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Week 6 Reading Reflections… November 11, 2007

Posted by gjchatalas in Uncategorized.

One of the thesis points of The Tragedy of the Commons is that “freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.” Essentially, as we derive gain from the common, we inevitably serve our self-interests to the detriment of the common-good. Let’s bring this to the present-day internet. Much of society has access to the internet, and when online there is a wealth of information and uses. But at what stage do the common facets of the internet move to selfishness, negatively impacting the experiences for others? E-mail and spam is an example where profit motive intrudes and often makes our in-boxes an unpleasant destination. And the beauty of so much free content is tarnished to some extent by meddlesome advertising. Politics is rife with instances of the tragedy of commons; corruption becomes king to those who obtain keys to the kingdom. What is created as a commons for our representatives to advocate for constituents falls victim to personal indulgence. Of course, business provides several examples as well: broadcasters/media acting as if they own rather than use the public spectrum; drug manufacturers complaining about onerous regulations that are in place to protect citizens; car manufacturers, oil companies and tobacco put the bottom line above society’s best interests. Of personal interest in the commons article was the mention of national parks; I’ve spent practically every summer in Glacier National Park, and it was easy for me to apply and visualize some of the comments and speculation.

The study “Around the World Wide Web in 80 Ways” attempts to assess uses and gratifications of online activity in the realm of political interest. Since much of my time on the internet is spent related to politics, it was interesting to see the research results, and where my habits fall. It’s pretty obvious that I mostly reside in the group that uses the web for Entertainment and Social Utility in regard to political information. Politics is entertainment for me and I love following its daily fluctuations; and it is a large part of my discussion with others, including providing points for argument.

Questions for Discussion

  • What are some political and social ramifications of overbreeding?
  • At what stage will the commons of the internet move to overt self-interest, negatively impacting the experiences for others?
  • In what ways are you finding gratification in your internet usage?


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