A strong movement is forming around the idea of local, complementary or community inclusion currencies. The theory is that if we can create a container within which economic value can circulate, local groups can continue to create and exchange value regardless of the global economic climate. Why should a town or village suffer if some systemic vulnerability causes a downturn in global equity markets? Surely those individuals are still able to create the same value they could before a recession? Of course, defining a market and its boundaries is a subjective exercise. Boundaries only exist in our minds. They are still real, though, and defining meaningful boundaries allows us to study and understand the dynamics of systems internally, and within a broader multi-system tapestry. I say this while still acknowledging that ultimately all "systems" collapse into one system — the universe, in this moment. Still, drawing distinctions helps us understand patterns. The collapse of many of our cultural systems into one is more true today than ever before. We can now communicate globally in what is effectively realtime — information can move at the speed of light, and the economy is now truly a global one. This interconnectedness carries opportunities and risks in equal measure, and how we design our systems of value flow has great bearing on the safety, justice and equity of money — whether finance serves to enhance human flourishing or undermine it. Over the past decades, a rich range of experiments in implementing local currencies has naturally and organically emerged. Rarely are these projects initiated by central governments or banks — they typically are driven by local leaders seeking to enhance the flow economic value within a local community. These community initiatives have been classified as "local exchange traded systems (LETS)", and share common design patterns in their numerous implementations all around the world. As our digital systems have matured and information technologies have become ubiquitous, irrevocable tools underpinning human society in the 20th and 21st centuries, perhaps the most significant development has been the digitization of finance. Money is finally revealing its true nature: it is fundamentally an information technology. The value of a coin lies primarily in the stamp it possesses, rather than the actual gold it contains. This stamp is data, which carries information about its origin and legitimacy.4/2/2022
For the past few years we’ve been investigating what we see as a new galaxy in the Web3 universe, at the intersection of spatial data and consensus technologies. We've explored the boundaries of the design space researching, prototyping and building community. This is culminating in our work to build what we now see as the key primitives to underpin a new category of Web3 applications using spatial and location data. Our work at Astral is focused on promoting the evolution of an open, human-centered and composable location-based decentralized web. The opportunity space is pretty vast. We believe that the vision for the user-controlled internet is incomplete without peer-to-peer alternatives to services like Uber, Google Maps, Airbnb, Tinder, Craigslist, Amazon and others. Even more exciting is the opportunity to replicate the functionality required for systems of local taxation, voting, and physical security. Perhaps the most exciting of all is the notion that our systems of value exchange can be configured to promote the preservation of life and ecological health — the nascent "regenerative finance", or ReFi, movement, leveraging natural capital currencies and other tokenized natural assets. We've been finding that all of this is possible if we can reliably tie information about physical reality — where someone or something is, or measures of environmental conditions — to smart contracts, especially contracts capable of computational geometry. Rather than working at the application layer, at Astral we are designing open source tools, public goods intended to underpin this category to A: make building location-based dapps easier, B: create spatial data storage systems fit for web3 (i.e. verifiable, uncensorable, permissionless, etc). We believe that if the ecosystem can converge on using these tools and design patterns, the location-based decentralized web will exhibit similar emergent composability that we're witnessing in DeFi. So what does this specifically mean? We're developing verifiable spatial data registries, smart-contract based registries of vector or raster spatial data assets. Initially this was to store polygons representing geographic jurisdictions on chain, though we see use cases for points, lines, polyhedra and raster datasets as well. More here →10/14/2021
At Astral we’ve been exploring the use of spatial and location data technologies on the decentralized web for a few years now - researching, experimenting, prototyping, writing and community building. A number of early pioneers - FOAM, IBISA Network, Geo Web, Grassroots Economics, among several others - further validate our conclusion that a broad range of useful applications exist at the intersection of these two technology domains. Our work experimenting and prototyping, , ,  has led us to identify a few tools and standards that we think would dramatically lower barriers to entry for application developers hoping to build with location / spatial data. Our intuition is that if we can identify and build versatile tools, devs will be able to build and innovate more quickly. A powerful second order effect of the adoption of shared tools and standards: the location-based decentralized web could develop the same properties of seamless composability that are emerging in DeFi. Specifically, we’ve discovered that many location-based dapps have a need for what we’re calling verifiable spatial data registries. A verifiable spatial data registry is simply a smart contract that contains a registry of spatial data objects, such as vector features (i.e. points, lines, polygons or polyhedrons), or raster spatiotemporal assets (i.e. satellite images, LIDAR scans, etc.) Different applications will require spatial data registries with various different properties and functionality. We’ve been exploring this design space, and intend to develop and publish verifiable spatial data registries that fulfill commonly-seen requirements. We suspect that there may be a strong case to adopt an ERC standard for these verifiable spatial data registries, so that secure contracts can be developed and so interoperable tooling can mature. So what does this really mean? It probably will help to illustrate with examples and use cases, categorized into vector and raster data.10/11/2021
Project Name The Astral Protocol Project Description What are you working on? What does success look like for your project? (2-3 short paragraphs) At Astral we are building tools to underpin the location-based decentralized web. We’ve been exploring the opportunity space for some time - we’ve prototyped a number of diverse dapps and protocols that use spatial and location data. For example, we designed the Hyperaware Protocol, a spatial governance protocol for connected devices, and built a prototype implementation to create a trust minimized, decentralized system of congestion zones. We also prototyped a spatial finance application that ties a smart contract to measurements of air quality in a particular geographic area. We have experimented building a location-aware wallet that could support local currencies.6/23/2021
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