The term "knowledge commons" refers to information, data, and content that is collectively owned and managed by a community of users, particularly over the Internet. What distinguishes a knowledge commons from a commons of shared physical resources is that digital resources are non-subtractible; that is, multiple users can access the same digital resources with no effect on their quantity or quality.
The term 'commons' is derived from the medieval economic system the commons . The knowledge commons is a model for a number of domains, including Open Educational resources such as the MIT OpenCourseware, free digital media such as Wikipedia, Creative commons–licensed art, open-source research,and open scientific collections such as the Public Library of Science or the Science Commons, Free Software and Open Design. According to research by Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom, the conceptual background of the knowledge commons encompasses two intellectual histories: first, a European tradition of battling the enclosure of the "intangible commons of the mind", threatened by expanding intellectual property rights and privatization of knowledge. Second, a tradition rooted in the United States, which sees the knowledge commons as a shared space allowing for free speech and democratic practices, and which is in the tradition of the town commons movement and commons-based production of scholarly work, open science, open libraries, and collective action.
The production of works in the knowledge commons is often driven by collective intelligence respectively the wisdom of crowds and is related to knowledge communism as it was defined by Robert K. Merton, according to whom scientists give up intellectual property rights in exchange for recognition and esteem.
Ferenc Gyuris argues, that it is important to distinguish "information" from "knowledge" in defining the term "knowledge commons". He argues that "knowledge as a shared resource" requires that both information must become accessible and potential recipients must become able and willing to internalize it as 'knowledge'. "Therefore, knowledge cannot become a shared resource without a complex set of institutions and practices that give the opportunity to potential recipients to gain the necessary abilities and willingness".
Copyleft licenses are institutions which support a knowledge commons of executable software. Copyleft licenses grant licensees all necessary rights such as right to study, use, change and redistribute—under the condition that all future works building on the license are again kept in the commons. Popular applications of the 'copyleft' principle are the GNU Software Licenses (GPL, LGPL and GFDL by Free Software Foundation) and the share-alike licenses under creative commons.
Open content describes any work that others can copy or modify freely by attributing to the original creator, but without needing to ask for permission. This has been applied to a range of formats, including textbooks, academic journals, films and music. The term was an expansion of the related concept of open-source software. Such content is said to be under an open licence.
The tragedy of the commons is a situation in a shared-resource system where individual users, acting independently according to their own self-interest, behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting or spoiling the shared resource through their collective action. The theory originated in an essay written in 1833 by the British economist William Forster Lloyd, who used a hypothetical example of the effects of unregulated grazing on common land in Great Britain and Ireland. The concept became widely known as the "tragedy of the commons" over a century later due to an article written by American biologist and philosopher Garrett Hardin in 1968. In this modern economic context, "commons" is taken to mean any shared and unregulated resource such as atmosphere, oceans, rivers, fish stocks, roads and highways, or even an office refrigerator.
Community management or common-pool resource management is the management of a common resource or issue by a community through the collective action of volunteers and stakeholders. The resource managed can be either material or informational. Examples include the management of common grazing and water rights; fisheries and open-source software. In the case of physical resources, community management strategies are frequently employed to avoid the tragedy of the commons and to encourage sustainability.
The open-design movement involves the development of physical products, machines and systems through use of publicly shared design information. This includes the making of both free and open-source software (FOSS) as well as open-source hardware. The process is generally facilitated by the Internet and often performed without monetary compensation. The goals and philosophy of the movement are identical to that of the open-source movement, but are implemented for the development of physical products rather than software. Open design is a form of co-creation, where the final product is designed by the users, rather than an external stakeholder such as a private company.
Open educational resources (OER) are freely accessible, openly licensed text, media, and other digital assets that are useful for teaching, learning, and assessing as well as for research purposes. There is no universal usage of open file formats in OER.
Commons-based peer production (CBPP) is a term coined by Harvard Law School professor Yochai Benkler. It describes a model of socio-economic production in which large numbers of people work cooperatively; usually over the Internet. Commons-based projects generally have less rigid hierarchical structures than those under more traditional business models. Often—but not always—commons-based projects are designed without a need for financial compensation for contributors. For example, sharing of STL design files for objects freely on the internet enables anyone with a 3-D printer to digitally replicate the object saving the prosumer significant money.
