Is Cabin a business or a government?

The first quote I ever recorded for @jon was from a panel at DAO NYC in June 2022, and it was a spicy banger:

There’s this thing called revenue.
(pause, looks around the room)
Don’t know if anyone in DAO land has heard of it

Besides being a classic J Hillis burn, it also feels particularly relevant after the focus of this week’s State of the Network: Citizenship. It’s clear that Cabin needs to generate revenue and that citizenship is one of the most scalable ways to do so. As a citizen, I couldn’t be more excited to see the direction Cabin is moving, and yet, there’s a crucial question I’ve been asking myself that I think deserves some dialogue:

As Cabin builds out the offerings of citizenship, would it make sense to think of Cabin as a decentralized government serving it’s citizens vs a business serving it’s customers?

As Cabin orients towards suppers, community organizing, and family-building, it doesn’t feel far-fetched to see a future where the annual dues from Cabin Citizens help Citizens serve and build their local communities via the services Cabin provides.

I get excited by the idea of Cabin building a grassroots decentralized network that scales to fill-in the holes that our government (and many others) fail to sufficiently support their citizens with, areas like:

  • Civic engagement & participation
  • Pre and post natal support
  • Employment support and connections
  • Housing, urban development, and infrastructure (what else is a Build Week??)

In my opinion, these areas remove Cabin from the league of a company creating a product to an agency/government supporting its community with essential resources.

Let that sink in…

It SUCKS paying taxes to a government that spends half of a $1.4 trillion annual budget on the military.

Do you know what doesn’t suck? Paying an annual subscription to an org that helps me and my fellow citizens foster spaces for crucial interpersonal support, curiosity, and civic activation.

This may sound odd, but after Thursday, I’m feeling less inclined to call my payments to Cabin “fees” and feel more like “taxes/contributions” to a greater whole that my (and many other) communities will benefit from.

In the Network State, Balaji is obsessed with buying land and building things to make a new kind of state. I guess :man_shrugging:, but what if we focused on funneling resources to the intangible services that underly a healthy society, with the hopes that building a healthy decentralized society will eventually sprout enough committed citizens who will be down to invest longterm into the properties and communities of our dreams?

Balaji goes straight from establishing an online community to buying land ASAP. I think the better order (one that Cabin fits perfectly into) is:

  1. Digital/temporary IRL culture to put the bat signal in the air
  2. Services that get disparate people invested and excited
  3. Land / IRL community bases to act as the magnets that bring together the decentralized community members to a central longterm space

I got very excited talking about this with @Matai today and felt it was worth sharing with the community to see if it resonates or if I’m missing

Questions that remain for me on this topic:

  • What changes if we approach Cabin as a decentralized government rather than a business?
  • What are the services that governments aren’t providing that Cabin could feasibly start addressing (I think funding local clubs is a fantastic first step, but what would be steps 5 and 6 look like?)?
  • What are the downsides to this approach? Would others be excited by this as well?
  • Am I loco? What am I not thinking of?

Much love,
Cam :heart:


Really liked this post, thanks for writing it Cam! I would love for Cabin to fill in the gaps where our existing governments fail. This is one way network states can win without making giant deals with countries for relaxed regulation.

To flip things a bit, what if its not that we should be more like a government, but that governments should be more like us :grin:


Cam, this post is a beautiful vision for Cabin. Thank you for writing it.

I get excited about this idea too, for three main reasons:

1. Community members are showing up who want to grow Cabin neighborhoods where they already live

As I’ve been talking to community members (like @savkruger in Boulder, @stephen in Texas, @jxn in LA, @phil in the SF Bay Area) and thinking about my own roles in both a rural neighborhood and an urban one, it’s becoming clear that the Cabin community wants to build neighborhoods on top of existing urban infra where they already live.

2. This vision fits closely with The Neighborhood for Families

The big takeaway from Phil and my trip to Colorado was that there are excellent existing urban environments that would make a great fit for Cabin neighborhoods:

In fact, one of the neighborhoods we explored as potential candidate was North Boulder Park, which is exactly where @savkruger lives and wants to build a neighborhood!

3. Urban-embedded network neighborhoods are validated

Projects like Fractal in NYC, The Neighborhood in SF, and Radish in Oakland are demonstrating a successful model for co-housing: put out a bat signal for a small, walkable area of an existing built environment and get good people to move there. This allows people to build a network of nearby friends without needing to build a new place from scratch.

What does it mean to act like a government instead of a business?

You asked:

I think what’s special about Cabin is that we don’t treat the network city as a metaphor. We are building a network city, so it’s reasonable to think about ourselves as an internet-native civic government.

Most of what is required for Cabin to act as a decentralized government is baked into our DNA. Our token enables decentralized governance, and our culture practices it. In that sense, I think we already are approaching Cabin as a decentralized government. But we can do much more.

Clubs → Neighborhoods

We can start with clubs and build neighborhoods. You asked:

Here’s a possible Steps 1 - 6 to start a Cabin neighborhood in an existing urban area:

Step 1. Supper Clubs
Step 2. Civic engagement (eg trash cleanup, park potluck, natal support group)
Step 3. Urban improvement (eg build a park bench, fix a pothole, start a garden)
Step 4. Coliving
Step 5. Cohousing
Step 6. Third Spaces

Bonus Step 7. Relocate the squad to a rural area and build a solarpunk village.

I thought you said it beautifully here:

@Matai is working on a more detailed memo outlining plans for developing clubs into neighborhoods.

How do we pay for it?

