cisler on 21 Aug 2000 12:38:32 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Tragedy of the digital commons

Aug. 21 New York Times refers to a Xerox PARC study called "Free Riding on
Gnutella" where the authors claim that the actions of most users is to take
rather than to give (music selections) and that this imbalance makes the system
function worse than if the giving/taking were more symmetric.

 "By sampling messages on the Gnutella network over a
24-hour period, we established that 70% of Gnutella users share no files, and
90% of the users answer no queries."

The term 'tragedy of the digital commons' is used, and in the past some have
objected to speaking of a digital resource as a common good in the same way that
pasture land (to use the original example) would be. However inexhaustible
endless digital copies may be, the bandwidth and server capacity to handle the
traffic is not.  It's a major factor in slowing down intranets and parts of the
whole Internet (at least here in Silicon Valley).