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What’s Governing Web3?

12 December 2022 - 15 December 2022

What is governing Web3

Advancing research on blockchain-enabled Web3 governance.

Web3 has produced a wave of governance experimentation with consequences for how protocols evolve and whose interests they serve.

In this week of workshops and public events, leading researchers will come together to advance knowledge on blockchain-enabled Web3 governance, present field-defining findings arising from current work, and provide policy-oriented insights and solutions.

Throughout the week, researchers will address the following questions:

  • What and who governs Web3? How do we make sense of the interactions of smart contracts and human decision-makers?
  • What have we learnt from Web3 governance experiments to date?
  • What is the legal and regulatory status of Web3? How can international efforts in DAO regulation frameworks and NFT legal standards benefit Australia?
  • What are the societal-level implications of institutional emergence in Web3?
  • What methods are required for a comprehensive empirical analysis of governance in decentralised autonomous organisations? How can we best work across academic disciplines to answer these questions?
  • What knowledge translation strategies can we use to help ensure that inclusive and ethical considerations are built into the automation of governance processes?


Registrations are now open for:

  • Full day public conference on Day 3: Wednesday 14 December 2022 from 10am – Register to attend
  • Public Meetup on Day 4: Thursday 15 December 2022 from 5pm – Register to attend

Please note workshop participation on Day 1, Day 2 and Day 4 have now reached full capacity. If you have any queries, please contact


Monday 12 December, 9am- 1pm (AEDT), Green Brain at RMIT University

This half day session will present the research framework and analysis that has been developed by the economics group within RMIT’s Blockchain Innovation Hub over the past five years, as well as key related research from international researchers. Following a high-level overview of the theoretical approach and program, speakers will present current research projects across a number of domains that relate to governance. The third part of the session will then discuss future challenges and opportunities, including ideas for collaboration.   

Module 1: Theoretical Overview 

Lecture format (Davidson/Potts), 30-40 mins with Q&A. 

  • Introduction to institutional economics and economics of governance (including information economics, public choice, constitutional economics, evolutionary and complexity economics, rational actor model, game theory and mechanism design) (Hayek, Coase, Williamson, Buchanan, Hart, Ostrom, Schumpeter, Schelling) 
  • Introduction to institutional cryptoeconomics: industrialisation of trust, cost of trust, information and coordination problems, etc 
  • The web3 research program in economics: theory of a digital economy   

Module 2: Models and applications  

Seminar format (short presentations of some or all of the following):

Module 3: Futures and Challenges 

  • toward a unified theory of decentralised cooperation in a digital economy 
  • what we currently do and don’t know (state of the science),  
  • role of experimental work (lab and natural) and innovation in governance,  
  • indexes, measures and simulations, engagement first research,  
  • future research directions and collaborative opportunities. 

Monday 12 December, 2pm- 5.30pm (AEDT), Green Brain at RMIT University

A Decentralised Autonomous Organisation (DAO) is “a blockchain-based system that enables people to coordinate and govern themselves mediated by a set of self-executing rules deployed on a public blockchain, and whose governance is decentralised (i.e., independent from central control)” (Hassan and De Filippi 2020). DAOs are currently used in a range of contexts – from artist collectives to stewardship of decentralised applications. However, legal uncertainty surrounding DAOs can expose participants to risks in areas such as personal liability, dispute resolution and taxation.  

In 2021, the Coalition of Automated Legal Applications released the DAO Model Law, which strives to provide DAOs with legal personality in any state that adopts or transposes it. Rather than creating a specific corporate structure for DAOs (as per Wyoming USA), the Model Law is designed to achieve functional and regulatory equivalence in a domestic legal setting. Any DAO that meets the same policy goals as set out in corporations law would be deemed equivalent to an object “already within the realm of legal rule”, just as some forms of electronic signature have functional equivalence of a handwritten signature. COALA has identified a set of provisions that align DAO business practices with corporate law statutes common to many jurisdictions, as well as technical features that may need specific treatment.  

The DAO Model Law was cited in the Senate Select Committee final report on Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre (2021) as an approach worthy of further investigation. In this workshop, two of the authors of the COALA Model Law, Primavera De Filippi and Morshed Mannan will present the key ideas of the DAO Model Law. Legal scholars and practitioners will then provide their views on how to resolve legal uncertainty for DAOs including the creation of a new corporate entity under the Corporations Act.  

