Hello Daniel, please tell us a bit about yourself, your background and what is it that you do at Aragon Black?
I’m Dani from Aragon Black where I conduct various activities in initiatives related to the community, research, and legal aspects. I am currently busy developing and implementing on-boarding me hods for projects keen on using the tools we are developing notably Fundraising and Pando; hacking the legal system with licences to protect co-creation with the Contributive Commons License, and designing different experimentations around DAOs such as the cooperative label Ahura Mazdao and the democratically governed academic journal Abstract Machine.
The common aim to these seemingly disconnected actions is to tackle the issue of collective governance and sharing of value related to the production and distribution of knowledge.
As for my personal background I find it less relevant but to keep it simple I studied economics, worked in the fields of political risk insurance and payment systems before diving into DAOism as both a tool for greater autonomy and as a philosophy, and to top this off I’m quite the music freak.
Do you remember the first time you heard about blockchain and what were your thoughts about this new technology?
I had been interested in the open-source movement since my teenage years, and so naturally I was quite early on aware of and using open source software such as Linux, Firefox, Tor etc.... But I was first pushed to using crypto-currencies beyond mere curiosity only when certain societal matters drove me to pseudo-anonymous payments. My first use of Bitcoin was in 2013 on those now shut down markets that provided a refuge from the daily routine society offers us in return for our complacency.
While the concepts underlying cryptocurrencies and blockchain were immediately mindblowing I certainly had neither the political maturity nor foresight to wrap my head around just how fast the factors forcing a radical change of our economic and political systems would come to the fore of our lives. This only came later with the advent of “programmable money” and Ethereum’s development, that’s when I truly fell in the rabbit hole and was put into a frenzy from which I have still not recovered.
The greatest factor of excitement was progressively discovering how we could model and deploy economies, incentive systems, organizational diagrams in censorship resistant and autonomous forms. At one point the gap between the fading reality of legacy systems and the crystallizing dream got thinner and it felt possible to make a leap of faith and tackle the challenges full time.
Would you say there is a real political significance in what you do with Aragon Black? Do you feel it’s important for you personally?
Working for projects such as Aragon puts choices to the realm of the public sphere and objects of political discourse.
The basis political stance a human being can take is usually to either revel in enjoyment, suffer a mighty plight under the weight of obligations (to work, socialize, “be somebody important”), retreat from worldly desires, or oppose oneself forcefully through action. But rarely does an opportunity come to change the medium where discourse itself takes place, to define new factors of production and exchange where power relations exert themselves through value sharing or capture.
So what does Aragon boil down to for me politically speaking? The ability for any human to create or join an unstoppable self-governed community and for workers to exert their desired level of control over their produce, starting not from a grandiose societal project but with the work of our own intellects and hands.
Regarding its importance to my own person, especially when talking about tools related to developments in cryptography, it is oftentimes preferable that the personal takes a backseat compared to the idea itself. But it’s basically important to me because my personal experience has drawn me to a certain set of convictions that I believe Aragon can in some ways addresses, from producing collective goods and experiences in occupied spaces and war torn lands to cyber native communities.
A few months ago, someone in the community asked you “why Aragon Black?”. Please, could you tell us what was your answer?
My response was a quote from Reinventing Anarchy by Howard Ehrlich.
"Why is our flag black? Black is a shade of negation. The black flag is the negation of all flags. It is a negation of nationhood which puts the human race against itself and denies the unity of all humankind. Black is a mood of anger and outrage at all the hideous crimes against humanity perpetrated in the name of allegiance to one state or another. It is anger and outrage at the insult to human intelligence implied in the pretenses, hypocrisies, and cheap chicaneries of governments. Black is also a color of mourning; the black flag which cancels out the nation also mourns its victims the countless millions murdered in wars, external and internal, to the greater glory and stability of some bloody state. It mourns for those whose labor is robbed (taxed) to pay for the slaughter and oppression of other human beings. It mourns not only the death of the body but the crippling of the spirit under authoritarian and hierarchic systems; it mourns the millions of brain cells blacked out with never a chance to light up the world. It is a color of inconsolable grief. But black is also beautiful. It is a color of determination, of resolve, of strength, a color by which all others are clarified and defined. Black is the mysterious surrounding of germination, of fertility, the breeding ground of new life which always evolves, renews, refreshes, and reproduces itself in darkness. The seed hidden in the earth, the strange journey of the sperm, the secret growth of the embryo in the womb all these the blackness surrounds and protects. So black is negation, is anger, is outrage, is mourning, is beauty, is hope, is the fostering and sheltering of new forms of human life and relationship on and with this earth. The black flag means all these things. We are proud to carry it, sorry we have to, and look forward to the day when such a symbol will no longer be necessary.”
