Metaphors for the Commons

Here we collect ideas about powerful metaphors that tell more about the idea of the commons and commoning than our words can do.

Commoning is like a dandelion, common, green, stubborn, painting the world in sun-colors, everywhere.

The poet Walt Whitman, from "Leaves of Grass":

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume,For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

# The Landscape Metaphor

Experimenting with „landscape“or „roadmap“, i.e. „mapping“ metaphores seems to work. For instance: "Picture the commons as a cosmopolitan landscape/ map…" That's what it is: a landscape. And we try to provide orientation, i.e. to draw an intellectual map.

At the same time: „A map is not the terrain." (Stefan Brunnhuber, Die Kunster der Transformation, Freiburg im Breisgau, 2016:85)

Nate Ela 2016 (html ) talks about "legal landscapes", "a patchy landscape" and "landscape mapping":

Over the past decade, scholars of law and geography have been foraging in America’s cities, hunting for the commons. Along the way, a new common sense has cropped up, which takes urban farms and community gardens as prototypical examples of the urban commons. (Ela 2016:2)

The term "lawscape" points to a similar direction.

# The Dimmer Switch Metaphor ... allows for gradations of commons-based performance rather than bipolar/either-or formulations, see also hybrids

# The Key Metaphor

Here the link between daily life (the key we use to open our doors), the digital world, engeneering, cryptography as well as arts & culture, f.i the key in music industry is powerful. It can also be related to the Landscape Metahore through Key-Map wiki This triggers loads of related notions which can be woven into a methaporic carpet.

For instance: key - chord - contrasting key - pitch - scale - tone - tonic note - major or minor mode - contrasting key - key coloration wiki or in language: we speak about key-words! Our [[Glossary of backward-looking words

In music theory (wiki ), the key of a piece is a group of pitches, or scale upon which a music composition is created in classical, Western (pop) music. The group features a tonic note and its corresponding chords, providing a subjective sense of arrival and rest and also has a unique relationship to the other pitches of the same group, their corresponding chords, and pitches and chords outside the group. Notes and chords other than the tonic in a piece create varying degrees of tension, resolved when the tonic note or chord returns. The key may be in the major or minor mode, although major is assumed in a phrase like "this piece is in C". Popular songs are usually in a key, and so is classical music during the common practice period, around 1650–1900. Longer pieces in the classical repertoire may have sections in contrasting keys.

# The Game Metaphor

The Federated Wiki community plays with the game metaphor and connects it to (a living) space, in fact a tall building with 10 floors.

In this game we think of pages as floors in a tall building. Each floor has something special for you and an up escalator to the next floor. There are no down escalators but we will find fast ways down.

But it's also connected to the Metaphor of Organism.

Like ants following a trail of pheromones left by the ants before them, you should follow the trail of links we have left for you. The trail will become more interesting when it starts to evolve. Keep in mind that this game has been played before and like any good parallel universe we will find ways to jump between them.

# The Cooking Metaphor

This is a metaphor used by the Verbund Offener Werkstätten. In their Co-Wiki (html ) they talk about collections (Sammlungen), recipes (Rezepte) and ingredients (Zutaten) and composed a Cookbook (Kochbuch). Cooking - as commoning - is a highly creative and generative activity, very adaption to the context (regional ingredients, available resources etc) is key.

# More Ideas - Counterpoint Wiki - Conduit, f.i. Conduit of High Fidelity; fedwiki , fedwiki

Take metaphorical inspiration from Permaculture Design Principles