Web3 Galaxy Brain 🌌🧠

Web3 Galaxy Brain

Brian (@pbrianandj) of NounsDAO and AddressBoard

20 September 2022


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Nicholas: Welcome to Web3 Galaxy Brain. My name is Nicholas. Each week, I sit down with some of the brightest people building Web3 to talk about what they're working on right now. Today, I'm joined by NounsDAO developer Brian, aka PbrianandJ on Twitter. Brian is one of a small group of developers in residence at NounsDAO. His work for the DAO is focused on the nouns.wtf website, which is the primary interface to the DAO's daily auctions. Brian is also the creator of AddressForm, a Google Forms for Web3 SaaS product. In this episode, Brian tells me about his experience working on NounsDAO and the DAO's builderly culture. We also discuss his new project, AddressBoard, which aims to replace the popular Discourse Forum software with a Web3 native alternative. Brian walks me through the process of applying for a Nouns prop house grant to build AddressBoard, and we explore the merits of having on-chain reputation built into the governance forum itself. NounsDAO is a fascinating ecosystem of projects and builders, and it was great to get a chance to learn from Brian about his experience as a Nounish Web3 dev. I hope you enjoy the show. How are you doing this morning?

Brian: Tired. Don't do prop house rounds. My Apple Watch tells me my average hours of sleep has gone off a cliff since that whole thing.

Nicholas: That closed about nine days ago, right? Something like that?

Brian: Something like that, yeah.

Nicholas: Okay, well, hold on. So for the podcast version, etc., let's start off. What were you doing before crypto? And then let's get into all the Nouns stuff, because there's so many things I want to talk about.

Brian: Sure, sure, sure. Yeah. So before crypto, I worked as a backend slash machine learning engineer on a search team at a large Web2 company out in California.

Nicholas: How many years were you out there doing that kind of work?

Brian: About three years out of school.

Nicholas: Awesome. And I assume CS background in school?

Brian: Yes. In school, I studied computer science and applied math, actually.

Nicholas: Damn. The holy grail. MVP. Most desired in the space. Okay, so you were working at Web2 machine learning, you said, and then eventually got crypto-pilled. How did that happen?

Brian: I think it was sort of like a gradual crypto-pilling that sort of culminated in a big flash. I think for me, I'd sort of been fascinated for a while, both from an intellectual and financial perspective on networks and how they grow, how they form, all that kind of stuff. And specifically network effects. Chris Dixon had sort of been a student of network effects in my spare time for a couple of years. And I think it sort of all clicked for me when I saw the infamous Chris Dixon line chart around early participants sort of bootstrapping the network via tokens. It was like, okay, I kind of see how this works. Of course, now I realize it's a little more nuanced than that, but that was sort of the initial pilling. And then it sort of all went from there.

Nicholas: Amazing. And that was around what time?

Brian: Like a year and a half ago now? A little over. Awesome.

Nicholas: So like a 2020-2021 cohort, more or less. Yeah, exactly.

Brian: I'm not as OG as some other people.

Nicholas: No, I mean, I think if this thing goes as long as we all think it will, there's going to be people who are born in 2021. That's true.

Brian: That's true. That's true.

Nicholas: I think it'll become less serious over time. What was it that initially drew you in? It was the Chris Dixon thing. And then, so it was, were you more interested in DeFi kind of stuff or did NFTs open the door? I know a lot of people particularly came in at that point in time because NFTs made it feel like I could have a more direct say. But with your math background, I imagine DeFi was appealing as well.

Brian: Yeah, a bit of both. I mean, I think, yeah, early 2020s, I went really deep into a lot of the DeFi stuff. And basically, I read a ton of papers and sort of got to the point where it was like, yeah, I think I could play around and make some bots or something like that. But I have a feeling that I'm going to get my lunch taken from me. There are people here who have been doing this a lot longer than I have. So I didn't really play a ton there. I think the NFTs craze is maybe sort of like the final impetus that got me over. But if anything, I think that I'm almost a bit of a snowflake in that I think that people are like, oh, I came into crypto because of NFTs. I came into crypto because of DeFi. I feel like I came into crypto when I kind of understood, at least for myself, okay, this is like a new primitive for organizing people, organizing networks, organizing systems. That's sort of the lens that got me really excited about crypto. Even sort of independent of the trends.

Nicholas: That's definitely what appeals to me, underlying all the rest of my interests. I think NFTs to me are a great interface that just seems more relatable for a larger group of people than some of the more fungible interfaces to blockchains. But yeah, I think that the most compelling thing about the space is just new mechanisms for social coordination, especially in the context of social networks had so much to say to sharing information and changing how people behave from, I don't know, organizing politically to people being killed over rumors in parts of the world where the founders of these companies really have no personal experience. But the centralized distribution of social networks doesn't really have anything. I don't think a different person in Mark Zuckerberg's seat could have a better solution for how Facebook should manage the algorithm or whatnot versus crypto. has this inherent technological answer. The medium that you play with when you are a dev in this space is the medium of game theory and social coordination and stuff. Is there anything in particular that you're interested in in that direction? Is there some particular thing that you see is wrong in the world that you hope to find answers to? Or just the experimenting? How do you think about it?

Brian: There's a lot of interesting things around fixing what's wrong in the world angle. I think there's definitely a place for that. I almost think that we need to walk before we can run to some extent. I think that there's even some interesting things around. just how do we... We built in things like Bitcoin and Ethereum these really interesting decentralized networks of trustless actors coming together to do a useful thing. I think you could even argue that nouns is another example of that. What I really hope to see and have been cooking on a few things myself is just continuing to flesh out that motif with tons of different projects, touching tons of different spaces. I think as the playbooks for building these trustless networks of untrusted actors coming together to do a useful thing, as we see that motif get fleshed out and grow, that we can get to the point of doing increasingly useful things from both a technological and societal perspective.

