CommonsEconomy This would work best as a CommonsEconomy1. This doesn’t mean that you can’t employ this resource pool in conjunction with for-profit ventures. It just means that the resource pool itself is always mutually voluntarily governed and used as a commons.


Key criteria for identifying a “commons” are2:

Recognition: Resource is recognized as a commons <——→ Resource is not recognized as a commons

Identifiable stakeholders: Users with a stake in the resource are identifiable <——→ No stakeholders are identified or identifiable

Interdependence: Users are interdependent <——→ Users are independent

Vulnerability: The resource is vulnerable to failure (such as depletion, degradation, privatization, etc.) in the future <——→ The resource is unthreatened

Participatory maintenance: The resource requires participatory management <——→ The resource is self-sustaining

Rules: Appropriate rules are necessary to govern the resource <——→ Rules are not needed

Self-governance: The rules are created from within <——→ The rules are created by outsiders or from the top down


Groups that are able to organize and govern their behavior successfully are marked by the some basic design principles: 3


A group can figure out a way to think about the resources they are offering, and what threshold they would reach that would allow them to sustainably contribute to this CommonsEconomy. These commons resources would be:




CarryingCapacity is one person’s ability to sustain their RivalGoods contributions to the CommonsEconomy. It is estimated by the person, perhaps based on reasonable benchmarks that our community comes to a collective and mutually acceptable estimation of.

So, we could “thank” one another, with a different value associated with RivalGoods, adn NonRivalGoods. We could also post our individual “CarryingCapacity” for RivalGoods. Making that transparent helps us be sure not to overload any one contributor

Here’s the really interesting thing. Let’s say that one of us gets close to our “CarryingCapacity”…the others may jump in and offer help in the form of additional resources, or in the form of time and ideas that can help us improve our own carrying capacity!

The key in my mind is that each participant must have a way to know their CarryingCapacity.

To clarify, under my idea, it would still be possible to trade skills, favors, etc. But the “points” currency would be based in “thanks”. So, we really “donate”, and pay in a currency that is based in genuine gratitude, and take care not to over-run one-another’s CarryingCapacity.

More clarification. this idea stems from the “exchange” that I did with GreatTurningWebsiteWork, where I basically just went ahead and donated a RivalGood? to GreatTurning? people.

I am thinking about how, among trusted groups, we can:

  • PoolResources?
  • Connect with other groups
  • Offer some of our services to a commons

This is a different way to build wealth, than “Exchange” economies.

This way, we all start out with whatever our “CarryingCapacity” is for certain types of “goods”. We offer those goods to people of our choosing.

And, we also look at our CombinedCarryingCapacities? as a group, and w constantly strive to increase the CarryingCapacity of each individual, thus increasing the CarryingCapacity of the group. We can even compete with one another, adn even with each other, to see how we can improve and enhance the different Rival and NonRival? commons we are using from.

By measuring out our resources, and dedicating some of them to sustaining and growing a commons, we are creating a way to manage and grow those commons.

So, if you want to work with me, but your CarryingCapacity for “time” is too low, then we can work together to increase your CarryingCapacity for “time”, so that you are able to work on those types of projects.

You could just take a “blow” for the team, and donate your time anyway. But, then you lose. That does not increase your CarryingCapacity. It decreases it. So, I think that a voluntary “rule” of CommonsEconomy could be “no transactions that decrease anyone’s CarryingCapacity”/“Prefer transactions that increase CarryingCapacity of everyone

This forces me to sustain the commons I am using from (your donated time). I/we need to either change my needs, or increase your CarryingCapacity. We as a group on a project might then work to try and figure out how to exercise one of these options.

So, “thanks” is not like actual money. Instead maybe thanks is just “thanks”? Maybe we only measure our CarryingCapacities? so that we can sustain people’s ability to give, or help them increase their ability to give, or help us decrease our consumption needs. 4

TheSheep…awesome! I love it.

The ideas above for CommonsBasedInternetExchange? are targeted mostly towards teaming up to help other people and groups that we care about solve problems. I have not yet thought about what those groups could offer in return, but perhaps instead of creating the requirement for a “barter”, it might just be possible to “pool” resources into a commons, and then offer up combinations of those resources to people in the network when needed, and taking care not to exceed the “CarryingCapacity” of RivalGoods offered, or working to help increase CarryingCapacity if there is not enough existing?

Maybe you would “buy” into this network by listing at least a minimum of time, etc that you can offer, for instance?

I just realized that I left the stuff aout the SocialCapitalReward at the top of this page, when in fact this page, adn what it is about, is a seperate idea, and does not require what is discussed on SocialCaptialReward? at all. I also expanded this page with Radomir’s idea, because it is similar to what I have been thinking about here.


1. Governing The Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action Ostrom, Elinor
2. Hess, Charlotte 2007, site will be open to public by next year, information placed here with permission of HowardRheingold
4. this comment based on discussion between SamRose and TheSheep in OddMuse IRC channel

Define external redirect: CarryingCapacities GreatTurning NonRival SocialCaptialReward CombinedCarryingCapacities CommonsBasedInternetExchange RivalGood PoolResources CommunityWikibank

EditNearLinks: OpenSource HowardRheingold