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Analyzing the Internet as a Common Pool Resource: The Problem of Network Congestion

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Bernbom, Gerald
Conference: Constituting the Commons: Crafting Sustainable Commons in the New Millennium, the Eighth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Conf. Date: May 31-June 4
Date: 2000
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1168
Sector: Information & Knowledge
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources--technology
information technology
collective choice
new commons
Abstract: "The term 'Internet' is used broadly to describe a global collection of multiple, inter-related resource facilities, each of which may be analyzed as a common pool resource (CPR). The Internet is comprised of a physical network infrastructure (network commons), a vast and distributed collection of information resources (information commons) that are accessible using this infrastructure, and a global communications forum (social commons) that is created and supported by the Internet. "This paper focuses on the physical network infrastructure and ways in which this aspect of the Internet functions and is managed as a commons, with particular attention to the CPR problem of overuse and network congestion. The paper discusses the major variables that influence problems of Internet appropriation and provision: the physical world, including the design principles and technical facilities of the Internet; the individuals involved, specifically the actors and the roles they play in provisioning, appropriation, and use of network resources; and the rules in use that govern the operation of the Internet, with primary attention given to network protocols as universal, mutually agreed to mechanisms that govern (among other things) the appropriation and use of network resources. The paper discusses the CPR problem of network congestion, with particular attention given to the technical facilities used to measure network use and determine conditions of congestion, and presents various ways of responding to overuse and network congestion, in three broad categories: (i) increased provisioning, (ii) restricting access, and (iii) innovation, by changing the rules of appropriation."

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