OnTheCommons.org | The Language of the Commons

OnTheCommons.org | The Language of the Commons

Paul Hartzog is guest blogging at OnTheCommons.org, and has written a post that lays out a language and a human-nature model that describes how sharing economies arise in digital environments, and then how non-digital sharing economies adapt and refactor the social norms to non-digital commons. Paul describes the progression of transactions as:

  • Giving (early tribal gift-cultures) leads to
  • Taking (atom-based economies) leads to
  • Transcription (downloading from providers) leads to
  • Sharing (providing for the commons).

Herein we note that Giving (which is essentially Other-centered behavior) gives way to Taking (essentially Self-centered behavior) which in turn gives way to Transcription (an attempted continuation of Self-centered behavior) and finally to Sharing (a return to Other-centered behavior as the problem of commons underprovision becomes salient).

And thus we close the loop between the two economies, the norms that are generated by sharing bits online, make their way back into the world of atoms, and increasingly we find communities of individuals, like Freecycle, giving atoms away offline to others in need. In addition we find increasing interest in global commons and transnational activism on their behalf. And finally, people become more interested in providing for the commons, than in hoarding for themselves.

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