Com 546 Final Project

My final project was a study about the open source philosophy, the economy and social production.  I have created a website that I appropriately called:

Social Production as Catalyst for Change.  Link below.



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Evolution from Industrial Information Economy to Networked Information Economy

We are at a moment of great opportunity and challenge as we embrace technologies that make our human interaction easier (or harder) to accomplish.  “All other things being equal, things that are easier to do are more likely to be done, and things that are harder to do are less likely to be done (Benkler, Y. 2006)”.

It is natural for us humans to share and collaborate.  When technology enables easy sharing and communication, we enter an age of radical disruption.  We have been experiencing an industrial information economy for the last century, but now we are entering a networked information economy, where the means of information and cultural production are at the hands of millions, not just a few.  This disruption can shift the balance of money and power, as new players enter the field, and cooperation and decentralization of information production take place.

Open source software is based on sharing and collaboration.  Its philosophy has spearheaded the move from one-way model of information production to peer production.  As high capital costs for producing culture and information have disappeared, peer production has become possible.


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The Economics of Social Production

What exactly motivates people to participate in social production?  How does money fit into it?  We live in a world that expects us to perform certain tasks in exchange for money.  Most of us go to work primarily to get a pay check.  Of course, we try to fulfill other needs through our jobs as well, such as a need for recognition, achievement and self-actualization, but our current economic model requires us to work for money.  Yochai Benkler posits that “the material conditions of production in the networked information economy have changed” so significantly, that social production has become possible (p. 92).  Social sharing and collaboration – natural human behaviors –  have become extremely easy with information technology, and now there are almost no limits to the size of one’s network.  We can be connected with hundreds, and thousands (even millions, in some cases) of people.  What motivates people to share and collaborate are human psychological needs for companionship, belonging, recognition and self-esteem.  The behavior and motivation patterns that we are so familiar with through our social relations, have emerged as “modes of motivating, informing, and organizing productive behavior at the very core of the information economy” (p.92). Continue reading

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Be Prepared

Be Prepared

When I was little I was a girl scout for a few years.  I was very proud of my uniform, and I especially liked the belt with a metal buckle that said “be prepared”.

I could have used that advice last night when Kathy walked up to me in the beginning of the class and said: “Can I put you on the spot and have you present your slides to the whole class instead of just the small group?”  My presentation was the only one out of five that discussed the Tragedy of the Commons.  A flash of panic swept over my eyes – I was not as prepared as I should have been.  Yesterday, after I came home from work I chose to go to the park with my daughter to kick the ball and play with the dogs before class.  I only read my notes once.  But could I say no to Kathy?

Gracefully Kathy gave me a few extra minutes to prepare.  Having taken Anita’s leadership class in the Winter quarter I had a new mental attitude about public speaking.  After getting in front of the class I almost enjoyed the moment.

The Tragedy of the Commons is a fascinating article from 1968.  Even though a lot has changed since then it still resonates.  Human beings have not changed their behavior – they still want the same things: security, comfort, autonomy.  But now, more than forty years later the stakes are even higher: the population has doubled, our weapons are even more destructive, and the planet is heating up fast.  Can technology solve these mounting problems?  According to Hardin, no, unless we make it so.


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Theoretical Framework for Final Project

Capitalism won the Cold War just twenty years ago; it was a triumph of entrepreneurship, free markets and private ownership.  But now, in 2011, we are faced with new, unprecedented problems: our capitalistic system cannot sustain our ever-increasing demand for consumer goods at the cost of the environment, changing climate, deteriorating ecosystems.  The wealth created by the many is amassing at the hands of the few.  The near-collapse of the world banking system two years ago opened our eyes to see that we must change course.   Continue reading

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Tragedy of the Commons

Tragedy of the Commons 

Garret Hardin wrote an article in the Science Magazine in 1968 about the “tragedy of the commons”.  1968 was during the height of the Cold War.  According to Hardin, technological advances could not win the arms race because both the United States and the Soviet Union could easily destroy one another with just a few nuclear bombs.  The more military power increased the more insecure the world became.  The same could be said about population control.  We tend to think that technology could solve the problem of overpopulation, but we live in a finite world with finite resources and at some point we will run out of resources, space and food.

Continue reading

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Preliminary References for Final Paper

Better Together


This is a preliminary list of references that will be used on my final paper on how open source philosophy will affect our current economic model.  Will open source change the economic paradigm from ‘few to many’ through sharing, collaboration, networking, and ‘public good’?


Benkler, Y. (2006).  The wealth of networks: how social production transforms markets and freedom.  Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.

Benkler explains the history of the development of open source/free software and the commons.  He discusses peer production, collaboration and  sharing, and compares the characteristics of the commons to private property.  How does this impact our economy?  Benkler believes that open source software and large- scale collaboration will impact our economy in radical ways.  Benkler describes how a society changes due to the changes in media markets from heavily concentrated (one to many) to networked media markets (many to many), and how the public sphere evolves to better represent the many voices of “public opinion”. Continue reading

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