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Archive for 'Culture & Ideas'

Chris Steward on why we need Anti-Heroic Leadership

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
1st August 2014


Excerpted from Chris C Stewart:

“My mate Richard Wilson has just launched his new free eBook “Anti Hero” – pitched at institutionalising transformational personal development in our collective leadership. Focused on change in the UK, I think the logic and insights are relevant globally, but especially in industrialised countries.

These para’s from the summary nail the key points I think:

“Anti Hero argues that the modern challenges we face have fundamentally changed what we need from our leaders, requiring a shift from Heroic to Antiheroic leadership. The Heroic leaders who dominate our institutions today have four fatal flaws. First, they tend to be over-confident in their opinions. Secondly, they tend to lack empathy towards others. Thirdly, they tend to be inflexible. And finally, they tend to deny the existence of uncertainty. These are the four pillars of the Heroic leader. This isn’t, though, the fault of the leaders themselves; most of our leaders are the victims of outdated systems of leadership that were built for simpler times. Indeed, our leaders are very often doing their best in very difficult circumstances.

Many of today’s issues are not like the complicated technical problems of the past; problems that could be addressed by smart people working hard. Our densely populated, hyper-connected, interdependent modern world is throwing up seemingly insoluble issues: ‘wicked’ issues. These ‘wicked issues’ require a way of thinking that technical experts and senior leaders rarely have. They require a more open and inquiring mind that can see patterns, understand, and even integrate, the multiple frames that different people and cultures have.

This is not some high-minded ideal, but a description of real people who are already creating real change in institutions and communities across the world. We call these new leaders ‘Anti-heroes’. We call them this not because we believe heroes are bad, but because these ‘Anti-heroes’ are in many ways the antithesis of the single strong heroes who alone, ‘save the day’. Anti-heroes tend to be defined by five characteristics: empathy, humility, self-awareness, flexibility and, finally, an ability to acknowledge uncertainty.”

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Posted in P2P Governance, P2P Hierarchy Theory, P2P Subjectivity | No Comments »

P2P Trendfest (7): Mutual Development

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
31st July 2014


Jay Cousins explains the new p2p-driven model of development:

“There are “no experts”, we are all equal participants

Everyone should benefit

Share your ideas, skills, knowledge and resources with others

Seize the opportunity to challenge your prejudices, engage with empathy, listen without judgement, seek to learn

Do not look for funding, instead communicate your actual needs with clarity

Be prepared to be surprised

Look to build long term relationships that sustain themselves.

Mutual Development arises from observations as to the state of the Development Industry and the problems it causes. Especially with respect to Money and it’s use in social empowerment. Short summary – Money fucks up everything in this context, at least when coming from external and non sustainable resources. Money creates artificial inequality, without guaranteeing meaningful contribution. It creates dependencies, with inevitably lead to collapse or hindrance to projects upon the withdrawal of funds. Anyway, enough bitching, I’m trying to create a positive provocation. “Experts” are also problematic, I addressed this in the first post.

As well as a provocation towards development I also consider this a provocation towards tourism (at least with respect to a desire to experience different cultures), gentrification and other issues that also suffer from inequal relationships and an absence of empathy and direct cultural interactions.

Mutual Development brings together communities of interested participants to help each other. Diversity is encouraged as this helps to foster understanding, address cultural stereotypes, and give access to knowledge and skill sets beyond the boundaries of the host culture.

It operates on principles of contribution and benefit. Offers and Needs. By communicating our desires effectively we can then begin to identify how to help one another, how to work together. We can build sustainable, meaningful relationships we are prepared to continue long term. We can learn from one another and help to develop each others lives in a meaningful manner. We help each other get to where we want to be.

It is knowledge that gives us power to adapt ourselves and environment to meet our needs. Each of us has something to give and something we can receive in this context. It is an abundant gift that we can all offer without detriment to ourselves.

It doesn’t matter what your background, you have something you know that you can share and teach. Regardless of how educated and knowledgeable you are, you can never know it all, you are always in a position to learn something. The same principles can be applied to community resources, the more we share the more we have access to.

