Nurturing The Commons, Old & New – Point Person: Tom Lowenhaupt

As point person for the Technology & Society workshop (to take place on Saturday, Feb 18, 5 to 7 PM), I'd like to introduce some scope of what is expected of us.
At the planning meeting last Saturday we decided to hold only one workshop at a time, each lasting 2 hours. Each workshop consists of several sub-groups/participants. So no one person, presenter or group will be holding a workshop all on their own. In the case of our workshop, here's how this looks, for now:
  • Creating New Commons with City Top Level Domains with Tom Lowenhaupt
  • Technology and Social Change: Building New Economic Networks and Ron Suarez
  • Immigrant, Resident Voting Rights with David Andersson
  • Reclaiming the Commons as a Social Theory of Collective Action. with George Pór, Mary Beth Steisslinger, andTina Bakolitsa
  • And David Bollier as moderator.

We want to find ways to interweave what we're each offering and also connect it all through the lens of The Commons. Our goal is to foster a conversation that includes everyone om the workshop group as well as everyone in the room. From the variety of voices we expect collisions, chaos, and something new.

Each workshop member will first brief the crowd on thier primary interest area. they will be provided with 7-10 minutes for this. we will have time to engage the entire group in conversation. There might be other ways to format our time together that will arise. We very much want some concrete product to result: a document, a proposal, an action, a collaboration.

We will try to break down how conferences are organized where the "audience" is kept in its place before a panel of experts and fed a pre-digested body of "knowledge". In keeping with Occupy's values of horizontalism, inclusion and the creativity that is born out of the situation itself, our aim throughout is to cross theory with action and the activist with the as-yet-onlooker.

Creating New Commons With City-TLDs

A Making Worlds Forum on the Commons Society & Technology workshop

--- Background ---

An uninvited and unplanned globalizing Internet began arriving in cities in the 1990s with both positive and negative impacts. Beginning in 2013 new Top Level Domains or TLDs - like .com, .org, and .net but just for cities, will become available to cities, and residents, organizations, and visitors will being having access to city-specific Top Level Domain names such as .paris, .berlin, .mumbai, and .newyork.

This workshop was organized by the founder of Inc., a New York not-for-profit formed to advocate for the development of New York's TLD (either .newyork or .nyc) as a public interest resource. In 2009, he began looking at the possibility that this important new Internet resource, could be developed as a commons. In October 2011, when interviewing David Bollier for his thoughts about the prospect of using "commons thinking" when planning New York's TLD, David suggested that city-TLDs might be considered "open greenfields for new local governance structures." Additionally, he suggested that the availability of city-TLD to cities globally, and the coincident arrival of the Occupy movement, might might provide an opportunity for global cooperation between Occupy movements and "dot-Cities" globally.

Acting on these suggestions, the Campaign for the Commons working group was created on the website in October 2011. Meetings of the Commons working group were held in late 2011 at 60 Wall Street. In late 2011 the Campaign for the Commons learned about the budding plans for the Making Worlds Forum on the Commons and joined in its planning. Inc.'s Tom Lowenhaupt became the point person in organizing the Forum's Society and Technology Workgroup.

Mr. Lowenhaupt, and other supporters of the development of New York's TLD as a public interest resource, will be attending Making Worlds to learn if and how the TLD might be developed as a commons resource.

  • Sustainable Resource - With the need to make domain names available for generations to come, it is clear that there are nurturing lessons to be learned from experience with commons management of fisheries and other resources.

  • Global Leader, Local Failure - One of the important name-sets to arrive with .nyc is the neighborhood names. While a global communication leader, at the neighborhood level, local communication is wanting. For example, the following table compares local communication resources in a New York City neighborhood, Jackson Heights, with those in a similar sized mid-western city, Terre Haute, Indiana.

Local Communication ­Resource Comparison

Terre Haute, Indiana
Jackson Heights, NYC
Television Stations
Daily Newspapers
Radio Stations

So with the .nyc TLD's arrival we'll be able to connect neighborhood residents using the latest publishing, decision-making, and collaboration software on 352 neighborhood sites such as,,,,, and How do we set up governance systems for these sites. Are Trusts models that replicate for neighborhood TLDs? (See dotNeighborhoods for more.)

  • Open greenfields for new local governance structures - The role of the civic network via the domain name.