natural commons meets creative commons

David Bollier asks: “can we have an environmentalism for the net without also pursuing an environmentalism for the environment?” Or more basically, is there a common usage of the term and assumptions around “the commons”? How transferrable is that concept?

Those of us who study the commons realize that there is a big distinction between information commons and natural resource commons. The former are generally non-depletable and increase in value as more people use them, while the latter can be “used up” and abused. And so we have settled into a discourse that regards these two classes of commons as entirely separate beasts. We cheer the rise of commons-based peer production in free software, Wikipedia and Flickr. But when it comes to the shared gifts of land, water, air and genes, many “online commoners” are more sanguine about letting the “free market” and corporate America manage things as they see fit.

He points out that we become so enthralled with the net, the “New Paradigm commons,” that we lose sight of the “depressingly familiar “Old Paradigm” corporate behavior.” Read the thought piece because it reminds us that in our search for the new online environmentalist tool, wiki or google bomb we can forget that our computers are creating mountains of toxic trash.

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