Some Interesting Commons on the Web

I am constantly tripping across a delightful array of websites about the commons. What follows is a sampling of some of the more interesting ones.

[inline:01] The Tapestry of the Commons, a project of the Alliance for Democracy, gathers together a number of interactive tools and documents about the commons. One part of the project involves the weaving of colorful ribbons into a tapestry as a way to stimulate discussions about the interconnections that a commons entails. As the site explains:

Satin ribbons representing Nature’s Gifts to all her creations — Sky, Land, Water, Animals — interweave with the gifts of our ancestors, our Cultural Heritage, to form an interdependent Tapestry of the Commons. Together we weave the tapestry, together we remember the gifts of the commons, and together we unweave the ribbons as we assess the current state of our common wealth.

On another front, the Vermont Commons is “dedicated to the proposition that Vermonters should peaceably secede from the United States and govern themselves as a more sustainable independent republic once again.” While some people would take issue with the idea of a state seceding from the Union, the Vermont Commons is admirably focused on the need to reinvigorate local democracy, bolster its economic independence and protect its distinctive culture.

This, indeed, is one reason why Vermont has shown such strong political leadership over the years (e.g., Senator Bernie Sanders, DNC Chair Howard Dean). Its residents participate in a robust, locally engaged civic culture. I find it inspiring to see Vermont’s state-wide efforts to fight big-box store colonialism, corporate bullying of local governments and an unresponsive federal government. The Vermont Commons site includes a blog, a journal of longer articles, and audio and streaming video selections, and more.

For something completely different, consider a new science-fiction commons that former OTC guest-blogger, Paul Hartzog, has recently started with a colleague Richard Adler. The site, an example of “social publishing,” is called Oort-Cloud.org. The site is a place where science fiction and fantasy readers and writers can collaboratively build an online community through a process that Hartzog calls “OpenLit.” OpenLit consists of writers writing, and then sharing their work with others on the website. Sci-fi fans/readers then give feedback, and writers learn to write better stories in the process.

“Hopefully, this all means new opportunities for everyone involved in science fiction and fantasy — readers, writers, and publishers alike,” says Hartzog. Paul’s personal blog and his Panarchy blog are also well worth a look.

Finally, let me call your attention to Conservapedia, a website that describes itself as “an online resource and meeting place where we give full credit to Christianity and America.” Essentially, American conservatives (so-called) got fed up with what they regard as the liberal bias of Wikipedia. So they started their own politically correct version.

I love the idea of libertarian-minded free marketeers creating their own commons. I also love the self-confident response by Jimmy Wales, the founder and head of Wikipedia, to the new wiki derivative: “Free culture knows no bounds… . We welcome the reuse of our work to build variants. That’s directly in line with our mission.”

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