Beside Aragon Black you also initiated an initiative called DAO Incubator. Could you tell us more about that?
Sure! The DAO Incubator initiative started from a simple thesis:we are in a crossing the chasm type of moment between theorizing what dao are, could be or will be and having mass user experimentation. This coming experimentation will have an outlandish effect on humanity by bringing in observable, iterable testing of governance through low cost empirical replication.
Right now we are around 15 people in the community/DAO that have developed some research modules that we will soon be sharing related to legal recognition and classification of DAOs, DAO design and mechanism design. If you’re curious to learn more you can always join our tg channel https://t.me/DAOincubator our Web 3 Summit node co-hosted with Dgov this August in Berlin.
Fork is a big issue in the Pando Network vision, let’s imagine we could roll back time for an instant, at the moment when “The DAO” crashed, were you a pro-fork person or a non-fork person?
I’ve since moderated my judgement on a network that was still in its infancy, but at the time immutability maximalist!
Collaboration is a very big issue in your project, so let’s talk a bit more about your team. How did you guys meet?
Me and Cem are brothers that only met on the first day of class at Bocconi University and have been inseparable since. We then met Alexandre at a conference and my guards were let down by his goofy looks, foolish of me to miss a wolf dressed in shepherd's cloth. This creature of superb intellect led us to meeting Olivier and Nolwenn, and Thibault later on. Back then Cem and myself were advising the project on its strategy and token economics.
And thus in this context did our first face to face encounter take place, at my parent’s apartment in Paris, and although we were quite serious and diligent towards understanding what Pando was and crafting the right strategy, a strange familiarity could not escape us and we quickly decided to discard the formalities of the dining room table made more for diplomatic dinners than comradly plots. We went to the nearby Bois de Boulogne and discussed in the open woods like old friends.
This relationship quickly developed to that of a special friendship and so the charade could not last for long: we are now full members of Aragon Black and will fight nail and tooth for it like our own child.
That is the nature of true collaboration which I wish to enhance with Aragon Black (but that is way beyond the mere scope of it): opening your heart and walking hand in hand to build something new and marvellous within shrouds of darkness and uncertainty.
What is your personal and human contribution to your team?
Cooking pasta! And cooking in general actually, for the whole team of course, that's definitely my super power in team balance :)
Conversely, what is the weird/annoying thing that you do, and that your team could or has noticed about you?
I can go quite fast from the serious to the ridiculous and vice versa…
Let’s talk a bit more about you. Beside Pando and Aragon Black, what are your hobbies/interests?
I am yet another DJ in Berlin. Collecting and playing records along with dancing as a form of meditation are a foundation for my more light hearted side. Other than that I have more serious interests such as philosophy, political theory, the lesser accessible branches of music and cinema and a penchant for the esoteric.
If you had to choose an author that could be your leitmotiv author, which one would it be and why?
Roberto Calasso for his encyclopedic knowledge and ability to link modern sociology with unearthed knowledge from the past.
Can you give us a quote that has inspired you in many ways so far!?
An ironic choice given the tragic circumstances these were uttered in by Saint Just (just after La Fayette shot the crowd at the Champs de Mars during the French Revolution): “La Révolution doit s'arrêter a la perfection du bonheur….”
In full and english: “The Revolution must stop at the perfection of happiness and of liberty by public law”).
Let’s end with this, if you had to create “The” playlist of your journey within the blockchain ecosystem, what would you choose for your opening song?
I would say Good Name from William Onyeabor. I recommend the whole album!