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The Five Commons

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  • 1. The Five Commons An invitation to 21st Century wealth-generating ecologies Forward Foundation / Future Forward Institute
  • 2. The Five Commons The 20th century industrial economic paradigm centers on the control of linear processes and people. 2 Forward Foundation / Future Forward Institute
  • 3. The Five Commons The 20th century industrial economic paradigm operates by dismissing both resources and waste as outside of the primary concerns of economics. 3 Forward Foundation / Future Forward Institute
  • 4. The Five Commons A not-quite 21st century economic paradigm introduces a shift towards decentralized participatory networks of people who make, share, and use physical and virtual artifacts. However, this paradigm still focuses on well- defined and often static roles of participants. This paradigm imagines that singular skills translate to the network society. 4 Forward Foundation / Future Forward Institute
  • 5. The Five Commons A 21st century economic paradigm adds a further innovation: a shift in focus towards distributed activity. Now participants can move from activity to activity, taking advantage of a diversity of different ways of seeing and solving problems. However, people still tend to arrange these activities in a linear pattern. 5 Forward Foundation / Future Forward Institute
  • 6. The Five Commons The combination of non-linearity and activity-orientation leads to the making/using/sharing cycle. The making/using/sharing cycle creates regenerative flow because 1) making/using provides a means of livelihood, and 2) sharing distributes costs and benefits, and closes a feedback loop with making/using. This is the model that many are pursuing right now. 6 Forward Foundation / Future Forward Institute
  • 7. The Five Commons The Normal (Bell) Curve captures key elements of mass culture, mass production, and mass media. The average, or center, is representative of the majority of cases. Furthermore, difference and diversity are 1) marginalized (pushed outward from the center horizontally), and 2) repressed (pushed downward from the top). The Power Law captures key elements of niche economics, distributed production, and network culture. The average is not representative of the majority of cases. Network culture explores and exploits difference and diversity in “the long tail” to enhance flexibility and capture the benefits of rapid innovation. 7 Forward Foundation / Future Forward Institute
  • 8. The Five Commons In many systems growth and decline are gradual, but in complex systems phase transitions are the norm. Systems cross thresholds which trigger rapid transformations and re-organizations. Emergence is mirrored by collapse. 8 Forward Foundation / Future Forward Institute
  • 9. The Five Commons The current environment is characterized by 1) changes in the shapes of activity, and 2) changes in the magnitudes of activity. Consequently, change is often rapid and unforeseeable, therefore unpredictable. 9 Forward Foundation / Future Forward Institute
  • 10. The Five Commons The Five Commons represents what might be thought of as a “minimally necessary” set of practices to achieve a sustainable society. The Food, Energy, and Thing Commons provide for human physical needs. The Culture Commons allows for human expression, communication, and memory. The Access Commons ensures the availability of medicine, education, free speech, and social resources. These Five Commons are neither all-inclusive nor mutually exclusive. They overlap and interweave in crucial ways. 10 Forward Foundation / Future Forward Institute
  • 11. The Five Commons We “the Commoners” are the vital heart of 21st Century wealth-generating ecologies. In each commons, the activities of participants drive the shift from mass culture to power law dynamics. Investing in these distributed, cooperative, infrastructures, is the task of our time. Each of us can gain security from adaptability, and co-create wealth by making, using, and sharing in the new environment. 11 Forward Foundation / Future Forward Institute

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