Cooperation Commons Summaries of Key Documents

By Howard Rheingold, published at 10 May 2007 - 8:12pm, last updated 12 years 21 weeks ago.

Cooperation project volunteers have summarized what we have identified as the core texts on cooperation, sorted by author, entry title, keyword or discipline. Our goal is to keep adding entries from a variety of disciplines to this core. You can browse the list of all entries or search by author, discipline, or keyword. We'd like to expand this initial core library of summaries to hundreds and thousands of entries, and have compiled a list of hundreds of documents worth summarizing, spanning a wide range of disciplines, including anthropology, biology, computer science, economics, mathematics, political science, psychology, and sociology. Providing one sentence, one paragraph, and one page (or slightly longer) summaries and links to the primary documents whenever possible enables interdisciplinary scanning or deep diving. These small chunks of knowledge are the first building block for a commons that will serve all who are interested in understanding and/or contributing to an interdisciplinary study of cooperation and collective action. The next step is creating a user-reconfigurable visual interface. Future steps include tagging, commenting, and reputation/collaborative filtering. Contact me if you are interested in editing summaries under my editorial supervision, or you have any idea how to implement any of these future steps.

Paying for Public Goods

Author/Editor: Hubbard, Tim; Love, James;
Publication: Code: Collaborative Ownership and the Digital Economy, Rishab Aiyer Ghosh, Ed., MIT
Publicaton Date: 2005
Disciplines: Computer Science; Economics; Political Science;
Keywords: intellectual property; open source; peer production; public goods;
Lenses: Collective Action; Commons;
Levers: Resources; Thresholds;

One Sentence Summary

Scientific and technological developments such as the Human Genome Project, GNU/Linux, Global Positioning Satellite data, file-sharing distribution of music and cinema, the cost of drugs for global epidemics such as AIDS, has necessitated new models for paying for public goods, such as compulsory licensing, competitive intermediators, and nonprofit matching funds.

One Paragraph Summary

Public goods are those in which the marginal cost of sharing is zero, the cost of excluding others from benefiting from its use is high, and the use by an additional person does not diminish the availability of the good to others. Systems for allocating public goods are politically charged, since the price-market system does not work well and conflicting parties look to state mechanisms for protection of their interests. President Reagan made signals from Global Positioning Satellites freely available; published DNA sequences are deposited in a central databank, giving free and unrestricted use of the raw sequences to scientists; and the GNU/GPL makes Linux code available free of charge under certain conditions. The threat to intellectual property posed by digital file-sharing, the prohibitive cost of AIDS drugs in the developing world, the rights of indigenous peoples and sovereign nations to drugs derived from local plants and plant knowledge, have posed challenges to the intellectual property regimes enshrined in agreements by the World Intellectual Property Organization. Novel regimes for paying for public goods have been proposed in response to these challenges. Compulsory licensing for music, similar to that adopted by radio broadcast – with significant modifications for equitably distributing proceeds – is one proposal. Another proposal would make vital drugs available to nations who agree to pay a percentage of GNP for new drug development. A matching fund, administered by a nonprofit entity, has been proposed to bring funders and seekers together into a kind of eBay for public goods. Although none of these schemes appear to be the foolproof, universally agreeable, final word on the subject, they do demonstrate that new solutions to problems of public goods are possible.