Framework for Analyzing the Knowledge Commons

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Book Chapter: Elinor Ostrom and Charlotte Hess, A Framework for Analyzing the Knowledge Commons

In book: Understanding Knowledge as a Commons chapter 3, pages 41–81

Introduction

Who has not heard of the six blind men of Indostan encircled around an elephant? 1 The six—a political scientist, a librarian, an economist, a law professor, a computer scientist, and an anthropologist—discover, based on their own investigations, that the object before them is a wall, a spear, a snake, a tree, a fan, and a rope. The story fits well with the question that propelled this chapter: How can an interdisciplinary group of scholars best analyze a highly complex, rapidly evolving, elephantine resource such as knowledge? Trying to get one’s hands around knowledge as a shared resource is even more challenging when we factor in the economic, legal, technological, political, social, and psychological components—each complex in its own right—that make up this global commons.

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