New Kind of Commons: The Land Weaving Society

aerial photo of land

You might know the expression among software developers: “Code is Law.” It is a trueism about the abilities and limitations that the users of the software become bound to. And I see a world where this becomes quite literally true in the larger social context as we build new digital commons and distributed autonomous organizations where our agreements, and processes for sharing and accessing resources are quite literally encoded in the digital tools we use to share them and gain access to them.

I’d like to share a bit about a vision for a Land Weaving Society as an example of these patterns and processes – a way to shift land access and use, by voluntary participation in a commons where owners “share” their land (or house, or buildings) with other members for various uses like hiking, camping, farming, firewood collection, fruit harvesting, etc.

When the owner shares, they can set conditions like: “to farm on my land, you must have a Permaculture Certifications.” We would build and launch the supporting technical infrastructure on Ceptr so it is completely decentralized. Access would be mediated by various types of identification, validation and reputation currencies instead of by money. My “lens” (view of the resources in the network) would be filtered to those I actually have access to based on my certifications, reputation and relationships.

This allows the commons to operate within the current law (owners granting terms of access) but to overlay whole new patterns of “code as law” which are managed and logged by software and where identity is mapped to RFID cards or smartphones. If you don’t meet the criteria, you don’t have access. If you cheat (fake your identity, break rules, etc.) you lose access to the whole network.

I see this new kind of commons - one with membranes and formalizations embodied in and enabled by technology - providing access to massive amounts of idle wealth. Gardening in other’s urban/suburban yards, hiking on other’s trails, camping in other’s woods, etc, etc.

A smartphone app can be used to sign in and out of properties, provide instructions (where camping/hiking/gardening is allowed), take before and after photos, identify members to each other (as well as their “qualifications” for access, and provide feedback about facilities and users of facilities.

We could allow members to add information for public land, trails and campgrounds, and possibly even service contracts with county/state/federal land and park management departments for managing access to campgrounds, trails and other facilities.

We would need to develop some immunities to litigious behaviors. Members may need to sign some kind of limitation of liability agreements and/or be able to access some kind of insurance about the use of their land and facilities.

Instead of a countryside littered with “No Trespassing” signs, we could have “Enter Here” signs with sign-in stations for a new connected commons.

This pattern of sharing access can create many new kinds of commons… when the tools are ready that make this easy and practical.