University of California at Berkeley, Spring 2010
INFO 290
Commons-Based Peer Production
Wednesdays, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Fridays 2:00 p.m - 3:00 p.m. (3 units)
202 South Hall

Instructor: Brian W. Carver (bcarver at ischool dot berkeley dot edu)
207C South Hall
Office Hours: Mondays 10:00-11:00 and 12:30-1:30 and by appointment

Course Website:

Grade and Attendance:
Your grade will be based primarily upon 1) several written progress reports on your chosen project, 2) maintaining a project log/diary, and 3) class participation.

Class participation will consist of leading class discussion at least once and making substantive contributions to the class discussions.

Attendance is expected. If you need to miss all or a portion of a class, I will assume you have a good reason, so you need not detail it for me. If you like, you can simply send me an email letting me know you need to miss, but it is not necessary.

Textbook: Readings available online.

Prerequisites: None; Students from all levels (graduate/undergraduate) and schools on campus are welcome. However, this is a graduate-level course, so interested undergraduates are encouraged to meet with me before enrolling (or before the drop deadline).

Course Description and Goals:
Course Description and Goals (pdf)

Add/Drop Policy: The university determines that the last day to drop without a "W." See the Registrar for more information.

Academic Honesty: U.C. Berkeley's Code of Student Conduct prohibits all forms of academic misconduct including but not limited to cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, or facilitating academic dishonesty. See Policy 102.01 at and It is my policy to pursue the discipline of such misconduct, including, but not limited to, the entering of a grade of F in the course and a notation (or equivalent) on the student's transcript of the reason for same.

Students with disabilities: Students with disabilities who may need accommodations for any sort of disability are invited to make an appointment to see me.

Special Thanks: to Mitch Kapor, Pamela Samuelson, and Steven Weber, whose prior course, Open Source Development & Distribution of Digital Info: Economic, Legal & Social Perspectives, inspired some of this syllabus and to Ian Ferguson and Alex Kozak who assisted in developing the idea for this course.


Wednesday, Jan. 20

  • Introduction
    • Garrett Hardin, The Tragedy of the Commons, Science (Dec. 13, 1968).
    • Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, Yale Univ. Press (2006) (Chapter 3).

Friday, Jan. 22

  • Discuss potential projects with your classmates

Wednesday, Jan. 27

Friday, Jan. 29

  • Each student narrows potential projects down to three options and begins answering questions about them.

Wednesday, Feb. 3

Friday, Feb. 5

  • Each student submits a project proposal.

Wednesday, Feb. 10

Friday, Feb. 12

  • Try to specify with greater detail the things that you hope to contribute this semester through your chosen project. Set specific goals.

Wednesday, Feb. 17

Wednesday, Feb. 24

Wednesday, Mar. 3

Friday, Mar. 5

  • Progress Report

Wednesday, Mar. 10

Wednesday, Mar. 17

Friday, Mar. 19

  • Mid-term Progress Report

Wednesday, Mar. 24


Wednesday, Mar. 31

Friday, Apr. 2

Wednesday, Apr. 7

Wednesday, Apr. 14

Friday, Apr. 16

  • Progress Report

Wednesday, Apr. 21

Wednesday, Apr. 28