Towards a Knowledge Commons
As we enter 2022, I believe we are in a better position than ever to accomplish many great things as a society -- and this goes for many definitions of society, up to and including perhaps the most important, that as society as the group of all humans1. In particular I believe that we are entering a renaissance of the internet that will enable it to deliver on the promise of a distributed commons that stalled somewhat in the last fifteen years due to the success of anti disintermediation as effected by interested parties. But hopefully you won't have to take my belief at face value; let me try to show you why I think what I think.
Consider the potential of the commons as illustrated by Free, Fair and Alive and the work of Elinor Ostrom, taken in the spirit of a alternate timeline solarpunk Friedrich Engels: utopian socialism and the internet (seen through the lens of the theory of the commons) really go together at least as well as a horse and carriage. Engels came up with the carriage (the plan, the blueprint) but didn't have the horse to drive his vision effectively. This is my vision: the internet is the horse that can drive the revolution we need, the machine that Engels and Protopians before and after him were missing, and it is more than just machine, because it is endowed with higher consciousness.
But let me backtrack a bit. Let me tell you why I believe both us and the internet we've built are ready for this.
On distributed thought
We have lived with wikis for thirty years now, and wikipedia is clearly one of humanity's most important projects, but for some reason wikis aren't a big part of many people's lives; in some ways we haven't yet seen them come to fruition. As of the beginning of the 2020s, though, personal knowledge management systems like tiddlywiki, org mode, roam, logseq, obsidian, athens and the like have come to prominence.