Mutual Development is not about earnestly “helping the poor”, it’s about us all helping each other. It’s about working together with what you have. It doesn’t assume intellectual superiority, but instead begins with learning, empathy and understanding. It’s about helping yourself by helping others. It is imperative in this practice that tasks, skills and knowledge are distributed through shared learning opportunities, to ensure against reliance on individuals or resources that could lead to system collapse upon withdrawal.

Mutual Development should benefit all parties through non financial means. It should be a joy. It should create benefit. It should cause peoples eyes to light up, inspired, to move us all beyond the daily drudge or contribution for money. It is a space where dreams can meet and realities emerge. Mutual Development implies Mutual Benefit, that everyone draws what they need from the process, and creates opportunities to improve their quality of life.

For Traditional Development organisations wondering how they can contribute to such models I would answer the following.

1. Support with connecting people – Make your knowledge networks accessible, help with transportation costs where necessary to bring people together

2. Assist with legitimisation of models, removal of Bureaucratic Hurdles that may be encountered at government levels

3. Amplification, storytelling and documentation of impact

4. Stop repeating the things that are counterproductive to nurturing a sense of local responsibility – eg. creating artificial and unsustainable dependencies (finance, expertise).

5. Encourage and participate in more experiments of this nature, the cost is tiny compared to your existing budgets.

Examples I would argue of Mutual Development opportunities at present are the evolving ice project in Aswan, and UnMonestery in Matera Italy.”

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Posted in Collective Intelligence, Featured Trend, Open Models, P2P Development | No Comments »

Limiting Noise

photo of Øyvind Holmstad

Øyvind Holmstad
31st July 2014


Excerpt from Charles Siegel’s book Unplanning, chapter 7. I strongly recommend to visit Siegel’s Preservation Institute for reading free e-books and other resources.

Noise is another telling example of the failure of growth. All through the nineteenth and twentieth century, the middle class tried to move to quieter neighborhoods by moving to lower density suburbs. Until World War I, they succeeded: from the walking city to the streetcar suburb, middle-class neighborhoods did become pleasanter and quieter. But during the twentieth century, so many new sources of noise appeared that modern suburbia is noisier than the much denser streetcar suburbs were one hundred years ago.

It should be obvious by now that the only way to reduce noise is by limiting its sources.

For example, cities and suburbs could cut their noise levels significantly by banning gasoline-powered gardening equipment. Electric edgers and electric chain saws work just as well, and there are always electrical outlets within reach on urban or suburban lots; there are also rechargeable battery-powered lawn mowers available. Some cities already have banned gasoline powered leaf blowers, because people refuse to put up with this new nuisance; the next step is to go back and get rid of the old nuisances that people accepted in the days when they thought less about the quality of life.

Some sources of noise can be banned at the municipal level, but we also need strict Federal standards to limit noise from motorcycles, garbage trucks, construction equipment, trucks with refrigeration equipment, and the like. Federal noise standards were developed in the 1970s, but they were never implemented, because the Reagan administration said they would slow economic growth: no doubt Reagan believed that people needed faster growth so they could afford to move to suburbia and get away from the city’s noise.

A Norwegian suburb. A paradise of Reagan.

 

Likewise, if we want any quiet in our parks, we need to restrict the use of jet skis, snowmobiles, off-road vehicles and other motorized recreational equipment. Americans already spend too much time pushing buttons and getting instant gratification, and we would be better off with outdoor recreation that requires more physical effort, such as canoeing, sailing, hiking, and bicycling. Environmentalists have had some success in banning off-road vehicles, snowmobiles, and jet skis.

We would be better off with outdoor recreation that requires more physical effort, such as canoeing

 

Finally, if we want any quiet in either our cities or our countryside, we need quieter cars and trucks. Hybrid cars, such as the Toyota Prius, are much quieter than ordinary cars. Likewise, hybrid turbine buses reduce the noise and pollution from diesel buses dramatically, and we need similar technologies to replace conventional diesel trucks.

Noise is the number one reason that people give for wanting to live in lower density neighborhoods.

