Monday, October 12, 2009

This economist doesn't look dismal

Never thought I'd see a Nobel Prize in Economics winner who looked like this. Elinor Ostrom is the first woman to get one of these. Her work is about

creating rules for transactions around shared resources, or "commons," that make collective action rewarding (enough) for everyone involved.

And where she added a particularly new way of thinking to economics was to zero in on the economic transactions that take place in ad hoc organizations. Her work is part of a body of knowledge that underlies what people are looking for and considering as they design Gov 2.0 systems of participation and new models for democracy, which makes her of particular interest to those of us interested in thinking through a distributed view of the world.


Contemporary technology can carry us in different directions. Our delighted adoption of the World Wide Web can be used to profile each of us and control us, if the powers-that-be choose -- as they apparently might. We all learn that the monitors of our internet behavior can deliver us "targeted" ads, whether we want them or not.

But the same technology might also facilitate wider participation by different people in new networks that create new forms of power. That's not a given, but it is a possibility. The non-geographical connections people form in online social networks are real. What they mean will be worked out by the choices folks make, probably in a pretty messy fashion.

Congratulations to Ms. Ostrom for contributing to wherever it is we're going.

1 comment:

Darlene said...

It's really great to see a woman get the award.

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