Can Distributed Ledger Technology Digitally Unite Commoners

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* Article / lecture: Can Distributed Ledger Technology digitally unite commoners? By Author: Dan Diojdescu. ISCTE-IUL 2018


"The use of distributed ledger technology for the creation of Decentralized Collaborative Organizations opens up new opportunities for creation of digital ecosystems functioning as commons."


"In the paper ‘Collective action and the evolution of social norms’ (2000) Elionor Ostrom pointed out that face-to-face communication produces substantial increase in cooperation in collective action situations relating to public good. The permeation of digitization on all aspect of life made face-to-face communication increasingly scarce while digital interaction through digital platforms become all-pervading. Aside the dominant capitalistic GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon) there are also digital platforms that display characteristics or aim to function as commons. Some of these platforms have a distributed ledger architecture respectively, use blockchain technology. The blockchain technology ‘provides a technical solution (cryptographic consensus) to the problem of cooperation in joint or group production at scale while still maintaining the benefits of commons-type (i.e. polycentric) institutional governance.’ (Davidson et. all, 2016). This brings us to the question ‘Is the blockchain technology the solution for fostering cooperation on digital ecosystems that display characteristics or aim functioning as commons?’ For answering this questions two digital ecosystems that relate to the concept of commons have been mapped: ECSA (Economic Space Agency) and Metacurrency. Further on, projects that use blockchain technology/ DLT for social good and relate to the concept of commons and/or digital commons has been considered – e.g. Possible (time bank), ShareRing (sharing objects and services), Jouliette @ De Ceuvel micro grid optimization, etc.

Quantitative and qualitative data collection methods proposed for recognizing the profiles of main stakeholders are briefly presented. The results form mapping these digital ecosystems are benchmarked to Ostrom’s Design Principles of Long-Surviving, Self Organized Resource Regimes (2000) in the attempt of identifying if and how distributed ledger technology/blockchain can substitute or complement face-to-face communication and support cooperation in collective action situations on digital ecosystems functioning as commons."

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