Vehicles are the single greatest source of noise in suburbs and cities. Noise is the number one reason that people give for wanting to live in lower density neighborhoods. Noise is also responsible for some of our worst suburban design – such as subdivisions surrounded by sound walls. There will be limits to the popularity of neotraditional neighborhoods until we do something to reduce traffic noise: many people will not want to live in denser neighborhoods if they have to listen to neighbors revving up their cars and motorcycles.

Many people will not want to live in denser neighborhoods if they have to listen to neighbors revving up their cars and motorcycles. Image: Basher Eyre

 

Noise is a clear example of the failure of growth. Through the nineteenth century, growth and new technology such as electric streetcars allowed people to escape from the cities to lower density neighborhoods that were quieter. During the twentieth century, new technology allowed people to escape to even lower density neighborhoods, but new technology also made these neighborhoods noisier. By now, it should be clear that political control of technology is needed to give us quiet neighborhoods or even a quiet countryside.

Even on the countryside cars have taken over
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Posted in P2P Architecture and Urbanism | No Comments »

P2P Trendfest (6): User-Generated Urbanism

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
30th July 2014


Jordan Kushins refers to three different models:

“The traditional model of city-making has historically involved experts with a definitive, long-term plan executed over time. The issue with that is that culture changes faster than infrastructure; we’ve surpassed our ability to keep up. One of the consequences is that we’re left living in cities we planned 50 to 60 years ago.”

That’s Blaine Merker. He’s a principal and one of the co-founders of Rebar, an art and design studio in San Francisco set on evolving the way people interact and engage with their environment. He and his team are the co-founders of Adaptive Metropolis, an upcoming symposium focusing on a new wave of grassroots urbanism that addresses the needs of places and constituents—immediately. By the people, for the people. Merker calls it “user-generated urbanism,” or “collaborative city-making.” But what, exactly, does that mean?

These ideas may be formed within traditional disciplines—architecture, engineering, landscape, design—but are adapted and promoted by locals who are most familiar with the problems and issues facing their areas. Merker describes three models:

* Open Source

Merker points to Park(ing) Day as a prime example of “open source” urbanism. In 2005, the Rebar gang put two hours worth of coins in a parking meter and rolled out some sod in a spot on a San Francisco street. Eight years later, the open-source movement has gone global with some seriously impressive installations that encouraging people to slow down, have a seat, and experience their neighborhoods with a new perspective. Check out the map for a look at how this year’s event—which took place on Friday, September 20th—went down.

* Iterative

This approach doesn’t attempt to lay out an entire, established plan upfront. Merker compares it to software development: “Try to get a beta out and break it early,” he says. “Fail quick fail often in an urban context where the risks and stakes are lower.”

San Francisco’s Pier 70 is in the early stages of a 15-year redesign by Forest City that will transform the iconic locale into a mixed-use hub for creative businesses, living spaces, rotating pop-ups, and retail space. By mapping out a plan and slowly enacting various elements, Merker says the firm hopes to be able to gauge the popular response and adjust accordingly.

* Peer Network Design

These plans focus more on crossing boundaries between disciplines—and Merker mentions the sharing economy as a great example. Take our hyper-congested streets, 75 percent of which he says are dedicated to the movement and storage of private vehicles. The existence of services like ZipCar and City Car Share are taking a significant chunk of these off the road, subsequently reducing gridlock and freeing up the thoroughfares for other shared services. “Access instead of ownership,” he says.

Social media has expanded the reach of these projects and put hyper-local efforts in an international spotlight, allowing for critical feedback and the dissemination of these ideas in other cities.

And of course, Merker’s ideas have sparked some spirited debate, as well. Even those who appreciate these concepts in theory can be critical of the execution—just have a look at Alissa Walker’s recent take on the aforementioned Park(ing) Day. But to the Adaptive Metropolis gang, these opinions are actually part of the plan. “Friction is an incredibly productive space,” Merker says. Dialogue is key, and the discussions that result from the tension between guerrilla movements and tactical solutions will get to the heart of what matters to the people who these changes impact the most.”

