Location: Yippie Cafe
Attending: Ida, Tom, Vicente, Susana, Jim, Maria, Sara, Rosa, ??

Tech and Logistics

Vicente began by discussing the technology needs of the Making Worlds coalition.
  • NYCGA - Tom noted that he'd about given up on gaining access to the old Campaign for the Commons Working Group. He noted that at the last Tech meeting he attended it was noted that a new OWS site was "arriving soon" to replace NYCGA.net. We retain access to the NYCGA.net calendar - with the password given to Vicente and is available through him.
  • Email -
  • Twitter - We have a Twitter account?
  • FB - An account has been opened.
  • Mailing list management -
  • Database and previous materials -

Discussion of The Commons

Maria led a discussion about the commons, looking toward an acceptable definition that might engage all. Wikipedia was presented as a existing commons. Language as another less managed one.

Tom read Elinor Ostrom's, eight "design principles" of stable local common pool resource (CPR) management.
    • Clearly defined boundaries (effective exclusion of external unentitled parties);
    • ­Rules regarding the appropriation and provision of common resources are adapted to local conditions;
    • Collective-choice arrangements allow most resource appropriators to participate in the decision-making process;
    • Effective monitoring by monitors who are part of or accountable to the appropriators;
    • There is a scale of graduated sanctions for resource appropriators who violate community rules;
    • Mechanisms of conflict resolution are cheap and of easy access;
    • The self-determination of the community is recognized by higher-level authorities;
    • In the case of larger common-pool resources: organization in the form of multiple layers of nested enterprises, with small local CPRs at the base level. (Which seems to describe the neighborhood names.)­

Coming Events

  • April 14th City-Wide Assembly with Making Worlds participation. We will have a blanket(s) (not tables) on the west side of Wollman Rink in Central Park.
  • April 22nd, 1-3pm – Arts & The Commons, workshop in Catskill Community Center, Catskill, NY. Maria and Antonio are participating. Catskill is about 2 hours north of the city. An interest in car sharing was expressed.
  • May Day - will be discussed at a later meeting.
  • Sunset Park meeting with La Union, Occupy Sunset Park and others.

Future projects

  • Initiative on “The Sharable City” - Chatter agreed that his sounded like a good idea, with Jim saying that council member Brad Usher might be supportive.
  • Possible future thematic meetings
    • Neighborhood Names (e.g., corona.nyc) - Tom indicated that he is speaking to a variety of city and civic officials about the neighborhood names and would like to include some Making Worlds commoners in upcoming meetings. This will need to be a small group initially. But he hopes to have the neighborhood names governed as a common pool resource and this requires a lot of work on rule making (Ostrom's design principles above), and once the foundation is set, he will be delighted to include everyone in those meetings.
    • Jim spoke of creating digital spaces. The following is clipped from an email reiterating much of his discussion

In 2000, Henry H. Perritt, Jr., the Dean and Professor of Law at Chicago-Kent College of Law, filed a legal brief on in favor of Paul Garrin’s company Name.Space.
  • 40. The international legal community also recognizes that new technologies open up "extra-territorial" spaces, or global commons. "The concept of global commons carries with it common sharing with common benefits and common costs. [I]t is a key characteristic of the concept of global commons that it cannot be appropriated by a single State . . . ." Nagendra Singh, Introduction to International Law of the Sea and International Space Law, in Mohammed Bedjaoui, International Law: Achievements and Prospects 825, 826 (1991). What constitutes the global commons is malleable. It is generally acknowledged to include the high seas, outer space, the electromagnetic spectrum, and geostationary orbital slots. Increasingly, the world community considers aspects of the human environment to be a global commons. Id. at 825-827.

    As those of you who were at the meeting know, I have a friend who has been involved in building alternative Internet infrastructure since the mid 1990s. We met in the 1980s when I arrived in NYC. I was working with the Experimental Intermedia Foundation and Paul Garrin was Nam June Paik’s video specialist and eventual collaborator. In the 1990s I was teaching technology courses and Paul launched Name.Space, a company that allowed people to internationally register top-level domain names [.art .blog .gallery .sex .food .politics .sucks] online. This was a working system that predated ICANN, the non-profit that currently controls international top-level domains. I registered costanzo.art in 1997 and continue to maintain the URL to this day.

    For the history of the Name.Space please refer to this article published yesterday in The Villager. Please also refer to the attached letter to NY City Council Member Rosie Mendez.

    Another aspect of the Paul’s business model involves providing broadband Internet access to local communities. The company that does this is WIFINY. Both companies operate under the philosophy of the Social Enterprise. This business model is based on the triple bottom line; profit, sustainability and empowering local communities. As you know Capitalism is based solely on profit at the expense of all other consideration. Social Enterprise measures profit by positive social and environmental impact and a monetary bottom line. Sustainability is not restricted to the environment but also includes the economic sustainability of the company and local communities. Empowering local communities is based on both representation and economic empowerment. The importance of Economic sustainability for both the company and local communities is to guarantee autonomy from predatory Capitalists and government encroachment on the Commons.

    Another aspect of Paul’s business model is to have profits form Name.Space go to WIFINY, a company that provide alternative broadband access to underserved communities. Currently the company is providing broadband access to certain areas of the East Village, the Lower Eastside and parts of Brooklyn. Paul is working with local politicians and non-profits to expand the service. Another important aspect of the business model is to have profits from Name.Space reinvested into the WIFINY networks to expand both coverage and community representation.

    I realize that this is complicated and there are still questions to be resolved. But I believe that this can have a positive impact on the Commons and I’m would like to propose this topic for further discussion.


Technology and the Commons.


  • Ana Mendez talks at Bluestockings and 16 beaver.