[fyeg_gen-l] article : Peer-to-Peer Governance, Production And Property: P2P As A Way Of Living - Part 1

Dante-Gabryell Monson dante.monson at gmail.com
Mon Oct 29 10:28:13 CET 2007

Peer-to-Peer Governance, Production And Property:
As A Way Of Living
Part 1<http://www.masternewmedia.org/information_access/p2p-peer-to-peer-economy/peer--to-peer-governance-production-property-part-1-Michel-Bauwens-20071020.htm>-
*Intro by Robin Good*- The Political Implications of the Peer to Peer
Revolution *by Michel Bauwens :*  1.) P2P and the Commons - General
introduction 2.) The Conditions for the Expansion of Peer Production
3.) Adaptation of Cognitive Capitalism to Peer to Peer4.) The Conditions for
the Expansion of Peer Governance


*Markets may be changing* from a logic of pure capitalism (making
commodities for exchange, so as to increase capital), to logics where the
logic of exchange is subsumed to the logic of partnership.

[image: p2p-governance_id3929961_size480.jpg]
Photo credit: Maxim

There is now a thriving field of social cooperation, which some call
the adventure
economy <http://del.icio.us/mbauwens/Adventure-Economy>, emerging for the
sharing of physical goods.

Today, the Internet offers a remarkable social
dynamic<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_dynamics>completely based
on voluntary participation in the creation of common
goods <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_good>made universally available
to all.

I myself, here at Master New Media <http://www.masternewmedia.org/>, base my
own present business and sustainability model on the free sharing of
high-value information and content (in the form of articles, reviews and
videos) that I openly and freely publish online.

Peer production, governance and property are more productive economically,
politically, and in terms of distribution, than their governmental and
for-profit counterparts, because they filter out all the less productive
forms of motivation and cooperation, and retain only passionate production
and intrinsic motivation.

The social media sharing platforms you see today blooming all around you
survive from selling the your reader's attention span, NOT the use
value<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Use_value>you have created

"*The realization that contemporary workers are moving not just from job to
job, but also from jobs to non-jobs, and that in fact, what is most useful
and meaningful for them (and the market, and society) are not the paid jobs
for the market, but the episodes of passionate production.*"

Are forms of non-reciprocal peer production becoming dominant? Will
peer-informed modes of production find their way in economic conditions of
scarcity? Are peer to peer models an option?

Michel Bauwens<http://www.masternewmedia.org/news/2006/09/29/network_collaboration_peer_to_peer.htm>introduces
here the foundational concepts of peer governance, production and
property, analyzing their traits and characteristics.

*Peer to peer governance <http://p2pfoundation.net/Peer_Governance>*, if
supported by new socio-economic regulations, including a universal subsidy
to all could be the means by which individuals would be able to govern
themselves while engaging in the pursuit of their best interests and
*Intro by Robin Good

*The Political Implications of the Peer to Peer Revolution

*by Michel Bauwens*

P2P and the Commons - General introduction

[image: creative-commons-350.gif]
Photo credit: Hightech.Blogosfere <http://hightech.blogosfere.it/>

Peer to peer social
bottom-up processes whereby agents in a distributed network can freely
engage in common pursuits, without external coercion.

It is important to realize that distributed systems differ from
decentralized systems, essentially because in the latter, the hubs are
obligatory, while in the former, they are the result of voluntary choices.

Distributed networks<http://www.masternewmedia.org/news/2006/09/29/network_collaboration_peer_to_peer.htm>do
have constraints, internal coercion, that are the conditions for the
group to operate, and they may be embedded in the technical infrastructure,
the social norms<http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/social_norms.htm>,
or legal rules.

Despite these caveats, we have here a remarkable social
which is based both on voluntary participation in the creation of common
goods <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_good>, which are made universally
available to all.

