Putting information in the commons doesn’t make sharing happen so much as formally recognize that it’s been happening all along, and encourage others to improve on it.
We live in an age of spam, hacks, and fake news, plus the news tends to quite bad when it is accurate. The commons can’t fix all that, but it can serve as a counter-example.
All these awful things are meant to exploit us. The commons, on the other hand, is there to help. People contribute to the digital commons with no expectation of direct compensation, which is to say that they are acting on the highest aspects of human nature, not the lowest. Rather than misinformation, they give us useful information.
To understand why, consider the open-source model (which is an example of a digital commons): coders’ ideas are discussed and tested, and eventually implemented. Everyone can offer ideas, but only the best are accepted. And then everyone can offer ideas for the next round of improvement. The rest of the digital commons works the same way.
After all, extremely few ideas are entirely new. Essentially everything builds on earlier successes. Putting information in the commons doesn’t make sharing happen so much as formally recognize that it’s been happening all along, and encourage others to improve on it.
That’s the key. When we work together, things get better. It’s a positive feedback loop. And the best part of all is that it’s already begun.
This is my last post for this year. I wish you all happy holidays, and may 2017 be a damn sight better than 2016.