Kerry Smith was just talking at the IFLA conference about about Researching the Information Commons (RIC). There is a section on defining the IC on the website, including
"A commons, simply understood, is a resource, or a facility, "that is shared by a community of producers or consumers" (Oakerson, 1992 as quoted in Kranich 2004). The resources within a commons may be either "public goods" or "common pool resources." Some examples of public goods are streets, parks, beaches, common transit routes, stores of knowledge, and national defense." and
"An imaginary "place" where works in the public domain and works affirmatively made under conditions less restrictive than full copyright "reside" (Campbell, 2005)" (see http://infocommons.curtin.edu.au/). Kerry showed pictures of her local beach and bush, as examples of physical commons she was free to roam.
This is therefore something a bit different from the use of the phrase to apply to library/services (as in the "Information Commons" at my university, which you can't get into unless you have a university card). This is an important topic to think about and debate (and take action on) and its worth having a look at the website to see the issues being researched, and you can join in if you are a researcher passionate about this area.
Photo by Sheila Webber: another cute mobile library parked outside the conference centre.