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Establishing Rules and Conventions for the Infrastructure: The Tragedy of the Unmanaged Commons as a Determinate Factor

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Reilly, Rob; Kort, Barry
Date: 2001
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4068
Sector: Information & Knowledge
Subject(s): Internet
social behavior
tragedy of the commons
Hardin, Garrett
Abstract: "As computer networks become the media through which more and more public discourse takes place, the ways in which that discourse is socially organized becomes more consequential. It would seem prudent to consider addressing the issues of social interaction and social behavior on the network based upon the concept of Hardin's tragedy of the commons in which he described a group of herders having open access to a common parcel of land known as the Common (or town common) on which they could let their cows graze. It is in each herders interest to put as many cows as possible onto the common, even if the common is damaged as a result. The herder receives all the benefits from the additional cows and the entire group shares the damage to the common. Yet if all herders make this individually reasonable decision the commons is destroyed and all will suffer. Hardins model when coupled with a foundational understanding of the structure, function, and purpose of any online electronic mechanism will prove to be a powerful model by which to establish rules and conventions for the infrastructure."

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