Peer to peer processes are emerging in literally every cranny of social
life, and have been extensively documentation in the 5,000+ pages of
documentation at the Foundation for Peer to Peer
and many other places on the Web.
P2P social processes<http://p2pfoundation.net/Open_Source_as_social_process>more
precisely engender:

   1. *peer production<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commons-based_peer_production>
   *: wherever a group of peers decided to engage in the production of a
   common resource
   2. *peer governance <http://p2pfoundation.net/Peer_Governance>*: the
   means they choose to govern themselves while they engage in such pursuit
   3. *peer property <http://www.p2pfoundation.net/Peer_Property>*: the
   institutional and legal framework they choose to guard against the private
   appropriation of this common work; this usually takes the form of
   non-exclusionary forms of universal common property, as defined
through the General
   Public License <http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html>, some forms of
   the Creative Commons licenses <http://creativecommons.org/>, or
   similar derivatives

These new property forms have at least three characteristics:

   1. *they are* aimed against the private appropriation of the commonly
   created value
   2. *they are* aimed at creating the widest possible usage, i.e. they
   are universal common property regimes
   3. *they keep* the sovereignty with the individual

The third aspect is why peer property fundamentally differs both from private
property <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Property> and collective property.

Private property <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Property> is individual but
is exclusionary, it says, what is mine is not yours.

But state, that is collective property, is also exclusionary, but in another
sense: it says, it is ours, but it means that you no longer have the
sovereignty. It's from us, regulated by a bureaucracy or representative
democracy, but it is not really yours.

*The collective has taken over from the individual*, and more often than
not, coercion is involved.

But the General Public License <http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html>, or
the Creative Commons licenses <http://creativecommons.org/> are different.

*Common property is not collective property.*

Using them, the individual gets full attribution, i.e. the recognition of
his personal property. You are freely sharing your sovereignty with others.

This is especially clear in the Creative Commons licensing
where the individual gets a whole gamut of options for sharing. You remain
fully in control, i.e. "sovereign", and there is no coercion involved.

It is important to note that peer production is a form of "generalized", on
non-reciprocal, exchange. It is not a gift
based on direct exchange or obligation. So peer production is not to be
equated by cooperative production for the market: participation has to be
voluntary, there is no direct reward (but many indirect rewards) in the form
of monetary compensation.

*The process itself is participative*.

And the outcome is similarly free, in the sense that anyone can access and
use the common resource. In reality, most peer production projects are
intertwined with a smaller core of people who may get paid, and use finances
to create an infrastructure so that the peer production may occur.

The conditions for peer production to emerge are essentially: abundance and

*Abundance* refers to the abundance of intellect or surplus creativity, to
the capacity to own means of production with similar excess capacity.
Distribution is the accessibility of such abundant resources in fine-grained
implements, Yochai Benkler has called modularity or
Again we could talk about the distribution of intellect, of the production
infrastructure, of financial

*It is important to distinguish two spheres.*

In one sphere, our digitally-enabled cooperation, reproduction of non-rival
knowledge goods, such as software, content, open designs, takes place
at marginal
costs <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marginal_costs>, and not only there is
no loss by sharing, but there is actually a gain, through network

*Such free cooperation can only be hindered 'artificially'*, through either
legal means (intellectual property
or through technical restrictions such as Digital Rights
which essentially hinder the social innovation that can take place. In this
sphere, a non-reciprocal mode of production becomes dominant, since
resources are not rival, and you're not losing, but gaining, through giving.

In the sphere of material production, where the costs of
higher, and we have rival goods, we still require regimes of exchange,
or regimes of reciprocity. Notice that in a sphere of virtual abundance,
where copying is trivial, there is no tension between supply and demand, and
hence no market.
Peer production, though embedded in the current political
economy<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_economy>and essential
for the survival of the cognitive
forms of capitalism <http://p2pfoundation.net/Cognitive_Capitalism>, is
therefore essentially post-capitalist. Essentially because it is outside
wage dependency, outside the control of a corporate hierarchy, and does not
allocate resources according to any
pricing<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pricing>or market mechanism.

Peer governance <http://p2pfoundation.net/Peer_Governance> is
post-democratic, because it is a form of governance that does not rely on
representation, but where participants directly co-decide; and because it is
not limited to the political field, but can be used in any social field.
Peer governance is
and this is essentially so because what the networked communication affords
us, is the global coordination of small groups, and therefore, the peer to
peer logic of small groups can operate on a global scope.

