Peer Production on the Crypto Commons

Version 1.0

Toward a Commons Based Economy

FOSS for Common Pool Resources

With the coordinated participation of a number of constituencies, blockchain FOSS can become the backbone of a powerful network that can transmit information and value globally in a way which is resistant to censorship, corruption, and subjugation.

Strong public blockchains are significant because they are robust, there is probably no way for an opposing force to stop these networks from functioning. This robustness stems from their decentralization, anyone can run a node anywhere, and for as long as there are at least a handful of these nodes, the blockchain will persist. For as long as the majority of nodes apply the consensus rules faithfully, the network will continue to function according to those rules. The question of how significant blockchains will be depends on how popular they are, but the concept and potential is here to stay, running and using them is now just one way to use the internet.

The blockchain network’s capacity to provide this service stems from the way it incentivizes block producers to follow the rules (as defined in the code but also the social contract)1 and act in the best interests of the network. For Bitcoin, it is the value of the rewards available to PoW miners (block subsidy and transaction fees) which secures the network. Greater rewards mean more honest hashpower competing for those rewards, making it more difficult to amass enough dishonest hashpower to successfully attack the network.

This section will consider distributed ledgers as common pool resources, applying the framework of Elinor Ostrom as presented in Governing the commons: The evolution of institutions for collective action2. Ostrom’s work is concerned with avoiding the tragedy of the commons, and she looks at how groups of people aim to do this in a variety of contexts, looking beyond conventional state and market approaches at successful management of real resources.


  1. Hasu. (2019, January 15). Unpacking Bitcoin’s Social Contract. Medium. [return]
  2. Ostrom, E. (1990). Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge University Press. [return]
Last updated on 10 Sep 2019
Published on 10 Sep 2019
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