Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: Important new book from Hess and Ostrom

By Howard Rheingold, published at 10 May 2007 - 8:12pm, last updated 10 years 40 weeks ago.

David Bollier beat me to it with this post. He's one of the authors, so he deserves the honor. My copy of this important new book just arrived.

Two leading scholars on the commons, Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom, have just published a great anthology of essays, Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice (MIT Press). The book brings together some varied perspectives on knowledge as a “shared social-ecological system.” I highly recommend it.

The idea that knowledge is incubated and maintained through social communities is hardly revolutionary, of course. But the rise of the Internet has suddenly made it more imperative to understand the structure and norms of "knowledge communities," which can vary widely. This book helps sort through this variety with chapters on open access scholarly publishing (Peter Suber), research libraries (Wendy Pradt Lougee), science as a commons (James Boyle), open source software (Charles Schweik), preserving the knowledge commons (Donald J. Waters) and civic engagement and knowledge commons (Peter Levine), among others. I am pleased to be among this illustrious company with a chapter on “The Growth of the Commons Paradigm.”