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DAOs as Social Computing Systems and Their Interdisciplinary Nature



In the rapidly evolving domain of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), the intersection of various disciplines reveals the multifaceted nature of these entities. Eliza, a distinguished researcher from DAO Science and an enthusiastic proponent of this interdisciplinary approach shares her insights into the role of DAOs as social computing systems. Her perspective underscores how DAOs amalgamate fields like computer science, law, and social sciences, offering a unique lens to view their impact on society and technology.

DAOs: Beyond Technology, A Social Phenomenon

Eliza's excitement is palpable as she discusses the subsection in computer science termed 'DAOs as Social Computing Systems.' "Just to recap, social computing is a subfield of computer science that focuses on the interplay between people, society, and technology," she explains. 

This interplay manifests in DAOs through the complex incentives, relationships, and power dynamics within DAO communities. For example, the inception of ConstitutionDAO showed how thousands of people could rapidly coordinate around societal ideals and symbols like the U.S. Constitution. On the other hand, issues like proposal voting 'whales' illustrate how certain parties can wield disproportionate influence if governance mechanisms enabling more equitable participation are not instituted. For Eliza, the fascination lies in how these systems intertwine with social sciences, shaping and being shaped by human interactions and societal structures.

Interdisciplinary Inquiry into DAOs

DAOs surface fascinating questions about group coordination and cooperation, drawing on research in areas like game theory, organizational design, and even social psychology. Fields like crypto-economics and token engineering have explicitly arisen to study DAO incentive mechanisms and governance on theoretical and practical levels.

Eliza points out intriguing research questions like, "How might technically similar smart contracts ground different communities in very different ways?" This inquiry delves into the heart of how DAOs function within various social contexts, influenced by distinct power structures, roles, and norms. Eliza's focus on these aspects highlights how the implementation and perception of DAO technologies can significantly differ based on the social fabric of a community. For example, while many DeFi DAOs have similar technical properties, they attract distinct participant bases by targeting specializations like trading, lending, portfolio management, and more. The culture within each sub-community subsequently differs despite common blockchain infrastructure.

blockchain infrastructure

DAOs: A Legal, Social, and Technological Convergence

Adam Miller, CEO of MIDAO, resonating with Eliza's thoughts, emphasizes the inherently interdisciplinary character of DAOs. "DAOs are inherently a legal thing...inherently a social thing...and of course, they're inherently a computer science thing because they're all based on running on code," he reflects. This observation points to the intrinsic nature of DAOs, which, at their core, leverage and integrate the complete fields of law, social science, and computer science. This multifaceted nature makes DAOs not just a subject of interdisciplinary study but entities that inherently embody these diverse disciplines.

The Impact of DAOs Across Disciplines

The impact of DAOs stretches across various fields, redefining how social structures, legal frameworks, and technological systems interact and evolve. As Eliza notes, the different aspects of social computing in DAOs represent how these entities can redefine social and technological interactions. 

The way DAOs are structured and governed and engage with different communities offers new avenues for understanding and shaping societal norms and technological advancements.

Their potentially sweeping societal impact underscores why research from diverse disciplines will prove critical for societies to harness the promise of DAOs while mitigating their risks. Understanding participation motivations, governance vulnerabilities, incentive alignment challenges, and more requires integrating insights from across the intellectual spectrum.


These insights shed light on the profound interdisciplinary nature of DAOs. By combining computer science, law, and social sciences, DAOs present a unique opportunity to study and influence the interplay between technology and society. As DAOs evolve, their role in redefining social structures, legal norms, and technological paradigms will undoubtedly be a focal point for researchers and practitioners alike.

In exploring DAOs as social computing systems, we open the door to a world where technology is not just a tool but a participant in our lives' social and legal fabric, offering endless possibilities for innovation and understanding.

In addition to these insights, for those eager to delve deeper into the world of DAOs, an excellent resource is the “Just DAO It” podcast hosted by Adam Miller. It's an essential listen for anyone interested in the practical aspects of DAO operations, the future of decentralized governance, and the legal intricacies surrounding DAOs.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Google Podcasts

Listen on Spotify

Furthermore, for a more extensive exploration of DAO-related topics, our blog offers a wealth of articles covering various aspects of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations. From the latest developments in DAO technology to expert opinions on the future of decentralized governance, our blog is a comprehensive resource for anyone looking to stay informed in this rapidly evolving field.