Garrett Hardin talks about the village commons, a grassy
area where sheep graze. The sheep are owned by individuals, but the
commons belongs to everyone in the village.
According to Hardin, it's inevitable that one person, motivated by the
completely reasonable desire for profit, will put too many sheep on the
commons, resulting in overgrazing. This person starts underselling his
neighbors, who have the choice of joining him in the abuse of a common resource or going out of business. In the short run a few people
maximize their profit, but in the long run the commons is ruined for
cyberspace is a commons. Many, many people have access to it
at little or no direct cost; it's supported by private enterprise and tax
dollars. And the many people who pay no per-message charges for
email could easily start "overgrazing" the
Internet by, for example,
sending out huge numbers of messages to huge numbers of users.
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