ECON 220/CHUM 302:
Alliances, Commons, and Shared Resources

Professor Christiaan Hogendorn

Spring 2017

HH = Henry Hansmann, The Ownership of Enterprise,
Harvard University Press, 1996.

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Course Policies and Grading Information

Responses Document
Archive of Older Responses (Read Only)

I. Introduction

Jan. 26 Th 1. Introduction
Monbiot, George. “The Case for Despair Is Made. Now Let’s Start to
Get out of the Mess We’re in.” The Guardian. December 13, 2016.
Jan. 31 T 2. The “Tragedy of The Commons”
Goal: think about what motivates people to solve or ignore/deny a
commons problem.
Garrett Hardin, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” Science, 162(3859),
1968: 1243–1248.

II. Agriculture and Fisheries

Feb. 2 Th 3. English Common Fields
Goal: Understand how common fields worked, why a peasant would
want them, why a lord would want them.
Hoffmann, Richard (2014). An environmental history of medieval
Cambridge University Press. Chapters 4 and 5. Focus on
pages 115–117, 125–126, 155–158, especially 158–166, 174–176.
Henry Smith (2000), “Semicommon Property Rights and Scattering in the
Open Fields,” Journal of Legal Studies, 29(1): 131–169.
Feb. 7 T 4. Enclosure
Goal: Understand why the common fields were enclosed, how it was
done, who gained, who lost, and why it continues to be a subject of
scholarly and even ideological debate.
T. S. Ashton (1948), The Industrial Revolution 1760–1830, Oxford.
Chapter II “The Earlier Forms of Industry.” Read pp. 23–28 and
44–46 carefully, skim the rest.
○ Donald McCloskey, “The Economics of Enclosure,” Chapter 3 in
Parker and Jones, eds., European Peasants and their Markets,
Princeton University Press, 1975.
Michael Turner, “English Open Fields and Enclosures: Retardation
or Productivity Improvements,” Journal of Economic History, Vol. 46,
No. 3 (Sep., 1986), pp. 669–692.
Menegus, B. (2016, November 29) “Reddit Is Tearing Itself Apart.”
Gizmodo. (Presented by Harrison)
Feb. 9 Th 5. Fishing
Goal: Understand why fisheries are a commons and how they work.
James Acheson (1988), The Lobster Gangs of Maine, Univ. Press
of New England, Chapters 3 & 4.
○ Chapters 1 & 5 of above.
○ Edella Schlager, “Fishers’ Institutional Responses to Common-Pool
Resource Dilemmas,” Chapter 11 in Ostrom, Gardner, and Walker,
Rules, Games, and Common-Pool Resources, Michigan, 1994.
● Presentation by Sam Anchell.
Feb. 14 T 6. Irrigation
Goal: Understand special problems of a commons built around
expensive, long-term capital.
Elinor Ostrom (1990), “Analyzing Long-Enduring, Self-Organized,
and Self-Governed CPRs,” Chapter 3 in Governing the Commons,
Cambridge University Press. Concentrate on the Huertas pp.69–82
and the Similarities pp. 88–102 sections.
○ Shui Yan Tang, “Institutions and Performance in Irrigation Systems,”
Chapter 10 in Ostrom, Gardner, and Walker, Rules, Games, and
Common-Pool Resources, Michigan, 1994.
○ Maureen Burke, “The Master Artisan,” [Profile of Elinor Ostrom],
Finance and Development, September 2011, Vol. 48, No. 3.
● Presentation by Amy and Pi.

