posted Aug 08, 2000

The Cornucopia of the Commons Technology & Sociology8/8/2000; 4:11:31 PM 'What we see here is that increasing the value of the database by adding more information is a natural by-product of using the tool for your own benefit. No altruistic sharing motives need be present, especially since sharing is the default.'The only thing I'd take issue with is the title of the article... if you increase the value of something by using it, then by definition, it isn't a common. One of the distinctive properties of the commons is that nearly any use inevitably degrades it. (The other importent ones are anyone can use it (which lowers the value of the commons) and there are no strong constraints on use.)What happens under those circumstances approaches mathematical certainty. One wonders if something is a commons, in which case we know it will have the property of degenerating with heavy use, rather then labelling something a commons just because it seems like a 'common' resource, in which case we know nothing about it.This is much the same reason I don't like people to use metaphors when discussing things on the internet; it reverses the order of business. First you determine the interesting properties about A, then you go looking for other things (B, C, D) with those properties and try to draw conclusions about the future of A. You don't go looking for things that just look like A, and then draw conclusions about the properties of A based on that superficial relationship. It's backwards.But it is a good title, isn't it?


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