Tech trees can be useful for mapping the sequence of technologies required in order to achieve an overarching goal, such as increasing human longevity. Doing this can help set a roadmap & coordinate the different teams & organizations working towards that goal. A simple map of a tech tree can therefore be immensely useful, however, it also has limitations & challenges:

  1. The tech tree needs to be kept up to date
  2. Users need a way to deep dive into the technologies & discover the work already being done in more detail
  3. Users need a way to collaborate with the various other teams & people working on the other technology nodes in order to progress down the tech tree

Instead of a tool to create a tech tree itself, our approach focuses on the collaboration & progress-tracking infrastructure for the teams working towards a shared goal, where the tech tree map forms as a by-product of the detail-rich environment below. We want to build the virtual city & neighborhoods that are dedicated to coordinating the work of achieving important goals, with the bird’s eye view of the city creating a 2D tech tree map, analogous to the map of a physical city. The benefits for this approach are:

  1. The map is kept up-to-date, because the underlying city is actively used for collaboration & progress tracking
  2. You achieve a powerful way to dive into technologies, by essentially switching from the Map View to Street View (wandering inside a city is an excellent way for discovering places of interest inside it) & entering the buildings of different teams working on technologies
  3. The collaborating teams can collectively decide on the layout of the tech tree, & continue to evolve it as the technologies progress

Obviously this is a much bigger problem & scope than building tech trees alone, but we think it can be powerful.

What it does

Our tool is a single-purpose digital world organized into cities, neighborhoods, and streets, dedicated to important goals. We provide two views of this world:

  1. Map view (fly mode), that provides the tech tree map perspective
  2. Street view (walk mode), that allows you to discover teams & projects, and learn more about them

The layout of the neighborhood reflects the roadmap (tech tree) for achieving some important goal. Currently, anyone can control the layout, but we plan to enable ways for the members of each neighborhood to decide together on the layout. Neighborhoods are composed of streets (tech tree tiers), lots (technologies) & buildings (projects/teams/organizations working on a technology). There are two types of buildings in our world, which help keep the map up to date:

  1. Buildings for teams/organizations that use our tool to manage, collaborate & track their progress
  2. Buildings for external teams/organizations that don’t use our tool, but that our tool will automatically track (e.g., by collecting tweets & publications, and displaying them to reflect their status & progress)

How we built it

To build our project, we implemented a single-purpose digital world, that can be used to facilitate the collaboration & progress tracking of teams working on a shared goal. In order to provide a tech tree map from this world, we've added the following features:

  1. Fly mode, providing the map view (at two different heights)
  2. Roads, conveying relationships between buildings
  3. Lots, providing a way to group buildings

Our open-source project is based on a simple protocol for representing a nested spatial environment, & the objects & people inside it. It uses a chat interface for running commands, in a way that can be leveraged for providing bots that assist users & automate different behaviors. The app itself consists of a server that stores & serves the content of the world, & a client desktop app for users to access it.

Challenges & accomplishments

We only learned about the competition during ethDenver, so didn’t have much time to work on it. The UI is currently very primitive, but we've got a clear path for making it much more friendly (see in the project media files).

What's next for fromTeal

We are going to next use our project for mapping several important goals which many people & teams would like to work on. We’ll be building these tech trees by modeling the layout of neighborhoods, streets & lots, that represent the sequence of technologies for achieving these goals. We’ll then be adding buildings for the teams & projects working on components of these problems. We plan to help these teams manage themselves and their progress, and see how we can help people work on the problems they care about. Our underlying belief is that there’s no limit to what a team driven by shared purpose can achieve, as long as they have full freedom in how they work (much like a hackathon team; we’re inspired by the Teal Organizations movement). We are also planning to leverage Web3 technology, in order to facilitate the collective decision making on the layout of neighborhoods, as well as the internal decision making, shared ownership & funding of the teams working on solving problems.

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