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The Commons is about Non-Exclusivity by design

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
15th November 2013

Excerpted and adapted from Silke Helfrich:

“At 4’23 in the video I say (see below):

Commons are not the presence of non-exclusivity but the absence of exclusivity.

While Carolina Botero in her suscint keynote put it as follows (attributed to Dusollier):

Commons is not the absence of exclusivity but the presence of non-exclusivity – which is a slight but important difference – the plenitude of non-exclusivity


Well, one is not the opposite of the other, but “there is a slight but important difference”, even in strategic terms. Do we focus on fighting exclusivity or on designing for non-exclusivity?

Obviously, Carolina is right, and I messed it up ;-) , but I feel consoled because when explaining the sentence I get the correct message accross: The core idea of the commons is about defending the idea of non-exclusivity by designing institutions, spaces, projects and ways of production that cannot be occupied/controled by only one person. It is protecting the plenitude of non-exclusivity. In short: The Commons is about Non-Exclusivity by design.

Mike, many thanks for pointing me to this confusion.

If Remix the Commons would ask me again for a message to the commoners “here and now”, I’d say

Remember: The Commons means designing for, defending and protecting non-exclusivity.

Watch the video here:


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