In this half-day workshop, we will address the following questions:  

  • How does COALA’s DAO Model Law assist DAOs at both the local and international level?  
  • How difficult would it be for Australia to adopt the DAO Model Law? 
  • What specific legal uncertainties and risks do DAO participants face in Australia?  
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of creating laws specific to DAOs under the Corporations Act?  

Speakers: Primavera De Filippi (Harvard/Paris CNRS), Morshed Mannan (EUI) 

Respondents: Aaron Lane (RMIT), Alex Sims (Auckland), Michael Bacina & Steven Pettigrove (Piper Alderman), Joni Pirovich (BADASL/LawFi DAO), Jack Deeb (Mycelium), Marta Poblet (RMIT)

Readings: COALA DAO Model Law

Tuesday 13 December, 9am- 2pm (AEDT), Green Brain at RMIT University

Digital ethnography is a research approach that involves observing and documenting events, social patterns and perspectives that arise within digital or data rich contexts. It is useful for understanding aspects of social life that include online practices and communication, including how people’s agency is enabled or constrained by non-human actors. There is growing demand for digital ethnography by practitioners and researchers attempting to understand the governance interactions that occur within blockchain communities, including DAOs. 

Module 1: What is digital ethnography and why do we need it?
In the first part of this session, a panel of leading digital ethnographers involved in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society – including current and past directors of RMIT’s Digital Ethnography Research Centre – will provide insight into the practice of digital ethnography using examples from their own work. The panel will cover challenges such as how to define the field site, generating and organising field notes, moral and ethical dilemmas, and approaches to writing ethnography. 

Speakers: Annette Markham (RMIT), Sarah Pink (Monash), Heather Horst (WSU), Janet Roitman (The New School)


Module 2: Digital ethnography in the web3 field
The second part of the session will feature ethnographers who are working on web3-related topics. This group will discuss the specific issues they are encountering, including the questions that web3 communities are seeking answers to, and the extent to which digital ethnography can be used as a tool for applied research (versus more general knowledge production). 

Speakers: Ellie Rennie (RMIT), Tara Merk (Paris CNRS), Kelsie Nabben (RMIT), Alexia Maddox (RMIT).), Theo Buetel (Gnosis safe), Anna Weichselbraun (Uni of Vienna)


Module 3: If I were a DAO…
Annette Markham and Ellie Rennie will guide session participants to produce a research plan that could be adopted by a DAO. What methods and tools could DAOs pick up that would assist them to better understand their own governance? How do we use these insights to inform our own practice as digital ethnographers? 


  • Rennie et al (2021), Toward a participatory ethnography of blockchain governance
  • Kelsie Nabben and Michael Zargham (2022), The Ethnography of a ‘Decentralized Autonomous Organization’ (DAO): De-mystifying algorithmic systems

Tuesday 13 December, 3pm- 5.30pm (AEDT), Green Brain at RMIT University

In this session, Joshua Tan and Michael Zargham will present research and describe research infrastructure projects being carried out within metagov and discuss how these may be used to better understand and improve blockchain governance.  

The session will also gather insights from the previous three workshops and assign people to develop and expand upon the existing ‘open problems in DAO science’ stream of work.  

Speakers: Joshua Tan (Stanford/Oxford), Michael Zargham (Blockscience)  

Wednesday 14 December, 10am-6pm (AEDT), The Capitol at RMIT University
Followed by refreshments in The Capitol Salon from 6pm
Register to attend

Web3 is a ”decentralized online ecosystem based on blockchain” (Gavin Wood, 2014).  

A wave of governance experimentation is occurring within web3, which will shape how protocols evolve and whose interests they serve. This full-day public conference will feature international and local speakers discussing field-defining research on the question of ‘what’s governing web3?’. 


