Weekly Updates

Public Goods without Coercion

Public goods creation and maintenance are typically the domain of governments.

Public goods suffer from the free-rider problem, so we need an external entity to force us to pitch in toward their sustainability, right? 

So the taxes that fund public goods are reviled even as the public goods themselves are enjoyed by all. It seems like we’re stuck.

Cryptocurrency and blockchains may first be thought of as a defensive tool against power overreach for many, but for me, their most promising application is a proactive one: funding, creating, and maintaining public goods.

My favorite blog post, The Most Important Scarce Resource is Legitimacy by Vitalik Buterin, lays out the case better than I ever can, so I encourage you to go read it now even if you already have.

One of the most important attributes of the crypto space that’s not explicitly stated in Vitalik’s post, but is implied throughout, is its non-coercive nature. No one can force you to adopt a crypto protocol (and let’s hope it stays that way…).

Paradoxically, through this non-coercive market lies the potential to summon more public goods support to overcome the free-rider problem than ever before.

This is Vitalik’s call to action. We can demand more (i.e. supporting/funding public goods) from our crypto protocols, applications, and NFTs because their power is derived from the legitimacy that we the people bestow on them. 

We can establish prosocial expectations for the technology that we adopt. Builders can actually make credible commitments via trust-minimized code to meet those expectations.

This need not rely on the heroic efforts of altruistic builders either. Blockchains and smart contracts offer unparalleled global scalability and access. There’s often plenty of “margin” in web3 endeavors such that it can be a no-brainer strategic move to direct at least some of it toward public goods. 

Ultimately as we become more effective at allocating that funding toward high-impact causes (something crypto helps with as well!), enlightened self-interest will become the driving force for public goods funding rather than coercion. 



  • Uh yeah… The Merge happened and it went about as smoothly from a technical perspective as we could have hoped for. Thanks to all that put in countless hours to pull it off.
  • We are in the final hours of Gitcoin Grant Round 15. Donate to the Geo Web at  https://gitcoin.co/grants/1403/geo-web and tell your friends!
  • Vitalik with another banger blog post: DAOs are Not Corporations. Highly relevant to how we must think about the Geo Web’s governance.

On Deck

  • Documentation
  • Release a new testnet
  • Exploring partner use cases

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