The Virtual CPR: The Internet as a Local and Global Common Pool Resource

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"This paper outlines a new research agenda to study the Internet as an intricate and complex common pool resource, both on the local and global level. It identifies four different and, at times, overlapping types of commons within the Internet, each of with have distinctive properties and require different institutional arrangements: a social commons, an information commons, a budget commons and a technical infrastructure commons. Several conditions are contributing to the growing competition for this resource: every member is able to be an information provider (publisher); the number of users is rapidly increasing; many newcomers do not know or understand the rules; there is increasing competition for supporting funds of new information technologies; the technical infrastructure is not growing at the same pace as the growth in use; the introduction of resource-demanding applications (like the graphic images and hypertext linkages of the World Wide Wed) is growing rapidly; and there is poor communication and ill-defined roles among network operators, corporate owners, governing bodies and the different types of users. Indeed, the rise of these dilemmas illustrates the need for closer examination of the connections between the physical arrangements, the community of users, and the rules in use which contribute to the issues of speed and access. By studying the Internet as a common pool resource, it may be possible to understand the problems more clearly in order to arrive at sustainable solutions."
internet, common pool resources, global commons