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Posted in Featured Trend, P2P Architecture and Urbanism | No Comments »

Colombian Student Faces Prison Charges for Sharing an Academic Article Online

photo of Kevin Flanagan

Kevin Flanagan
30th July 2014


From EFF DeepLinks Blog

In many parts of the developing world, students face barriers to access academic materials. Libraries are often inadequate, and schools and universities are often unable to pay dues for expensive, specialized databases. For these students, the Internet is a vital tool and resource to access materials that are otherwise unavailable to them. Yet despite the opportunities enabled by the Internet, there are still major risks to accessing and sharing academic resources online.

A current situation in Colombia exemplifies this problem: a graduate student is facing four to eight years in prison for sharing an academic article on the Internet. He wasn’t making a personal profit from sharing the article—he simply intended for other scientists like him to be able to access and cite this scientific research.

Diego Gomez, 26, is a Master’s student who has been researching biodiversity and working on the conservation of reptiles and amphibians for several years in the South American region. Throughout his young career, the biggest obstacle he faced was in accessing academic resources that existed on global research databases. As a student at a small university in Armenia, the availability of research papers was so limited that he often had to save money to make trips to Bogotá to access biological collections, articles, and databases only available to him at natural history museums and libraries at the capital city.

Over time, he increasingly came to depend on the Internet. It enabled him to read relevant research, share documents, and communicate with others in his field. Despite the online resources that were available, there were still major barriers that prevented him from accessing the plethora of research that existed. So when he and others came across papers that were crucial to their work, they often shared it online for other researchers to access. Gomez says:

The important thing is to make a correct citation, attributing researchers’ work by indicating their name and year of publication and, of course, not claiming the work of another researcher, but to recognize it and value it. Therefore, what we usually do is to reference the findings and make them available to those who need them.

One day a couple of years ago, he came across a paper that was especially useful to his field work. He then later shared the research online on the site, Scribd. The author of the paper then filed a lawsuit over the “violation of [his] economic and related rights.” Under the allegations of this lawsuit, Gomez could be sent to prison for up to eight years and face crippling monetary fines.

Continue to read the full article on the EFF Deeplinks Blog

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Posted in Campaigns, Open Access, P2P Education | No Comments »

Improve Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde’s prison conditions immediately

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
27th July 2014


Improve Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde's prison conditions immediately

Peter Sunde

Our friend Nadia EL-Imam, from Edgeryders has alerted us to this important campaign. Please read the article below and  add your signature to the petition.


Improve Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde’s prison conditions immediately

I am suffering tremendously – socially, physically, as well as psychologically – by the shortcomings of [the prison,] Västervik.” ~ Peter Sunde, aka Brokep

Peter is most famous as Brokep, co-founder and spokesperson of the Pirate Bay. But his impact extends far beyond file-sharing. He also worked tirelessly to support creators through the payment system/social site, Flattr, and is bringing encrypted messaging to the masses through the app, Hemlis.

But now he is suffering in the restrictive conditions of Västervik prison, poorly suited to a non-violent offender accused only of “crimes” related to copyright infringement and fighting for a free and open internet. 

Peter requested a transfer to a lower security class prison, specifically Tygelsjö, that would be more appropriate for his situation and would also allow him to be closer to his family, hopefully making his imprisonment more bearable. But weeks later, the Swedish authorities have not made any move to accommodate his request.

Peter has also requested access to food that he can actually eat. Prisons are required by law to provide a diet that respects prisoners’ beliefs, however the prison diet at Västervik is so severely lacking in vegetarian and vegan meals that Peter has lost at least 7 kilos (~15 pounds) in just a few weeks. Healthy vegetables and plant-based meals are a very simple request, but there has been no effort to accommodate his dietary needs. Peter is clearly suffering serious physical and psychological stress because of the lack of nutrition available to him.

