Yak Governance Studies Sequence: Intro
The one where some Yaks tack through coordination headwinds
The Yak Collective engages in collaborative tinkering. The tinkering can be practical and involve Mars rovers, infrastructure, or indie career acceleration. It could be creative, with pop-up poetry jams and speculative fiction. And sometimes it’s conceptual, with Fermi estimation practice, studies of distributed systems, old- and new-wave AI workshopping, and governance. What follows concerns the Yak Collective’s ongoing studies of governance, perhaps the longest running activity track within YC.
Like YC itself, the governance studies origin story involves a sincere intent to do one thing—evaluate governance patterns in relation to YC—and a trajectory that shifted to be about a more interesting adjacency—the why, what, and how of governance in general. Explorations of the various why’s, what’s, and how’s follow a simple format:
Fridays, 1600 UTC, meet on the YC Discord voice channel for a strict hour
15 minutes on silent-mode for the week’s reading
45 minutes for round robin responses and then open-floor conversation
active and “listen mode” participants welcome
Governance studies as an activity within YC operates on a seasonal tempo with the season emerging from the cohering of a theme. This cohering is unpredictable and vibe-led. Season 1 spanned 2021, Season 2 spanned 2022 and early 2023, and we’re now moving into Season 3—drop by to help us steer it.
For season 1, this process yielded The Yak Online Governance Primer which unpacked four regimes of governance—Hobbesian, Gaia, Muddler, and Citadel—and includes an annotated bibliography and a lexicon.
Season 2 had a different outcome. Like season 1, the governance weekly reads covered a diverse range and which we think can be bucketed into a few themes:
KTLO: “keeping the lights on”—the often invisible, typically unglamorous activities that maintain the infrastructure of our realities
muddling: the stance of patience and the sustainable tempos that encourage us to keep taking a step closer to an ever-receding horizon
rules: how directives of various girth incentivise behaviours and drive outcomes
lore: how narratives of various compelling-ness emerge, change, and influence
archetypes: the presence and impacts of individual archetypes, such as tricksters, sociopaths, finite gamers, and benevolent dictators for life
Unlike season 1, however—and despite good intentions and multiple attempts—no natural way to distill the essence of the season emerged and consensus about what to do in the absence of that emergence was hard to find. The one thing everyone did agree on, though, was that we had enough insight to produce something. This is that something and it consists of:
a series of mildly schizophrenic riffs on each of the five core themes
an annotated bibliography of lighthouse readings for the season
Here’s how these riffs and annotated bib will be delivered:
Yak Governance Studies Sequence: Intro (you are here)
Rules (next week)
Recap and readings
A little illegible, multiplayer by design, born of wholesome intentions, mostly coherent—a true artefact of the Yak Collective.
Tune in next week for the first riff.
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Great piece, Matt! I look forward to joining a governance chat soon
Love this and looking forward to participating