The history of the "Tragedy of the Commons"

I've been really interested in applying lessons from common pool resource theory to my own work and interests in open source and open science (see my various posts). The framework around this created by Dr. Elinor Ostrom, for which she received the Nobel Prize in Economics, is awe-inspiring and incredibly motivational! I've also thoroughly enjoyed the Frontiers of Commoning podcast that David Bollier runs, which showcases many ongoing communities and efforts in these areas.

All of this is strongly coupled (negatively) to the well-known concept of the Tragedy of the Commons, published in 1968 by Dr. Garret Hardin, a professor at UCSB. It turns out that Hardin was not only very wrong (see above links on CPR!) but also a terrible person, and if you care to read the Tragedy of the Commons article, it's, well, very bad (ibid). (If you prefer a podcast to reading, here's one that looks good, from srsly wrong.

Anyway, I find CPR theory tremendously inspiring, and it provides wonderful counterexamples to the beliefs that only strong hierarchy, authoritarian governance, and/or corporate enclosure can work to manage resources. Highly recommended. Always happy to chat, although I'd suggest just reading widely instead, since I'm by no means an expert on any of this!



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