Nicholas: Yeah, definitely. It's going to be interesting. You found crypto and then eventually found nouns. What was your exploration process leading to nouns discovery?

Brian: After I got thoroughly crypto-killed, after the incremental crypto-killing over the course of the DeFi trend and early NFT trend, I was like, okay, this is the thing. I just need to learn as much as I can about this. I just did a bit of a random walk of papers, podcasts, blog posts, all that good stuff. And just by pure happenstance, happened to listen to the 4156 Proof podcast. And hearing the way that 4156 talked about the thoughtfulness around the incentive mechanisms and constructing the network and the project, I was like, wow, this guy is really smart. And I don't totally understand what this nouns thing is yet, but I want to work with this guy. So I just hopped into the Discord, started hanging out and was able to then get connected to both 4156 and some other people and started hacking. And the rest is history.

Nicholas: And you didn't own a noun at the time?

Brian: No, I still do not own a noun.

Nicholas: Maybe one day. Is it something you'd like to have? Would you like a noun?

Brian: I'm sure at some point I will own a noun. I think it'll be a very emotional coming of age almost kind of thing. I think it's this milestone that's been on the horizon for a while. So someday, definitely.

Nicholas: So you come into nouns because of your enthusiasm for the bright idea and the interesting people in the community, the founding community especially. Did you immediately start working on the WTF website? Or what has your remit been during the period of time you've been working there?

Brian: Yeah, so how it kind of worked is. I hopped into the Discord and sort of just started messing around. 4156, this was super early when he would have his DMs open and basically just be like, Hey, if anyone wants to work on nouns in a more serious capacity, this is in the dev channel, DM me. And I did. And we got connected and ended up doing a sort of a test project essentially of building out what would become the noun profile pages essentially. Of course, that's even now integrated into the auction page.

Nicholas: When you showed up, there was already the nouns.wtf website. Who had built that originally?

Brian: That was the Nounders. Seneca sort of probably had the largest single role, but I mean, Solomander as well as Vape and 99 all played roles.

Nicholas: What features did you start adding? These profile pages added what kind of functionality to the Noun site?

Brian: Yeah, that was the first kind of big feature that I did. They basically displayed all the vote history. Now in the beginning, now they do more, but at that time, it was just let's sort of organize all the voting history of a given noun to really kind of lean into this idea of it's. the noun is voting. It is sort of this autonomous entity. There's this distinction between this noun voted this way when it was held by this person. So really kind of leaning into that idea. That was sort of the idea behind that project.

Nicholas: Interesting. For people who are a little less familiar with nouns, basically when you talk about the profile page, this is the same page as the auction page. It's just sort of it's life after the auction finishes.

Brian: Yes, it is now. At the time, it was a separate page, but yes, now it's integrated into the auction. If you page back from the primary auction of the day.

Nicholas: Cool. So people can just basically point others or anybody can go look at a noun in the same interface that it's auction happens. I really admire how nouns.wtf in particular is a really simple website. At least to me, it feels as much as I've used it, it feels like very concise in its layout of information.

Brian: It's very much intentional. I think one of the hardest things is actually balance. There's always a thousand feature requests and people always want more features. There's this tension between. I think it's important to keep it simple and clean and push some of those more bells and whistles things to alternative clients. While also making sure that the primary client is as fully featured as possible. So there's always a sort of natural tension there. It's something that definitely I spend a lot of time thinking about is how do we keep it light?

Nicholas: How do we keep it clean? Awesome. What else has been added to the site in your tenure at Nouns?

Brian: Let's see. We did a pretty end-to-end overhaul of the UI. So I worked with a talented designer, Pixels, to just completely revamp the entirety of the UI. So that was a pretty big undertaking. Added lots of additional information on the proposal pages around highlighting lots of governance information. And really trying to surface as much of that data in a clean, natural way as possible. We've done some internationalization work. So currently the site's translated into Japanese and we've been working with the community to translate it into other languages as well. Those are the main things. And even more features in the pipeline coming out soon. Oh, also another thing, native delegation. So you can just pop in, delegate your noun, but I mean it hit the contract.

Nicholas: Cool. So how do you decide what gets included in Nouns.wtf and what deserves its own space or should be a separate project?

Brian: So this is just my lens. And I definitely work with the community, the Nounders. Those are the three schools of it. I think the community very often has lots of ideas around what features they'd like to see, things like that. And I'm talking with the Nounders as well to get their feeling on a lot of these ideas. And then I take that, synthesize it, and try and work on what I think is going to be the most impactful. I think for me, I try and also then balance that with what's going to be the most impactful in terms of delivering value to the DAO. While also making sure that we keep the site clean. And I think ideally, and this is maybe more of a technical note, play within the constraints of what the Nouns.wtf platform is trying to be. Which, as I see it, is this platform that you can just fork and spin up and it's good to go. In particular, not having some sort of back-end thing with this state that's not on-chain. So we're playing within that constraint.

Nicholas: Reusable for other projects as well, basically.

Brian: Exactly. Reusable for other projects and also just if people want to, maybe they don't like Nouns, they want to run their own client on local post, go ahead. You can. That's sort of the three tiers of the stool, if you will, in terms of how I try and make those decisions.