This is no way for the prison authorities to treat any person in their care. The excessive restrictions are especially shameful for a non-violent offender like Peter Sunde. The Swedish Ministry of Justice, which oversees the Prison and Probation services, must act immediately to lift the disgraceful conditions he is being kept in and to relieve his suffering by:

  1. Transferring him to a lower class prison and
  2. Providing sufficient nutrition for a plant-based diet.


More information, descriptions of prison conditions, and Peter’s request for transfer:
https://www.aftonbladet.se/debatt/article19207648.ab (Swedish)
http://torrentfreak.com/losing-weight-pirate-bay-founder-requests-security-downgrade-140703/

And more on Peter’s other projects:
Hemlis – https://heml.is/

Flattr – https://flattr.com/

Photo Credit: Simon Klose

Click here to sign the petition

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Posted in Activism, Anti-P2P, Campaigns, Copyright/IP, Culture & Ideas, Empire, Events, Open Calls, Politics, Sharing | No Comments »

Book of the Day: A Reader for Digital Currency Design

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
26th July 2014


* Book: Alternative Currency Adaptor, the DYNDY Reader for Digital Currency Design. Jaromil and DYNDY, 2013

A description excerpted from Jaromil:

“After a selection of the best pieces that we have humbly put together to date and together with a most welcome contribution from Prof. Adam Arvidsson, the result is AC-Adaptor or Alternative Currency Adaptor, the DYNDY Reader for Digital Currency Design. True, the theoretical and political reflections emerged in more than three years of conferencing, networking and study had brought us to crossing the threshold with the real socio-economy. Designed around a ‘lean user experience’ methodology, D-CENT is a project that will create a virtual pan-European Collective Awareness Platform hosting tools for aggregate democratic decision-making to the benefit of social movements in Spain, Iceland and Finland. On top of the CAP, a second pilot on Social Digital Currencies will see Freecoin – a Bitcoin based client for customizing the genesis block in order to issue alternative and complementary digital currencies while adding tailor made modules conditioning the currency and communicating with the blockchain, and Threadgate – a geo-localised market place for the horizontal exchange of value among D-CENT users.

AC-Adaptor is both the end of the theoretical era of DYNDY and the beginning of the application and testing of DYNDY findings, belief systems and design principles together with socio-economic values and novel governance constituencies for making this a better place. Conscious that DYNDY does not have the solution to all money problems of this world in its pockets, we nevertheless continue to strive, self-reflect, put to trial and share what we consider to be the tools that will unavoidably replace the ones currently dominating monetary life and impairing our Freedom of Economic Interaction worldwide (only in this sense the global crisis is a desirable event).

Through D-CENT, we are going to put in practice with energy our advocacy for an explicit participation of society at large – the Multitude – to the decisions that mostly affect individuals in Europe (and worldwide) today, ie user data protection and privacy at the service of P2P monetary transactions in transparent circuits of mutual trust. This is the first building block for avoiding by design the hubris of speculation and utility maximization at all costs (as for the core of single-currency thinking) in favor of a polidoxy in human-friendly money and payment systems design for the creation of a G/Local multi-currency system co-owned and co-managed by the users.”

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Posted in Economy and Business, Featured Book, P2P Books, P2P Money | 1 Comment »

P2P Trendfest (1): Rural Coliving

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
25th July 2014


Excerpted from Cat Johnson:

“What if coworking was a slower, more spacious affair that offered a respite from the everyday grind and included meals, walks and intentional collaboration? What if, rather than being in an urban setting, the coworking space was in a small, rural town? And what if you lived, temporarily at least, in the space? Would your work benefit? Andrea Paoletti says yes.

Co-founder, along with Mariella Stella, of Casa Netural, a coworking and coliving space in Matera, Italy, Paoletti says that coliving is an essential element of rural coworking and without it there is no coworking in rural Italy. He points out that Matera is a small town and many of its young people have left, moving to big cities to seek opportunity. This leaves half-empty buildings in the ancient and beautiful Sassi cave dwellings, and a small, isolated culture. Paoletti argues that to activate the serendipity that comes with coworking, you have to bring new people and fresh ideas into the space. The coliving model does just that.”

