Blog Posts on David Bollier, _Think Like a Commoner_, Chapters 7-9


12 thoughts on “Blog Posts on David Bollier, _Think Like a Commoner_, Chapters 7-9

  1. Boiller continues to describe the commons for us in great detail.We are able to get a glance of how he views them and how we should as well. In chapter seven entitled, The Empire of Private Property, he defines property to be rights that matter because they influence all sorts of personal and social entitlements we may enjoy. William Blackstone describes property rights as ‘the sole and despotic dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world.’ Property rights belong solely to individuals that can also be altered. People like to see property as a private right to exercise exclusive control over its physical objects such as land, cars, and smart phones. I agree that you can exercise rights over some property, but I don’t believe this applies to everything. Things like land are a commodity that’s value is dependent upon the character of the adjacent piece of land its on and the larger Eco system. It’s not a bounded unit, but an agreed upon system for allocating peoples rights to use a resource or exclude access to it. You can manage land by property rights and trust on behalf of the public and future generations. Most people though want to argue that property rights are economically impractical, politically oppressive, and morally suspect. I disagree to the extent that one persons private property can also act as a functioning commons. It’s less about ownership, but more about stewardship. It asks us to recognize human dignity, respect, social reciprocity, and social justice. The commons of shareable content can be built by asserting defensible legal limits on commercialization. We need to see that even though markets try to put a price on resources they find they can’t because they can’t measure its actual value. We need to understand the role of property.
    In Chapter Eight we see, as it is titled the Rise of the Digital Commons, that internet users have created their own digital commons. Many of these innovations are made possible by creative commons license. This presents a shared common place for complete strangers to communicate with one another. In Chapter Nine, Many Galaxies of Commons, he states that Medieval English and European commons were the first. The different types consist of: Subsistence commons (which is traditional), Indigenous commons ( which is ingenious managing their communal land for collective purposes), and Global commons ( which is shared resources globally). Boiller is recognizable because he helps us view the commons as to what they should be seen as.


  2. In chapters 7-9 David Bollier explains that commons aren’t just unowned land, the commons are collectively owned. He also reiterates the formula for the commons, being (commons=resources + community + rules for managing). This is very important concept and one that Bollier consistently repeats in order for the audience to understand the different aspects of the commons. Regarding the commons Bollier also explains that factors of the commons must be collective and equal. A commons must have equal ownership and access for each member. It also must have equal control or government for each member, meaning each person has a voice and equal say in decisions. Finally, a commons must have collective sustainability, this means each member has the duty to take care of the commons so that is lasts for future generations. The commons opens up different kinds of value. Compared to the market which only has exchange value (price) the commons has many different values. Bollier criticizes the market for being to simple, you cannot put a price on nature. Another main idea from chapters 7-9 was that the State, Market, and commons are not separable, they are all interdependent of each other, and need to coexist in cooperation. Each part is dependent on one another, the key to a good society will be to find the right balance between the three.


  3. In chapter 7-9 of Think like a Commoner, Bollier talks about how commons can vary from tangible items to non-tangible things. Something that I had never really thought of as being a commons was wifi. Wifi is in some places is free but does that mean that wifi is a commons? In some places you have to pay for wifi and other places people don’t even get wifi so does that really make it a commons for everyone? Bollier also talked about how different cultures have different views of commons. In chapter 9 it says, “I believe that any classification system will necessarily reflect the analyst’s cultural biases. An African would have a very different mental map of the commons than a European, and both would have different perspectives than an American.” Just like the wifi, people in various countries may have a different point of views than in other countries. The chapters also talked about how the state, market and commons are interdependent on each other. They kind of feed off of each other, even though they are dependent they still work best when in balance with each other.


    • 5 points. Things like wifi and the Internet are especially interesting and challenging topics regarding the commons. Wifi, of course, is just a signal–it’s a means to something else, which is the Internet. The real issue is access to the Internet. While Bollier and other commons thinkers write a lot about the Internet, the access issue is still a complicated one.


