The New Internet Commons
“The Commons,” a term popularized by ecologist and philosopher Garett Hardin in his 1968 “Tragedy of the Commons,” refers to the cultural and natural resources accessible to (and owned and managed by) all members of a society for individual and collective benefit. Today, access to the internet, like water and air, has become a critical resource for political, economic and social equality and wellbeing. Early romantic visions of the internet emphasized its ability to foster community, communication, collaboration, sharing and democratic ideals through the networking of its actors, its transparency, usability and accessibility. Despite these utopian aspirations, ownership and control over the internet is today largely privatized and concentrated in the hands of a few corporations that harvest the activities and data of its users for profit. This series of conversations aims broadly to understand the early unravelings of this utopian vision, the state of the world wide web today, the impacts on (and possibilities for) marginalized communities, and the opportunities for restructuring and reclaiming control over our digitally-mediated value systems and networked world offered by new conceptual, material and digital technologies. The internet has the potential to be a truly public space, its hard and soft infrastructures conceived outside of existing ownership models, a commons that serves “one world with many worlds in it.” (Zapatista phrase)
The New Internet Commons manifests as a series of events, which aims to spur a conversation sufficiently focused to be productive, differentiated from recent all-encompassing events on the decentralization of the web, and to give voice and space to specific communities and topics.
Organized by Sara Constantino, Tom Leeser and Kandis Williams
Sara Constantino is a cross-disciplinary teacher, researcher and writer, working on topics at the intersection of ecology, economics, sociology, computer and cognitive sciences. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University and was formerly the associate editor of Nature Human Behavior and deputy economist at The Economist. She has a masters in economics from University College London and a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from New York University.
Tom Leeser is a media artist, educator, curator, and writer. He is Program Director of the Art and Technology Program and Director of the Center for Integrated Media at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). He is an editor and producer for the web-based journal and curatorial project viralnet.net. Tom received his BFA and MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). His film, video, online work, interactive installations, and public performances have been exhibited at Eyebeam, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Machine Project, the Mount Wilson Observatory, MassMoca, The Santa Monica Museum of Art, The Fowler Museum, Redcat Theater, The Kitchen, The Millennium, Siggraph, and film and video festivals worldwide, with support from Art Matters, Creative Time, and the Daniel Langlois Foundation.
Kandis Williams is an LA-based artist from Baltimore with an active curatorial and writing practice. In 2016, she founded Cassandra Press with Taylor Doran and Jordan Nassar; producing collaborative artist books and editions. Williams received a B.F.A. from the Cooper Union School of Art, New York.
Image by World Wide Web Foundation