And some notes on naming a DAO
This newsletter and the organization it details was titled EXO Unlimited, then EXO Dynamics, and now it’s Pentagraph. Here’s some color on our organization’s emergent self-definition and how the string of letters that composes its name stuck with the program.
If you want to get in the mix, best place to start is here.
We've been deep in meditation on Pentagraph's identity and mission. We began with a Jobsian command-and-control approach - strong-arm our identity and launch product into ‘perfection’ then unveil to the public [crowd goes wild]. But the distillation of abstract concepts that form the DNA of an organization, especially in the context of web3 and decentralized protocols, doesn’t seem to work like that. You can’t totally tell it what to do.
We found loosening our grip and letting things fall into place, on their own time, out in the open, is a far more effective approach. With this more stoic mindset, we started to find clarity in the strangest of places. In preparation for our application to an accelerator last week, we attempted to state our mission within the cramped confines of a Tweet thread. It came out making more sense than any Keynote deck we’ve built heretofore. Here it is (emoji’s included):
Hi, we're Pentagraph🖖
We’re on a quest to build the ultimate platform-agnostic storytelling DAO.
Now we're building something new. Why?
🌧️Web2 media is a sorry state of affairs. Newsrooms are biased/broke; journalists are underpaid/have no ownership; creator platforms are causing burnout/subscriber fatigue. Long-tail value - like articles that become movies - is fading.
But it doesn't have to be this way!
🌅Pentagraph is a new media organization drawing the coordination failures of yesterday through the web3 prism of tomorrow, all in the name of supercharging⚡multimedia⚡ storytelling⚡
The human-powered soul of our new machine is the Pentagraph DAO, a positive sum ecosystem for all participants, rewarding our merry league of writers, graphic designers, filmmakers, developers and token-holding members alike - for crafting stories, and enjoying them.
Our warm-up project is The CryptoLexicon🦉, a crowd-sourced community-owned dictionary that transforms human language into AI-generated 3D NFTs.
Check out season 1 - that’s CryptoLexicon.xyz on your http dial.
Ground zero for Pentagraph's storytelling is a digiphysical ~magazine~. It's made with web3, but explores the broader spectrum of our shared future - DAOs✅, DIY✅, SciFi✅, Unexplored Frontiers✅. Like an NFT-laced techno-spiritual The New Yorker in the year 3146.
Each month Pentagraph announces a theme. Remote interdisciplinary collaboration in our Discord ensues. The best proposals - as voted on by our community - make it into the issue.
If your story doesn't make it, not to worry friendo! We're all about opportunity over here.
Joining Pentagraph’s electric carousel of projects (like The CryptoLexicon), is Lore Machine™ - a services engine helping a variety of partner entities storytell their way from web2-->web3. Pick your bounty, get a blend of $tory/fiat, ditch that corp life for ∞.
Pentagraph's all-star Council mines stories throughout our ecosystem, lifting works *and author sovereignty* up into podcasts, tv and film. Hollywood baby!😎
Proceeds all go back to the DAO and the process begins anew. Regenerative content crypto-economics baby!🤓
Real talk: web2 media's ad-supported model is now a volume game - churnalism. The support structure for immersive work is stalling out.
Storytellers are lost. They drift across the lands in search of their clan. Web3 is their journey’s end. Pentagraph is their campfire🔥
The Story of the Name
The initial inspiration for this organization was my personal substack EXO. In January of 2021, I published a story that went deep into the phenomenon of astral projection. I dropped an NFT inside the article. Through a series of mystical curveballs, the art got moved off of the NFT marketplace Open Sea and reappeared on SuperRare, sporting an industry-first magnification function enabling viewers to zoom in on hundreds of details I micro-inscribed into the piece. The first 4d NFT!
The experience opened a crypto floodgate and down the web3 rabbit hole I went. The most interesting corner of that subterranean landscape for me was Decentralized Autonomous Organizations. DAO-folk are the most elevated group in the movement. They are lasered-in on the question ‘why?’ more than anyone else; they opened my eyes to the future of human coordination. With this super-vision, I was able to see a solution to all the failures that plague web2 media companies today. So after swearing up and down I'd never go back to building an organization, I went back to building an organization.
I wanted the name EXO to come along for the ride. It embodied the spirit of pioneering new modes of decentralized content production and distribution to a T. Then, red tape. After scouring the USPTO, our lawyers waved us off of EXO. There are hundreds of companies with the name EXO, a few of which are in gaming, digital communities or some form of media. Not a lot of shade under the trees. But I didn't want to take no for answer. I even emailed a few EXO trademark owners and got verbal clearance (which as it happens is a bad idea). It was clear that EXO was going to be a monkey on our backs that would only become more of a nuisance as we scaled.
A few close advisors said, 'ah, just go with EXO, don't let it distract you.' Others reassured me that DAOs are ‘post-trademark.' I couldn't shake the concern though. You want a clear lane.
So we went into an exhaustive name search. In three weeks, we came up with 350+ names. Here's Proof of Fixation. A true monument to indecision. Epic Orgy, we hardly knew ye.
A different set of gravitational rules governs the naming conventions on planet web3. There's less emphasis on sleek master-brands, and more value placed on evocative self-reference with a semi-permeable layer of obfuscation. Some of my favorites are Raid Guild, Friends with Benefits, and Seed Club. Their call to adventure and raison-d'etre are built-in.
Our challenge was that, ironically, there aren’t a lot of words that evoke storytelling. We got psyched on ‘Story/Mode’ for a beat. But the next morning it felt too twee. So we retrenched and narrowed our name set down to a final five. I carried it around with me for days.
Pentagraph had been on our master list for week, but it’d struck me as flat. Then one day Pentagraph just made all the sense. I called a friend and said I think I've got something. He said, "it sounds like a heavy metal writer's room." Someone else remarked, "it sounds like a paragraph from the future." No more convincing necessary.
There isn’t much documentation of the word Pentagraph online. It’s esoteric nature makes it a perfect candidate for open trademarking. It combines the Greek pénte - "five" and gráphō - "write”. A pentagraph in modern parlance is a sequence of five letters used to represent a single sound, that does not correspond to the individual values of the letters. Like tzsch.
From a theoretical standpoint, Pentagraph matches our meta-mission: combine the four dominant media formats of web2 - text, graphical, audio and audio-visual - with a blockchain development layer all in the name of producing hybrid content experiences.
For us, this is the beginning of an exploration into the future of how we make, share and ascribe value to stories. It’s going to be glorious!