P2P Foundation

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Archive for 'Culture & Ideas'

Video of the Day: Michel Bauwens on why the P2P Foundation supports Fair.coop

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
20th October 2014

This video interview between me and Michel Bauwens was filmed by our associate Kevin Flanagan and recorded at a break during the Open Everything Convergence held in the Cloughjordan Ecovillage in Tipperary, Ireland. In the video Michel explains why the P2P Foundation supports Fair.coop and its unheard-of experiment to create a new global economic system.

How do they intend to achieve this? By taking the most desirable characteristics of cryptocurrencies while palliating their shortcomings by embedding the whole project within a transnational, P2P and Commons oriented Open Co-op. You can find out more about Fair.coop in their very comprehensive website.



Posted in Commons, Cooperatives, Culture & Ideas, Economy and Business, Ethical Economy, Featured Content, Featured Video, Guest Post, Media, P2P Collaboration, P2P Foundation, Videos | No Comments »

Nathan Lewis: People Who are Not Directly Involved in Agriculture Should Live in Urban Places

photo of Øyvind Holmstad

Øyvind Holmstad
19th October 2014

My place Totenby some named “Totscana” as a Norwegian counterpart of famous Italian Toscana, has lost much of its charm by suburban houses spread all over this pleasant landscape. This is a horrible thing to do! This way the beautiful landscape is reduced to a kind of Los Angeles like Suburban Hell!


Suburban housing doesn’t belong to the countryside, like in “Totscana”. People who are not directly involved in agriculture should live in urban places. Otherwise the countryside becomes reduced to a kind of Suburban Hell, a favourite phrase of Nathan Lewis.

Read Nathan Lewis’ essay:

The Eco-Technic Civilization

From the essay:

We don’t try to mix “the city” and “farms.” Urban places are dense and distinct from farming areas. People who are not directly involved in agriculture should live in urban places — whether tiny country villages, or huge metropolises.

European village

European village. Although this village is in an agricultural region, this village itself is a dense urban place, and there is a distinct transition to farmland.

Chinese village

Chinese village. Again, a dense urban place, and farmlands. Don’t mix them.


 “It seems the US Americans have been teaching children that surburbia is good and urbanism is bad ever since 1952. Thanks alot!” – KRISTIAN HOFF-ANDERSEN

But of course, modernist “urbanism” is not urbanism, it’s nihilism! Only traditional urbanism can support pleasure of life. Nathan Lewis is one of the best urbanist writers, so go on to his fabolous archive to learn more:

Traditional City/Heroic Materialism Series

A Pattern Language

Using the Pattern Language we can create urban spaces more joyful than the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation

The Eco-Technic Civilization. Try to imagine it. If you can imagine it, you can have it! It is actually cheaper and easier to do than today’s Suburban Hell. – Nathan Lewis


Posted in P2P Architecture and Urbanism, P2P Infrastructures | 2 Comments »

Podcast of the Day: Rachel O’Dwyer on the Role of Commons in Contemporary Capitalism

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
18th October 2014

We met Rachel O’Dwyer a couple of weeks back, at the Open Everything 2014 Convergence, celebrated in Cloughjordan Ecovillage, Ireland. We really enjoyed talking to Rachel and listening to her contributions in the Q&As and, in fact, we’re hoping to work with her in the near future. Until then, please check out this podcast, originally published as part of a series called “Contemporary Capitalism”

From the Shownotes to the Podcast:

Contemporary Capitalism is a 4 part series of talks, each part critiquing an aspect of how capitalism affects society today.

The talks were originally held in Dubzland studios, north inner city Dublin, in late 2012, and were organised by the Provisional University, a group of researchers and social activists. [www.provisionaluniversity.wordpress.com]

The series was edited for broadcast by artist and Near FM volunteer Craig Cox. [www.craigcoxart.com]

Contemporary Capitalism Part 4: The Commons

Part 4 is by Rachel O’Dwyer and is about the commons as it exists today.


Posted in Collective Intelligence, Commons, Culture & Ideas, Featured Content, Featured Podcast, Media, Networks, Podcasts | No Comments »

Can we turn Netarchical Platforms into worker-owned businesses?

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Stacco Troncoso
18th October 2014

In answer to the question posed in the title, I don’t think we can do much to reclaim our rights as producers of content and use value in netarchical platforms. However, we can work to raise awareness on the subject and help the shift toward real P2P platforms. This is already happening right now, with Diaspora enjoying a revival in the wake of Ello’s failed promise to deliver a true alternative to Facebook. The following article was written by John Robb and originally published in Home Free America.

“We don’t get ownership because we don’t expect ownership… We’ve been conditioned to give away our work and our patronage for free while the schmucks on Wall Street walk away with buckets of money.”

