The Augmented Commons: How Augmented Reality Aids Agile Self-Organization

16 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2017 Last revised: 23 Feb 2018

See all articles by Abigail Devereaux

Abigail Devereaux

Wichita State University, Department of Economics

Date Written: April 21, 2017


Augmented reality (AR) is a real-time, interactive user experience that inserts virtual computer-generated elements into a user’s environment. AR technology utilizes the Internet of Things (IoT) to enable smart devices to capture and identify “scenes” as a user moves through her world, generate contextually relevant holograms, sound, and other sensory inputs, then project those virtual elements through the user’s display. AR technology is coordinative in that it assists in economic calculation, aids in tracking usage, and helps agents overcome some kinds of information asymmetries. We provide examples from existing AR applications and conceptualize how AR strengthens self-organization and enables polycentric loci of private governance to emerge, what we call agile self-organization. Examples include information-enhancing overlays, automatic language translation, individualizing and privatizing the provision of personal and worker safety, reducing emergency response times, and enriching education with overlays and holograms. We conclude that AR technologies could erode traditional policy rationales for intervention and allow private governance to take hold and flourish in situations where it has traditionally had difficulty doing so.

Keywords: augmented reality, private governance, polycentrism, public goods, self-organization

JEL Classification: O33, O35, H41, H11

Suggested Citation

Devereaux, Abigail, The Augmented Commons: How Augmented Reality Aids Agile Self-Organization (April 21, 2017). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 17-45, Available at SSRN: or

Abigail Devereaux (Contact Author)

Wichita State University, Department of Economics ( email )

1845 Fairmount St
Wichita, KS 67260
United States


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