25 March 2006

The Commonality of the Commons

Everywhere I go these days, I seem to come across the commons. The Creative Commons is the best known, but the term refers to anything held in common for the benefit of all. A site I've just come across, called On the Commons, puts it well, stressing the concomitant need to conserve the commons for the benefit of future generations:

The commons is a new way to express a very old idea — that some forms of wealth belong to all of us, and that these community resources must be actively protected and managed for the good of all. The commons are the things that we inherit and create jointly, and that will (hopefully) last for generations to come. The commons consists of gifts of nature such as air, water, the oceans, wildlife and wilderness, and shared “assets” like the Internet, the airwaves used for broadcasting, and public lands. The commons also includes our shared social creations: libraries, parks, public spaces as well as scientific research, creative works and public knowledge that have accumulated over centuries.

It's also put together a free report that spells out in more detail the various kinds of commons that exist: the atmosphere, the airwaves, water, culture, science and even quiet.

What's fascinating for me is how well this maps onto the intertwined themes of this blog and my interests in general, from open content, open access and open spectrum to broader environmental issues. The recognition that there is a commonality between different kinds of commons seems to be another idea that is beginning to spread.

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