Nicholas: Super interesting. What's your relationship with the DAO? Take it there's a proposal that was approved to pay you a salary for a duration of time? Yes. What is more or less, what's the content of that? What kind of responsibility is delegated to you versus how much are you required to ask the DAO for permission to make decisions?

Brian: I think I have a pretty decent latitude to kind of... I've executed against it. in addition sort of as new things kind of came up that seemed to be maybe higher priority. I've also integrated those as well, again, based on that community feedback. The way that I kind of think about it is the DAO funded me for a six-month residency to work on this project, which is coming up in about a month. And at the end of that period, people can say, look, this was how the site was before. This is how the site is now. This is the set of decisions that Brian made. If we're happy with these decisions, let's fund them again. If not, it is how it is. Like, highly aligned incentives.

Nicholas: And how do you get feedback or interaction? Is it in Discord or what venue?

Brian: Yes, there's a Discord channel where I'm sort of talking to the community, frequently sort of sharing things I'm working on. People kind of share ideas. And also, to a lesser extent, talk to the founders as well for some feedback.

Nicholas: Is that a token-gated channel?

Brian: No, the channel where I'm sort of sharing stuff is just anyone can pop in there.

Nicholas: Got it.

Brian: It's 45 Brian Residency in the Discord.

Nicholas: Okay, 45 is the number of the proposal.

Brian: Yeah.

Nicholas: And I'm curious, like, so talking to the Nounders, I guess because they have a sort of association with the vision of the project, and so they're a good source for how to align yourself. But I'm curious how you privilege feedback from people who own nouns over general community or project creators that want to fork the project. How do you deal with this? I'm curious, like, what the culture is of building, basically.

Brian: Yeah, I mean, I think that at the end of the day, my north star is what's going to provide the most value to the DAO. And that, as a function, probably skews towards members of the DAO, but does not necessarily fully prohibit the opinions of people who are not DAO members from being heard. Forkability is a great example of this, right? You could make the strong argument that the more forkable you are, the better it is for the DAO over the long run, vis-a-vis forks and sort of the nouns flywheel. So that's really how I think about it. That's the guiding light, and then we make decisions based on that.

Nicholas: Super cool. I'm curious, I was chatting a little bit with Jacob Horn from Zora this morning on Twitter about possibly doing some integration with Juicebox on PropHouse. And I'm curious, do you perceive of the, I mean, I guess everybody can only speak for themselves. So do you personally perceive of the nouns project as being necessarily all of the components together and forking 100% of the project together? Or can it be composably, like, could you swap out the treasury piece for Juicebox, for instance? Or could you swap out the auction mechanism for another distribution mechanism? Or is it really, it has to stay the whole thing all in one piece for the forking of all the related infrastructure, like the front ends, to continue working?

Brian: I think the more that you stray from sort of the current nouns model, the more sort of batteries are not included, right? So I think that if you, for example, switched up the auction mechanism, you would need to do some additional work on your end. You would need to, same with the Juicebox thing. Or the putting up of the space, perhaps. Yeah, the front end itself is sort of optimized for the nouns use case, primarily. You could fork it with not extreme changes, probably, and make it work for your use case. And I think an example of this, right, is if you look at little nouns, it's, well, it primarily uses kind of the same direct mechanism. They've added things, like sort of their idea board and things like that to the client as well and optimized it for their use case. So they did have to put in some work there, but they've been able to launch a modified version of the original nouns that WTTF front end, tailored to their use case. It's not herculean.

Nicholas: Right, I guess it's easier to add little bits and pieces that are front end juice around. But I guess the core mechanics from the nouns that WTF front end, from my perspective, would be like the recurring auction of one NFT at a time. And if you were to change those things, I feel like it would really basically make the front end not make sense for you anymore. I wonder if the governance piece or the treasury piece are more modular, I guess because they're also integrated in how the governance works. The fact that the NFTs are those governance, like if you wanted to do, say, off-chain governance for a fork, you would have to probably go and change quite a bit of all the infrastructure that's been made for easily forking, right?

Brian: From an infrastructure perspective, yes. But I think the other thing is you still also would have access to, from a UI perspective, the UI you probably want for that is decently similar, potentially. So you still get something.

Nicholas: Totally. I'm curious, how does nouns in general deal about building in public versus building in private? Is everything done in public repos and accessible from the start in general for the first party granted projects? Or are things worked on more privately and then shown to the public when they're ready?

Brian: I think so. In terms of the repo, the repo is all public, so all the code is available on GitHub, all the PRs are open, all that stuff. I think that sometimes I'll definitely maybe show a PR to a few people before putting it up for more public comment to get some feedback. But I think, if anything, recently more I've been skewing towards trying to release, for lack of a better word, like beta builds earlier and have the community play around with them and get feedback. And I've actually gotten, I'm going to continue doing that because it was a good practice. I got a lot of good feedback from it.

Nicholas: And that feedback's from principally people who hold nouns?

Brian: Definitely a mix. I'm probably skews more delegate, honestly. But the thing is, in nouns, we have so many talented designers, builders, etc. You definitely get a lot of really great, really detailed feedback. Which of course is always a balance, right? Because if you have a thousand cooks in the kitchen, that's also probably suboptimal. A decision doesn't need to be made. But definitely getting a lot of really talented eyes on a project results in a better outcome.

Nicholas: I've noticed in DAO's that I've been a part of that. the person who does the work ultimately is the decision maker in terms of which of the multiple options are pursued further. Does that apply in nouns, in your work?

Brian: I would say, for the most part, yeah. I think that obviously I also do need to get things code-reviewed and things like that. So I don't have the full unilateral say. But I think that in terms of accountability, mostly my call. With, again, the understanding that if I do a bad job, I'm just going to get fired. Or not rehired, as it were.

