[iDC] Agency (was Re: THE ANTI WEB 2.0 MANIFESTO)

R Labossiere admin at klooj.net
Tue May 8 23:16:17 EDT 2007

I didn't mean to imply that peer production is going to go away. Neither do I think it urgent that revenue models be found. People, myself included, love to contribute within open frameworks.

I guess we might just accept that self-motivated, self-directed creative work is not financially sustainable, but not critically so -- a sustained unsustainability ;)

I agree and isn't it interesting tho' that there is no problem of affordability, as you point out with respect to the middle ages and religious orders. If we don't lack the money, we do lack comparable infrastructures today; artists may wear black but they annoyingly spurn the cloister; they live in poverty, but won't ritualize it as in "a vow of...". There is no system or ethic of tithing and no central 'agency' like the Church to oversee the "liturgy," manage income, create economies of scale, etc. 

Tithing is an interesting concept. A Toronto curator recently proposed a 1% municipal tax for art. I wonder if you could consider the exhorbitant proportion of the cost of consumer goods that is attributable to marketing as a kind of tithe.

But I digress... what concerns me still is the fragility of the relationships and commitments that are needed to make peer networks productive. What I'm wondering is whether there might not be an advantage to shifting the locus of stability from the commons (where stability relies, as you point out, on a bottomless pool of volunteers) to the producers, and here I am not yet convinced that agency is not relevant.

It's interesting that you should mention cooperatives because I was just thinking about those the other day. What particularly interests me about them is not so much how they work in relation to existing markets but how they can create markets. I think agency is especially relevant in the context of cooperatives because it is not just a matter of equitable accounting, but within the capacity of a cooperative structure to orient all processes to the producer not the commissioning principal or the consumer. 

I developed a model once for the visual arts that showed the artist at the centre and all the other players rotating around like planets. In 2003 that seemed pretty progressive. I'm now thinking that the model should put the artist on the outside, containing and instrumentalizing the institutional players. Which makes a kind of sense in terms of distributed networks and peer production, which are the glue that would link and hold that outer circle together. And that would perhaps better describe what is actually happening today.

- Rob
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