Hierarchies <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierarchies>, the
and even representative democracy
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representative_democracy>, are all but means
to allocate scarce resources, and do not apply in the context where abundant
resources are allocate directly through the social process of cooperation.
However, since the pure peer to peer logic only fully functions in the
sphere of abundance, it will always have to insert itself in the forms that
are responsible for the allocation of resources in the sphere of material

*Peer governance-based leadership* seems a combination of invitational
leadership, i.e. the capacity to inspire voluntary cooperation, and a
posteriori arbitrage <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbitrage> based on
the reputational
capital <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reputation_capital> thus obtained.
However, the process of production itself is an emergent property of the
cooperating networks.

*Peer property* is a
post-capitalist<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-capitalism>form of
property because it is non-exclusionary, and it creates a commons
with marginal reproduction costs <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marginalism>.

*There are two main forms of peer property.*

One is based on the individual sharing of creative expression, and is
dominated by the Creative Commons option which allows an individual to
determine the level of sharing.

The other is applied to commons-based peer production, and takes the form of
the General Public License or its derivatives or alternatives, and requires
that any change to the common, also belongs to the common.

2. The Conditions for the Expansion of Peer Production

[image: p2p-expansion_id683804_size220.jpg]
Photo credit: Jenny

Peer production <http://p2pfoundation.net/Peer_Production> naturally occurs
in the sphere of immaterial production. In this sphere, the access to
distributed resources is relatively easy.

Large sections of the population in the Western countries are educated, and
can have a computer at their disposal. And the costs of
marginal <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marginalism>.

The expansion of peer production is dependent on cultural/legal conditions.
It requires;

   - *open and free* raw cultural material to use;
   - *participative* structures to process it;
   - *and commons-based* property forms to protect the results from
   private appropriation.

Hence is a circulation of the common obtained (the concept is from Nick
Dyer-Whiteford <http://www.fims.uwo.ca/people/faculty/dyerwitheford/>),
through which peer production virally expands.

However, peer production is not limited to the sphere of immaterial

*Physical resources can be shared*, if they are available in a distributed

For example: computers and their files and processing power. Cars can be
pooled. Money can be pooled as in the P2P financial exchanges such as
Prosper <http://www.prosper.com/>. Desktop manufacturing and personal
fabricators may lower the threshold of participation, creating more
modularity and granularity in newer fields. In fact, we may observe that the
same tendency to miniaturization<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miniaturization>,
which led to the networked computer, is taking place in the domain of
physicial machinery. Coupled with the energy crisis and a dwindling natural
resource base, this will most likely lead, in the coming decades, to a new
equilibrium that favors relocalized production.

For processes where physical production requires access to centralized
financial capital, for example the production of cars, it is entirely
conceivable to split the immaterial design phase from the physical
production space.This is already being applied by for profit entities.
Innocentive <http://www.innocentive.com/> is an early example of this. In
fact, in reference to the above, it is entirely possible to conceive of the
growth of a combination of global-local open design communities, with a
built-only capitalism in terms of physical production.

Finally, the relationship between physical objects, logical space, and
digital identifiers may be changed, so as to promote commons-based
approaches. The white-bicyle experiment in
because the scarce physical resource, the bikes, could not be
tracked and protected. But commons-owned bicycles can be tracked through
RFID <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RFID>.

In fact, there is now a thriving field of social cooperation, which some
call the adventure economy <http://del.icio.us/mbauwens/Adventure-Economy>,
emerging for the sharing of physical goods.

Such expansion is not just a natural extension of technical evolution, but
has structural and therefore political impediments. The centralized capital
formats of contemporary neoliberal
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberal>anti-markets obviously impede
such expansion. But even with such
constraints, the scope for the expansion of peer production is significant.

Again, we will make the following caveat. In the immaterial sphere,
non-reciprocal peer production is likely to become dominant. In the field of
scarcity, we will see the rise of peer-informed modes of production.