Nicholas: Do you feel a pressure about that? Or do you feel like you get sufficient day-to-day feedback or week-to-week feedback that you can adjust before you don't get rehired?

Brian: I think that I get good feedback from the community. Whenever I launch things, I get feedback there. I think it's a healthy pressure. I think that you want to make sure that you're always delivering value.

Nicholas: How do you think about delivering value? I was thinking about this the other day. I tweeted it, actually. It's possible that the nouns ecosystem, which to me, I think what's amazing about nouns, there are many, many amazing things. The first one is obviously just how many innovations there were built into the original launch created in, what, three months or something like that? But subsequent to that, post-launch, I find what's most exciting, aside from the great treasury and the consistency with which the nouns are selling, etc., the main thing to me that's exciting is all of the different kinds of splinter projects that are building in truly an ecosystem that has emerged around nouns. that's developing new DAO tooling and new governance ideas and creative projects that are in the real world. Personally, I'm most passionate and excited about the ones that are making it possible for other people to create projects using the same tooling that nouns is having to build for itself. I think that kind of dogfooding process is really cool. But I'm curious, how does nouns think about goal setting for its first party? Like, you're a direct report to the nouns DAO versus all of the stuff that's done through prop house, etc., has a sort of level of remove where there's these recurring funding cycles and people are being given grants a little bit further away from nouns, whereas you kind of work directly for the DAO. How is priority setting done within that institution?

Brian: I think maybe even the first thing is it's not necessarily clear that there is like, oh, this is the nouns DAO policy, because it's sort of this amorphous decentralized thing. I think maybe kind of what I'll appeal to is, because it shapes sort of my thinking on it, I think I remember seeing 4156 mentioning that his lens is sort of thinking about

Nicholas: a lot of this,

Brian: more like a venture investment than like sort of a manager-managee relationship of, if you do well, you get sort of increasingly large funding, if you will, essentially, as you sort of show increasingly a higher degree of traction in results. And if you don't, then, you know, it's like a 1x loss, I guess. And again, I don't want to speak for him nor the DAO, but that was something that I did remember him mentioning, and it definitely kind of resonated with me. And I think that if you kind of look at how a lot of the projects are managed, I think that that paradigm definitely seems to be what people are following to an extent.

Nicholas: Would you call it a grant that you've received, or how do you describe your relationship with nouns?

Brian: Hard to say. I mean, I think that to some extent, you know, I think the term we use is residency. I think that maybe some way to think about it is a sort of a consulting relationship, for lack of a better term. I sort of had a decently broad, but somewhat also defined mandate. And I'm going to and have executed on that mandate the last handful of months. And depending on the results of that, I'll get renewed or not. I think that's sort of...

Nicholas: How many people are in roles like that currently with the DAO?

Brian: A handful of people, probably less than 10, if I had to guess.

Nicholas: Very interesting. It's interesting to see how these different organizations decide what should be sort of first party relationship and what can be more at arm's length. And I think it's very important experimentation, because nobody knows exactly what the best structures are for... Yeah, I mean, even maybe not managing talent so much, but rather letting talented people make proposals and see what happens and renew them if it makes sense or not.

Brian: I think that's one of the things that like nouns kind of does a good job of. It was kind of a mind shift for me, I think. Coming from sort of the traditional corporate world of OKRs and accountability and one-on-ones and all that jazz. I think sort of this idea of find talented people, give them money, and if they do a good job, give them more money. I think that that actually is... I think there's something to that. A lot of autonomy. A lot of autonomy, but I think it also like... I mean, if you think about what's the bottleneck for scaling most organizations, it's like org structure and management. And I think to the extent that you can even decentralize that a bit by just taking out some of the operational layers, then you can potentially scale faster, scale larger, and also do it in such a way that the best people in general don't really want to be managed, don't have to be managed. So there's also like a positive selection bias there as well.

Nicholas: No LinkedIn TikTok PMs announced now in the foreseeable future.

Brian: Only me, when I'm just feeling fun.

Nicholas: Do you have a TikTok?

Brian: No, God no. I think that's how I know that I'm not Gen Z, is? I don't have a TikTok.

Nicholas: One day, we're going to convert you one day. Okay, so we've talked a lot about the nouns builder relationship and all this, and I'm super fascinated by that. Because I take it it's also an evolving culture, so there's lots to think about, even over time. But you've also built a couple other projects that I think are cool, and I'd love for people to know about. I want to get to AddressBoard, which is the one that you just did a nouns prop house proposal for. But maybe first we should talk about the project that led to that, AddressForm.io?

Brian: Yes, AddressForm, yeah.

Nicholas: So where did that come from, and what does it do, and who's using it?

Brian: So where did it come from? Well, I have my good friend, CDT, who's in the space today, to thank for that. He was sort of mentioning to me, like offhandedly, hey, you know, for this noun center site that I have, I really would love it if I could have people submit their projects or say that I put themselves up on this talent

Nicholas: board

Brian: with a form where they sign it with their wallet versus a Google form or whatever tool he was using at the time. And I thought to myself, I can build that in an evening.

Nicholas: Little did you know.

Brian: I mean, to be fair, I did build a V1 in a day, or the MVP in a day. Awesome. And got that working.

Nicholas: So I've seen you describe this as like Web3 Google Forms.

Brian: Exactly, yeah. I mean, that's sort of the way that I think about it. After that, it sort of ended up just scaling a little more. Now, actually, it's used by a handful of people. Another person on this called Seneca, so PropHouse actually does use it just a little bit in their sort of Contact Us form. Little Nouns uses it. House of Runes uses it. Breakfast Coffee used it recently.

