The aim of this book is not to provide yet another critique of capitalism but rather to contribute to the ongoing dialogue for post-capitalist construction, and to discuss how another world could be possible. It builds on the idea that peer-to-peer infrastructures are gradually becoming the general conditions of work, economy, and society, considering peer production as a social advancement within capitalism but with various post-capitalistic aspects in need of protection, enforcement, stimulation and connection with progressive social movements. Using a four-scenario approach, the authors seek to simplify possible outcomes and to explore relevant trajectories of the current techno-economic paradigm within and beyond capitalism. They postulate that the mature peer production communities pose a sustainable alternative to capital accumulation, that of the circulation of the Commons. They make some tentative transition proposals towards a Commons-based economy and society for the state, the market and the civic domain.
A contribution from Geoffroy Levy from Nantes:
“A few words about a French project named Open Source Energy. This project is intended to enable the design of open hardware solutions to capture the different kinds of energies available all around us (from the environment or from human activities). A first module to transform and to store electricity from renewable sources is being designed: the ENERCAN (opensourceenergy.wordpress.com/lenercan-v1). This first brick is the starting point of a large scale design process toward the creation of new solutions inspired by old or forgotten ones and improved by the use of high-tech devices. The project is not about large and costly devices but about simple, open and cheap modules that can be replicated to capture every stream of available and lost energies, even the smallest one.
Besides designing the modules, the team took part in several events related to design or DIY in order to promote the project and to share with others.
I believe there is a historic opporunity to reconstruct a progressive majority around enabling the commons, which would be based on the following political and sociological complementarity between political forces and parties.
Though the fortunes of the new player in politics are down from the moment I wrote this, I believe the general gist is still valid.
Obviously, my proposals are centered on the European situation.
Excerpted from Al Jazeera, by Michel Bauwens:
“Player #1: The Pirate Parties
This week the interviews with experts and (ex-)Wikipedians, on which parts of my paper “Peer Governance and Wikipedia: Identifying and Understanding the Problems of Wikipedia’s Governance (2009)” were based, are going to be presented in a series of separate posts. This first post contains the short interviews with Michel Bauwens and Axel Bruns who are answering the same questions.
Phi Beta Iota: Strongly recommended. Wikipedia lacks integrity. It has been taken over by various cabals including Zionists, the various industrial complexes, and our very own CIA. Wikipedia is a classic example of a “controlled” asset used to misinform the public at great convenience. Across the sciences and the humanities, across most public issue areas, and certainly with respect to Open Source Intelligence, WIkipedia is a disinformation source that is very convenient for the loosely educated to embrace. It is a form of “soft” propaganda and therefore toxic.
Franco Iacomella, 26th June 2012
“Alexis Ohanian, the 29-year old founder of social news site Reddit, has partnered with the online advocacy group Fight for the Future to create what they’re calling the “Internet Defense League.” Ohanian describes the project, which they plan to officially launch next month, as a “Bat-Signal for the Internet.” Any website owner can sign up on the group’s website to add a bit of code to his or her site–or receive that code by email at the time of a certain campaign–that can be triggered in the case of a political crisis like SOPA, adding an activist call-to-action to all the sites involved, such as a widget or banner asking users to sign petitions, call lawmakers, or boycott companies.
“People who wish to be tapped can see, oh look, the Bat-Signal is up. Time to do something,” says Ohanian. “Whatever website you own, this is a way for you to be notified if something comes up and take some basic actions…If we aggregate everyone that’s doing it, the numbers start exploding.”
The embedded code on participating sites might do more than just display a mere banner ad, says Tiffiniy Cheng, co-director of Internet-focused political advocacy group Fight for the Future, and could even go as far as the blackout technique that Web activists used to successfully turn the tide against SOPA. “We’ll invent something at the time, and it will be some really unified and shocking action,” she says, hinting at techniques that would temporarily take over the entire appearance of willing sites. ”We’re creating the tools and the forms of protest that allow for viral organizing. That’s how the SOPA protests were able to get started and grow to the level they did.”
So far, Cheng says Reddit, imaging hosting site Imgur, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, viral content company Cheezburger Network, Mozilla and the non-profit Public Knowledge have all signed up. The group hopes that eventually thousands of sites–including those as small as a single user’s Tumblr page–will join the project.
Fight for the Future and Ohanian have both been focused most recently on defeating CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protect Act. The bill, originally designed to allow sharing of information between the private sector and government agencies like the National Security Agency for cybersecurity purposes, was amended just before being passed in the House last month to allow companies to hand over any user data they wish to the government without regard for existing privacy laws, for reasons as vague as preventing computer “crime,” or “the protection of individuals from the danger of death or serious bodily harm.” One of two Senate versions of the bill is expected to come up for a vote in early June.
Fight for the Future last week launched an anti-CISPA site, Privacy is Awesome, asking users to call their senators and demand meetings to discuss the bill. And Ohanian has spoken out against the legislation as well, asking investors not to buy shares of Facebook’s newly-public stock to protest the company’s support for CISPA.
