Chapter 24: Technology Policy, Cooperation and Human Systems Design
Yochai Benkler The decade since the late 1990s has seen an increase in the salience of commons-based production of information, knowledge and culture in general, and peer production in particular. Most prominent and extensively studied by economists has been free and open source software.1 Since the early 2000s, the applicability of commons-based peer production more generally has been recognized, through the increasing salience of Wikipedia, Slashdot and, more recently, the Web 2.0 phenomenon generally (Benkler, 2002a). These phenomena raise two types of policy considerations. First, there are policy implications even if these practices were purely limited to creative and innovative practices in the networked environment. Second, they raise further policy considerations given that they represent salient examples of broader trends or characteristics of innovation, such as the congruence of the new forms of peer production with Eric von Hippel’s long-standing work on user innovation. In particular, I will suggest a need for more systematic work on mechanism design for cooperation, based primarily on experimental economics of cooperation and reciprocity, and some strands in organizational sociology. 24.1 COMMONS-BASED PRODUCTION, PEER PRODUCTION AND POLICY Commons-based production refers to production without exclusion from the outputs of innovation efforts. A ‘commons’ is an institutional arrangement whereby a resource is managed so that access to, or use of, it as a resource is available under rules that give a set of people symmetric rights or powers, rather than based on asymmetric power to determine their disposition, as in the case of property. Trucking, by comparison...
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