I. First, the list of commons economic terms in the original article has a very notable omission:
I suggest that we avoid coining new words, phrases and “commons jargon” for ideas and terms that already exist and have reasonably well-established meanings in public and academic discourse. Language is one of our most important commons and its conservation and good stewardship is important.
Suggested terms with utility for commons economics:
“In economics, a common-pool resource (CPR), also called a common property resource, is a type of good consisting of a natural or human-made resource system (e.g. an irrigation system or fishing grounds), whose size or characteristics makes it costly, but not impossible, to exclude potential beneficiaries from obtaining benefits from its use… A common-pool resource typically consists of a core resource (e.g. water or fish), which defines the stock variable, while providing a limited quantity of extractable fringe units, which defines the flow variable. While the core resource is to be protected or nurtured in order to allow for its continuous exploitation, the fringe units can be harvested or consumed.
“A common property regime is a particular social arrangement regulating the preservation, maintenance, and consumption of a common-pool resource. The use of the term “common property resource” to designate a type of good has been criticized, because common-pool resources are not necessarily governed by common property regimes. Examples of common-pool resources include irrigation systems, fishing grounds, pastures, forests, water or the atmosphere.
“The use of many common-pool resources, if managed carefully, can be extended because the resource system forms a positive feedback loop, where the stock variable continually regenerates the fringe variable as long as the stock variable is not compromised, providing an optimum amount of consumption. However, consumption exceeding the fringe value reduces the stock variable, which in turn decreases the flow variable. If the stock variable is allowed to regenerate then the fringe and flow variables may also recover to initial levels, but in many cases the loss is irreparable.
“Common-pool resources may be owned by national, regional or local governments as public goods, by communal groups as common property resources, or by private individuals or corporations as private goods. When they are owned by no one, they are used as open access resources. Having observed a number of common pool resources throughout the world, Elinor Ostrom noticed that a number of them are governed by common property regimes — arrangements different from private property or state administration — based on self-management by a local community. Her observations contradict claims that common-pool resources should be privatized or else face destruction in the long run due to collective action problems leading to the overuse of the core resource (see also Tragedy of the commons).” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common-pool_resource
- subsidiarity In my opinion this may be the single most important concept in modern society. “Subsidiarity is an organising principle of decentralisation, stating that a matter ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest, or least centralised authority capable of addressing that matter effectively. The Oxford English Dictionary defines subsidiarity as the idea that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level. The concept is applicable in the fields of government, political science, cybernetics, management, military, and, … In political theory, subsidiarity is sometimes viewed as a principle entailed by the idea of federalism.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subsidiarity
- public goods
- natural capital
- ecosystem services
- conditional ownership
- absentee ownership
- doctrine of laches
- rule against perpetuities
- community land trust
- community property
- concurrent estate
- conservation easement
- public easement
- public interest
- beneficial interest
- deed restriction
- benefit association
- mutual association
- benefit corporation
- Bundle of Rights
“…most institutional analysts are familiar with the Schlager and Ostrom work on property rights (Schlager, Edella, and Elinor Ostrom. “Property-rights regimes and natural resources: a conceptual analysis.” Land economics (1992): 249-262.). In this piece, they lay out a conceptual map for bundling of various types of property rights with a goal of showing that ownership is more than a simple binary division. Their revised table (from a 1996 book chapter) looks like this:” http://michaelschoon.com/2013/09/25/
II. Secondly, we might consider referring to some existing top-level vocabularies (data dictionaries, ontologies, etc.) and perhaps building the commons-based economics vocabulary as an extension (specialized domain) of one or more of these.
Below is a graphic of the GoodRelations e-comerce vocabulary (click to enlarge in another window). I include this graphic not for its specific terminology but because it conveys several concepts at a glance. The use of a Unified Modeling Language (UML) diagram would allow us to show terms grouped into logical classes and the relationships between those classes. But this is not only a step towards a standardized and machine-readable dictionary of terms; it is also a model of economic processes. I think this would be a very useful kind of model to create for an Economics of the Commons. Rather than invent the Commons Economy Model from scratch we could borrow from existing models like GoodRelations and adapt them as necessary.
At the most basic level, such a diagram would allow us to hyperlink each term to a standard definition such as those given in the UNITED NATIONS METADATA COMMON VOCABULARY. Note that in the UN Metadata dictionary each term is not only defined but there are references to relevant organizations, standards, specifications, urls, etc.
Such a model could be created and updated collaboratively using tools like Prezi, Mindmap, Debategraph, etc.
Other examples of standardized vocabularies designed for both human-readable and machine-readable information exchange:
The National Information Exchange Model (NIEM), which is XML-based, has a variety of schemas (vocabularies) used to facilitate information exchange among partners in various disciplines, government-wide. It’s about achieving interoperability. Think of the NIEM data model as a mature and stable data dictionary of agreed-upon terms, definitions, and formats, independent of how information is stored in individual agency systems. http://www.niem.gov/technical/Pages/niem.aspx
GoodRelations is a standardized vocabulary (also known as “schema”, “data dictionary”, or “ontology”) for product, price, store, company data, etc. GoodRelations is now fully compatible with the HTML5 microdata specification and can be used as an extension for the schema.org vocabulary. http://www.heppnetz.de/ontologies/goodrelations/v1
The geopolitical ontology, developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), provides names in seven languages (Arabic, Chinese, French, English, Spanish, Russian and Italian) and identifiers in various international coding systems (ISO2, ISO3, AGROVOC, FAOSTAT, FAOTERM, GAUL, UN, UNDP and DBPediaID codes) for territories and groups and tracks historical changes from 1985 up until today; provides geolocation (geographical coordinates); implements relationships among countries and countries, or countries and groups, including properties such as has border with, is predecessor of, is successor of, is administered by, has members, and is in group; and disseminates country statistics including country area, land area, agricultural area, GDP or population. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geopolitical_ontology
Lists of other ontologies:
- Solidarity, subsidiarity, and principled sanity (insightscoop.typepad.com)
- Schema.org, Learning Resource Metadata Initiative Join Hands In Boost To Educational Content Searches (semanticweb.com)
- Schema.org Gets New eCommerce Features (nexcess.net)
Related PRA 2.0 Posts
- Science of the Commons?
- Ownership of the Commons
- Property Rights in the Commons
- Disenclosure of the commons
- All Ownership is Conditional
- The Property Problem
- Why can’t the public and private sectors just get along?
- Private Property, Taxation, and Corporate Personhood
- Green Free-enterprise