But CISPA protests have yet to match the fever pitch of anti-SOPA and anti-PIPA protests in January that led to boycotts of SOPA-supporting Web host GoDaddy, attacks by Anonymous against the Recording Industry of Association of America and the Motion Picture Assocation of America, and the blackout protests that included sites as popular as Reddit and Wikipedia. Most of Silicon Valley continues to support CISPA, including Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Oracle and Symantec, with Google refusing to take a stand on either side of the issue.
Ohanian argues the challenge in maintaining political vigilance against laws that would harm the Internet is long-term endurance, rather than the ability to defeat any one piece of legislation.”You can only cry ‘Oh my gosh, they’re going to shut down the Internet’ so often,” he says. “We’ve scared [Congress] from doing anything as egregious as SOPA and PIPA again. But the new challenge is this endless series of smaller bills that try to unravel internet rights.”
The answer, Ohanian believes, is to foster a new level of engagement between Internet users and Congress that emphasizes digital rights and either educates ignorant lawmakers on Internet issues or helps to push them out of office. He cites an idea that he attributes to Cheezburger Network chief executive Ben Huh, that every Internet user should have their legislators’ phone numbers saved on their cell phone and ready to use on a regular basis.”
WASHINGTON – Evgeny Morozov is a Belarus-born technology writer who has held positions at Stanford and Georgetown universities in the United States. His first book, The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, argued that “Western do-gooders may have missed how [the Internet] … entrenches dictators, threatens dissidents, and makes it harder — not easier — to promote democracy.” The New York Times described it as “brilliant and courageous.”
In his second book, To Save Everything, Click Here: The Follow of Technological Solutionism, Click Here, Morozov critiques what he calls “solutionism” — the idea that given the right code, algorithms and robots, technology can solve all of mankind’s problems, effectively making life “frictionless” and problem-free.
Morozov argues that this drive to eradicate imperfection and make everything “efficient” shuts down other avenues of progress and leads ultimately to an algorithm-driven world where Silicon Valley, rather than elected governments, determines the shape of the future.
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All solutions come with cost. Shifting a lot of the responsibility to the individual is a very conservative approach that seeks to preserve the current system instead of reforming it. With self-tracking we end up optimizing our behavior within the existing constraints rather than changing the constraints to begin with. It places us as consumers rather than citizens. My fear is policymakers will increasingly find that it is much easier, cheaper and sexier to invite the likes of Google to engage in some of this problem-solving rather than do something that is much more ambitious and radical.
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I have a lot of respect for these people as engineers, but they are being asked to take on tasks that go far beyond engineering — tasks that have to do with human and social engineering rather than technical engineering. Those are the kind of tasks I would prefer were taken on by human beings who are more well rounded, who know about philosophy and ethics, and know something about things other than efficiency, because it will not end well.
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The newspaper offers something very different from Google’s aggregators. It offers a value system, an idea of what matters in the world. Newspapers need to start articulating that value.
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There are many problems I have with TED. It has created this infrastructure where it very easy to be interesting without being very deep. If TED exercised their curatorial powers responsibly, they would be able to separate the good interesting from the bad interesting. But my fear is they don’t care as long as it drives eyeballs to the website. They don’t align themselves with the thinkers, they align themselves with marketing, advertising, futurists who are interested in ideas for the sake of ideas. They don’t care how these ideas relate to each other and they don’t much care for what those ideas actually mean. TED has come to exercise lots of power but they don’t exercise it wisely.
By Andrew Grauer
A sustainable economy requires that both the supply and demand sides benefit from a transaction. In education, we see so many inefficiencies between those supplying the knowledge and those consuming it. Teachers feel like they’re being underpaid and students feel like they are overpaying for the education they are receiving. This system is broken, presenting an opportunity to recalibrate and bring better equilibrium to the market. We’ve already seen the collaborative consumption business model transform industries from hospitality (Airbnb) to transportation (Lyft), and we believe that education is ripe for a similar disruption.
I founded the online education company Course Hero when I was a student at Cornell. I was frustrated that so much knowledge was bottled up in private hard drives and individual brains without a convenient, accessible forum to share and distribute this knowledge. At the same time, the student lifestyle—balancing homework, jobs and extracurricular activities—wasn’t necessarily conducive to accessing professors, tutors or other help they may need during designated office hours. I saw an opportunity to connect this bottled up knowledge with the students who needed it and create a better learning experience—one that benefits both the expert and the learner.
Digital services are ready for a business model change, which is why Course Hero is working to build an online “knowledge marketplace” where experts can make money sharing their expertise, and learners can consume that content when and where they need it. By incentivizing experts of all forms to interact with Course Hero’s existing user base of learners, the knowledge marketplace is able to scale while providing consistent, quality content that meets the demands of learners. Like the retired miner who signed up with Lyft to earn extra cash shuttling city-dwellers around San Francisco, Course Hero is empowering a new class of microentrepreneurs who are financially rewarded for sharing their knowledge on their own time in the form of courseware, documents and tutoring advice.
