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Is There Anything New Under the Sun? A Discussion and Survey of Studies on New Commons and the Internet

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Hess, Charlotte
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: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/384
Sector: Information & Knowledge
New Commons
Region:
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources--literature review
new commons
information technology
Internet
research--methodology
Workshop
Abstract: "This paper surveys the literature of 'new commons,' the Internet and other new CPRs. It examines newly-identified CPRs in the context of the traditional literature and suggests appropriate areas for further research. One of the striking observations is a remarkable growth in the use of the word 'commons' applied to the Internet in the popular and even scientific literature. "Prior to 1968 most references to 'commons' were to the common fields of former European systems and their enclosure. In the US, reference was usually to public spaces for town meetings or a campus common eating area. Until Hardin coined his metaphor, 'Tragedy of the Commons,' the commons as a pessimistic social dilemma was used but infrequently applied (Scott, Gordon, and the obscure Lloyd). The establishment of the CPR network in the early 80s (and the subsequent foundation of IASCP) brought together an international group of scholars whose research was demonstrating the contrary conclusion: that CPR systems could be quite successful and long-enduring. Recently, in the information and technology disciplines, the term 'commons' has become a buzzword for ideas of freedom of speech, free exchange of information, public access etc. "Since the 1995 IASCP conference 'Reinventing the Commons' there has been a more widely spread acknowledgment that new commons are occurring everyday and that there needs to be further research in this area. This paper argues that new commons, such as the Internet, need to be the foci of much further study, subject to careful examination with clear definitions, with specified boundaries and users."

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