In 2021, a DAO could be described as a voluntary association with the operating principles of digital cooperativism. - A Prehistory of DAOs
Most DAOs do not directly map to the structures of cooperatives, but rather embrace the idea of cooperativisim as a protocol. They are a way for strangers on the internet to come together around some common goals. This could be as simple as a group chat and a bank account in the form of a [multi-sig wallet](Gnosis Safe Multisig).
Cooperativism as a protocol means that DAO members are united voluntarily through their common, democratically controlled enterprise. They are “digital cooperatives” because currently, DAOs primarily coordinate around digital assets but that is poised to change as DAOs mature and evolve.
An essential aspect of coordination is decision making, or colloquially the idea of governance. There are many different forms of governance including token-voting, reputation voting and other innovative ways of collective sense-making. It is crucial to remember that better-orgs-lower-transaction-costs and that tokens-are-products, so designing enjoyable ownership and decision making experiences is critical to having impact generating DAOs.
Tokenization introduces a powerful cultural norm into early stage organizations: the expectation of transparent co-ownership of its assets from the start. - A Prehistory of DAOs
By distributing ownership and decision making to DAO members, DAOs coordinate based on collective vibes. These vibes form the basis of the DAO’s brand: a-decentralized-brand-is-a-meme. Importantly, this connects directly to new brand and culture ideas like the-vibe-economy and culture-is-a-product, it enables new ways of distributing stake and value to participants in a network. This makes it possible to not just make culture a product, but allow that culture to reward its own members.
When you combine a meaningful narrative (culture-is-a-product) with a decentralized brand (networked-branding-is-permissionless) and add in a mechanism to reward network participants (better-orgs-lower-transaction-costs) you get something that resembles a self-propogating, narrative-aligned organism.