Three ways to share

sharism sticker

If you are the designer of this stcker or know who s/he is is, let me know so I can put a credit

Sharing is an imperfect and irreplaceable word. Imperfect, because in all languages where I am able to judge, its etymology is derived from (dividing in) shares, while, in the information era, sharing is something else. Irreplaceable because in its long history, it accumulated meanings from which we do not want to depart. Let’s consider three kinds of sharing:

  • Sharing scarce resources follows the model of dividing a cake in slices. This model is applicable to scarce and non-extensible resources, whether on a table or in the whole planet. The recent evolution of cake pans has given us pans that ease the division in unequal parts, to fit varying appetites or diets. As for planetary resources, it seems that the equivalent of the unequal parts cake tin is the gluttony of rich countries and populations. The necessary diet seems to be adopted very slowly, if at all.
  • Sharing wealth (or income) looks at first sight similar to cutting cakes. However, political philosophers taught us that wealth is -to some extent- an extensible or at least varying size cake, and that decisions on how to share it must take in account the impact of sharing on the size of this particular cake. This said, it seems that this wisdom mostly served recently as an excuse for letting the sharing of wealth become ever more unequal.
  • Sharing information is not a division but a multiplication : copying multiplies information and put what it represents in the hands of each. It is to be practiced without restraint, but with judgment1.

These three ways to share correspond to three types of essential goods; the physical commons of nature and the environment, the social public goods, and the information commons of culture, knowledge, public expression and software tools.

This post is also available in: French

  1. Which judgment is debated, but here is what I suggested to recognize as legitimate or as good practice on the Internet: without aim of profit or with authorization, only for what has been digitally published already, with acknowledgment of who produced it, and without polluting the information space with the multiplication of noise. []

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