*This means that markets forms are starting to change*, changing from a
logic of pure capitalism (making commodities for exchange, so as to increase
capital), to logics where the logic of exchange is subsumed to the logic of

Think about fair trade (a market subjected to peer arbitrage), social
entrepreneurship (profit used to sustain social goals), the base of the
pyramid of inclusional capitalism, and the many political-social movements
that aim to divorce market forms, from the infinite growth logic of
capitalism, such as the natural capitalism movement in the U.S.

3. Adaptation of Cognitive Capitalism to Peer to Peer

[image: p2p-conditions_id3119871_size220.jpg]
Photo credit: Vacuum3d<http://http//www.stockxpert.com/browse.phtml?f=profile&l=vacuum3d>

Peer production, governance and property are more productive economically,
politically, and in terms of distribution, than their governmental and
for-profit counterparts, because they filter out all the less productive
forms of motivation and cooperation, and retain only passionate production
and intrinsic motivation.

*In most cases*, distribution beats decentralization and centralization as
the best way to deal with complexity<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complexity>.
In many cases, distributed systems will adapt centralized and decentralized
features that will make participation more efficient.

This creates the law of asymmetric competition, which says that any
for-profit entity, using closed proprietary
formats<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proprietary_formats>and no
participation, will tend to lose out to for-benefit institutions that
can draw on communities.

*Think Explorer vs. Firefox.* As a
any for-profit entity (and any nation in its public policies), which adapts
open/free, participatory, and commons-oriented elements (as do the open
source software companies), will have key advantages as well. This ensures
the social adoption of peer to peer logics in the core of our economy.

So far, empirical evidence suggests three emerging forms of adaption between
the sphere of peer to peer cooperation, and the institutional and market

   - *The sphere of individual sharing*, think YouTube, where sharers
   have relatively weak links to each other, creates the Web 2.0 business
   In this model, an ethical economy of sharing, co-exists with proprietary
   platforms which enable and empower such sharing, in exchange for the selling
   of the aggregated attention
   - *The sphere of commons-oriented peer production*, based on stronger
   links between cooperators, think Linux or Wikipedia, usually combines a
   self-governing community, with for-benefit institutions (Apache
   Foundation <http://www.apache.org/foundation/>, Wikimedia
   etc…), which manage the infrastructure of collaboration, and a ecology
   of businesses <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_ecology> which
   create scarcities around the commons, and in return support the commons from
   which they derive their value.
   - *Finally* ,
crowdsourcing<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowdsourcing>occurs when
it is the institutions themselves which attempt to create a
   framework, where participation can be integrated in their value chain, and
   this can take a wide variety of forms. This is generally the field of

We must note that monetary value that is being realized by the capital
players, is – in many if not most of the cases, not of the same order as the
value created by the social innovation processes.

The user-producers-participants are creating direct use value, videos in
YouTube, knowledge and software in the case of commons-oriented projects.
This use value is put in common pool, freely usable, and therefore, does not
consist of scarce products for which pricing can be demanded.

*The sharing platforms live from selling the derivative attention created*,
NOT the use value <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Use_value> itself. In the
commons model, the abundant commons can also not be directly marketed,
without the creation of additional 'scarcities'.

*What does all of this mean for the market sphere?*

It is now possible to create all kinds of use
value<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Use_value>without, or with only a
minimal, intervention of capital.

a) *We are dealing with post-monetary*, post-capitalist modes of value
creation and exchange, that are both immanent, i.e. embedded, to the market,
but also transcendent to it, i.e. operating outside its boundaries.

b) *Capital is increasingly dependent*, and profiting in all kinds of ways,
from the positive externalities
such social innovation.

c) *The full , partial, or hybrid peer production models* that we discuss
above, may be collectively sustainable as value creation processes, but do
not offer a direct solution for the income and survivability of the

So the challenge can be described as follows:

   1. *we have* a process of social innovation which creates mostly
   non-monetary value for the participants;
   2. *we may* have an increasingly huge gap between the possibility of
   creating post-monetary value, and the derivative exchange values that are
   realized by enterprise;
   3. *the participants* engaged in such passionate production and
   innovation, mostly cannot find in such processes an answer to their own

Hence, the impossibility to realize more than just a small partial monetary
value, from the point of view of most commercial players. Increasing
precarity for the participants of social innovation. In other words, the
current market model does not seem to have yet a reverse process of
redistribution <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distribution_of_wealth> for the
value that is being created.

