Nurturing non-market spaces in the digital environment
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) produce public goods for societies. Through ICTs people can be more politically active, construct their social identities, strengthen bonds with significant others, and more. However, businesses provide access to the Internet, produce and sell hardware and software, while maintaining platforms that are used for the generation of these public goods. There is a contradiction inherent in this dynamic as the continued provision of these public goods is contingent upon private entities deeming them profitable. Within the United States, federal policies have not adequately addressed this contradiction. In this paper, I argue that a change in the way ICTs are conceptualized is needed in order to increase interest in protecting the public goods produced by ICTs. To this end, I describe a model in which interconnected ICTs work in layers to produce a single digital environment. People must have access to each layer in this environment in order to benefit from the goods produced. In this environment, there is room for both market spaces that support commerce and non-market spaces that support public goods. I argue that this model can aid citizens and advocacy groups in framing and justifying the need for nurturing non-market spaces.
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