Geo Web: Week 1 Apollo Updates
Thinking long term...
The Geo Web is an open information network primarily navigated with user geolocation. On the Geo Web, smart devices resolve geo-anchored digital content through lookups of an authoritative “digital land” registry (think DNS or ENS, but with land parcels instead of domain names). The registry is administered with a Harberger Tax system.
The Geo Web offers a unique user experience built for the next generation of smart devices (e.g., smart glasses) that URLs, siloed apps, and centralized app stores can’t deliver. It can create a metaverse-like augmentation layer that spans the globe.
We aspire for the Geo Web to grow into public good internet infrastructure on par with the World Wide Web. So after completing a prototype demo as a part of the HackFS Hackathon, the Geo Web team decided to take a step back to think, architect, and build for the long-term as part of the Apollo program.
In Apollo, we plan to focus on developing our core infrastructure components (Digital Land Registry, Harberger Tax Contract, & Administrative “Cadastre” UI): making them scalable & efficient with sound economic mechanism design.
Apollo Week 1
Our team spent all of our time this week reading, researching, and discussing architecture, network incentives, and go-to-market rather than taking on any development. Highlights below.
For our MVP, we knew that we needed a solution that enabled enforceable uniqueness (parcels can’t overlap), different parcel shapes/sizes, and smart contract storage/transaction efficiency.
We landed on an approach this week that uses a global, fixed-size geohash grid to represent land in our MVP. Digital land parcels will be defined as one or more unique, contiguous geohashes rolled-up into an NFT. This will enable Geo Web users to claim, combine, split, and pay Harberger taxes on land parcels of all shapes and sizes while enabling efficient validation of uniqueness in a smart contract. We will experiment with the size of the grid (balancing desirable granularity with data storage/transaction requirements) during development.
Incentives & Outcomes
Harberger taxes are the centerpiece of our economic mechanism design. We believe the dynamic market allocation of our scarce digital land parcels will lead to greater aggregate utility and more egalitarian network economics.
The tax system means landowners need to economically justify their landownership continuously. If someone else with greater economic interest comes along, she/he can force a sale. This system helps optimize for magnitude of economic interest, but not the positive/negative nature of that interest.
We aspire for the Geo Web to be prosocial technology with positive sum interactions between user and publisher. The attention economy, cyberattacks, and adversarial interactions are all commonplace attributes of the World Wide Web for which we hope to implement mechanisms to disadvantage. The Geo Web is intended as an always-on web experience, so it’s easy to imagine dystopian futures if the right measures aren’t put in place.
We won’t implement filtering, blocking, or censoring at the registry/infrastructure level, but are thinking through mechanisms that empower Geo Web users to successfully control their own experiences, data, and security (“the right to free speech, but not to be heard”). Allowing users to filter content based on multiple dimensions at the browser level can help decrease the magnitude of “negative” economic interests (thereby disadvantaging them in the Harberger system):
Identity - Is the landowner identity linked to any other validated accounts? Can there be responsible friction/cost associated to new identity creation?
Reputation - Is there any evidence of this person’s or content’s trustworthiness? Can this be determined and maintained by the user base?
Content Type Categories - What is the nature of the content? Is it “AR architecture” that blends in with the physical world? Is it content that requires interaction from the user? Is it a third-party ad placed in a public park?
Landowner - Is the digital landowner also the physical landowner or tenant? Or a third-party trying to monetize the digital space?
We think the Geo Web is awesome and everyone in the world should too, but we acknowledge some bias there…
Harberger taxes will play an essential role in building and maintaining the utility of the network (i.e., landownership must be continuously economically justified), but they also reduce a major incentive that often drives early distributed network adoption—speculation. Absent a pure speculation play for early adopters, we need to enable unique and valuable use cases to help drive adoption.
We hope that the open nature of the Geo Web will inspire others to build unimaginable use cases on top of the registry now and into the future, but to get started we’ll develop a few simple, fixed experiences to pique interest. Here are a few MVP use cases we’re exploring:
Weather: Similar to land coloring, but with landowner votes aggregated to create localized “weather” conditions
Collecting NFTs: Pokemon Go-like scavenger hunts
Cadastre Portal: Using Geo Web land parcels to link to digital meeting places and social experiences like chatrooms, Airmeets, VR “wormholes”, etc.
What do you think? Do you have your own application ideas for the Geo Web? We’d love your feedback!
Apollo Week 2 Preview
We’re looking forward to more R&D, idea validation, and a bit of MVP development!