III. Designing Commons

Feb 16 Th 7. Property Rights and Commons Design
Goal: examine differences between “goods” and “management systems.”
Understand different types of property rights: open/closed-ended, paper/
possessory, alienable/inalienable.
● HH, Chapter 1.
○ William Landes and Richard Posner, “The Economic Theory of
Property,” Chapter 1 in The Economic Structure of Intellectual Property
Law, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.
○ Elinor Ostrom, Governing the Commons, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1990.
○ Elinor Ostrom, (2008). Institutions and the environment. Economic
● Presentation by Jordan and Steven.
Feb 21 T 8. Ownership and Incentives
Goal: discuss Hansman’s list of costs of contracting and use them as a
way to solve commons problems.
● HH, read Chapter 2, skim Chapter 3.
Dan Ariely, “How to Pay People,” Business Week, September 22, 2011.
A short, clear explanation of incomplete contracts.
Wesleyan to Open Bookstore on Middletown’s Main Street
Middletown Eagerly Awaiting Wesleyan Bookstore Opening As Sign Of
Major Growth On Main Street
, Hartford Courant, 2/16/17.
● Presentation by Maddie and Nicole.
Feb 23 Th 9. The “Normal” Investor-Owned Firm
Goal: Discuss the terms “asset” and “asset specificity” and how they
determine firm structure.
● HH, Chapter 4 “Investor-Owned Firms.”
○ Oliver Hart, “The Property Rights Approach,” Chapter 2 in Firms,
Contracts, and Financial Structure,
Oxford 1995, pp. 29–55.
Nancy Gay (2006) “No Takers for 31% Share of Raiders,” San Francisco
11/25/06. Presentation by Sam H. and Zach.
Feb 28 T Cancelled
Mar 2 Th Cancelled
Mar 7 T 10. Employee and Multi-Stakeholder Ownership
● HH, skim Chapter 5, look especially at pp. 75, 77, and 81.
● HH, Chapter 6 “Governing Employee-Owned Firms.”
● Presentation by Michaela
Mar 9 Th 11. Housing Commons
● HH, Chapter 11 “Housing.”
○ Robert Nelson, “The Rise of Sublocal Governance,” Mercatus Center
Working paper 09–45, 2009.
Hickey and Cookney (2016) “Airbnb faces worldwide opposition,”
The Guardian, 10/29/16.
Bradley Tusk (2016) “Airbnb’s problems are bigger than New York,”
CNBC, 10/27/16. Presentation by Amy and Pi
Mar 28 T 12. Basic Incomes
Brynjolfsson & McAfee (2014). The Second Machine Age, WW Norton,
Chapters 11 “Implications of the Bounty and the Spread” and Chapter
14 “Long-Term Recommendations.”
Union Square Ventures Basic Income Thread. Read one of the linked
blog posts.
Raymond Zhong (2017) “India Floats Idea for Basic Income,” Wall
Street Journal,

IV. Information and Communication Technology

Mar 30 Th 13. Platforms
Goal: Understand operating systems, stacks, and two-sided platforms.
David S. Evans, Andrei Hagiu and Richard Schmalensee (2006),
Chapters 2 and 4 in Invisible Engines, MIT Press.
Apr 4 T 14. Generativity and Open Source
Goal: Understand end-to-end, peer production, open source.
Zittrain, J. (2008), The future of the internet–and how to stop it.
Yale University Press. Read Chapter 4.
○ Yochai Benkler, Chapters 2–4 in The Wealth of Networks, Yale
University Press, 2006.
○ Josh Lerner and Jean Tirole, “Some Simple Economics of
Open Source,” Journal of Industrial Economics, 50(2), 2002: 197–234.
Apr 6 Th 15. Search and Social Networks
Goal: Understand major Internet firms, Web 1.0 versus Web 2.0, and
digital immaterial labor.
L. DeNardis, A.M. Hackl (2015), “Internet governance by social media
platforms,” Telecommunications Policy, 39(9): 761–770.
Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff (2010) “The Web Is Dead. Long Live
the Internet,” Wired August 17.
Apr 11 T 16. Network Neutrality and Openness
Jon Brodkin (2015) “Don’t call them ‘utility’ rules: The FCC’s net
neutrality regime, explained,” Ars Technica.
Jon Brodkin (2017) “FCC chair wants to replace net neutrality with
“voluntary” commitments,” Ars Technica.
Dan Rayburn (2014) “Here’s How The Comcast & Netflix Deal Is
Structured, With Data & Numbers” StreamingMediaBlog 2/27.
The FCC, Internet Service Providers, and Access Charges, an FCC
fact sheet from the the age of dial-up.
○ Brett Frischmann, Infrastructure, Chapter on Net Neutrality.
TBA 18. WORKSHOP: Cybersecurity
Rao, J. M., & Reiley, D. H. (2012). The Economics of Spam. Journal
of Economic Perspectives, 87–110.

