Great article. I wrote my Ph.D. around Ostrom’s theory, and since I fell down the rabbit hole with blockchain I’ve been thinking about how to apply Ostrom’s paradigm to it. I haven’t published anything yet, but IMHO we need to clarify concepts first, including the word governance.

For Ostrom, governance is about the political economy: how a society manage scarce resources. For a blockchain developer, governance is simply how to manage computational power throughout a decentralized network of servers to preserve the ledger security and integrity. Given the different uses of the word “governance” here, we should first close the gap and understand how a blockchain could be used for governance, as understood by Ostrom. My understanding is that the blockchain could be used as a system of resources (as explained by Ostrom) to digitize the management of commons.

The second point is that the more I think about the topic, the more I’m convinced that if we want to apply the blockchain for the commons, we should understand that the governance rules set by the participants should inform the tech design of the blockchain, and not the opposite way. For instance, the first design principle says that you should restrict the access to Commons to its participants. This excludes an open network where everybody can join in. Another example: participants should be able to modify or amend the rules and sanctions. This principle means that the blockchain should be forked, or self-amended (like Tezos). We could speak further about the topic, but the most important point IMO is that we have a HUGE opportunity to change the way the Internet works applying Ellinor’s work to the blockchain, designing networks that can actually transmit value in a decentralized way, breaking down the Internet monopolies we suffer right now.