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Understanding Commons

Commons are shared and collective resources, such as knowledge, open-source code, and freely accessible cultural assets.
Commoning describes the process of shared, self-organised production, acquisition and maintenance of commons.
What distinguishes commons from private and public goods?
  • Private goods are sold to consumers by commercial entities.
  • Public goods are regulated for citizens by state institutions.
  • Commons are produced and maintained to be used by all.

ElementS OF THE Commons

Commoning is defined by resourcecommunity and institution.
Ressource Icons made by srip from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY Resources are the commons themselves:

  • Information commons are knowledge, information, ideas, code.
  • Environmental commons are natural resources such as water, air, forests and biodiversity.
  • Urban commons are infrastructure and public space (“the right to the city”). 

Community Icons made by Good Ware from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY The community is the group of people who join together to produce, manage and maintain a resource on the basis of need-led and public-spirited values. 

Repeat Icons made by bqlqn www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY The institution regulates the relationship between resource and community. It oversees
the rules and norms adopted by the user community.

Practical Guidance

From the tragedy of the commons to the classical and critical theories, there is certainly no shortage of discussions about the term’s origins and empirical implications. Yet practical guidance is lacking. That is the gap that “How to Common” sets out to fill: We are working with civil society actors to develop practical guidance (a “Commoning 101”). The goal is to encourage the use of commoning practices in the development of formats and projects.

From schools to museums and libraries, from creative artists and activists to teachers and students – the commons open up knowledge and education formats to everyone. In the process, we discover that creating, working, learning and influencing can be a democratic, collaborative and public-spirited process.
Nutzung begrenzter Ressourcen: Regeln werden von Nutzer*innen gemeinsam festgelegt Icons made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY Collective process
How is the process organised?
  • Commoning formats are inclusive, cooperative and open to all.
  • Decision-making processes are horizontal, self-organised and consensus-led.
Nutzung unbegrenzter Ressourcen (z.B. Code, Ideen): Frei und Open Access Icons made by Pixel perfect from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY Sustainable use and fair access
How can we ensure fair and sustainable access to the resource/service/process?
  • Unlimited resources (e.g. code, ideas) are open to all (open access, open source, creative commons).
  • Rules for finite resources (e.g. water, fisheries) are defined in a collective process.
Es wird etwas geschaffen oder ein Prozess initiiert, der vormals privatisiert — also von profitorientierten Akteuren — organisiert war CC 3.0 BY Not for profit
How do we ensure benefit for the common good?
  • Prioritisation of need over profit.
  • Replacement of private profit-seeking with public-spirited creation/management of common good.
  • Cooperation is more important than individual utility maximisation.