MGP APR 2022 - Black Sky Nexus

Project Title

Black Sky Nexus

Description

We are currently a small collective of writers, researchers, artists, and technologists who are launching Black Sky Nexus, an open source wiki and zine, for the purpose of developing relevant resources to promote greater engagement and community around the following topics: large-scale networks of cooperation; open source resources for new crypto explorers; the role of technology and privacy in the evolution of human rights; how crypto can benefit the arts and vice versa; new modalities for healing the ecosphere; humanity’s relationship with the cosmos.

Read more about these topics.

Check out our preview of Black Sky Nexus.

In seeking funding for Moloch DAO, we would to receive funding to create 3 research reports and 3 articles / guides.

Reports:

  • Recommended Ecosystem Action Items for Greater Privacy in Ethereum
  • Development Guide to Increase Decentralization of Crypto Tools and Maintain Cypherpunk Roots
  • Blockchain Network Decentralization Rating

Articles/Guides:

  • How to anonymously contribute to a DAO
  • Privacy considerations for transacting in cryptocurrency
  • Survey of zero-knowledge cryptocurrency protocols, apps, and tools

Manifesto/Vision

Black Sky is an emerging DAO on a mission to minimize dystopia and maximize harmony within the cosmos. Our aim is to organize a large-scale network of individuals who utilize crypto technologies to initiate change towards mitigating the damage nation states and corporations have imposed on the human experience.

Problem

With the mainstream adoption we are seeing in cryptocurrency, we are also seeing the loss of cryptocurrency’s cypherpunk roots and the more paradigm-shifting benefits that can be enabled if a more well informed crypto counterculture existed.

Additionally, the crypto community has created many resource guides in the form of blog posts or Notion spaces, but these resources cannot be easily edited, enhanced, or expanded upon by others beyond the original authors.

Solution

Black Sky Nexus aims to be a resource that can engage both newcomers and wisdom keepers alike, to discuss alternatives to venture funded organizations, plot out futures where we have minimized dystopia, and to offer educational guides on overlooked topics such as privacy, and so much more.

Black Sky Zine will include resources from the wiki, in-depth inquiries, informational articles, embedded NFTs, in addition to comedic or sci-fi extrapolations, taking inspiration from Mondo 2000, The Whole Earth Catalog, EXTROPY, and CCRU.

Black Sky Wiki will curate, host, and develop open source resources with the goal of becoming a leading internet source on providing guides in which experts can continually contribute new knowledge as the crypto community and blockchain technologies each evolve. The Wiki will initially focus on resources for those interested in learning about cryptocurrency, contributing to or founding DAOs, creating NFTs, and having more privacy or anonymity.

Product Features

Distribution

Articles and resources will be added to a digital “pre-print” zine on a regular basis. Black Sky Nexus will initially be created using an open source tool such as MKDocs or mdBook, with articles and resources written in Markdown so it’s easy for other people to edit the resources. It will be hosted on a centralized server yet will also be mirrored on IPFS (or other decentralized storage systems) for decentralized access.

In the future, it might be important to build a tool that is more catered towards maintaining a decentralized wiki and zine hybrid publication, that’s easier to contribute to than updating git files, although this is not our immediate priority.

Note: We are currently using Docusaurus for the preview that is currently live, but would like to move away from using a product maintained by Facebook.

Licensing

Grant funding received will be used to commission original content that will be licensed as CC BY-SA 4.0. In general, the majority of written content for the zine and resources will be CC BY-SA 4.0. The only exception may be for pieces that are curated such as works of writing or original graphical art that may be showcased, where the copyright is actually managed and retained by the artist.

We also see some content eventually becoming CC0 where it seems attribution isn’t necessary and there are many contributors to a resource.

Languages

The initial languages supported are English and Mandarin. As more funds are raised for this project and the community grows, Black Sky Nexus hopes to be able to target other languages, especially ones associated with authoritarian regimes to assist individuals in autocratic societies achieve greater financial freedom through a crypto-focused internet resource and publication.

Physical Zine (Future Plan)

Black Sky Zine plans to become physically distributed as a way to develop into a financially sustainable project. The physical zine will be printed with eco-friendly materials, where possible and financially viable, and sold online. Language translations and shipping locations for the physical zine will be prioritized based on demand. Physical zines will include at least two pages of cut-out pages that includes the QR code that links to a copy of the free digital zine issue that people are encouraged to continue sharing and passing on, creating a physical viral mechanism.

To be able to better manage costs related to the print initiative, one idea is that once there are at least 1,000 interested customers for a particular language/region, an order can be placed with a regional printing partner.

