net-tool for connecting spaces of research and knowledge production
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Context

The Academy Commons project arises from (and is a reply to) a context of fast and deep transformations taking place in the academic system. Even if the platform is mainly conceived as a tool, its place is not neutral –as are not neutral the processes of economization, privatization and financialization of the university that affect us either as researchers, students or professors. What follows is a sort of in-progress-draft for mapping the number of issues or struggles that are involved and being discussed in this context.

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The Commons:

The concept of the commons has a long heritage, already applied during the Roman age related to land use. Common land (a common) is land owned collectively or by one person, but over which other people have certain traditional rights, such as to allow their livestock to graze upon it, to collect firewood, or to cut turf for fuel.

The commons is a general term for shared resources and has had an important social function in our society, it provides a shared space, a resource that is shared within a community, a network of ideas and concepts that are non-owned. When individuals contribute to a shared project that creates new ideas and it becomes increasingly valuable.

Following the logics of the neocapitlistic paradigm and the idea of privatization, people have been putting fences around the commons declaring “this is mine”, excluding users, consumers and students by demanding entering fees and credits in order to have access to a space that should remain common. The intellectual property law is supporting and protecting corporations and institutions in order to manage creative flows of knowledge and ideas as scarce products that can be traded at the competitive market place. The legal exclusion is often executed by technical devices that we may understand as electronic fences for controlling the regulation of social access of the once common space.

The ac tool seeks to underline the need for common spaces and intends to not only make visible (some of) the territories that have been enclosed by bureaucratic and cost related matriculation barriers, but also to engage with possible access to these spaces.

links, references:

http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/articles/commons_as_ideas http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_land