ICT Infrastructure Commons

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"A fully free network would itself be a commons only in a very abstract sense, ie in the same way that the planet is a commons. In the sense that Elinor Ostrom uses the word commons ( a shared resource with a shared governance structure), a free network would in practice be a federation of commons, each operating at one or more network layers.

To illustrate, here are some commons (existing and potential) operating at different layers:

  • device(hardware and software of the equipment used to access networks)
    • free digital (or “open source”) hardware design projects (where the design patterns for computer hardware are released under a license allowing it to be freely used, modified, and redisitributed)
    • customer-owned and/or worker-owned hardware manufacture and distribution cooperatives
    • projects developing and distributing free code software that runs on end user devices (eg the projects that maintain the various software components used in GNU/Linux distributions)
  • connections (cables, wireless access points, and routers, allowing data to flow from computer to computer):
    • Community Mesh Networks (P2P wireless between PCs or mobiles)
    • community access wireless networks (collectively-owned wireless tower)
    • Open Wireless (voluntary sharing of private wireless networks by customers with uncapped upstream internet connections)
  • customer-owned and/or worker-owned ISP cooperatives (collectively-owned cable and router infrastructure, at any scale from neighbourhood to country to world)
    • hosting (servers providing access to databases):
    • projects developing and distributing free code software that runs services (whether on end user computers or dedicated server hardware)
    • P2P networks (eg BitTorrent clients, trackers, and search engines)
    • home of office servers (consumer grade PCs running free code server packages, or combinations of them eg FreedomBone
    • server colocation (or “colos”, small data centres run collectively by a group of server operators who provide and maintain their own hardware, eg RiseUp.net and MayFirst/ PeopleLink have their servers in a colo)
    • customer-owned and/or worker-owned ISP cooperatives (collectively-owned datacentres leasing the use of “bare metal” servers, virtual servers, or use of shared servers)"

(Loomio. March 2017)