This might of course be a temporary crisis, but I do not believe it is.

The reason is that the market can only indirectly and partially provide
monetary compensation for processes which are not motivated by such
compensation. What we need therefore are more general redistributive
processes that allow society and the market to give back part of the value
that is being so created.

One possibility is the further development of transitional labour market
measures (protect the worker, not the job), which recognize the flexibility
and mobility of contemporary careers. But this needs an important add-on
development: the realization that contemporary workers are moving not just
from job to job, but also from jobs to non-jobs, and that in fact, what is
most useful and meaningful for them (and the market, and society) are not
the paid jobs for the market, but the episodes of passionate production.

It seems to me therefore that a more general measure, not linked to the job,
but conceived as a repayment for, and enabler of, social innovation, is
needed. The name of that general measure is most probably some form of basic

4. The Conditions for the Expansion of Peer Governance

[image: p2p-adaption_id3929971_size220.jpg]
Photo credit: Maxim

Peer governance functions because peer production is the macro-scale
coordination of a large number of micro-production teams.

*Within the teams*,
participative and consensual, and the global coordination is
accepted and today technically feasible. Small tribes, the victims of
civilizational hierarchies, are re-enabled in the new format of
affinity-based cyber-collectives.

Positively, peer governance expands the sphere of autonomy-in-cooperation to
all social fields. Its promise is that production becomes a non-hierarchical
process. But as I said earlier, peer governance is 'post-democratic' because
it is non-representational.

*The negative constraint is the following*: peer governance requires *a
priori* consensus on the common object. But society as a whole lacks such
consensus by definition: it is a decentralized collection of competing
interests and worldviews, rather than a distributed network of free
Therefore, for society at large, there is no alternative to a revitalized
democratic political scenario based on representation.

However, just as the market can inspire itself and be reformed by P2P or
partnership-based principles (as in the fair
trade<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_trade>that is subjected to
arbitrage <http://www.p2pfoundation.net/Peer_Arbitrage_in_Markets>), so we
can have peer-informed formats of
global governance. And in any case, the sphere of autonomy,
i.e. of pure governance, can substantially expand even within the structures
of democratic government <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy>.

End of Part 1

Originally written by Michel
Bauwens<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Bauwens>and first
published by Master
New Media <http://www.masternewmedia.org/> as " Peer-to-Peer Governance,
Production And Property: P2P As A Way Of Living - Part

*About the autor*

[image: bauwens.jpg]

Michel Bauwens (1958) is a Belgian integral
Peer-to-Peer theorist. He has worked as an internet consultant,
information analyst for the United States Information
information manager for British Petroleum
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BP>(where he created one of the first
virtual information centers), and is
former editor-in-chief of the first European digital convergence magazine,
the Dutch language
With Frank Theys
<http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Frank_Theys&action=edit>, he is
the co-creator of a 3 hour documentary *TechnoCalyps*, an examination of the
'metaphysics of technology'. He taught and edited two French language
anthologies on the Anthropology of Digital Society.

Although a student of Ken Wilber <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Wilber>'s
integral theory for many years, he has recently become critical of aspects
of the Wilber- Beck <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Beck> movement, and is
a powerful voice for a non-authoritarian peer-to-peer based integral

Michel is the author of a number of on-line essays, including a seminal
thesis Peer to Peer and Human
and is editor of P2P News <http://integralvisioning.org/index.php?topic=p2p>

He now lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiang_Mai>,
where he created the Foundation for P2P
a blog <http://blog.p2pfoundation.com/>.

He has taught courses on the anthropology of digital society to postgraduate
students at ICHEC/St. Louis in Brussels, Belgium and related courses at Payap
Mai University <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiang_Mai_University> in

*Michel Bauwens - [ Read more <http://p2pfoundation.net/> ]

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