Four Great Websites on the Knowledge Commons

In my constant effort to winnow timely and wise insight from the gushing cataract known as the Internet, I occasionally come across real gems. I thought it might be useful to showcase some of the commons-related sites that I have come to appreciate.

The Cooperation Commons is a fairly new website and blog, but it already has a wealth of great material and links of interest to commoners. The site, administered by Paul Hertzog and Mike Love, aims to “catalyze an interdisciplinary study of cooperation” to help solve social dilemmas. A “social dilemma,” as the site explains (paraphrasing UCLA sociologist Peter Kollock), “is a situation in which individual rationality leads to collective irrationality, or more simply put, what seems best for you isn’t best for the collective (including you).”

So the Cooperation Commons is dedicated to exploring how cooperation and institutions for collective action can address some of our most tenacious social problems. The site has amassed a number of excellent resources in that regard. Howard Rheingold of Smart Mobs fame has a set of slides outlining The Cooperation Project. There is also a wonderful bibliography of sources on cooperation, and a link to a great blog post by Irving Wladawsky-Berger of IBM on “The Economics and Social Foundations of Collaborative Innovation.” Interesting stuff.

Another terrific site in the same general neighborhood is Michel Bauwens’ Foundation for P2P Alternatives. Since peer-to-peer networking is a key template for the emerging economy and social life, the material on the site, I believe, holds a lot of clues about the future shape of things. The site has expanded its contents recently, and now consists of a blog, wiki, newsletter on P2P developments and an overview of participatory media developments. A lot of material to pore through, but it’s all nourishing and well-organized.

Finally, two other sites that speak intelligently about the knowledge commons.

Aram Sinnreich and Marissa Gluck, have started the RadarWaves blog as part of their new Los Angeles-based Radar Research consulting firm. Aram and Marissa wrote an essay about the dynamics of creativity in the music and fashion industries for the Ready to Share fashion conference held last year at the Norman Lear Center. They’ve got some keen commentary on breaking developments in media, technology, culture and commerce.

Another stalwart blogger prowling the ramparts of the knowledge commons is Peter Suber, over at Open Access News. Peter’s website has the latest, most comprehensive news on matters affecting open access publishing. An invaluable resource for keeping track of this rapidly changing field.