Nicholas: So people are using this, like I see on the site, the examples are like for collecting addresses for PoAp distributions. Is that a common case or what other kinds of use cases?

Brian: I think the main use case, and this kind of dovetails really well into kind of why I was like, okay, maybe we should also build this thing address board, is the most common use case? is people are integrating it into an existing site to kind of allow people to verify their on-chain identity and then sort of then have that post something on their site. We built out this API for the form thing, so you can get a key and then you can read from your form responses. And a lot of people were kind of using it for this use case. And it kind of then became, all right, well, what if people seem to be doing this a lot already? What if we actually productize this? And that was sort of where the initial kernel of address board came from.

Nicholas: So basically more than just having like a Wallet Connect library, this lets you collect information with built-in Wallet Connect signing of the message, I guess, and allows you to collect information. To me, the one I've often wanted for a tool just like this, for doing like physically mailing packages to people, for, I don't know, doing some kind of store, let them like buy with ETH and pass along a PO box address or something. You could write it yourself by hand, but it sounds like this address form could be a convenient way to collect that kind of information.

Brian: Exactly. Yeah. I mean, there's a lot of these little use cases that people are coming up with that just, where you just need a form that you sign with a wallet. It's sort of, you know, it's not the flashiest thing in the world, but it's definitely sort of gotten a pretty good contingent of use just from people sort of in the nouns and now extending outside of the nouns community.

Nicholas: Awesome. I have a bone to pick with you about this thing, though. Why is it so expensive? It's so expensive. I mean, I admire the boldness. Like 25 bucks a month for 100 form fills per month is quite the expensive form software.

Brian: I mean, so I based the pricing off of Typeform and other sort of products like that. So SurveyMonkey. Yeah, they're sort of in that range. So that was sort of where it came from.

Nicholas: You know, if you're collecting ETH addresses, I suppose you probably have a budget.

Brian: So yeah.

Nicholas: And there is a free tier also. Was it 30 responses a month?

Brian: Yeah, exactly. And to be honest, like we're even thinking about increasing the free tier as well in terms of responses per month.

Nicholas: So yeah. I mean, the marginal cost for you is zero, I imagine.

Brian: Yeah, I mean, I gotta keep my servers up. AWS is not cheap. At the end of the day, one can always build it themselves. You know, that's always the counterpoint.

Nicholas: You're accepting payments for that, crypto-native payments for it, too, right?

Brian: Exactly, yeah. So you just send a transaction to a wallet and that's how you pay. There actually isn't a way to pay with credit card or anything like that.

Nicholas: Awesome. Is there anything interesting you're using to do that connection between receiving the payment and granting access to the SaaS tool? It's all built in-house. or is there anything you're using externally?

Brian: No, it's all in-house. I had to write a basic kind of billing system myself.

Nicholas: Part of me thinks that could be very big on its own. So I think I encounter more and more people who would like to do kind of subscription billing via crypto, but I'm not aware of any great solution for it.

Brian: To be fair, there isn't full-on subscription billing in the sense of auto-renew. There are some things that I've considered experimenting with. I've heard potentially good things about Superfluid, but currently it's pretty basic. Most people are on one-year contracts, or contracts in the sparsest sense of the word.

Nicholas: Right, right. They just prepay for 12 months of it.

Brian: Exactly, yeah.

Nicholas: Which makes perfect sense. I do wonder, you could basically stake some WEATH or USDC or whatever, and then the SaaS provider could have the option to claim the next month's worth of credits or something like that. But I guess it would mean that the service provider would have to pay gas to do it. So I wonder if Superfluid is on Polygon yet or Optimism or something like that. Okay, so this address form product is live. People can check it out. Addressform.io. Very cool. Free tier. Give it a shot. And this led you to this second idea, which is in a way a bigger idea. Is that fair to say?

Brian: Yeah, I think that's probably fair to say, yeah.

Nicholas: So what was the impetus for Addressboard?

Brian: As I said, it came out of looking at what people were actually using addressform for. And it was not as much the, let's go do a PoApp drop after our Twitter space use case. It was much more this, I've integrated it into my website, and it's my very lightweight backend for crypto native things. So it began this idea around, okay, what if we leaned into that and built something around that? As I was thinking about that, got in touch with some folks at Lil Nouns and having some conversations around some things that they were maybe wanting to build. And also at the same time, seeing this prop house round for mandates, this idea then morphed into, what if we took this and made it this Web3 discourse Reddit killer idea? That's where it all mixed together.

Nicholas: Awesome. I read the proposal in PropHouse, but maybe you could describe a little bit more about the process of taking that idea from Lil Nouns into actually getting an initial funding.

Brian: Sure, yeah. Did you want me to describe what the prop is?

Nicholas: Yeah, I thought you give some great, the problems with discourse section, I think is really great and shows how, I think it's an interesting case study of a very well thought through problem and solution being funded via something like PropHouse. So I'm curious to basically just learn more about how that experience was for you. You mentioned when we sat at the top of the show, it was very tiring.

Brian: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So maybe I'll just kind of, yeah, I'll summarize the process and then what we're building. So the funny story kind of is, is that I initially wasn't even going to apply to PropHouse. I was sort of like, oh, I don't know if it's a good fit, but sort of like 24 hours out, somebody convinced me that I should go for it. So we stayed up all night and hacked together this prop, literally submitted it with one minute to spare, which was pretty nerve wracking, not gonna lie.