  4. In Chapter 7, The Empire of Private Property, David Bollier critiques theories of property rights and value while incorporating the ideas of John Locke. He starts off the chapter with an analogy of chairs on a ship and how old and new passengers interact with them. This gives Bollier the conclusion that the idea of property is malleable. Bollier writes that, “while formal laws may declare what property rights people may have in given circumstances, our social norms are at least as important a force.” How we define property influences our social relationships and what we may or may not enjoy. Bollier talks about how many of us have this idea that private property serves for useful purposes, as it has shown to do in the past such as freeing people from kings and aristocrats. However, he goes on to explain that sometimes private properties can lead to the formation of enclosures. John Locke’s idea of property is that personal entitlement is based upon the labor one invests into it. This is pretty much the foundation for how most of us think of property today. For example, if someone puts work into the land, such as growing and harvesting crops, that land should belong to that person. The government should not have the right to simply go in and strip it from that person. However, Locke did bring up one problem with private property. Bollier summarized Locke’s thoughts by explaining “the exercise of private property rights may encroach on and even destroy the resources that belong to everyone.” There will always be tension between the commons and private property. Now, there can be a crossing between the two, such as a private commons. In class, we talked about how many private businesses, such as a coffee shop, have become commons. Everyone gathers in one location. These private businesses have their own rules and are able to treat their customers how they want, with some exceptions. But for the most part, everyone in a coffee shop or other private business is seen equally.


    • 5 points. Private property will always be in tension with the commons–you’re right. But we do live in a society where private property seems to be a foundational value, so a balance with the commons will always be a challenge.


  5. Chapters 7 through 10 talks about different kinds of commons. To me, talkig about Korea is inevitable in terms of commons. During the class, we had talked about how wikipedia is a good way to start any kinds of assignment but not enough to use as the final source to back up your argument. In Korea, people are often not aware of the importance of someone elses’s work. More oever, there are not a lot of proper laws that enforce people to prevent from using them. In college campuses, it is very normal and easy to see students make photocopies of text books instead of using the actual textbooks that are sold online or in the bookstore. The sad thing is that not a lot of students are aware of that it is illegal because the government never applies any laws that make it possible to punish those who are copying. Since I am from South Korea, I was not aware of the importance of using someone else’s work without any permission. I had an opportunity in high school that I was in a trouble because I almost used the same line as my essay. Just like Bollier says, “while formal laws may declare what property rights….”, it is great that each government should contain a huge provision organization where it enforces people using other sources without citation. Just like the problem that I just mentioned, there are many commons created that were not existed in the past. We all need to seem to be well prepared to resolve all the problems from using commons where everyone has access to with their trusted “Responsibility.”


    • 5 points. The cultural differences over intellectual property can be very sharp. The divide you note between American and many Asian cultures is quite common. This can often be a significant issue in students’ work, as you yourself discovered. For many Asian cultures, the important thing is to show you know the ideas that have come before you. In American culture, originality is what is most valued.


  6. In chapters 7-9 of David Bollier’s “Think Like a Commoner”, he continues to describe to us more about the commons. He tells us about how commons can be material and non-material objects. He also reminds us again about the formula that is used for the commons, which is resources + community + rules for managing = commons. In chapter eight of his work, he talks about the invention created by technological people that we call the Internet. The Internet is a type of technological/digital common. The internet is a common that has had a big impact on our society in recent years, due to our technological advances. With things like social media, it has also made it so you can talk to anyone, from any place, at anytime. In chapter nine, Bollier tells us about how European and Medieval English commons were the first commons ever. He then tells us about three different types of commons. These commons that he tells us about are subsistence commons, indigenous commons, and the global commons. Also from these chapters, he tells us how the state, market, and commons need each other in order to be successful.


    • 5 points. Good coverage of main points in these chapters. Don’t forget we’d also like to see some of our own thoughts and reactions rather than just summary and repetition of points from the reading. 🙂


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