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Our Common Wealth by Peter Barnes, Jonathan Rowe

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7Human Nature and theCommons

When Jimmy Wales, a refugee from options trading, set out to create an encyclopedia online, he thought first of the Britannica model, except with volunteers. He assigned articles to professional experts and established panels for peer reviews. Then he started to write one himself—on options trading—and realized it was a drag.

It was like “handing in an essay at grad school,” he said later. So Wales shifted gears. He kept the volunteer model but made it an open and social experience rather than a hierarchical one. Anyone could write an entry on anything. The peer reviewers would be online readers themselves, who could correct factual errors and omissions and challenge biases.

To a conventional manager it might sound ...

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