Dialog:Disclosing the commons

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Disclosing the commons

As enclosure has privatized more and more vital resources and distributed their benefits more inequitably, pressure increases to disclose the commons, to reassert the prerogatives of humanity, in common, over its accumulated achievements. As enclosing private property has been the driving endeavor in the modern era, disclosing the commons is becoming the essential concern in the postmodern era. Disclosing the commons is taking place in large part as communal activities emerge through self-organizing interactions over information networks and prove far more useful relative to their enclosed counterparts, quickly displacing them. Thus, Wikipedia has wrenched the encyclopedia out of the privatized realm and put it into the commons, disclosing anew the status of accumulated knowledge as an essential component of the human commons.

Please note: What follows contains draft content that will be significantly revised.

I'm Robbie. I'll begin with a few words on why I'm starting A Place to Study, which provides free, comprehensive resources to persons seeking self-formation and liberal learning in the digital commons.

Everyone has been educated in a worldwide system of formal instruction—some to succeed, others to fail. Helping more to succeed in the system and fewer to fail is important, but not the aim in creating A Place to Study.

What can we and should we do when the system itself stops succeeding and starts to fail?

And it is not only the global system of educational institutions that have begun to fail.

  • Our economic system has chugged out of control. It over-produces, distributes its product inefficiently and unjustly, and flouts bi-products that foul and destabilize the habitat.
  • Our political system, never too steady, abandons the task of governing the civic whole and rips itself apart through blind battling for power, heedless of its use.
  • Our communications systems rush straightway to transform the affordances and constraints that determine who says what to whom for what reasons and with what effects—the resulting babel passes as words to make us great again.

Education for success in failing systems is not a wise choice. What is the wise choice? That's the question we can and should examine. To make a place for that is why I've begun A Place to Study.

It offers no solutions, no packages, no planned and vetted paths. It offers each a place to reflect, to inquire, to think, and to study as each sees fit in the company of others with resources that suit the task.

A Place to Study exists as a starting point for any person trying to make wise educational choices while living and working in failing civic systems—instructional, economic, political, and cultural. That requires significant effort on unconventional possibilities exerted decisively despite substantial self-doubt.

As a worksite for that effort, A Place to Study does not offer quick gratification, no going viral. You enter it as if you are going alone to a large, complex city where the language and texture of life differs from home. Orient yourself to both the spirit and the particulars of the place. To facilitate doing that we offer four sets of short dialogues on the main activities A Place to Study should serve—