Validation

We are currently in talks with leaders of Gnosis Guild, discussing broader ecosystem-wide wiki projects, and got requested to apply for a grant when they open their program in a few weeks.

Progress

Black Sky Nexus has been bootstrapped to date. We just have released a preview here which provides a taste of the type of content we want to produce and research: https://nexus.blacksky.network/

All of the content is maintained as markdown files and hosted on Github:

We are in the process of fine-tuning some of the content before we share it for broader reach on social media. We are also considering moving towards a self-hosted Gitlab instance to reduce the reliance on Github (until the project transitions to something more decentralized).

Funding can definitely help make everything better!

Differentiation (from other projects)

Our resrouces will be CC BY-SA or CC0 where it seems attribution isn’t necessary and once we start creating resources with many contributors. They will also be open for contribution to the general public, hosted on public repositories.

Additionally, we are providing educational resources and research alongside more cultural content, hoping to build a strong community that will be inspired to participate in communities and projects that go against the status quo.

We also plan to curate resources that we observe others sharing in the community, such as in Tweet storms or blogs, and we encourage open sourcing of the knowledge.

We also aim to also collaborate and synergize with the community surrounding ZODIAC.WIKI, as opposed to duplicating efforts.

Team

We are currently a growing collective of writers, researchers, artists, technologists and DAO contributors. The main editors of Black Sky Nexus are Stellar Magnet, E. Øss, and Sun Deep. Additional contributors are Giulio Prisco, Typto, Wadada, and Koldghost.

Read our team bios and learn more about Black Sky here.

Beyond the team members listed, contributing to Black Sky Nexus will be open to members who join our Discord community and have the appropriate knowledge and skills.

Grant Request $

Project duration: 12 weeks (3 months)

  • 3 in-depth research reports: 100hrs each @ $75/hr = $7,500 each = $22,500
  • 3 medium-length articles & guides (avg $2,000 each) = $6,000
  • Project Management - 46 hours @ $75/hr: $3,500
  • Graphic design / marketing - 60hrs @ $50/hr: $3,000
  • Copyediting: 40 hours @ $50/hr = $2,000
  • Mandarin Translation: = $3,000

Total: $40,000

What the Funds Are For

While Black Sky Nexus hopes to cover a wide variety of topics, if we receive funding from MolochDAO, we will allocate that budget more specifically towards the 3 in-depth research reports for the projects described below, in addition to 3 medium-length articles & guides.

Guides & Articles

  • How to anonymously contribute to a DAO
  • Privacy considerations for transacting in cryptocurrency
  • Survey of zero-knowledge cryptocurrency protocols, apps, and tools

Research Projects / Reports

Recommended Ecosystem Action Items for Greater Privacy in Ethereum

Black Sky Nexus will complete a blockchain ecosystem analysis and survey, to provide recommendations on the next steps that should be considered to bring greater privacy in Ethereum. We hope to answer the question: should there be crucial protocol level changes that are adopted sooner rather than later? Or should the greater emphasis be in equipping Ethereum developers with more tools, SDKs, and patterns to develop private applications?

First, we will analyze technologies and teams that are at the cutting edge of developing or enabling private applications or L2s on Ethereum and the tradeoffs being made.

Next, we will analyze more privacy-native smart contract chains such as Mina, Espresso, Aleo, etc. and how they solve for the tradeoffs (if they do).

Based on the two analyses, we will create a survey that will be completed by at least 50 individuals, including Ethereum protocol developers, Ethereum dapp developers, Ethereum L2 developers, and privacy developers external to Ethereum - to properly gauge the sentiment on the preferred path that the Ethereum ecosystem should adopt.

Development Guide to Increase Decentralization of Crypto Tools and Maintain Cypherpunk Roots

Black Sky Nexus x HashCloak collaboration

MolochDAO was the first organization that funded Tornado Cash and now Chainanalysis oracles are being added to the product. It is likely we will continue to see these dark patterns emerge if the ecosystem standard includes a front-end hosted on infrastructure that is operated by a US company (see Uniswap).

It’s important to equip Ethereum application developers with new development patterns that will enable open and easy access to these important tools, that have great UX and aren’t integrated with protocols like Chainanalysis. The crypto community should not be trying to appease to the military industrial complex. We believe that desktop apps are the solution that will enable the tools being funded and developed within the crypto community to uphold cypherpunk ideologies.

We want to create a guide that will explain how to create not only more privacy preserving apps with such a development methodology, but also apps that are less at risk to regulatory capture. We will use Tornado Cash as a case study in creating this more generic guide. The main areas we plan to optimize for in this guide are:

  1. Decentralization
  2. Privacy
  3. User Experience

Hopefully this can eventually lead towards an SDK for people to easily build decentralized desktop apps or a team that wants to take on building a truly decentralized version of Tornado Cash.

