Commoning and common information systems for social equity and ecological sustainability

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2014 paper (pdf; summary) by Claudio Vitari confirms some of my biases. Quotes:

IS play central roles in companies, as they are cross-functional and have very high strategic value in contemporary human society - which has been called the “information society” (Webster 2006) - and so are in a favorable position to help transform both business and society at large to make them more compatible with the aims of ecological sustainability and of social equity.

Maybe the best way to do this is by commoning - opening up and sharing our processes, our IS, our information, and our ideas.

Vitari calls for a research sub-field on Common Information Systems asking whether commoning of information systems increases ecological sustainibility and social equity, under what conditions and to what extent, and with what antecedents. I wish Vitali had provided some thoughts on how to tackle these urgent questions, but the paper is only 5 pages of text; perhaps he has or will elsewhere.

I suspect there’s lots of low-hanging fruit waiting to be gathered and analyzed regarding how knowledge commons impact social equity, eg by decreasing wealth concentration and increasing access – I should develop a list, but some prospects are scattered among the equality and metrics categories here and previously inequality promotion on my personal blog. Characterizing and improving knowledge commons’ impact on ecological sustainability may be more challenging.

The Open Compute Project may provide some examples of a commons involving collaboration and adoption of power-saving innovation. Software commons could extend the useful lifespan of computing equipment (soon, everything) and thus also decrease ecological impact: apparently with a lifetime use of 2.9 years, manufacturing accounts for 62-70% of the total energy expended on a laptop, the remainder on its operation. To increase competitiveness as both products and policy, free software probably should also worry more about operational energy use.

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