  • Keynote speech by Primavera De Filippi (Harvard and Paris University): “Web3, Metaverse and our digital future” 


  • Two live podcast recordings: a Disconnect episode on Indigenous governance and blockchain featuring Robert O’Brien, Megan Kelleher and Rick Shaw (hosted by Tyson Yunkaporta and Ellie Rennie, supported by Telstra); a Mint &Burn interview on the Validator Commons (hosted by Kelsie Nabben).  
  • Opening talk by Jason Potts on “Field-building Web3” 
  • Panels on DAO governance and regulatory issues facing web3

Confirmed guest speakers: Primavera De Filippi (Harvard/Paris Uni), Joshua Tan (Stanford/Oxford), Michael Zargham (BlockScience), Kaitlin Beegle (Filecoin), Tara Merk (Paris University), Morshed Mannan (EUI), Eric Alston (Colarado Uni), Alex Sims (Auckland Uni), Jamilya Kamalova (Paris Uni/Kleros), Dev Lewis (Digital Asia Hub), Theodor Buetel (SafeDAO), Robert O’Brien (yümi), Michael Bacina & Steven Pettigrove (Piper Alderman) and more.  

Together with speakers from RMIT’s Blockchain Innovation Hub and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (Jason Potts, Ellie Rennie, Kelsie Nabben, Chris Berg and more).  

Keynote by Primavera De Filippi: Everyone is talking about the metaverse as the new frontier of the digital age. But what exactly is the metaverse, and how does it compare with the Internet? What are the new social, economic and political opportunities it provides, and how can we leverage them to promote progress and innovation? Can the metaverse help us escape from the limitations of the physical world? Can it help us build a more inclusive and abundant society? Or is it simply replicating – or even exacerbating – the current state of affairs?  Ultimately, it all boils down to the question of ownership. If those who control the Internet control the present, those who control the metaverse will control the future.  How can we ensure that the metaverse is not controlled by a few centralized operators, but rather emerges as a global and interconnected network of interoperable universes? And how can we ensure that the virtual resources that circulate on the metaverse are actually owned by the people? This is where the blockchain comes to the rescue. 

Register to attend the public conference.

Thursday 15 December, 3pm- 5pm (AEDT), ADM+S Centre Office – Building 97, 106-108 Victoria St, Carlton
Metagov is exploring the formation of an “extitute” for web3 learning and certification. Note: This is a closed session for metagov participants to work on an ongoing project.

Thursday 15 December, 3pm- 8.30pm (AEDT), RMIT Activator –  Level 2, 102 Victoria Street, Carlton
This long-running community meet-up, supported by RMIT since 2017, will begin with a Game Theory workshop led by Clement Leseage, founder of Kleros from 3pm- 5pm. It will be followed by a DAOstar panel discussion featuring Metagov researchers involved in the DAOStar standard from 5.30pm- 8.30pm.

DAOstar panel discussion
DAOstar defines a common interface for DAOs, akin to tokenURI for NFTs, so that DAOs of all shapes and sizes are easier to discover, more legible to their members, and more compatible with future tooling. Many DAOs already publish their data in various ways. DAOstar has standardised these existing best-practices, making it easy for people to create and maintain new DAOs and DAO tooling.

DAOstar is a collective initiative that was established by Metagov. A large number of major DAO initiatives are involved in ongoing roundtable discussions about the standard. A full list of participants can be found here.

Panelists: Joshua Tan, Michael Zargham, Primavera De Filippi


Register to attend the public Meetup.

What is Web3?

Web3 is a "decentralized online ecosystem based on blockchain” (Gavin Wood, 2014). Web3 governance broadly describes the rules and processes that are used for decision-making over platforms and applications that are ‘permissionless’ - meaning anyone with the required resources and capital can take part.

Governance occurs through the software and infrastructure choices of node operators who are unknown to each other, yet whose decisions influence the security and direction of blockchain protocols.

At the application layer, this typically involves decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs), which automate some governance processes through smart contracts.

Legal and policy frameworks are being developed that enable these digitally native organisations and instruments to work effectively and safely, such as the COALA DAO framework.


View the full event program for details on all workshops, public events, speakers, participants and locations.

View the public conference program for details on the public conference at The Capitol on Wednesday 14 December 2022.


The event is presented by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S), the Cooperation Through Code project— a Future Fellowship project funded by the Australian Research Council, the BlockchainGov project of the European Research Council (ERC), Metagov, RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub and the Digital Asia Hub.


12 December 2022
15 December 2022
Event Category: