Across The Commons

On the notion of The Commons

In 1968, Garrett Hardin published a seminal treatise on resources and scarcity, The Tragedy of the Commons. In that treatise, whose title is often quoted, Hardin explains that communal areas such as public grazing lands are depleted by self-interested individuals, overgrazing the limited resource and destroying the public good.

Hardin uses a Hegelian notion of positive liberty. As Friedrich Engels said, “Freedom is the recognition of necessity“: there is a moral necessity that government regulates public goods, restricting individual liberty for the sake of individual freedom.

However, as far as culture is concerned, the “tragedy” does not, in fact, exist. Culture is not a finite resource. Greater participation in shared culture enriches that culture; it does not deplete it. Freedom in this digital age includes the ability to have unrestricted access to public goods, which in turn produces more public goods.

Laurence Lessig (among other things, founder of the Creative Commons) has explained this phenomenon at a TED conference on the strangling of creativity by protective intellectual property laws. Lessig frames the problem as a war between the read-only culture induced by copyright laws and an emerging read-write culture wherein creativity is democratized by access to and re-use of prior artistic works (see the video above).

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Inaugurations Past and Present

The Smithsonian Institution has a long tradition with inaugural events, with its museums serving as the sites for many of the inaugural balls, festivities, and exhibitions. A few years ago, the Smithsonian Photography Initiative wanted your contributions to click! photography changes everything: History in the Making.

You could submit your photographs and stories of recent US elections and inaugurations that explore how photography influences our understanding of the world. It’s exciting too that the Smithsonian is on the forefront of encouraging a populist inclusion of modern times in their storied archives. People were encouraged, if they had any images and stories, take a trip to their website and submit them!

One of the activities we hold in our Flickr group, Flickr Commons, is a Tag/Research/Explore (TRE) campaign, where we focus on a sub curated collection and ask our members to add descriptive tags to the images, as well as notes and independent research. We also encourage members to present their findings in the group. This weekend, we started a TRE campaign for the Smithsonian’s Inauguration set, which we invited into our group’s photo pool for our member’s ease of access.

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The Power of Your Subconscious Mind

Lately, I’ve been forgetting to take my medicines – Zoloft and THE PILL – before bed. It shouldn’t be so easy to forget them. But they’re right there, next to my contact lenses, in the medicine cabinet, looking at me while I’m plunging myself into blindness in a weird sort of nightly ritual.

It should be pretty simple. Take out my contacts, put the case in the cabinet, and grab the prescriptions from the shelf. But it’s not. I keep forgetting and this has now gotten worse since this academic year has ended.

There are some obvious downsides to this forgetfulness. For one thing, I’m (close but) not quite ready to start on Bebe le Deuxieme. Did you hear that, Subconscious? I’m not quite ready yet. Give me a few more months, and then we’ll talk.

Side note: I even called to schedule my annual girly parts check-up, and they couldn’t fit me in until late August. Ain’t nothing happening in the uterus till after that appointment!

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American Presidential Inauguration photos

I’m a bit too excited (such a Eufemia) about our current Trump administration to make smart remarks. Here’s a look through time of American Presidential Inauguration photos in The Commons — mostly from The Smithsonian! All of these images — including recent ones — are available with “no known copyright restrictions“. I guess later inaugurations, after Bill Clinton, are still fresh in your memory so no pictures.

We began eight years after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He’ll be the arc to our story.

The gown was worn by Julia Dent Grant (First Lady to Ulysses S. Grant).

Grant was a General under Lincoln during the American Civil War.

Smithsonian Institution
The Arts and Industries building is ready for James Garfield’s bash. Within the year, Garfield would be assassinated, as was Lincoln.

The inauguration of Woodrow Wilson at the Capitol Building.

Construction on the Lincoln Memorial began the following year on the opposite end of The Mall from the Capitol. As a symbol of presidential excellence, it would become the site of “kick-off” events leading to the inaugural oath.

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I’ve Given Up Excuses – I’m Going to Become a Morning Runner

I’ll be the first to admit it. For most of my life, I’ve been in the habit of making excuses. Excuses lead to procrastination (I’m the king of procrastinating), and ultimately forgetting about something completely. Excuses are the easy way out. Maybe, one day, I can make morning runs just like Paulia Hughes. Wouldn’t that be great?

I have spent the bulk of the last six months on a constant job hunt. I love my career, and I love what I do for a living, I have had plenty of interviews but haven’t had just the perfect opportunity come along yet. It’s a tiring, exhausting, and mentally draining process

I am not a morning person. I hate waking up early to do anything, most of which is to go for a run. I can’t tell you how badly I just want to stay in bed where it’s comfortable and warm and there are no concerns or cares in the world.

