The common’s cattle

(c) 2007 Adriana Gil MinerThe tragedy of the commons may be why we are in perpetual reach for perfection but we can never reach it, if we did we would destroy ourselves and if give up trying, we would destroys us too. We’re caught. Maybe this is the principle of the continuous state of chaos and change we live in, and I guess this is why the dialectic principles stand: every thesis contain it’s antithesis. Thus, every virus contains its vaccine.

Perhaps the Internet makes the tragedy of commons even more complex than in any other spectrum of life, because with the Internet the “commons” is much bigger, spread- around, and therefore, elusive. Thus the question of regulation of the commons is also more complex; its enforcement… is just unbelievingly difficult. For example, we see many regulatory models in cyber-commons like wikipedia, online games, SecondLife and the millions of online discussion boards that have strict regulations. Some of these cyber-commons control their population growth by only accepting “invites only”, others are open to anyone to join, but they require you to abide to their rules. Some cyber-commons allow anyone to “report” or “flag” a member as a way to enforce regulation. Imagine the conflicts of having a real-life system of flagging people publicly and then a “governmental entity” removing this person from our commons — scary sci-fi? (This reminds me one of the films that changed my perception of the world: Brazil, 1985.)

However, I am not quite sure how the other aspects that Hardin discusses, like the problem of population growth and resources, applies to the Internet. As we have discussed in class, the Internet defeats the assumptions of scarcity.

In regards to the practice of democracy online, I’m positive about it in general. And it’s inevitable that we will expand our use of the Internet to compliment or facilitate the regulatory activities of our “offline” common laws. Though I have no doubt they will start to converge (i.e. creative commons!) Also, if we trust the Internet with our personal information and money transactions, how come we cannot build a reliable online voting system?


1. Who constitutes the commons in the Internet?

2. The tragedy of the commons is based in the principle of “scarcity” if there’s is no scarcity on the information that can be created and shared over the Internet, then how does the tragedy of commons apply to the Internet?