“There are two benefits to rural coliving. The first is that it has the potential to revitalize rural communities, which is at the heart of what Casa Netural is about. Casa Netural challenges the notion that the future is just in large cities. Through it, Paoletti is exploring the possibilities for small villages and rural areas.

“I think the future can come from this kind of territory,” he says. “And someone has to do it otherwise they will disappear. Coliving can be an attractor for other people like me who are maybe inspired by what we are doing and they want to come see it. Then they maybe want to buy a house, or rent a place, then we become a group of people.”

The second benefit of coliving is that it can revitalize those who live and work in the space. In a home setting such as Casa Netura, the opportunities for conversation, connecting and collaborating extend far beyond those in a space that is solely for coworking. There are group meals, trips into the surrounding areas, bedtime chats, early morning brainstorm sessions over coffee and more. With rural coliving, the idea is to slow down and focus on the people around you, which can lead to serendipitous conversations, relationships, and breakthrough ideas.

Most of the time coworking is not really collaborative space because everyone is really focused on their own thing,” Paoletti says. “In coliving, the focus is not really on how to stress and create a better business but how these relationships can create the best business, or give you a new tool.” He continues, “In small villages we don’t have to think about IT startups or millions of Euro investments. I think starting from the small example is what can really create the biggest social impact on the territories.”

Designed with social innovators, progressive thinkers and entrepreneurs in mind, Casa Netural is a space where visitors and locals work, relax and connect with each other. It’s a homey, open and casual environment in which people can refresh themselves, enjoy what the village and surrounding territory has to offer and get a new perspective on projects. The space coordinates regular get-togethers with the Matera locals and encourages the development of connections and collaborations, while getting some work done.

“With rural coliving, you go there because maybe you have free time or maybe you want to be more focused on one priority of your life,” Paoletti says. “It can be practical work but at the same time maybe you want to write an article or write a book or take just your own time to focus on other things, so you go there. That’s the reason for coliving.”

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Posted in Default, Featured Trend, Food and Agriculture, P2P Architecture and Urbanism, P2P Lifestyles | No Comments »

Enric Duran on shared and disobedient crowdfunding platform networks

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
25th July 2014


We’ve recently featured Coopfunding, an Open-Sourced crowdfunding platform designed to “…promote the financing of projects with a social, self managed and cooperative nature.”  Today we present a guest article by Enric Duran, one of the developers behind Coopfunding and its parent-project, the Catalan Integral Cooperative, explaining the reasons that led to the creation of Coopfunding. This article was originally published in Radi.MS


The expansion of crowdfunding in the last few years has been quite vertiginous.

Hundreds of projects have been able to get off the ground around the world coming from very different backgrounds but united in the aim of creating a link between donors and the projects they sponsor.

Crowdfunding, for its practicality and usefulness, has expanded without any ideological limitation and while it served to finance many social projects it has also supported more conventional initiatives based on consumerism and business as meant in the capitalist system.

In this way, more traditional fund raising events like benefit gigs and have been overlooked, and we should take in to account that with the crowdfunding model we are at risk of leaving the financing of social initiative in the hands of unscrupulous business which, through the management of crowdfunding platforms, are making the same profit that any middle man would make in an ordinary business transaction, through the charge of commissions which range between 5% and 10% of the donations received. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indygogo have already made profits in the millions region.

we are at risk of leaving the financing of social initiative in the hands of third party business

Also, there are several projects which are managed by cooperatives which nevertheless still charge a 5% fee on donations in order to support themselves, like Goteo.org, managed on mainland Spain by a foundation dedicated to the expansion of common good, funditaly.it, a recent cooperative project and also a foundation in Veezuela calledwww.causasolidaria.com.

Another interesting project, which promotes the decentralization of its supporter, is Awesome Foundation, where donors from all over the world can network by theme or territory, pool their savings together and choose a project to which donate $1000 every month. Although it isn’t a micro-financing platform, it is still a project without intermediaries.

Still, there are some projects around the world that avoid supporting themselves through fee charging, like for instancehttp://www.microgenius.org.uk/, managed as a public service by http://www.communityshares.org.uk/ with the aim of facilitating the selling of shares in cooperative projects. Also without commission are Mymoneyhelp.fr, born in Lille, which is financed by social enterprise sponsoring and http://crowdfunding-italia.com, which is operating through voluntary work.

