A new common tragedy?

Recently, my kids (heh, in their 20s) let me know that they don’t use Yelp. That actually surprised and puzzled me. Not specifically because of Yelp, but instead because there’s a societal benefit that’s possibly being undermined or abandoned. I may be naive, but I think that we may be missing an opportunity. So here’s my exploration of a potential new common tragedy.

The idea of the commons is simple, though also somewhat controversial. There’s a shared resource. In the traditional economic model, it’s limited. Thus, everyone taking advantage of it ends up ruining the resource (the infamous ‘tragedy of the commons’). In this case, however, the potential tragedy is different.

Information, as has been said, wants to be free. With the internet, it’s almost that way, and there are almost zero limits on the information (for better or worse). We can take advantage of the information for little more than the cost of a browser-capable device and an internet connection (which can come just with a cup of coffee ;). We can also contribute. That’s social media.

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