Do you contribute to Facebook, Yelp, Reddit, or sites like that?

Most of us do contribute to some sites like this and our contributions, more or less depending on our contribution, are the reason these companies are valuable.

Our contributions are the reason people come to these sites day after day, so why don’t we get a bit of ownership for our contributions?

Lots of ownership goes to the employees.  But, nobody goes to these sites for the high quality software, elegant design, or robust hosting.  Further, all of the tech they are using is the result of innovation by other people.

Most of the ownership goes to the financing.  Yet, these sites don’t cost much to run.  A pittance actually.  The cloud makes them very cheap to operate.  In fact, the amount is so small, nearly all of the money needed to launch these sites could be raised by the customers using these sites.

We don’t get ownership because we don’t expect ownership.

We’ve been conditioned to give away our work and our patronage for free while the schmucks on Wall Street walk away with buckets of money.

There is a small glimmer of hope things might finally be changing (it’s something I tried to do back in 2010-12 and got my ass handed to me for trying to do it).

My hope is due to three things:

  1. Desire to do the right thing.  We don’t see enough of this in Silicon Valley anymore, despite the fact that all great innovations start with getting the “why” right.  Reddit’s CEO, Yishan Wong (formerly of Facebook) is doing the right thing.  He’s planning to make Reddit’s users into owners, depending on their contribution to the site.
  2. There’s a way to create a form of liquid ownership that doesn’t require Wall Street.  This new method is based on the bitcoin blockchain.  That technology makes it possible to issue ownership to contributors in a decentralized and trusted way.
  3. The combination of blockchain stock, Yishan’s example, and the experience of participants will set in motion a wave of change in Silicon Valley.  The message is:  if you want to build an online company, you better find a way to make your customers/contributors owners.

PS:  This is potentially a sea change in financing/ownership.  There’s much more to this.  Wall Street’s banksters should be worried.


Posted in Anti-P2P, Cognitive Capitalism, Collective Intelligence, Copyright/IP, Culture & Ideas, Economy and Business, Empire, Networks, Politics | No Comments »

Spanish lawmakers to kill CC licensing

photo of Guy James

Guy James
17th October 2014

image by argazkiak.org

image by argazkiak.org

As usual, Spanish politicians react with fear and repression when confronted with the effects of new ways of sharing information: they are preparing a new law (to go with the ones restricting crowdfunding and services like AirBnB and Uber) to tax those who wish to share information freely. The pattern appears to be: existing industry feels threatened, lobbies government, government passes legislation to hamper innovations. The individual merits of each new service can be argued but anyone who knows the way the conservative government in Madrid generally thinks and reacts, we can be pretty sure they do not understand the milieu in which they are attempting to act.

“…all Spanish newspapers are haemorrhaging readers, consistently report revenue losses to the tune of millions of euros a year and many are already technically bankrupt.”
“…The idea that law will compensate for these losses is laughable. What isn’t so funny is the chilling effect on the free dissemination of information it will have.”

Read more…


Posted in Anti-P2P, Copyright/IP | No Comments »

“To Grow Without Bureaucracy, Only Hire Fully Formed Adults…”

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Stacco Troncoso
16th October 2014

Netflix Doodle

John Robb shares the winning formula that has allowed Netflix to reinvent itself three times. Apart from setting a very different example to the special interest group-led P2P witch hunts of the mainstream entertainment industry, there may be a lesson here regarding ongoing, more focused peer-production projects. The article was originally published in HomeFree America

This means the role of management isn’t oversight, it’s focused on providing employees with context. A context that helps employees make better decisions because they fully understand the bigger picture. Context includes any and all information needed for good decision making, from product strategy to economic performance to customer feedback. In other words, the role of management is to help employees orient their decisions correctly, and let them decide what to do on their own.

Technological change occurs so quickly now, companies need to reinvent themselves every decade just to stay relevant.

That’s extremely tough to do. I’ve seen it first hand when a company I founded grew from a dozen people to over hundred in a year. As our company grew beyond a couple of dozen employees, we fell into the classic growth trap:

For a company to increase its impact, it grows. It adds people, new geographies, and new products. This growth adds complexity to the business. Increasing complexity creates chaos as it outstrips the ability of the start-up’s informal management system to handle it. To reduce this chaos, the company must put in place processes and rules as well as an administrative bureaucracy to manage them.

These rules lock-in the existing business model and enables efficiency improvements that allow the company to rapidly scale revenues and profits in an orderly way. The kind of growth that Wall Street celebrates. However, these rules, processes, and bureaucracy have a pernicious impact. The locked business model drives out the majority of the innovative people, due to the mindless oversight and the limits on what is possible.

