[iDC] Shirky's Here Comes Everybody and Leadbeater's We-Think...

Michael Bauwens michelsub2003 at yahoo.com
Tue Jun 10 15:09:38 UTC 2008

This is a complex issue, but we cannot just dismiss and contain open/free/p2p developments to the sphere of immateriality.
Some important aspects:
- every physical production process has immaterial design aspects, and those are subject to the creation of open design communities that are very similar to the free software field, though they face special challenges. However, after some doldrums, since 2005, these movements are emerging in many different fields, which I have monitored here at http://p2pfoundation.net/Category:Design . I would recommend anyone to have a look not just at the directory of projects here http://p2pfoundation.net/Product_Hacking, but at the general introductory material we have assembled
- the means of production for physical production are also in the process of being miniaturized, i.e. distributed. Trends such as open biology, we may not wish for, but when the price of production machinery goes down by 90%, can we actually avoid such distributed manufacturing from occuring, even in negative 'pirate' formats?
- from my observation, the dominant trend is the combination of open design communities with built-only capitalism models, which have already been well-documented by von Hippel, but are since emerging in many new fields; at the very least, the increased community literacy of such communities, i.e. an awareness of their differential interests from the business ecology which surround such commons, does have an influence on the ethical aspects of such companies, which have to take into account the balance of power and the goodwill of the community
- the question is: can we go further and actually develop new modes of physical production, which are more congruent with the values of openness/freedom/particpation/universal availability that are characteristic of such open design communities? At this stage, we cannot affirm that cooperative production modes are more productive than market-based capitalist enterprises, even as open design is already hyperproductive as compared with closed design; but what if energy prices soars, the price of machinery continues to plummet, and a different ecology of cooperation is created which recognizes the overall greater efficiency of different modes?
I recommend a more than cursory look at the ambitiouis plans of Marcin Jacubowksi, one amongst many, who are working in this area: http://p2pfoundation.net/Sustainability_Building_Block_Package
This is an area of potential development where we would do well to keep our natural scepticism in check,
Michel Bauwens
----- Original Message ----
> From: Jon Ippolito <jippolito at umit.maine.edu>
> To: idc at mailman.thing.net
> Cc: Joline Blais <Joline_Blais at umit.maine.edu>; playethical at gmail.com
> Sent: Monday, June 9, 2008 5:03:54 AM
> Subject: Re: [iDC] Shirky's Here Comes Everybody and Leadbeater's We-Think...
> Thanks, Pat, for passing on this review--a delayed reply:
> idc at mailman.thing.net on April 14, 2008 at 8:00 AM -0400 wrote:
> >as 
> [Charles Leadbeater]
> > reminds us, some areas ? such as care services ? won't be  
> >affected by We-Think: "you cannot change a wet nappy with a text  
> >message". Nor harvest food, nor extract minerals, nor generate  
> >energy. Although the participatory structure of the web was founded  
> >by a singular mix of values ("the academic, the hippie, the peasant  
> >and the geek"), there's no guarantee that happy ethos will guide all  
> >behaviour within its halls.
> >
> >Are we ready for open-source biology, for example ? a process of mass  
> >innovation based on our "sharing" of the genomic code? Do we want pro- 
> >ams in their garages fooling around with viruses and proteins, or  
> >accredited professionals? There are under-theorised questions of  
> >governance and control (and, maybe more importantly, self-control) in  
> >web culture. Leadbeater is right to alert us to them.
> I agree that we need to think more about what we might call "information 
> governance," and that self-control (or better Do It Yourself governance) is the 
> right approach. That said, I think a close look at the model of open software 
> offers more than
> the simplistic "information wants to be free" paradigm.


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