Nicholas: Because you had to get it into this particular round because it's in a noun, PropHouse, nouns mandate round. So it's specific to this, a mandate is a theme for people who don't know.

Brian: Exactly.

Nicholas: So if you had waited till the next mandate round, because the next two weeks or something like that, it would be on a different theme. So it wouldn't be applicable.

Brian: Yeah, yeah. So we really wanted to be on the theme of governance. The proposal we ended up putting together, basically, I talked to a lot of people in the nouns community and also have sort of been a part of it for almost a year now. And everyone basically agrees that discourse is a suboptimal solution for what we're trying to do as a DAO, which is fund impactful proposals. And it kind of fails along these two key dimensions of, we need to make sure that the right people are getting proposals into sort of the pipeline of things going on chain, that the right people are seeing them and discussing them. And that whole process runs smoothly. But the problem is that with discourse, there's no on chain identity. So you have many cases of people, their prop goes on discourse, they get great feedback, it goes on chain, it gets destroyed. And it's a failure for everybody. The DAO looks bad, the person looks bad, everyone fails in that scenario. Conversely, I've also know a couple of cases of really talented builders who submitted something on discourse and got blocked by the spam filter. And if they didn't sort of know people in the DAO to reach out to, they probably would have no recourse. And you can only imagine how many people... We were like, let's bring on chain identity onto the platform so that we can allow people to bring what they've done with them natively into the platform, and then allow the people who are discussing and commenting on proposals to bring their identity as well. So you can get a sense of, okay, this person has a lot of votes, this person is maybe sort of someone whose opinion I should weigh less. You can really get a much more granular view of how the community feels about the proposal. And then integrating that with this token weighted gasless voting to again kind of get like a soft vibe around how the DAO feels about a proposal. Exactly. So that's kind of all kind of goes into this bucket of like, how do we get the right proposals into our pipeline? And then make sure that sort of the people who are proposing get an accurate view of how the DAO feels. So that's kind of like bucket one. And then bucket two is like, how do we make sure that the right people are seeing these proposals? So that's why we're also building out this really sort of advanced search system, which kind of dovetails with my previous Web 2.0 background, so that we can say, okay, you are really talented at thinking about governance, smart contracts, funding, all this kind of stuff. Proposals like that, let's try and highlight them to you, so that we can bring you into that conversation, so that we can get the people who are most excited about the proposal, who have the most to add to our proposal, talking about it so that we can just, again, get back to our key goal, which is getting really high quality proposals on chain and passed. That's the North Star.

Nicholas: People basically connect with their wallet, whether they have a noun or not. And I found very compelling part of the proposal is the idea that because Discourse is not Web 3.0 Connect, it lacks the context of on-chain reputation. So you don't really know who you're getting feedback from. There's no great differentiation between someone who has a bunch of nouns and is going to definitely vote, and someone who is loosely affiliated and has no real say in what gets funded. My question was, for building the search, this discovery feature that you're planning, are you going to be associating metadata with the wallet-connected addresses and then doing discovery features on top of that additional off-chain metadata? Or how are you thinking about it?

Brian: Essentially, yeah. So it's going to be kind of, I think, what we're thinking of initially is people can say, here's a set of topics that I'm interested in, things that I would like to contribute to, learn about, etc. And then from there, we're building out this Discord bot, actually, so we can kind of, again, reach you where you are. That will highlight a couple proposals every day, week, whatever it is, some cadence based on the information that you give us. So that will be kind of the V1. You can imagine lots of things that we could do as the next steps, right? You could emoji react to these Discord messages in your DMs to say, yes, I like this, no, I didn't. So we can then, again, give you better and better proposals. That's really the idea, is using light but not like CreepyWeb2 metadata, but all user opt-in metadata to highlight to you the proposals that you want to see and that you can contribute to.

Nicholas: Crazy. So I guess as part of this, contextually, for especially people who don't pay a lot of attention to NounStyle governance itself, there's a lot of proposals coming through, like too many to read all of them.

Brian: Yeah, exactly. Which even highlights to another thing is, you've even had some very initial conversations with some of the Rocko folks around, like, can we even summarize some of these proposals, things like, and then integrate that into this notifications flow.

Nicholas: Rocko is a text AI tool?

Brian: Basically, it's essentially GPT-3, and they're doing some prompt engineering optimization as well. But I think currently it's just GPT-3 with really good branding. And basically the idea then is, can you summarize these proposals? Because right now it's a little bit unmanageable, both the proposals that are going on chain and an even higher fraction that are proposed on discourse. And you can imagine, like, volume of props is just like, you can look at that line, it's like really going up.

Nicholas: How is voter participation, does it tend towards certain proposals and others don't get so much attention at all? How do you think about voter participation in the DAO?

Brian: So if you look at, I've run some statistics on this myself, I think it hovers between any given vote, 25 to 40%, something like that, on a noun basis, not on a delegate basis.

Nicholas: That's pretty good.

Brian: Yeah, it is pretty good. And I think that you also have to keep in mind that all these proposals have a min quorum, right? So you can't totally shove something through in the night.

Nicholas: Right. Yeah. Min quorum, do you know what it is offhand?

Brian: Not off the top of my head.

Nicholas: But it's like a certain number of nouns, basically.

Brian: I believe it's actually based on percentage of total votes. So if you need some, so it's basis point based, which then manifests as a min number of nouns.

Nicholas: And does the governance function with a timeline for the governance? Or it's just once you reach quorum and whatever the threshold is for passing, it passes?

Brian: No, every proposal has a minimum number of blocks that it's active for. I mean, the governance aspect is essentially compound governance with sort of modifications for it to work with NFTs as opposed to ERC20s.

