Python, Data Science, Web3, Cryptoeconomics, Grant

Grant Program Announcement: Empirical Investigations of a Digital Frontier

By Michael Zargham and Travis Oliphant

As researchers and entrepreneurs focused on scientific computing and organizational sustainability, we understand the skepticism surrounding Web3 technologies. Indeed, the landscape is fraught with instances of misuse and overzealous promises. However, it also presents an uncharted territory, rife with complexities and nuances that are worth exploring through a scientific lens. Fortunately, much of the code, documentation and data from web3 projects is publicly available.

OpenTeams IncubatorBlockScience and the Token Engineering Commons are launching a grants program, inviting computational and data scientists to delve into the Web3 realm, not with preconceived notions but with empirical exploration. The Token Engineering Commons is a community of researchers and practitioners who design, develop and analyze systems built with web3 technologies according to the principles and ethics of the engineering discipline. They provided funding for this grant based on a community vote, in furtherance of maturing the web3 space by inviting outside, expert voices into the conversation. BlockScience is a complex systems engineering, R&D, and analytics firm. OpenTeams Incubator works to develop organizational infrastructure including coordination tools and funding for open source contributors. OpenTeams Incubator is providing the operational and technical infrastructure for this program in the form of the OSS grants platform.

Together, we recognize an extension of the ethos of open-source software to algorithmic policy making which includes but is not limited to social media feeds, group membership, project tracking, contribution measurement, compensation schemes and reputation systems. These systems are increasingly expected to be portable across platforms and in control of their users. So called “web2” systems tend to suffer from implicit feudalism and deplatforming risk but “web3” technologies are immature. They have poor user experience and all too often a non-expert is unable to discern good actors from bad ones. While we’re interested in the evolution of algorithmic policy-making in organizations large and small, irrespective of their technical stack, the public nature of the web3 space offers us an unprecedented opportunity to take an empirical approach.

An example of a simple computational science project that would fit the bill for this program is this computational analysis of the metaparameter sensitivity in an open source credit attribution algorithm called SourceCred using NumPy, Networkx and Jupyter notebooks. This program is an invitation to apply your expertise in scientific computing to explore the digital frontier where the open source ethos is applied not just to code but to technically mediated social and economic arrangements of many kinds. For more information about research in this area check out this panel reviewing several active scientific research streams.

We urge those proficient in data science and scientific computing software tools to take up this challenge. Formulate a hypothesis, prepare your methodologies, and contribute to the discourse with data-backed insights. Visit the grants program website to get started, learn more about the endeavor, and submit your proposals.

The labor for development and rollout of this grants program was donated by OpenTeams Incubator and BlockScience. Additional supporters include the Token Engineering Academy and Ocean Protocol — special thanks to Angela Kreitenweis and Trent McConaghy. The funding was provided by the Token Engineering community and is intended for grantees who are active in the Scientific Python community. For more information please follow the link to the grant program website.

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