The Tragedy of The Commons, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love A Good Argument

I’m going to be honest; I’m excited to see what develops out of this newly revamped Alaska Commons project. I was deeply honored, if not a bit perplexed, by John’s invitation to join the brainstorming crew responsible for creating this new look and feel. I can’t really say that I’ve offered much up to this point, other than a bit of comic relief and being named “Chair of the Committee to Determine the Value of Pragmatism”.  You see I’m no journalist, the closest I’ve ever come to being a journalist was being named editor of a 2nd grade newspaper project (a title I got because I was the only one in the class who didn’t want it for a “paper” that never actually got published). I do however fancy myself as something resembling a creative non-fiction writer, who occasionally finds time to produce some noteworthy content. Mostly my life is dedicated to academic pursuits working in community research and looking for creative solutions to conflicts over fish.

This is where I really get excited about this little experiment. I tend to think that a good well thought out argument covering multiple viewpoints is a healthy community building endeavor. Good policy requires good dialogue. We are all human. We all have our blinders on. We all hold our little prejudices built out of a world view centered on our own experiences which are unique and limited to us. The Alaska Commons project isn’t just about journalism; reporting the who, what, when, and why. It’s about community building. It’s an effort to repair the damage done to the social commons found in the streets of our towns, across our state and nation. It’s about the spirit of debate and argument, knowing why you believe what you believe, questioning it, finding it true or false, and then having a beer and a sense of humor when your neighbor shows just how flat wrong you really are. But somewhere in this debate, elements of truth will come to light, and to know truth is to know freedom.

It’s no big revelation that mass media is struggling, especially in printed form. The World Wide Web has created an amazing opportunity. Social Media has created a cheap and effective means to bring journalism and discourse back to a grassroots level that hasn’t existed since the days of the personal printing press. Information can be produced, distributed, digested, and debated on a scale that would make Ben Franklin’s head spin. I hope that the new and improved Alaska Commons can take the best of those elements, and that through the process of dialogue and a good argument, we can see some healing to the great ills of the social commons. So pull up a chair, add to the debate, and please keep it in good fun. I’ll definitely be doing my part to bring a little humor to the table.

What do you think?

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