The Tragedy of the Digital Commons - The Atlantic
"mutual aid accountability"
Tue Jun 9 07:51:24 2015 - permalink -
Larry Lessig describes software design as a kind of regulation separate from top-down policies or community norms. Sixteen years after Lessig’s book, belief in the power of code and social psychology to shape successful online communities is widespread among the design teams who govern our digital lives. Their growing toolbox of design options is detailed in a recent law review article by James Grimmelman, who covers everything from banning and shaming to reputation and rewards. In this view, perhaps Mechanical Turk could become fairer if Amazon added the right buttons, set the right default wage, or changed its design to activate just the right motivations.
If code is law online and platform designers are its legislators, who identifies the problems and sets the goals for those laws?
Yet in place of Hardin's selfish freeloading herders, Ostrom described a cooperative and “co-evolutionary race,” a struggle among the frenemies who share common spaces. Ostrom observed that in well-managed common resources, monitoring is part of wider systems to hold each other in check for the common good. On the Charles River, this monitoring keeps people safe while also supporting long-term change.
Behind each morning’s colored flag is the story of a decades-long struggle among citizen groups, scientists, planners, local companies, and government to reverse the tragedy of the Charles.
By using a statistical model of weather and river temperature, CRWA can offer daily predictions of boating safety. When conditions are less predictable, the boathouses that “publish” this data-visualization fly a yellow flag to signal that uncertainty
Salehi soon found that academic researchers are creating some of workers’ greatest problems, sending high volumes of unpaid and under-paid tasks with surveys, social experiments, and studies of Turkers themselves. Academics often reason that the public good from research justifies the poor treatment and disregard they give digital workers. In one case, an economics professor attempted a deception-based study that added fake information into Turkopticon itself. Workers quickly detected the project and shut it down. One study on ethics paid workers $1.50 for a 39-minute task. Tghese problems are so common that Rochelle LaPlante, a moderator for two Turker discussion boards, tweets out daily examples of best and worst researcher ethics.
Last October, during secret climate negotiations with China, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry went to lunch overlooking the Boston Harbor with a top Chinese environment official, Yang Jiechi, telling him the story of the Charles River cleanup. Kerry’s lunch with Yang was described by The Washington Post as a “key moment” in climate negotiations, leading to a groundbreaking deal between the world’s top carbon polluters.