Information Commons

4 November 2002
One of those terms that is culturally in play (i.e., memetic) in more than one sense, and as such is in the portmanteau word category.

Information lies at the heart of what I do as a teacher and a librarian, and it seems entirely natural to me to ponder over the meanings that dwell within phrases like 'information ecology', 'information management', and 'the social life of information'. My recent reading of Larry Lessig's The Future of Ideas: the fate of the commons in a connected world (2001) placed the term 'commons' before me as a cover term for vital phenomena in the evolution of cyberspace:

The argument of this book is that always and everywhere, free resources have been crucial to innovation and creativity; that without them, creativity is crippled. Thus, and especially in the digital age, the central question becomes not whether government of the market should control a resource, but whether a resource should be controlled at all... No modern phenomenon better demonstrates the importance of free resources to innovation and creativity than the Internet. (pg. 14)

Coincidentally, a series of campus visits and recent work on the possible relations between library and computing services have drawn my attention to different models of service delivery, in which 'commons' has emerged as a label for an approach to a broadened spectrum of public services. I have a nagging sense that the coincidence is not accidental, though I haven't yet comprehended the linkages. This page represents an attempt to put some of the requisite documents in one place, and in what I hope will turn out to be a productive juxtaposition for myself and others.

Guides, planning documents and bibliographies

Collaborative Facilities (hosted at Dartmouth for CNI)

Information Commons: From Needs Assessment to Evaluation A Selected Annotated Bibliography Prepared by Jordana Heaton, SLAIS-University of British Columbia

DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY INFORMATION COMMONS: Transforming Learning An Initial Formal Draft of a Concept June 18, 1999-September 23, 1999

University of Saskatchewan: Reconfiguring the Learning Environment

ACRL Panel Session for April 2003 and Information Commons - Select Bibliography

Selected Bibliography (Patricia Gaspari-Bridges and Dorothy Pearson, Princeton)

College and university implementations: examples that tell us something about how the concept of an Information Commons is being developed, implemented, perceived...

New Library and Information Commons Survey Results from Appalachian State

Information Commons Advisory Task Force Proposal -- May 19, 2000 and floor plans from Kansas State University

Information Commons Planning Team 1999-2000 and The Information Commons Under Attack (Daily Wildcat column by Lindsay Utz, at University of Arizona)

University of Calgary and user comments (a nice addition)

University of Iowa --see Virtual Tour

University of Missouri Kansas City

University of New Mexico IC Project (see Dean's page)

University of North Carolina Charlotte

New era for Library as information commons opens (University of Regina)

University of Southern California

University of Utah

In the broadest sense, c.f. Larry Lessig:

In these times, the hardest task for social and political activists
is to find a way to get people to wonder again about what we all believe is true.
The challenge is to sow doubt. (The Future of Ideas, pg. 5)

What is an Information Commons and Why Should We Care? (Kristin Hitchcock) CPSR Journal Fall 2001 (Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility) --see also Using Technology to Control the Flow of Ideas (the Summer 2002 issue)

Recasting the Web: Information commons to cash cow (By Karen Charman Extra! July/August 2002), an American Library Association spinoff

Saving the Information Commons: A New Public Interest Agenda in Digital Media By David Bollier and Tim Watts

The Internet has ushered in a cultural and political perestroika of enormous proportions...

Can the Information Commons be Saved? (David Bollier)

Howard Besser's IC links

The Commons of Information (Published in the May 1993 issue of Dr. Dobbs' Journal by Lee Felsenstein, Interval Research Corp.)

The Tragedy of the Information Commons (Harlan J. Onsrud in Policy Issues in Modern Cartography 1998, pp. 141-158. [NOTE: this version is a draft prior to being edited by the publisher.])

...and one to know about:, blogs and more for library types

11 April 2003
UNCC Information Commons

Information Commons at ACRL (April 2003)

Howard Becker's IC links

21 May
FosBlog (Free Online Scholarship news, Peter Suber's labor of love)

Libraries: The Information Commons of Civil Society By Nancy Kranich

Digital Library of the Commons and Information & Knowledge Commons Links