Funding local community infrastructure collectively sounds awesome. But where does the money come from to pay for it?

Businesses make something people want and are willing to pay for. Governments make you pay taxes whether or not you want the product.

I liked your framing here:

FWIW, I was originally a proponent of calling it the Citizen’s Tax, but people told me this was a horrible idea :person_shrugging: People hate taxes. I still like the idea, but we should only frame it this way if it attracts Citizens to join vs. deters them.

Whether or not we call it a tax, the question remains: how do we overcome the collective action problem of funding local public goods without coercive taxation? @Matai shared the idea that it could be a collaborative effort where local clubs can unlock funds when they have a certain number of Citizens join the club. Would love your thoughts here as well.

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Love what you’re saying here so much.

One question for clarity:
What’s your connotation for the words “coliving” and “cohousing”? I’ve been using them interchangeably and want to know what the order means to you. My guess at what you mean is coliving = living near friends in a neighborhood and cohousing = living in the same space together, but help me understand.

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Unfortunately these are confusing terms — my understanding is that “coliving” is living the same space and “cohousing” is living in adjacent spaces. But I’ve heard other people assume it’s the way you thought it was, so perhaps they aren’t useful descriptors.

That makes sense, bc whenever I think of actual traditional cohousing it’s owning separate properties next to each other in an especially designed neighborhood together. Words are funny.

Ok, thanks.

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This is a very interesting discussion for sustaining the vision and the financial “default alive” state of Cabin. Love it.

I think there is a lot of room for experimentation and learning from others, especially in the DAO world (where, Cam is 100% right, most people have no idea what revenue means, but a few are starting to figure it out).

Here are some ideas (I’m not endorsing any of them, just spitballing).

  1. Multiple community membership tiers. I.e., in addition to the Citizen one, maybe a lower priced Resident one for those who want to try out our community for a relatively short time and a Visitor one for those who want to get access to our outposts and exclusive events.

Pros: Expanding our revenue and human base while also making Cabin more affordable.
Cons: Adds complexity, may be violating the spirit of our community values if people are put into different “classes”.

  1. Combination of proactive and retroactive quadratic funding. Retroactive funding serves the purpose of rewarding community initiatives without slowing down their execution. Proactive funding removes uncertainty about funding where it is needed.

Pros: Public good spirit; collaboration potential with Gitcoin, Giveth, GreenPill, Artizen, et al; possible gamification benefits; gives more power to the community to influence funding direction; bringing funds from outside our network into it while also being able to match it from within
Cons: Any funding coming from the outside is not guaranteed; retroactive funding comes with uncertainty of getting it

  1. Creating value within communities and contributing a tiny percentage of the profits to the local and global treasuries. This can be creative as well, in terms of concerts (SoFar, GroupMuse), art residences (maybe that’s already in the plans?). There is a word in Yiddish: Fargin. It means wholeheartedly celebrating the success of others. In practice, it has meant purchasing anything you need first and foremost within your own community to support your fellow community members, even going as far as to helping them improve their product/service so it’s the best available. Cam mentioned employment support (which I love). Same can be done with support for people’s business, art, etc.

Pros: Supports community members; radical self reliance; uses the value we create as communities; possible use case for shared spaces and inspiration for events
Cons: May become financially burdensome for the creators; requires additional (commerce) infrastructure in the app/site

  1. Directed taxes (we can call taxes contributions to make them sound better). Like Cam said, we all hate so much of our taxes going to the military, let alone to congresspeople’s pet projects or pockets. What if we experiment with letting each citizen and/or community to contribute directly to specific initiatives or categories?

Pros: Clearer picture of what people support/want; higher willingness of people to contribute
Cons: Inevitably, some costs will be underfunded (can be filed with general purpose funds)

I’ll add more as I think of them as I hope others will too.

Sidenote: CABIN, the token. As far as I understand, it has no monetary value, only governance utility, right? With that in mind, I’d love to explore create local governance tokens for each neighborhood. It’s also worth exploring local currency (both within each neighborhood and for our entire Networked City. I’m a huge fan of UBI initiatives. Sadly, the ones I’m seeing now in Web3 are not especially successful, but the efforts are worthy and something will come of this. But in the physical world, I’ve personally seen a beautiful local currency experiment in Kyoto (Japan), where a well-known choreographer wanted to restore his dying neighborhood and save it form surrounding gentrification. He wasn’t rich or too skilled at construction, so he hired locals to help him rebuild several houses into thriving community centers (with revenue via cafe, hostel, etc.) and paid them in a currency he made up. That currency has 3 interesting traits:

  1. It can only be spent locally, of course.
  2. It is worth more than the Japanese yen.
  3. Its value depreciates with time, encouraging more spending in the community

Not saying that we should necessarily have something like that, but it is one case of many that can inspire us.


Thanks for sharing these thoughts & ideas @Dahveed!

Yes, I think the idea of a lower cost membership tier makes sense & is in line with what @camlindsay has been thinking about and proposing here: Cabin Citizenship 2.0

love this idea. I have been thinking more about this as well — it seems like this type of reciprocal support network could be a core part of Cabin. Part of what we do is celebrate each other’s wins & signal boost others in the community doing cool, aligned work.

yes, this is correct — it’s a governance token for our DAO. I am also interested in experimenting with tokens for local neighborhoods. One example I’ve followed is OAK, a “community currency for the city of Oakland”. Community treasuries with shared governance also seem like a cool idea, but unclear how it works in practice. I think @Matai has been thinking about this and is incorporating it into his new proposal. As with all things, we just need to run small experiments and see what works.