The majority of platforms impose an “all or nothing” clause with a limited term of not many days to accomplish the target

Another obstacle is that the majority of platforms impose an “all or nothing” clause with a limited term of not many days to accomplish the target (40 days is the usual). It’s a mechanism which benefits the intermediaries, since generally it is asked that promoters use their own funds or funds they had already secured through other means to start the campaign, of which they will have to loose the 5% commission fee in order to reach their target and secure the donations.

Furthermore, it seems to benefit the donors by guaranteeing the success of the projects they sponsor, whilst, in a sort of paternalistic way, denying them the choice to fund the projects regardless of it success in reaching the target.

Probably this does not affect the projects which have a strong human capital and who are well connected to social networks, since they will be able to fulfill the terms imposed, but this dynamic definitely puts smaller projects at a disadvantage, since they may not have the capacity to mobilize support in such a short amount of time. In this way then, a sort of social darwinism is created, where only the strong projects are likely to succeed, where as the smaller ones are lost on the way to oblivion. Evidently, this competitive and pressure are typical of the system in which we live, and not of the one most social movements are trying to create.

The fact is that a lot of projects which may need self financing can survive whether they reach their target or not, since that’s always been the case: many self managed projects have survived through the determination and creativity of their promoters. Many projects then, may need to receive on going financial support, or at particular times of the year, something that platforms such as crowdfunding do not take in to account.

Coopfunding.net re invents the concept of crowdfunding and adapts it to the real needs of the social projects that make use of it.

For this reason, it is necessary that we re invent the concept of crowdfunding and adapt it to the real needs of the social projects that make use of it. This is what the project coopfunding.net is trying to do, having become operative after many months of gestation.

Some of you may remember that Coopfunding already had a pilot appearance in the Spring of 20013, when a crowdfunding platform decided to cut our campaign due to the legal risks that it might have posed.

The campaign was collecting funds in order that Radi, which is not in operation at radi.ms, could become an alternative communication media through which we could still organize our activities despite my forced clandestineness since 2013.

This then, is another thing to bear in mind. 99% of crowdfunding platforms abide by the rules chosen by the 1% of the population, within the legal boundaries decided by different countries. Therefore, if we want to enjoy a crowdfunding platform which is coherent with the principles of projects which propose disobedience and revolution, we have to build one ourselves since we cannot depend on those which, despite their best intentions, are still bound by the legality of their policies.

http://www.coopfunding.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/coopfundingBarra.jpg

Coopfunding is a crowdfunding platform, newly released, without commissions or mediation, where each project can choose their terms according to their needs. With or without dedlines, rewards, with total flexibility and with the objective of being a tool for supporting social change projects.

The financial sustainability of the project is envisaged to be relying on the donations of social activists, through varied payment options and through the inclusion of local currencies, barter and criptomoney, whatever each project decides.

Coopfunding is a cooperative project open to the participation of whoever may want to contribute to make it possible, within a framework of disobedience towards the current system and a vision of integrated revolution. Furthermore, Coopfunding is a shared ownership projects, since it relies ultimately on the open consensus process of the Cooperativa Integral Catalana.

The tools which we use to access such support should be shared and communal too

I think it is important that, if we want a society where the tools we need are shared and communal, we might as well start with the ones where we can already apply this principle. Since financial support is a key factor in the success of many projects who are building alternatives, the tools which we use to access such support should be shared and communal too.

It would be very interesting if we could create a network of cooperative initiatives so that they may collaborate and support each other and gain public visibility, something very important in order to reach all the people that are necessary to have an effective fund raising campaign.

We are hoping and wishing that soon many other projects of this nature will spring up around the world, if you know of any please share the information!

