The commons are often associated with shared natural resources including grazing pastures, public spaces and water, but there are lots of commons including the Creative Commons, seed commons, and even knowledge commons. Yes, knowledge, passed from person to person, generation to generation, is a commons that we all share and contribute to.

The recently formed Workshop on Governing Knowledge Commons is a virtual hub for those who study knowledge commons including researchers, scientists, educators, and more. Inspired by the work of the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University, and created by a group of university researchers affiliated with the International Association for the Study of the Commons, the workshop is a virtual academic community that studies what works and what doesn't work in governing knowledge commons. They've just released a new anthology titled appropriately, Governing Knowledge Commons.

The sharing that takes place in the knowledge commons drives innovation, fosters collaboration, and embodies the idea that we can accomplish far more by working together than alone. As this knowledge commons grows, it could become even more important to advances in medicine, education, and science. 

The goal of the workshop is to show there may be a better way to manage knowledge commons that's outside of the usual market and state formulations:

The goal of this Workshop is to highlight commons governance as a potentially important and effective alternative to the default options usually considered in literatures on these sorts of intangible things: market-based transactions in individual entitlements (such as copyrights and patents) and public subsidies (such as grants, public procurement, government ownership, and tax subsidies).

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Cat Johnson


Cat Johnson | |

Cat Johnson is a content strategist and teacher helping community builders create strong brands. A longtime writer, marketing pro and coworking leader, Cat is the founder of Coworking Convos and