The internet as a common resource

The Internet as the largest repository of knowledge can be thought of as a common in itself, as it hosts spaces for collaboration, free open-source technologies, digital art or photography to share or remix under Creative Commons and so on. With 400 million visitors monthly and roughly 4 million articles, Wikipedia is outclassing Britannica as the largest encyclopedia. Another example is Linux, the no. 1 operating system used by animation companies in the movie industry.

Who here hasn’t once downloaded something from file sharing sites, participated in a forum discussion or joined a social network? Each of us has put something personal on the internet to share it with others, and didn’t think it might be taken away or turned against us. The boundaries of legality and property rights on-line are fuzzier than ever. In its privacy policy, Facebook specifically states they have the right to give away information to third parties for purposes deemed relevant. The SOPA and PIPA acts proposed by US congressmen have stirred debates because they are intended to reduce illegal operations by means drastically infringing upon user freedom; worried about their ability to keep sharing online, many people and organizations have joined the largest online protest ever: the SOPA strike on January 18th.

This mission aims to make us reconsider the meaning Internet has in our lives. Many of us grew up taking it for granted, but nowadays things may change, for good or for bad.

  • How do you use the Internet as a common resource? Is it a given, a basic need, a commodity?
  • What are your rights and responsibilities in online environments?Do policies like Facebook’s or SOPA–like affect your life? Why yes? Why no?