Philanthropy On The Commons

Posted by Nipun Mehta on Apr 30, 2008
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Michael Edwards wrote a piece on Philanthrocapitalism -- a critique about  hybridizing public-benefit and for-profits under social entreprenuership banner -- that is generating a lot of reaction.

In particular, Pete sends in this Philanthropy on the Commons rebuttal:
The most interesting thing about Wikipedia is not Wikipedia itself, but the method used to create and maintain it. Tens of thousands of volunteers around the world contribute and edit content on topics they are passionate about. When you add up all of these small bits of labour, you have what it takes to create the world's most comprehensive encyclopedia.

It's this kind of peer-production that Edwards is talking about when he speaks of "the commons". And, as Yochai Benkler eloquently argues in The Wealth of Networks, this model is not limited to Wikipedia: it is a part of a new and growing wave of non-market peer-production that is creating tremendous public assets: Linux, Mozilla Firefox, the Public Library of Science, MIT's OpenCourseWare, the 60 million creative-commons-licensed photos on Flickr, among others. We create and hold these things in common. And, as we hold them, our economies, our societies and our democracies are transforming.
Mark Sherman's point above is to steer a new genre of open-source philanthropy, which is surprisingly not obvious to everyone. :)

Posted by Nipun Mehta | | permalink


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