I’ve found that actually saying things out loud is one of the only ways I’ll end up following through with them. I guess I need others to help keep me accountable. So here goes.

I’m done making excuses.

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National Galleries of Scotland and Krazy Kilts

Upon hearing that the National Galleries of Scotland have joined the Flickr Commons project, one word immediately springs to mind.

There may be a better tribute to the country that brought the world the gift of the Scottish Enlightenment, bedrock of the best aspects of modernity, than a collection of kilts. However, running a Commons search for “kilt” had revealed only two kilt-related images from all of the existing Commons institutions.

Imperial War Museum
This first result, from the Imperial War Museum, has stood alone in satisfying the requirement for archetypal kilt imagery in the Commons collection since it was first uploaded in November of last year. Unfortunately, it also includes two individuals who not only are kiltless but obscure the kilt by standing in front of it!

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A Moment for Self-Reflection

It is okay to not have answers all of the time. Yesterday, I sat at a meeting and came to this conclusion. I am a part of a group of girls, and the underlying purpose of the group is to uplift each other and come together as a circle of sisters. We were talking about stereotypes that exist about black girls, and we really reflected on the negative universal stereotypes that surround our being as black girls in America.

We finally reached the subject of our plans for after college. Of course, I thought that it would be an easy question. However, I was the second to last person to answer, and when it was my time to speak, I did not know. I don’t even know now, as I reflect for the second time on this topic.

Over the past months, I’ve been thinking about both getting a new part-time job now while I’m still in college and also about what I want to do after college.

I love my study and career (although I first had the get my GED), and I love what I do now to make a living. I have had plenty of interviews but haven’t had just the perfect opportunity come along yet. It’s a tiring, exhausting, and mentally draining process The point is that I am okay with not being sure, and here is why. …

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Stop Complaining about your Job!

I have spent the bulk of the last six months on a constant job hunt now college is coming to an end. I love my studies, I love my part-time career, and I love what I do for a living, I have had plenty of interviews but haven’t had just the perfect opportunity come along yet. It’s a tiring, exhausting, and mentally draining process.

Between the emotional stress of completing college, job hunting, and the financial strain of managing my family on one income instead of two, well let’s just say I’ve had better times in my life!

There is nothing that is worse than the prospect of being unemployed after college and job hunting, and listening to people around you complain about how much they hate their jobs! Between Facebook and well-meaning friends who call, it seems a day can’t go by without me listening to someone tell me how lucky I am to not be working because their job is driving them crazy!

I am not lucky to not be working full-time yet. Frankly, what I am, is broke, despite my job on the side. I would love to have a job, almost any job at this point now college is practically over.

What I do not want is to listen to anyone complain about their co-workers, their bosses, their long work hours, that they still need to get their GED, or how they think they’re going to start looking for something else because their job is just so bad they can’t stand it.

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For the Common Good: The Library of Congress

Some years ago, the Library of Congress (LOC) released a detailed report written in October by Michelle Springer, Beth Dulabahn, and Phil Michel on the results to date of the Flickr pilot. The verdict? The pilot has resoundingly exceeded expectations as well as silenced early criticism and fears.

To quantify this achievement, consider the following statistics from nine months of data:

  • There were 10.4 million views of the photos on Flickr.
  • 79% of the 4,615 photos have been made a “favorite” (that is, incorporated into personal Flickr collections of bookmarked images).
  • More than 15,000 Flickr members have chosen to make the Library of Congress a “contact,” creating a photostream of Library images viewable from their own Flickr home pages.

The Library’s full report chronicles the development of the pilot, including the challenges to the launch, photo selection and preparation, technical issues, and resources needed for the launch. The report also maps the goals of the pilot to the outcomes so far, such as increasing awareness of cultural heritage and educational resources, gaining a better understanding of social tagging and community input, and leading the way for other institutions to enter social media sharing.

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The Weeping Willow

One of the most beautiful trees of God’s creation that I have ever seen is The Weeping Willow. It looks so serene, peaceful and wise but it also has a haunting glow of sorrow. It reminds me of many elderly women that I cared for when I worked in nursing homes during my years in college.


They were women of great sacrifice. They have been through The Great Depression, The Civil Rights Movement and sent their husbands, brothers, and sons to serve several deployments of war.

There they were, staying strong alone on the home front. Their discipline was tough but their comfort was gentle. They cooked meals every night and only allowed an hour of television.

They stretched every penny, irons many creases, scrubbed many floors and sewed many seams. They have been to many weddings and sadly even more funerals.

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