Nicholas: I've never participated in a Governor Bravo vote, but it's basically like there is a minimum duration that has to pass before we reach the conclusion of a proposal.

Brian: Yeah, so it's basically, there's a whole sequence of steps. It goes on chain, there's sort of a waiting period before voting is active. That's sort of the function of the contract. It is then active for, again, a fixed number of blocks for it to pass. It has to reach quorum and have enough yes votes. After that point, there's then a queue period, so it sort of waits before execution for some number of blocks. And then after that period, it executes.

Nicholas: Got it. Very interesting. So for the prop house experience, so you wrote the proposal at the last minute and got it in thanks to some support from a friend. And what was the experience like after that? Did you have to go rally folks to vote for your proposal? Or what was it like?

Brian: Did a lot of twittering. I just sort of tried to share a lot of what I was working on on Twitter. Did a little bit of rallying, but I think it was mostly skewing towards just getting the word out on Twitter and got a lot of really positive feedback from a lot of folks who I think the problem really resonated with. And they were gracious enough to grant me their votes. And we were able to get a spot in the set of proposals that eventually got funded.

Nicholas: Interesting. I'm curious in the, relative to funding this outside of your work, the residency with Now's Doubt directly, is there, I know some DAOs prefer the idea that direct contributors will eventually spin out into projects that are funded via grants related to a project or in some other way, like reducing the number of employees in some sense that directly report to the DAO. Is there a sense that this is like a side project that's in addition to your regular work? Or something that you could eventually make into your main gig?

Brian: I think at the moment, this is sort of something I'm doing in addition to my regular Now's Doubt WTF work. Who knows? If the DAO finds value in this, and if other DAOs as well, we've gotten a handful of folks, increasing number of folks, reaching out to me saying, hey, that thing you built, I'd like that for my DAO.

Nicholas: Awesome.

Brian: Who knows?

Nicholas: Do you think...

Brian: At the end of the day, I always come back to these, what's my North Star? What can I do that's going to provide the most value to the DAO? And that's sort of the lens that I want to spend my time looking through.

Nicholas: Actually, do you think that address board, or maybe hope that the name changes? But whatever this project, let's call it address board. But it seems like it's more than that. It's not an address board. It's really like a governance discussion forum.

Brian: I'm open to other names. I had to kind of pick something fast. It's good.

Nicholas: I think it's not an essential. It's easily changed. But is address board, in your mind, deeply tied to the noun's fork of Governor Bravo? Or could it be used for other projects that would be interested in having a wallet connect governance forums?

Brian: It's been architected in such a way that while there's definitely a

Nicholas: lot of

Brian: extra bells and whistles if you're playing in sort of the noun's fork land, a lot of the core functionality around bringing in on-chain reputation, token gated commenting or something on a proposal if you want, or this token weighted downvote, that all works. As long as you just have anything with basically a balance of function, you're good to go.

Nicholas: Great. So it's very flexible. Could be used for even projects that don't have, maybe not even now, not even NFT driven projects, but potentially. That's interesting. Because I think there's a lot of value in just surfacing that on-chain reputation side by side with commentary on governance. I think that seems like a simple thing, but I think could be very, very valuable and something that the Web2 platforms are just going to take forever, if ever, to achieve.

Brian: Exactly. Yeah. That was kind of the thinking. Is it's like Web2 solved the reputation problem in a Web2 way, but obviously it's useful. Looking at things like Reddit, et cetera. How do we do that in the Web3 way?

Nicholas: So you've got address board. It went through the prop house process. Was it a two week voting period or how did that work?

Brian: I think it was one week. So one week for proposals and then one week for voting, I believe.

Nicholas: Okay. Like a submission window and then a voting window.

Brian: Yes. Yes. Yes. Maybe it was even more than two weeks for submission, but I think it was a week for the voting. It's kind of a blur of a week to be honest.

Nicholas: Yeah. I'm seeing 14 days for the total duration, but I guess that comprises both. And so in the nouns mandates prop house, there's a theme every cycle that are 14 days long and five projects get 20 ETH each. So your proposal called Nounish Discourse Killer received 247 votes and the second most voted for in that round. And so you've got the 20 ETH. What happens next? Is that a on-chain execution directly when the proposal passed or is it something that then has to go to another like a multi-sig or something?

Brian: I believe it's a multi-sig, but I'm not the guy to ask about that. I would ask one of the prop house folks about the specifics of that.

Nicholas: I'll have to twist their arms to get them on the show. I'm trying, trust me. Okay. So then you're going to receive the 20 ETH at like a EOA or a multi-sig of your own basically.

Brian: Yes. Yes.

Nicholas: And then it's yours to budget as you choose?

Brian: Yes.

Nicholas: And so how's it going? How's the development of address board going?

Brian: It's going super well. I mean, not good for my sleep, but yeah. I mean, so the update there is. we released private beta last week and we're going to be releasing a public beta today. I was hoping to get it done for the show where there was a couple of bugs. we just wanted to work out. I think something that like I kind of want to skew towards for this project, again, informed largely by my Nouns experience, is trying to build in the open because I really see this as it's a tool for the community and I want to get as much community feedback as early as possible and sort of in as high a volume as possible to make it as useful to the people who are going to be using it as possible. If that means releasing a little earlier and maybe having a bug or two slip in, I think that's a trade-off that I'm willing to make because I want this to be not just my tool, but like essentially.

Nicholas: So community members and users feel more invested in the development process by getting earlier access to it and participating in its development.

Brian: Exactly.

Nicholas: So if people want to play with it, you said public beta goes out today?

