If everyone is coordinating with everyone else freely and you are part of that coordination loop, then the overall outcome is better than "everyone for themselves," even though every individual step might be harmful when taken in isolation. But what about cases where someone is being coerced, bribed, or cheated into coming inside the coordination circle – how does that change things? In the context of NFTs and tokenized communities, does collusion and coercion - which are becoming more and more common as forms of coordination - end up helping or hindering a community's ability to grow, thrive and succeed?
"Coordination Dynamics" is a category of thinking that explores how blockchain dynamics, which can be collusive and coercive almost by default, are changing existing coordination paradigms across different industries, but there's also room to think about how those forces harm blockchain communities themselves, alienate community members and tear apart the fabric of those communities by creating a negative feedback loop as participants scramble to position themselves as market shapers and community leaders at the expense of community interests. In short, there's a danger that by taking advantage of what the blockchain allows us to do – which is essentially coordinating with everyone – we end up coordinating against our own missions.
If a substantial percentage of people coordinate for their own benefit at the expense of a smaller set of outsiders, then it will be possible for those outsiders to ignore those inside and receive equivalent benefits. Under this form of partial coordination; it's an outcome where some group comes together and conspires to use its power for its own benefit at the expense of other people instead of improving the world as a whole.
It's not entirely likely that everyone can coordinate with each other perfectly to achieve their goals at the expense of some small set of outsiders. So let's ask the question again, only this time without perfect coordination: what is the maximum percentage of people that can come together without regretting having done so?
If they coordinate on their own benefit at the expense of outsiders, then it's also good for them individually in that case. However, if their coordination is achieved through coercion, bribery, or cheating, they won't be able to do the same thing again the next time because this would be noticed, and actions will be taken against them in response.
The solution is to do something that might be harmful to them as individuals, but which they will not regret having done because it's even worse if they don't: instead of coordinating for their selfish benefit at the expense of some other group, they coordinate on their own detriment and reduce everyone else's welfare to make sure that no one cheats or tries to exploit the system.
How does this look in a concrete example? In political science, it's been known for a long time that there is something called the median voter theorem, which says that if you have several groups competing for influence, and you vote on policies independently without coordination, then whatever policy ends up being favored by a majority of the population will not be favored by every individual who participates in the process, even though they vote as a group. In other words, once you have enough people voting for their own interests, you will reach a point where the majority are satisfied, only if individuals are dissatisfied.
The result is that everyone ends up voting for what's good for them individually, but nobody has to regret having done so because it's also suitable for everyone else, regardless of whether those individual ideas and preferences are fully met.
"Collusion" emerges naturally as the form of coordination that produces a result regardless of the majority interest, in favor of individual interest, as a result of fabricated market or political movements that are intended to create one controlled result.
There can still be competition between different groups for influence within the system; under perfect coordination, this wouldn't be possible, but under collusion, it's just one of many possibilities.
The difference between collusion and coordination is that you have to consider how much of what you're paying goes toward paying everyone else's salaries or purchasing/maintaining physical equipment in the latter case. To do collusion correctly -- i.e., so that it benefits both parties -- costs must be shared between them to figure out how much each party would be willing to pay or accept.
The costs of collision are similar to the benefits in that they're both shared among everyone who participates; however, it's important not to confuse them with each other because even if they're expressed in terms of money (or any other common currency), the cost of doing something doesn't have to be the same as what you get out of it.
In fact, in a perfect collusion system, "costs" and "benefits" become almost indistinguishable from each other because they're internalized within a single common currency that everyone agrees on: control.
In a collusion system, people don't really "choose" to do something because they're not acting independently from one another; instead, they spend their time/effort in a coordinated effort that has been fabricated, and what happens, as a result, has little to do with their needs. The result is that your contribution to the system is now separate from what you actually get out of it, which means that people no longer have any reason not to contribute as much as they can.
In terms of an NFT project, this means that a community is no longer moving towards a shared goal, so much as being herded, and self-interest is getting turned into something so dangerous that it has to be forcibly suppressed. This isn't the way to do things, which means that NFT projects can face a crisis of leadership where everyone's being told what to do because people have no idea how to actually continue on with these systems.
The difference between collusion and coordination is that collusion is a form of control that obfuscates the fact that people are being controlled, but it still requires a certain degree of coordination to work properly. Coordination, by contrast, requires no such obfuscation because you're just coordinating activities without any pretense of being able to control anyone's activity other than your own.
The result is that a community can't just "focus their energy" at something, because this assumes that everyone participating will have the ability to ignore what they're being told to focus on and instead choose what to actually do themselves -- which isn't possible under collusion.
Ideally, we need to find a way to remove collusive and coercive forces within communities if we are going to find a way to reach an organically positive consensus, and without that, it's going to be extremely difficult to move forward.