Blockchain Network Decentralization Rating

Leveraging the work from Nic Carter’s master thesis on “A Cross-Sectional Overview of Cryptoasset Governance and Implications for Investors” and responding to this Moloch DAO RFP we will analyze the top 10 blockchain networks with smart contract capabilities, based on market cap, and assess the dimensions of decentralization to come up with a rating system that can be applied to the networks.

We will release each analysis as completed, per blockchain, and then compile the results into a final report.

We will also create one page infographics and entertaining videos to make this content accessible to the general public and to educate people on the importance of decentralization.

The results of this work will be hosted in Black Sky Nexus’ open source repos, where further analysis can be applied for more networks and can be a living resource that is continuously updated and refined.

Help Requested

We are interested in growing our body of potential contributors to increase the knowledge and expertise of our community. Join Black Sky’s Discord if you are interested in contributing to Black Sky Nexus. Let us know which articles or topics intrigue you in the #🔹-nexus channel.

Additional Resources, Links, Portfolio

  • Feel free to review our more generic proposal here. We are customizing this to be formatted into the expectations of different DAOs, in addition to further highlighting specific topics/research areas that we feel are most aligned with the organization from which we are seeking funding.
  • Preview Black Sky Nexus: https://nexus.blacksky.network/
  • Learn more about Black Sky: https://blacksky.network/

And some personal commentary here:

Last year when I was contributing to operations for MolochDAO, one of the ideas I was passionate about was that MolochDAO should fund research reports related to advancing privacy in the Ethereum ecosystem. This was something I wished that I had time to work on myself, but I was too overwhelmed with DAO operations and working on other consulting projects.

I have since taken the time to lay down the roots for a new community, Black Sky. So far we are a growing passionate community with the capacity to provide support in research, marketing, copyediting, media production, in an attempt to maximize the impact of such initiatives.

I hope we are able to receive MolochDAO’s support for this project, as we aren’t interested in modeling our project for traditional investment and the path to being financially sustainable is always slower when trying to stay close to your ideals.

Thank you for taking the time to review the proposal!

1 Like

Update: I just amended the proposal to add “Development Guide to Increase Decentralization of Crypto Tools and Maintain Cypherpunk Roots” as this is something Black Sky Nexus was interested in generally creating at some point, and Mikerah had asked in our Discord if Moloch DAO can create an RFP to fund a desktop-app based Tornado Cash. I proposed to her the development of a guide / case study, since we are going to see this happen with more apps, and it’s important to start promoting new development methodologies within Ethereum. But this research and resource can also serve as a more robust RFP for the next grants round.

Just wanted to provide a bit of an update on the timeline of our Black Sky research reports:

  • Progress is actively underway on the research and will be shared in early August.
  • The 12 week mark from when we got the grant processed is about August 12, 2022 - unfortunately due to the crash in the value of the grant, people have been more spread thin.
  • A top-up grant would be appreciated to make this initiative whole again.
  • We are more likely to deliver on this initiative by the end of September, but part of our timeline is dependent on understanding if and when we might receive a top up grant.

I’m looking forward to seeing this first rollout of research and very enthusiastic about this project!

Pointing to my comments here (Anemic Projects Die - #5 by traviswyche) it seems like Black Sky Nexus is well positioned to provide a preliminary milestone to justify a top up. If some kind of PoW can be provided I believe this will strengthen the ask. Conversely, requiring additional funds to get started seems peculiar. If some work can be produced I would support a top up for this project, which might set a precedent for the other funded projects to align behind.

This could/should be scrutinized through the August grant pipeline. Not sure why the top up proposal is going rogue. Just MHO. I’m opposed to a general top up distro to simply hedge market volatility.

@traviswyche : Thank you, glad you are very enthusiastic.

Hmm, I never said that the project hasn’t started! It is under way. The top-up was something Moloch members were discussing since May 25th - one week after the grants were disbursed. It just look a long time to submit the proposal. The project has started, it is more about it being completed somewhat within the timeline in our grant, hence requesting a top-up so we can do parallel processing.

I think the alternative that probably makes more sense at this point in time, considering how long it took to submit the top-up proposal and some of the push back: is that we can complete / deliver as much as possible with the funds we have now and then provide some accounting for how much was spent and then apply for another grant (assuming Moloch still exists) once our funds for the project run out and we share our completed deliverables (which wont be 100%). This alternative works too, we just will readjust how we have been doing things and focus on completing as much as we can, put other more incomplete reports/deliverables in a more pause/hiatus mode.

Does that make sense to you?

(cc @ameensol )