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Michael J. Madison

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Michael J. Madison

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Michael J. Madison

This chapter explores the related ideas of access to knowledge resources and shared governance of those resources, often known as commons. Knowledge resources consist of many types and forms. Some are tangible, and some are intangible. Some are singular; some are reproduced in copies. Some are singular or unique; some are collected or pooled. Some are viewed, used or consumed only by a single person; for some resources, collective or social consumption is the norm. Any given resource often has multiple attributes along these dimensions, depending on whether one examines the resource’s physical properties, its creative or inventive properties, or its natural, factual or ideational properties. Access questions are, accordingly, diverse. That diversity is compounded by the proposition that access is itself a property of a resource, in the sense that resource characteristics are, to a substantial extent, socially and culturally constructed. Social construction means not only that boundaries among properties of a resource may be blurred but also that those properties and boundaries may change over time. By virtue of that diversity, investigating access to knowledge resources creates the risk of producing a conceptually fragmented and unhelpful landscape of theory and application on a resource-by-resource basis. This chapter suggests that the investigation of access to knowledge resources may be unified under the umbrella concept of knowledge commons, the study of governance of shared knowledge resources. It presents a framework for understanding knowledge commons and illustrates its application to several questions of access to the material and immaterial dimensions of specific knowledge resources.

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Michael J. Madison

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Michael J. Madison

The chapter describes biobanks as institutions for collection, preservation, curation, and production of knowledge and information, in both material and immaterial forms. That characterization calls for research and comparative analysis of the broad diversity of specific biobanks, using a standardized research framework. Such a framework is identified and described here, as the knowledge commons framework. The chapter describes applications of the framework to biobanks to date and suggests directions for future research.

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Michael J. Madison

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Michael J. Madison, Katherine J. Strandburg and Brett M. Frischmann

This chapter describes a systematic approach to studying knowledge commons as an institutional mode of governance of knowledge and information resources. “Knowledge commons” refers to an institution (commons) for governing production, use, and/or preservation of a particular resource (knowledge or information, including resources linked to innovative and creative practice). “Commons” refers to a form of community management or governance. It applies to a resource, and it involves a group or community of people who share access to and/or use of the resource. “Commons” is the institutional arrangement of these elements and their coordination via combinations of law and other formal rules; social norms, customs, and informal discipline; and technological and other material constraints. “Knowledge” has broad scope, in order to permit knowledge commons researchers to capture and study a wide range of commons institutions and to highlight the importance of examining knowledge commons governance as part of dynamic, ecological contexts.