INNOVATION LAW & POLICY WORKSHOP
University of California, Davis, School of Law
Beyond Pastures: Networked Commons v. Traditional Commons
Thursday, September 17, 2015
12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Solarium (Room FA2), Falconer Hall
84 Queen’s Park
Abstract: From software and science to collaborative forms of cultural production, the commons of the so-called knowledge economy are typically figured as networks, either material or virtual. No longer associated with groups of people sharing the same workspace, most of these collaborations are figured as changing grids, with interactions following a schedule so variable as to question traditional notions of collaboration. This is in stark contrast with the images of green village pastures or communal fisheries that are typically mobilized to exemplify these kinds of technological commons. More than just a problem of poorly fitting metaphors this indicates a tension within current conceptualizations of the commons — a tendency to conceptualize it as resource rather than as forms of collaborative action. The mobilization of geographically-specific and community-managed pastoral figures of the commons indexes a conservative undercurrent within otherwise progressive intellectual property politics that, I argue, ends up romanticizing communities and their allegedly organic norms and forms of collaboration. In doing so, it unwittingly reifies the logic of property (albeit in the form of communal property) rather than un-think it to make room for post-property concepts better able to capture collaborative knowledge making and knowledge access.
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