Category:Background

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A Knowledge Commons for Community-Led Action on Sustainability and Climate Change

ECOLISE is developing this new framework for collaborative production, sharing and implementation of knowledge. Integrating formal and informal modes of inquiry, documentation and evaluation, it is intended to be a tool to support and strengthen ongoing processes of action learning that lie at the heart of community-led action. For ECOLISE, it recognises the central role of knowledge and learning in our work and that of our members, as both networks and organisations, and seeks to support the relationships between Knowledge and Learning and the other key ECOLISE pillars of Communications and Policy. Operating in a federated fashion and based on open source platforms and working processes, it aims to meet the needs of diverse users and user groups throughout ECOLISE and wider allied networks.

The Knowledge Commons includes technical and social components: an information archive and user community. The information archive covers five main thematic areas: research, education, practice, mapping and media. In each of these areas, it combines technical platforms for the compilation, curation and generation of information at three successively more abstract levels: data, documents and patterns. Patterns synthesise the current state of knowledge on any topic, whether of greater or lesser scope, as multi-authored, mobile and dynamic information artefacts. The creation, application, evaluation and ongoing revision of patterns is envisaged to be the heart of the collaborative knowledge production processes undertaken by the user community.

The user community operates and maintains the knowledge commons via an agreed set of rules in use. These rules identify the rights and associated responsibilities of different users, describe how such rights are acquired and lost, and specify procedures for ensuring responsibilities are maintained and introducing appropriate sanctions when they are not. Users may potentially include anyone involved in or allied with ECOLISE able to benefit from and in some way contribute to the information archive (bearing in mind that usage alone constitutes a form of contribution). The ability to federate knowledge – to duplicate and separately modify fragments of the information archive, and selectively incorporate useful changes back into the main archive – allows user groups to work with autonomously, and the archive itself to capture a wide range of collective wisdom.

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