V. Creative Works and News

Apr 13 Th 19. Ideas and Artifacts
Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom (2003), “Ideas, Artifacts, and
Facilities: Information as a Common-Pool Resource,” Law and
Contemporary Problems,
66, 2003: 111–145.
○ The Economist, “The crucible of print: Britain’s embattled newspapers
are leading the world in innovation,” Jan 6th 2011.
○ Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom, eds., Understanding Knowledge as
a Commons,
MIT Press, 2007.
Apr 18 T 20. Long Tails and Aggregators
Goal: understand the long tail idea, fatness of the tail, and types of
online aggregtors.
Chris Anderson (2004) “The Long Tail,” original Wired article slightly
modified on ChangeThis.
Read 1 of the following 2 papers, skim the other:
Chiou, L., & Tucker, C. (2017). “Content aggregation by platforms:
The case of the news media.” Journal of Econ. & Management Strategy.
Boik, A., Greenstein, S., & Prince, J. (2016). “The Empirical Economics
of Online Attention” (No. w22427). National Bureau of Economic Research.
Blekko Search Engine A search engine idea described on Wikipedia.
Farhad Manjoo (2017) “How Netflix Is Deepening Our Cultural Echo
Chambers,” New York Times.
Oggun Tractor an open system manufacturing tractor.
Apr 20 Th 21. Copyright and the DMCA
David Kravetz (2015), “How the DMCA Made YouTube,” Ars Technica.
David Kravets (2017) “DMCA ‘safe harbor’ up in the air for online sites
that use moderators” Ars Technica.
Aguiar, L., & Waldfogel, J. (2016). “Even the losers get lucky sometimes:
New products and the evolution of music quality since Napster.”
Information Economics and Policy, 34, 1–15.
Julia Bluff(2016) “Good News! Fixing Your Car Isn’t Illegal Anymore!”
○ Robert Levine, Chapter 1 in Free Ride, Doubleday, 2011.
Apr 21 F 17. Optional WORKSHOP: Tor and Anonymity
Li, B., Erdin, E., Gunes, M. H., Bebis, G., & Shipley, T. (2013). An
overview of anonymity technology usage. Computer Communications,
36(12), 1269–1283.
Andy Greenberg (2017) “It’s About To Get Even Easier to Hide on
the Dark Web,” Wired.
Bruce Schneier (2013) “Attacking Tor: how the NSA targets users’
online anonymity” The Guardian.
J. M. Porup (2016) “Building a new Tor that can resist next-generation
state surveillance” Ars Technica.
Apr 25 T 22. Public and Cooperative News
Frischmann (2017) “Infrastructure and its Governance: The British
Broadcasting Corporation case study,” Working Paper.
Wikipedia: Associated Press
State of the Media 2016 Pew Research Center.
○ Westley, B. H., & Severin, W. J. (1964). “A profile of the daily
newspaper non-reader.” Journalism Quarterly, 41(1), 45–156.
Penrose, J., Weaver, D. H., Cole, R. R., & Shaw, D. L. (1974). “The
newspaper nonreader 10 years later: A partial replication of Westley-
Severin.” Journalism Quarterly, 51(4), 631–638 (working paper version).
Some platform cooperative resources:
Platform Cooperativism Consortium at the New School.
Resonate streaming music service.
hcoop web hosting cooperative.
○ Diaspora on one of many “pods.”
○ Mastodon on octodon one of many “instances.”
Apr 27 Th 23. Fake News
Yes I’d Lie to You The Economist 2016.
Dana Boyd (2017) “Google and Facebook Can’t Just Make Fake News
Disappear” Backchannel.
Wineburg, Sam and McGrew, Sarah and Breakstone, Joel and Ortega,
Teresa. (2016)
. “Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online
Reasoning.” Stanford Digital Repository.
Carole Cadwalladr (2016) “Google, democracy and the truth about
internet search,” The Guardian.
News Integrity Initiative CUNY.

VI. Blockchains

May 2 T 24. Blockchain Basics and Bitcoin
Goal: understand how Bitcoin works and the commons elements of
its operation.

Böhme, Rainer, Nicolas Christin, Benjamin Edelman and Tyler
Moore (2015)
. “Bitcoin: Economics, Technology, and Governance.”
Journal of Economic Perspectives, 29(2): 213–38.
Primavera De Filippi, Benjamin Loveluck (2016). “The invisible politics
of Bitcoin: governance crisis of a decentralised infrastructure.” Internet Policy
2016, 5 (3) .
E J Spode (2017) “The great cryptocurrency heist,” Aeon.
May 4 Th 25. Blockchains as Commons
Goal: understand how blockchain technology works far beyond currency.
Werbach, Kevin D. (2016), “Trustless Trust” Available at SSRN. Especially
Sections I. Introduction and IV. Trustless Trust in Action.
Union Square Ventures Blockchain App Stack Thread several interesting
pieces on blockchain ideas, especially “Fat Protocols” and “The Blockchain
Application Stack.”
Steemit social media network
Digital Asset financial settlements company
May 9 T 26. Concluding Class
This is an interesting group working for reorganization of many institutions on
commons lines: The Next System Project. Here is a paper from their website
that manages to pull in a lot of what we talked about in this course:
David Bollier (2015) “Commoning as a Transformative Social Paradigm,”
white paper at The Next System Project.