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Protocol Worlds Recap

Highlights from Healdsburg

Last week's 0xPARC and Summer of Protocols crossover episode was a success. The Protocol Worlds event at Edge Esmeralda meshed well with the vibe of the broader popup city, offering a new concept for people to apply to their biggest challenges. About half of the workshop participants were not directly affiliated with SoP – they just happened to be interested in what protocols have to offer.

Scenes from the kickoff session.

Seven events, including the kickoff and closing ceremony, composed the official portion of the weeklong track. On top of that, multiple participants spontaneously hosted extra sessions on protocols in their fields, such as impact investing, digital identities, and cultural revitalization.

Each day of Protocol Worlds participants could collect tension cards. These formed the basis for event's larger goal for attendees: to imagine a protocolized future and an artefact from that world. Each card represented a common design tradeoff, like security vs cost, which had to be taken into consideration. And since the cards were presented in parallel, choosing which one to collect at any point was itself a tradeoff. Meta.

The more you collected, the more constrained your artefact would be. A Zupass leaderboard kept track of who caught the most of the 25 available tensions. The ranking determined which teams presented first at the closing event.

Anonymous Hedgehog didn't show, so Anonymous Frog (revealed to be Sachin Benny) started the presentations. Artefacts included a high-speed rail system, a poem written by a McDonalds franchisee, a machine that makes dreams come true, a privacy protocol, an AR headset that displayed what tribes people belong to, and a standardized test for measuring common sense.

Tim opening the closing event.

When we imagine the future, it typically looks like the present day plus one new business or idea that we hope will become commonplace. In reality, the future will include many new projects, technologies, and cultures. That's what makes it so challenging to predict – the sum of those changes results in an entirely new world, not a marginally different one.

Halfway Point

Protocol Worlds, like the Datus & Nusas workshop, functioned as a meeting point for a both past and present SoP grantees. It was an opportunity for the current cohort to get a better understanding of their fellows' projects and for past research to be presented again with more context.

Back: Kaliya, Kei, Jiordi, Chenoe, Tim, Rich, Day, Sachin, Tom Front: Timber, Kevin, Fuad, Rithikha, Mashal, Nathalia

On Friday, the SoP community took a deep dive on the topic of protocol entrepreneurship in a discussion facilitated by Venkatesh. In accordance with the week's theme, three tensions were explored:

  1. Great Man Theory of Change vs. Bureaucratic Heroism Theory of Change

  2. Private Innovation Spillover Theory vs. Grow-the-Commons Theory

  3. Protocols are Weapons of the Strong vs. Protocols are Weapons of the Weak.

This year's cohort is dialed in on making changes in the real world, so getting a better sense of the practical tradeoffs in protocol space is important. After the discussion it was clear that protocols are a double-edged sword, offering stability and hardness but also the risks of stagnation or centralization of power. You can find some vignettes of this discussion on this forum thread.

The end of Edge Esmeralda marked the halfway point for this summer's program. PIG, POG, and PILL grantees are beginning to turn their ideas into concrete deliverables. We'll continue to send updates here, through Protocolized, and you can always hop onto the forum to catch the action live.

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