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Reading Tips
Introduction to the Commons

Even though the commons often involves natural assets, commoning is a process that is not always self-evident to people unversed in it. For this reason, we have put together some reading tips for you, almost all of them available via open access.
This is very much in the spirit of the commons, because unlike with scarce resources, the sharing of ideas and knowledge does not lead to scarcity.

If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples, then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.

George Bernard Shaw

The P2P Foundation is concerned with the social potential of peer-to-peer technologies. Its FAQ provides an overview of the most frequently asked questions about the commons and thus offers a useful way into the topic. The blog published by the commons economist David Bollier in turn reports on various commoning initiatives, providing examples from around the world.

Silke Helfrich has co-edited and co-authored several books on the commons. The Wealth of the Commons: A World beyond Market & State presents essays by over ninety authors from some thirty countries, questioning the classic assumptions underlying economic and commodity theory with a modern concept of the commons.

In Patterns of Commoning, edited by Silke Helfrich, David Bollier and the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the authors explore the anthropological foundations of the commons, while also presenting it as a concrete utopia. They paint a clear picture of how everything can be or can become part of the commons: through processes of shared responsibility, in laboratories of self-organisation, and through the liberating effects of solidarity.

Free, Fair and Alive: The Insurgent Power of the Commons, meanwhile, is designed to have an energising effect. It combines a suggestive intellectual approach with new ways of acting. Silke Helfrich and David Bollier have liberated traditional patterns of thinking and mapped out a programme for successful cooperation based on a different understanding of politics and a caring economy. Based on an eminently practical approach, houses and vehicles can be created in a similar way to Wikipedia. The book also encourages people to think like “commoners”. It offers a language for the world of the future, not only transforming economics and politics but also changing us.

The Commons Manifesto by Michel Bauwens, Vasilis Kostakis, and Alex Pazaitis foregrounds the role of peer-to-peer processes in the commons and seeks to develop a strategy tending in the direction of commoning production.

Finally, the book Commons in South East Europe: Case of Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Macedonia, published by the Institute for Political Ecology in Zagreb, uses nine case studies to illustrate the reception history of the commons in the Balkans.