Social peer-to-peer processes are interactions with a peer-to-peer dynamic. These peers can be humans or computers. Peer-to-peer (P2P) is a term that originated from the popular concept of the P2P distributed computer application architecture which partitions tasks or workloads between peers. This application structure was popularized by file sharing systems like Napster, the first of its kind in the late 1990s.
The commons is the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth. These resources are held in common, not owned privately. Commons can also be understood as natural resources that groups of people manage for individual and collective benefit. Characteristically, this involves a variety of informal norms and values employed for a governance mechanism. Commons can be also defined as a social practice of governing a resource not by state or market but by a community of users that self-governs the resource through institutions that it creates.
The free-culture movement is a social movement that promotes the freedom to distribute and modify the creative works of others in the form of free content or open content without compensation to, or the consent of, the work's original creators, by using the Internet and other forms of media.
In economics, a common-pool resource (CPR) is a type of good consisting of a natural or human-made resource system, whose size or characteristics makes it costly, but not impossible, to exclude potential beneficiaries from obtaining benefits from its use. Unlike pure public goods, common pool resources face problems of congestion or overuse, because they are subtractable. A common-pool resource typically consists of a core resource, which defines the stock variable, while providing a limited quantity of extractable fringe units, which defines the flow variable. While the core resource is to be protected or nurtured in order to allow for its continuous exploitation, the fringe units can be harvested or consumed.
Elinor Claire "Lin" Ostrom was an American political economist whose work was associated with the New Institutional Economics and the resurgence of political economy. In 2009, she was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for her "analysis of economic governance, especially the commons", which she shared with Oliver E. Williamson. To date, she remains the first of only two women to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, the other being Esther Duflo.
An open-source curriculum (OSC) is an online instructional resource that can be freely used, distributed and modified. OSC is based on the open-source practice of creating products or software that opens up access to source materials or codes. Applied to education, this process invites feedback and participation from developers, educators, government officials, students and parents and empowers them to exchange ideas, improve best practices and create world-class curricula. These "development" communities can form ad-hoc, within the same subject area or around a common student need, and allow for a variety of editing and workflow structures.
Free content, libre content, or free information, is any kind of functional work, work of art, or other creative content that meets the definition of a free cultural work.
Copyleft, distinguished from copyright, is the practice of offering people the right to freely distribute copies and modified versions of a work with the stipulation that the same rights be preserved in derivative works created later. Copyleft software licenses are considered protective or reciprocal, as contrasted with permissive free-software licenses.
The open-source model is a decentralized software development model that encourages open collaboration. A main principle of open-source software development is peer production, with products such as source code, blueprints, and documentation freely available to the public. The open-source movement in software began as a response to the limitations of proprietary code. The model is used for projects such as in open-source appropriate technology, and open-source drug discovery.
Vincent Alfred Ostrom was an American political economist and the Founding Director of the Ostrom Workshop based at Indiana University and the Arthur F. Bentley Professor Emeritus of Political Science. He and his wife, the economist Elinor Ostrom, made numerous contributions to the field of political science, political economy, and public choice.
A free license or open license is a license agreement which contains provisions that allow other individuals to reuse another creator's work, giving them four major freedoms. Without a special license, these uses are normally prohibited by copyright law or commercial license. Most free licenses are worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, and perpetual. Free licenses are often the basis of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding projects.
The digital commons are a form of commons involving the distribution and communal ownership of informational resources and technology. Resources are typically designed to be used by the community by which they are created.
The Institutional Analysis and Development framework (IAD) was developed by Elinor Ostrom, an American political scientist, who was the first woman to receive the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2009. The IAD relates a set of concepts to help in the analysis of commons, such as fishery stocks, woodlands. Ostrom explored which institutional structures support arrangements that handle those resource stocks in a sustainable way, balancing individuals' use with the interest of a wider public. Under the rational choice models, the IAD was devised in an attempt to explain and predict outcomes by formally exploring and documenting the governance structures, the actors' positions, and the informal and formal rules devised for individuals to extract resources from the commons resource. Thus, the IAD is a systematic method to document policy analysis functions similar to analytic technique commonly used in physical and social sciences and understand how institutions operate and change over a period of time.
Open source products include permission to use the source code, design documents, or content of the product. It most commonly refers to the open-source model, in which open-source software or other products are released under an open-source license as part of the open-source-software movement. Use of the term originated with software, but has expanded beyond the software sector to cover other open content and forms of open collaboration.