Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The emerging digital commons

David Bollier, Why Online Commons Are Besting the Mainstream Media, On the Commons, July 19, 2005. Excerpt:
When I look at the online world these days, I feel like I'm watching one of those old nature films in which an unseen narrator excitedly whispers as a baby bird miraculously pecks its way through the eggshell and announces itself to the world. Who is this fragile new creature? I feel the same sense of amazement as I contemplate the new modes of expression made possible by digital technologies. What is this podcasting, this video-blogging and these new public-domain repositories? Here's my excited narrator's whisper: A lot of new media genres seem to be empowering individuals by providing them with a lightweight commons infrastructure. Unlike today's media market...the new online commons are soaring because they tend to be more efficient, versatile, responsive and socially authentic as modes of communications....As we are able to capture more of our socially created value through commons (blogs, wikis, webcasts, open source, etc.), we are forcing the mass media to re-tool its business models in order to compete with the strange new forms of non-market value-creation. Can they do it? What sorts of "value-added" service will they excel in? Whatever the eventual answer, the balance of power between commons and markets is suddenly, for the moment, open for re-negotiation! The market can no longer capture and control so much of our creative and cultural lives. We must make the most of this opportunity, not just in establishing new online commons that are more responsive to us (and, usually, free!), but in validating the general power and theory of the commons.