Guest Post from Marina Nething: FEED ME! Welcome to Friends of HEK DAO

Marina Nething of Museum Ulm (DE) reflects on the first months of HEK’s blockchain-based extended circle of friends, Friends of HEK.

So, I’m a DAO member now! And what should I say: I am hungry, hungry for more. Friends of HEK came to life this August with a promise: a new era of inclusivity! Token-holders will have the opportunity to actively participate in the decision-making process of the institution and benefit from special offers like an exclusive Discord access, artist talks, open calls and curation on Sounds good, doesn’t it? For HEK fans, the web3 curious or digital art enthusiasts it definitely does.

As project manager of (digital platform for swarm curation) for Museum Ulm, I have the possibility to learn and experiment around web3 for some time now. Not many institutions can provide resources to deal with this or other digital topics holding chances for museums and the potential to change society. Public funding is needed for experimentation and knowledge transfer on blockchain technology. With its DAO project, HEK acts once again as beacon: the first museum to offer tokenized membership and launching a very own Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO).

Screenshot of Friends of HEK website.

That maybe needs some more explanation before getting into details on Friends of HEK. A DAO is a blockchain-based organization by shareholders with common purpose but without hierarchical management. Shares are mostly managed through tokens and democratic voting is ensured through protocols that are fixed and transparent. Everybody can participate by buying tokens with crypto currency. In other words: friends with wallets. DAO members decide together on the governance and coordination of the project and on activities. They often also manage a common treasury and decide on financial resources, but not in this case. Instead, Friends of HEK is offering many other things to decide on or participate in.

“Become a Friends of HEK DAO member” feels like an invitation on a very special journey: set up a crypto wallet if you don’t have one, change some money into crypto, buy a token and follow us to a new token gated universe on the other side – the travel guide always by your side. Step by step instructions on the website, support in many different ways, onboarding sessions, an extensive online handbook and even a crypto-free way to participate in the DAO (the only thing one really has to have is a Discord account), HEK tries hard to leave no one behind.

What awaits fresh DAO members on the other side are exclusive “Friends of HEK Discord channels” on the public “World of HEK Discord server”. Channels for introductions of the members, for feedback and requests, news, events, discussions, submissions and votings. And since I entered them, I have this constant feeling of craving for more and FOMO at the same time. So far, the DAO submitted and decided on the first project: the face of this year’s membership token, the NFT all members are holding in their wallets. Great exclusive events took place (like artists talks with Jonas Lund and Auriea Harvey) and sometimes discussions on arts or web3 are coming up.

Screenshot of artist talk with Auriea Harvey on Friends of HEK Discord.

Personally, I did not experience any technological problems, there was a lot of explanation and the handover from one tool to the other went smoothly. That was part of the fun and very well done by HEK. But as much as I enjoy the activities and new technical experiences so far, I am always wondering about my next bite…and the spirit of DAOs in general. If it’s not for invest and profit, but for community and exchange, how can this be achieved? How to become friends on Discord?

My excitement, when the first rumors of a HEK DAO came up, turned into admiration for the HEK stuff and its efforts to feed me plus a hundred other DAO members and to manage such a heterogeneous community. The first questions and discussions showed a wide range from experienced purists to playful newbies with different expectations and activity levels. Getting them to interact goes beyond the museum’s usual work and certainly is one challenge of this blockchain experiment.

The transparency and documentation of everything happening in a DAO is something very impressive. Your voice really matters. At the same time, no hiding and no forgetting can be intimidating. So the #ephemeral channel on Discord is a great idea that got even better by a member’s proposal to extend the visibility of posts to 24 hours “to allow for time differences, and life in general”. The DAO members can also vote on starting times for exclusive events and much more. These are only two beautiful examples on how this community is developing and shaping itself. In that very moment, each DAO member can submit one artist proposal for a solo-show in HEK’s virtual exhibition space.

It only just began. May I suggest to invest 0.04 ETH (60 CHF) in a tokenized membership and join in the journey? I am sure you will be inspired and learn something new as a member of Friends of HEK DAO (FoH DAO). If blockchain etc. is absolutely new to you there is no better way for your first steps than taking HEK’s hand and follow to the token gated universe on the other side. They have cookies, they will feed you.

Marina Nething Museum Ulm (DE)