The Tokenisation of the Commons

A talk from EMF 2022 by James Smith

On Saturday June 4, 2022 at in Stage B

Hundreds of years ago, people didn’t own land. Instead it was used by all, as a communal good. Then some bright spark decided that ownership was a better idea, and “enclosure” carved up the country with walls and fences, and solidified class divisions that persist to the modern day.

Now we’re seeing the same thing being tried on the Internet. Blockchains, crypto, and NFTs are trying to turn everything into something to be owned, attacking the very idea of the digital commons. And at the same time, they’re baking inequality into the system and unleashing a wave of hypercapitalist exploitation of the vulnerable.

Is this really what we want? How can we keep alive that utopian dream of an Internet that benefits everyone, fight back against digital enclosure, and send the con artists packing?