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Posted in Activism, Campaigns, Collective Intelligence, Commons, Cooperatives, Crowdfunding, Economy and Business, Ethical Economy, Featured Content, Featured Essay, Guest Post, Open Models, P2P Collaboration, P2P Foundation, Politics, Sharing | No Comments »

Book of the Day: Spreadable Media

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
24th July 2014


* Book: Spreadable Media. Henry Jenkins (with Sam Ford and Joshua Green), 2013.

Excerpted from a review by Tiziano Bonini:

“The book’s basic idea is that we are facing a changing in the paradigm of the form in which the cultural contents circulate within a society. It is emerging a hybrid model of circulation, the result of the mix between top-down institutional strategies (media corporations that decide what produce and when launch a film/record/TV series/bestseller book/event) and bottom-up strategies. The control over the contents produced by media is not anymore strictly in their hands, it is instead negotiated with the media public, today linked with webs and able to establish, through the Web sharing, the popularity or the failure of a certain content.

As clearly emerge from the book, the spreadability is the characteristic of some media texts of being suitable for diffusion. A film that comes out in cinemas throughout the world but is not available for online streaming and can not be remixed is not spreadable and lends itself to piracy. A prominent example of what this spreadability means is the case of Susan Boyle, candidate to the English TV program Britain Got Talent. The audience judged the audition so amazingly that the YouTube video of that performance has been shared by millions of people, and went form hand to hand, reaching 77 millions of visualisations without the help of any top-down promotional strategy.

According to the author, digital culture is characterised by the so-called user-circulated content, rather than the more misused user-generated content. The changing in focus, from contents generated by users, to those circulated by them, helps us to gain a wider and realistic picture of the digital culture characteristics. This sharing culture has also for sure some unpleasant fallouts for the creative industries. The audience ability of shaping the circulation of their products sometimes contrasts with the economic strategies of the media industries: when a movie is just released to the cinema or a record has been launched they start to illegally circulate on the peer-to-peer platforms or on non-authorised streaming channels, spreadability becomes piracy. However, as emerge from p. 16 of the book, “piracy is often the consequence of the business and strategic incapability of the media corporations of letting available their contents in times and modes desirable for the public”.

Henry Jenkins’s new book does not provide anything new compared to his previous publications but is an obvious prosecution, the attempt to continue providing reading instruments of an evolving digital culture. Jenkins’s viewpoint remains the same to his first articles that made him famous – “Textual Poachers: Television Fans & Participatory Culture”, 1992: media audience is also made of individuals who become passionate to cultural products, who want to dialogue with them, want to take them, remix them, use them to create new social bonds and to negotiate their own identity. If the content producers do not allow them to do that, the active audience will be forced to enter “clandestineness”, becoming a pirate.

Paraphrasing an old hacker slogan, Jenkins’s lesson is the following: “Information wants to be streamed”. Contents want to be diffused, spread, and streamed. The consumption of cultural contents takes place within a social context. In this ecosystem it is anachronistic stopping the circulation of cultural contents, as well as stopping the free circulation of people, goods, and services. Sociologist Berry Wellman, in his recent Networked. New Social Operating System (Guerini e Associati, 2012), also claims that today cultural contents have a new social life, thanks to the digital webs on which they travel.

In conclusion, the limit of Jenkins is always the same: he emphasises a participatory culture mostly based not on the creation of the users’ original contents but on the appropriation of media texts from the fans, even if in this book, it must be said, that he deals with the critiques from the theorists of the exploitation of the users’ digital work, and thus praises the dark side of the Web participation, which creates a new value for the media industries.

Anyone who has a maximalist vision of participation, such as Nico Carpentier (author of Media and Participation. A Site of Ideological-democratic Struggle, Intellect, 2011), does not agree with Jenkins’s reductionism. For Carpentier participating does not mean just to react with a media text and produce engagement but rather means giving the possibility to the public to participate to decisional processes, create contents with the public or even let it participate to editorial decisions. In any case Spreadable Media is well written and is very useful to understand the social value of content sharing. A book that every media publisher, above all the Italians, should read in order to convince themselves once and for all, that they can survive the perfect storm only if they will free their contents, only if they will work hard on the construction of strong communities of readers/listeners/audiences. These communities will take charge of the circulation of better contents.”

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