Commons and Wealth

I spent lunch today at a talk by David Bollier focusing on how to govern (or manage // semantics) the digital commons. His premise, more or less, is:

  1. There now exists a digital commons not that different from the commons from way back when. Whereas villagers once benefited from a shared space for, say, sheep grazing, Internet users now benefit from shared code and media (among other things).
  2. Commons have to be maintained and protected (see “tragedy of the commons”). What Bollier was interested in was less the shared space and more the norms and relationships that allowed users of the commons to protect it and not abuse it.
  3. After giving numerous examples of how people did so for the regular commons, how do we do so for the digital commons?

Just goes to show that few things are new — we’re just changing the scale and tweaking the metaphors is all.

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