Brian: Yeah, sometime today.

Nicholas: Where will that be?

Nicholas: Okay, great. I'll put it in the show notes for the podcast for people listening. Awesome. Because you had a very tight timeline for this. It was phase one, September 1st, phase two, September 14, which I guess you're, are you early?

Brian: Yeah, we're ahead of schedule.

Nicholas: And then phase three, September 30th, approximately. So like one month dev period.

Brian: Give or take, yeah. But yeah, so far, somehow, we're actually ahead of schedule.

Nicholas: Yeah, that doesn't happen very often. You're going to have the public beta out, and then what happens for the rest of the month in the development process?

Brian: So I think that, again, getting a lot of that feedback and tweaking the tool, I think that the main sort of next thing that we're really going to be focusing on, in addition to integrating the community feedback, is really fleshing out these search features, search discovery features. That's probably the main thing that's going to be worked on for the rest of the month, other than, of course, again, just polishing, polishing, polishing, polishing.

Nicholas: Awesome. I'm excited to see it. Have we covered everything that you're up to in the nouns ecosystem, or are there other things that I'm not aware of yet?

Brian: It's probably the majority of it. I mean, the only other thing sometimes I get associated with is, there's this thing, nounsstats.wtf. So it's this website that I built in like an hour, while watching a Christmas movie. That sort of just has all these statistics about nouns, like, oh, this is the first instance of some head or some glasses or something. You know, folks find that useful. And sort of dovetailing with that is I also, on my GitHub, have a whole bunch of Python notebooks around just other sort of nouns, like interesting noun statistics and sort of data analytics, because that's sort of like a little hobby of mine, just in general, being a math guy.

Nicholas: I know last time we talked, I was encouraging you to do a Twitter thread of some of those. Did you do something I saw on Twitter related to the stats?

Brian: I don't think I've done one yet. Maybe I've been a little focused on building both nouns.wtf and address board. So yeah, my Twittering has maybe coming up a little short.

Nicholas: No, it's great. You're so active. It's awesome. And nounsstats is cool too. You can see sort of how many of a certain trade have been minted so far. It's cool. I would love to see on here, maybe it is somewhere and I haven't figured it out, but which of them are newly added traits? Oh, I see new trait, actually. You do have that.

Brian: So again, it's new trait in the sense of it's the first time that this trait has appeared. So obviously that skews towards the newer traits. But it's not necessarily...

Nicholas: What's it called when new traits get added to the SVG collection? Maybe there's not a word for it.

Brian: I think that it corresponded with the noun-aversary, but I don't think there is a word for the act of adding new traits.

Nicholas: I see. Is the paperclip new? I don't know if I had seen that one before. Maybe it's been there.

Brian: You know, off the top of my head, I actually don't know.

Nicholas: Some here that seem new to me, like a rose or something like that, a frog head, I don't think I'd seen a treasure chest. These feel new to me, but maybe I just haven't been paying close enough attention.

Brian: Yeah, I mean, what's interesting, I actually have a notebook around this, is that even when we got to the one year, it was not the case that all heads had been seen. Wow. So, and you can look at... I sort of have this chart where you look at over time what fraction of each trait has been seen. And pretty early on, all the bodies, glasses, accessories, etc. got seen, but the heads are just chugging along, chugging along, chugging along.

Nicholas: Man, randomness is a trip. It is, it is.

Brian: I mean, the other fun thing is that I also compared the distribution. This is stats for nerds. I compared it to what the theoretical distribution would be, sampling with replacement. And it actually matched it pretty clearly, which sort of suggested that, like FOMO, for example, which is sort of this thing that sort of allows the community to vote on, to some extent, which now gets minted, is not having some sort of hugely adverse effect on the distribution. So that was sort of like a fun little thing I did, just for fun.

Nicholas: That's interesting. So for people who, just for context for people, it's because the noun is generated on-chain, based on on-chain assets, based on on-chain data, you can tell if the prior auction was finalized in the current block, what noun image would pop up next. So FOMO, is it called FOMO nouns?

Brian: Yeah, FOMO enforcement are nouns.

Nicholas: Got it. The voting for that is just like signaling desire, or it actually can directly cause the finalization of the prior auction?

Brian: So again, purposeful, I was not the dev on this, so this is my understanding. I believe it's basically you sign with a wallet for spam prevention, and then you just, you know, do like an off-chain vote. And then from there, the votes get aggregated in real time, and if it reaches sort of a sufficient number of votes, then it triggers sort of a contract call, which calls the mint function on the noun's contract.

Nicholas: So someone's like prepaid for an oracle or something, or a bot that's gonna execute.

Brian: Yeah, I believe the DAO has put in some amount of each to pay for gas, and stuff like that.

Nicholas: Very nice, very nice. Super cool. Brian, this is awesome. I'm very excited about all the things you're working on, and I'm stoked to see what's to come for Address Board.

Brian: Thank you. Yeah, and if you have any name ideas, hit me up.

Nicholas: I'm gonna have to think about it. I mean, I guess it's gotta be something noun-ish, right?

Brian: Yeah.

Nicholas: I'll have to brainstorm on it. Yeah, let me know. Brian, thanks so much for coming on Web3 Galaxy, Brian.

Brian: Thank you, it was great to be here.

Nicholas: This is awesome. Looking forward to seeing your projects develop.

Brian: Thank you, yeah.

Nicholas: Cool. Have a great rest of your day, and good luck getting some rest during this huge dev push. It's exciting.

Brian: Yeah, yeah. All right, great. Talk to you later. All right, see you later.

Nicholas: I look forward to seeing you there.

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