experts for which teams (though I’d like to see some function of community-based nominations and voting for at least the first cast of leaders). Frankly, I’m not even saying this model is what we should use. My biggest goal is just to provide a perspective we could use to metabolize this difficult security vs freedom trade-off that inherently exists in these spaces even when there’s no conflict.

Here is a visual I created. This does NOT represent suggested sociocracy circles/teams/domains of work or how those could be structured. It represents a structure of containers along the security vs freedom gradient that could feed into each other and allow people at different levels of involvement to choose (or at least know) where they stand, creating a little less ambiguity in our space.

If these ideas are received well, I’d also like to pursue these concepts together:

  • How would we structure circles/teams (what are the responsibilities of members, leaders, delegates, etc; and how we might choose them)?
  • What’s the short-list of most-necessary domains for SC to produce outcomes in?

Thanks for reading, I’m interested in hearing your opinions in the comments. :heart:

** not to say that capitalist jobs don’t leverage our need for security to try and extract as much as possible from laborers. It’s not ethical about it, but security is part of the agreement.


I dig it overall. I have a few comments.

First on the idea of security vs freedom: I think you’re right that there is a trade off. Perhaps the one freedom that we generally cannot escape from either in the cryptospace or the corporate space (except in extraordinary circumstances) is “Your labor needs to ultimately produce revenue for the group for receiving monetary incentives to be sustainable”.

I generally think of the web3 space as a form of freelance work as opposed to salary work like you may get in a full time job. All freelance work is high risk, but web3 has some particular financial and speculative aspects to it as well. While in most freelance jobs you can at least rely on the stability of your unit of exchange, in crypto this cannot be relied on either. As we move forward we will likely have to face this fact in ways we haven’t had to before since we were paid in usd.

That bleakness aside: the web3 space is also a space of great opportunity and ease of movement and securing jobs. Unlike most freelance work, finding new clients is quite easy. While SourceCred may not be able to support community members alone, it is not hard to imagine many members contributing in several DAOs (hopefully all using the SourceCred product) and being able to support themselves this way instead of relying entirely on SourceCred by itself.

The community and contributors tiers are very similar to the way 1hive tiers work: using the SourceCred system for unspecified community labor, and using swarms with hourly rates or other internal distribution methods. 1hive generally does not have salaried employees except maybe locally agreed on inside of a swarm.

I am not sure on the necessity of staff, and I think this does have the potential to cause rifts and be the source of drama. Salaried positions are likely to be seen as positions of privilege. While these positions will likely be held by important and vital members of operations, I think it is incredibly important that we have an established method where everyone feels like they can have a say in who receives these positions, a right to reevaluate periodically, etc. If we go this route, these members should essentially be elected. Alternatively each circle/swarm/team could decide to give a salary to some subset of its members, and this would work well as long as the community decided this group was still producing valuable work.

I believe teams are likely to be more organically formed. I have seen this happen at 1hive all the time. If someone is not contributing adequately, they can be kicked, or simply lose the right to pay within the subgroup.

I also wonder how this structure will fit in to the SourceCred product itself. Paying teams and salaried employees fits better into a proposal and funding based framework like 1hive uses, whereas SourceCred’s own system relies more around automated discovery of value, community consensus, and social behavior. You could add dependencies through SourceCred, but this seems a bit of a hacky way to pretend you’re still using the underlying algorithm.


Love the perspective of freelance work, that makes so much sense to me. If I’m freelancing, I probably shouldn’t have only one client. And it creates clarity as to why I didn’t really get that until now, because I’ve never done freelance work before. :sweat_smile:

I’m starting to realize that the the subset of Web3 we inhabit is so rich with projects that share many aspects of our vision. While the idea terrifies me (new things are always scary to my trauma and autism) I’m also gaining some hopefulness in the realization that there are so many spaces full of people who care about what I care about and are struggling with a lot of the same things we do. I hope to find the bandwidth to connect with other projects in the space (especially ones using SC) and learn from many perspectives about how this product impacts those spaces and what wellness means in this frontier.