The Tragedy of the Commons — Antithesis

Michelle at Home

[Postings for the next few weeks may be sporadic or abbreviated.]

I’ve written several times regarding “The Tragedy of the Commons.”  You may recall that is the axiom which roughly reads, “If something is owned in common, one, several or all of the common owners will use the thing to exhaustion to the detriment of all.”  An example that works for this discussion is unlimited Internet bandwidth.  Because, of course, there is no such thing.  No matter how great the bandwidth available, companies and individuals will come up with ways to use it (e.g., Netflix allowing its subscribers to download movie streams in real time).

I recently experienced what in Internet terms would be the antithesis of The Tragedy of the Commons, and in fact was a return to stone age technology:  extremely limited bandwidth charged for at an exorbitant rate.  Amazing how it alters one’s approach to the Internet.  In this particular instance, I was often limited to 5.5 or 10 mbps (sometimes as low as 1 mbps!), and charged $0.40/minute for the privilege.


  1. Gone were the benefits of web surfing – no more (or at least severely curtailed) jumps from one site to another, searching Google and jumping over to Wikipedia or another reference resource on a whim.
  2. Emails were downloaded, then read offline.  Replies were composed offline and sent only when ready.  (I’m fortunate to be using Eudora, an email server program admirably suited to the purpose.)
  3. Anything that required thought while online was avoided, especially services that required any volume of online typing.
  4. Real-time luxuries like Twitter, chat rooms, Facebook, instant messaging, etc., were inconceivable.
  5. Websites were judged on real Darwinian terms – too much Flash, or too many graphics, and they’d not be visited, or visited once and never again.

Think about this in case the “good old” days appeal to you.  Model “T” facilities for a Jaguar mind.


A later session with Michelle, on site.

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