Collecting a list of popular/useful public goods

Continuing the discussion from Feedback from newcomer: the site lacks human touch (like team info and photos):

Sort of, not really. We were just discussing in that other thread about how to bring up concrete examples within a clear framing to pump intuitions about what public goods are.

We had this idea from early on about creating area-specific messaging that would mention the status quo around public goods and club goods Snowdrift Wiki - Targeted Messaging. That never got fleshed out except for a couple starting areas. That would still be nice to have. Some of our writings mention specific examples (Open Street Map, Firefox, Wikipedia). One challenge is how complex it is to find cases of unambiguous, uncompromised public goods. Usually, public goods are compromised in various ways or else struggle badly enough that they don’t get really popular. The utterly most familiar ones we all use all the time are ones that are entirely outside of economics, e.g. the English language, and those are not a good reference for the projects that need our help.

It would be interesting to start putting together a practical list here. Some things will be familiar to different audiences…

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We do list examples of types of potentially public goods in the opening of our video and on the About page, e.g. opening the video with “Things like software, music, journalism, and research could be public goods, free and open to all…”.

I do think citing some popular public goods would be helpful, as well as contrasting them with non-public goods and doing more to explain the benefits and wider significance of public goods, beyond the obvious benefit of “I don’t have to pay for it”. Probably it would be good to create an /about/public-goods page that we could link to wherever we mention public goods.

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Here’s one possibility I just came across for an example of a public good - - which says “No ads, no paywall, no clickbait - just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.”

Aeon is close, but is most definitely not uncompromised, unqualified public goods.

See the test I proposed (which I want us to get front-and-center more) at Framing idea for introducing newcomers to concept of public goods - #10 by wolftune

Now, Republish | Aeon explains that most of their work is flat-out All-Rights-Reserved while some portion uses CC BY-ND. So, they produce club goods in which the rights to copy and use privately seems mostly open to the public but the rights to change and share are limited to an exclusive club. They just don’t happen to put paywalls and ads on their publications.

This is good material for case-studies. I’d like to know how much income they get by reserving certain rights. That would affect the questions around what it would take to get them to change to actual public-goods terms.

I guess I didn’t look at it closely enough. Good to know. I agree it could be good material for explaining public goods, by pointing out the differences between something like this and public goods, and why and how the differences matter.

On the topic of advocacy-style journalism, it happens that my favorite political/social org/movement publishes true public goods! Strong Towns articles are CC BY-SA![1]. Their footer on the site appears to apply to their “work” in general, and they have a very public-goods FLO emphasis there. But the same indication isn’t at their Action Lab (though that’s largely a curated portal to the articles), and the podcast licensing isn’t clear (but it’s ad-free and public and maybe the license applies). Their two official mainstream traditional books are likely not CC BY-SA, but I haven’t checked. They have a “Strong Towns Academy” which is online learning program that might involve rivalrous resources (like actual time interacting with facilitators/instructors), I’m not sure about that, but they put paywalls on the prerecorded lesson videos and related content. And their various publicly-accessible PDF brochures on specific topics don’t have (A) license indication or (B) source files to truly enable others to adapt and translate and so on.

So that’s another even-more-fuzzy more on the public-goods side of the continuum.

  1. They ought to move to v4 instead of v3, but whatever ↩︎

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