We begin to make promises to others by having “a domain of our own”: It is a first step toward “standing by our words” in the digital realm. As [Wendell] Berry says, “We are speaking where we stand, and we shall stand afterwards in the presence of what we have said.” By taking back the responsibility of our words from the Headmasters, by ceasing to live on their bounty, we step away from the “merely provisional” uses of language and toward genuine accountability. We thereby make a small promise to the future, and take a step toward giving those who come after us cleaner earth to till. We may also wish them good weather — but that, too, largely depends on the promises we make, and our fidelity in keeping them.

Alan Jacobs, “Tending the Digital Commons: A Small Ethics toward the Future,” The Hedgehog Review (Spring 2018)

Via Matt Miller.