chapter  14
13 Pages

Commodity or commons?

Knowledge, inequality, and the city
ByFran Tonkiss

Urban environments are complex systems for producing, refining, and dispersing ideas, skills, and information. Creating knowledge, is one of the things that cities do, and they tend to do it well. The double life of knowledge as private asset and as collective good has implications for the structuring of inequalities in cities and for attempts to promote greater urban equity, and social and economic inclusion. The concentration and development of human capital is a key part of cities' economic dynamism, and contemporary cities support dense and diverse markets for skill. An emerging paradigm for the distribution of knowledge involves public agencies making big urban data accessible to smaller scale users. 'Socialised' approaches to the production and distribution of knowledge go beyond conventional models of the state to take in a broader range of civic actors and organisations; indeed, the knowledge economy may be a privileged context for thinking about the social stewardship of an urban commons in more general terms.