Following on from the “Gap in Time” (2014) series, “The Tragedy of Digital Space” (2017) explores our interdependent digital spaces and how social relations stretched over geographical physical space are changing rapidly. In 1833, the English economist William Forster Lloyd published a pamphlet which included a hypothetical example of over-use of a common public resource, in this case a piece of open land for public use called a Common. Then in 1968, ecologist Garrett Hardin explored this same social dilemma in his article "The Tragedy of the Commons", published in the journal of Science. Both of these writers were looking at the different issues that arise out of the use of commonly accessible land. The tragedy Hardin concluded is that while the public benefit from this shared space, no one is responsible for it and that collective indifference destroys it, therefore the very people who need it and benefit from it effectively destroy their shared space. The most disturbing part of Hardin's theory is his assertion that the things we do in order to do good like reaching the goal of social stability, ends up giving free rein to those with a lesser social conscience to create the tragedy.
Today, although we have public areas where people meet, the predominant global public space is the internet. The key developers of this technology, namely, Robert Taylor, Lawrence Roberts, Professor Leonard Kleinrock, Donald Davies, Robert E. Kahn, Vint Cerf, Louis Pouzin and Tim Berners-Lee could not have foreseen the tragedy of their good intentions. The tragedy is that's it's becoming a bit like Central Park, New York in the 1970’s, a place where no one dared to go after dark. Will this space get regulated and will people simply return to older modes of communication like phone, fax and letters to protect their privacy.