A knowledge marketplace can provide a powerful supplement to the traditional learning experience. For example, since professors, TAs and tutors have limited availability, we developed Course Hero’s online tutoring platform that invites students to ask questions, and experts to get paid for answering as many or as few student questions as they want. Office hours can be impossible to make, however an open tutoring platform ensures that an expert will be able to assist a student even at 2:00 am the night before a final — often when the student needs it most.
(05 March 2013) – A Flash Eurobarometer measuring citizens’ engagement shows that Europeans trust civil society organisations to influence policies and make a difference in the life of their communities.
While Europe faces economic and social challenges, EU citizens continue to involve themselves in participatory democracy activities, including signing petitions and becoming active members of non-governmental organisations, mainly at local and national level.
A majority (59%) of people think non-governmental organisations share their interests and values. A majority of respondents (54%) think that voting in EU elections or joining an NGO can influence political decision-making and even more respondents (7 out of 10) think that voting in local or national elections is an effective way to influence political decisions.
A third (34%) of respondents say that they have signed a petition in the last two years. 24% have conveyed their views on public issues to an elected representative at local/regional level, 10% at national level and 4% at EU level.
Next Wednesday, March 20, a fascinating new stage in transnational cooperation will arrive when scores of commoners in twenty countries take part in a Spanish P2P Wikisprint, a coordinated effort to document and map the myriad peer to peer initiatives that exist in Latin America and Spain.
The effort, hosted by the P2P Foundation, was originally going to be held in Spain only, but word got around in the Hispanic world, and presto, an inter-continental P2P collaboration was declared! (A Spanish-language version of the event can be found here.)
As described by Bernardo Gutiérrez on the P2P Foundation blog, the Wikisprint will bring together an indigenous collective in Chiapas with a co-working space of Quito; a crowdfunding platform in Barcelona with the open data movement of Montevideo; a hacktivist group in Madrid with permaculturists in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas; and a community of free software developers in Buenos Aires with Lima-based city planners; among many others.
The Wikisprint will map the various Spanish experiences around the commons, open innovation, co-creation, transparency, co-design, 3D printing, free license, p2politics, among other things. It will also feature debates, lectures, screenings, speeches, self-media coverage, workshops, network visualizations and videos.
Flip the Media, 9 March 2013
AirBnb, etsy and Relay Rides are the current poster children of the sharing economy. If you don’t know what that is, it’s also called collaborative consumption or peer-to-peer selling. In other words, just fancy names for one person selling or renting their stuff to another person. Clearly this is not a new idea but it has never really been possible to do it on such a large scale. In the case of a site like Etsy – which describes itself as a global marketplace for unique goods, from furniture to food – they have allowed the local artisan to take his or her products far beyond the confines of their communities, towns, cities or countries and sell to a global market.
Tim O’Reilly, tech venture capital pioneer and CEO of O’Reilly Media, moderated a panel at SXSW Interactive with Nate Blecharczyk, CTO and co-founder of AirBnb, Juliet Gorman, communications director of Etsy, and Shelby Clark, founder of Relay Rides, and they explored some drivers of growth in the sharing economy as well as what it takes to be successful. It kind of goes without saying that the convergence of social networks, commercial payment, distribution and logistics technology – and perhaps a greater willingness for people to explore alternative income streams in tough economic times – created the right conditions for peer-to-peer selling to take off.
Thus, commons structurally generate responsibility on the part of their participants for preserving the resource and the collective relationships, while markets generally do not. Commoners are in charge of shaping the social relationships involved; therefore, they can take responsibility for their actions. However, this also entails their responsibility to do so. In the commons, it is possible to deal with conflicted goals and varying needs before taking action. In the market, however, action comes first, and then the consequences are dealt with later. The market is seldom capable of mediating between different needs and identifying responsible solutions because maximum profits is the touchstone for choice.
Text of an essay by Stefan Meretz of Keimform.de.
Originally published in The Wealth of the Commons (eds. David Bollier and Silke Helfrich; Levellers Press, Amherst, MA, pp. 28–34). License: CC-by 3.0.). This is a version without references.
The commons are as varied as life itself, and yet everyone involved with them shares common convictions. If we wish to understand these convictions, we must realize what commons mean in a practical sense, what their function is and always has been. That in turn includes that we concern ourselves with people. After all, commons or common goods are precisely not merely “goods,” but a social practice that generates, uses and preserves common resources and products. In other words, it is about the practice of commons, or commoning, and therefore also about us. The debate about the commons is also a debate about images of humanity. So let us take a step back and begin with the general question about living conditions.
Bauwens is founder of the Foundation for Peer-to-Peer Alternatives and works in collaboration with a global group of researchers in the exploration of peer production, governance, and property.
With Frank Theys, Bauwens is the co-creator of a 3 hour documentary TechnoCalyps, an examination of the ‘metaphysics of technology’. He taught and, with Salvino Salvaggio, co-edited a two-volume French language anthologies on the Anthropology of Digital Society.
Bauwens is the author of a number of on-line essays, including the seminal thesis Peer to Peer and Human Evolution, and The Political Economy of Peer Production. He was also editor of the email Pluralities-Integration newsletter (until 2007, when it ceased production).