Then, inevitably, the marketplace shifts as the technology changes. The company needs to reinvent itself but it can’t because the existing business model is locked into place and most of the people able to make the reinvention possible have left. Unable to adapt, the company “grinds painfully into irrelevance.”

Fortunately, there is a way to avoid the ossification brought on by this trap, and remain innovative despite corporate growth. Given the change underway, it’s something nearly every company is going to need to learn sooner than later or face failure. A great example of this is what Reed Hastings did at Netflix. Reed had an experience similar to mine at his first successful start-up, Pure Software. The growth of the bureaucracy at Pure made the company lethargic and impossible to change. So, when Reed decided to start Netflix, he was determined to find a way to grow without bureaucracy. Despite the odds against him, he pulled it off. Netflix has a market capitalization of over twenty billion dollars and dominates the market for online video distribution. Further, Netflix accomplished this feat by defeating challenges from both Wal-Mart and Blockbuster.

How did Netflix pull this off? Reed hired the right people by throwing out the rule book on hiring. He didn’t hire the brightest people, or the most experienced, or the most ambitious as most other companies do. Those simply weren’t the traits he was looking for. Instead, he hired people according to the quality of their decision making. Simply, could they make great decisions (again and again with regularity), despite uncertainty and without oversight.

With people like that at Netflix, Reed was able to grow and grow without the ossification normally seen at big firms. This allowed Netflix to remain flexible and innovative despite rapid changes in the marketplace and in the technology underlying their offering. This flexibility allowed Netflix to reinvent itself three (!) times in the last fifteen years:

In late 1999, Netflix changed from a classic movie rental business to a subscription service.
In 2008, Netflix added streaming movies and TV shows to its subscription offering.
In 2013, Netflix began offering stunning original programming.

Speaking as a customer of Netflix, I’m a fan of what they’ve done. This record of innovation is why I’ve been a loyal subscriber to the company since 2000. This is an amazing product that gets better and better nearly every year, at a price that’s about the same as it was when I first subscribed to it. So, how exactly did Netflix pull this off? How did they grow in a way that allowed them to reinvent themselves three times when most companies can’t even do it once? Reed Hastings did this by hiring people who used a method of decision used to great success across American history. It’s something I call the American Way (for more on this, check out my short, and to the point, e-book) because it’s more common to find here than anywhere else and it’s responsible for all of the economic progress the US has enjoyed to date.

Specifically, Reed did this by looking for responsible decision making in new hires. People that Netflix calls internally: “fully formed adults.” These are people who who make all of their decisions using a balance of interests — personal, company, co-workers, and customers. They aren’t overtly selfish or blindly loyal like children. They can take care of themselves and they strive for independence, yet they do so in a way that increases the success of others. They constantly seek win-win-win decisions. People like this also see work differently than others. They see their work as a meaningful part of their life and not a chore. For them, work is one of the main ways they achieve success in their lives, and they treat it as such.

People that make responsible decisions don’t need much, if any oversight. They can be relied upon to make the right decision again and again. This capacity eliminates the need for most of the administrative overhead typically seen in companies as they grow. For example,Netflix doesn’t track the hours employees work, count their vacation days, or nit pick them over travel expenses. The employee is expected to manage this themselves.

This means the role of management isn’t oversight, it’s focused on providing employees with context. A context that helps employees make better decisions because they fully understand the bigger picture. Context includes any and all information needed for good decision making, from product strategy to economic performance to customer feedback. In other words, the role of management is to help employees orient their decisions correctly, and let them decide what to do on their own.

However, this emphasis on independence doesn’t mean that employees treat work as a shark tank or financial boiler room. Internal competition based purely on self-interest would increase the number of wrong decisions to an unacceptable level, and necessitate the return of bureaucratic oversight. Instead, Netflix has eliminated competition for a limited number of positions that drives so much selfish behavior in bureaucracies. Instead, if an employee has demonstrated he or she can routinely make great decisions, the company will treat them as an asset that can be employed on new projects.

Sound different than the company you work at? It should. There are very few companies that operate like this, but we’re going to see many more like them in the future. The speed of change underway demands it. It should also be apparent that the type of people Netflix hires could easily become entrepreneurs and start their own firms. They have the capacity to do it. However, they choose to work at Netflix because they get all of the benefit of an innovative entrepreneurial environment, great co-workers to invent the future with, all at a scale and level of impact that only the most successful start-ups can achieve.


Posted in Culture & Ideas, Economy and Business, P2P Collaboration | No Comments »

Podcast of the Day/C-Realm: March Then Flood

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
16th October 2014


KMO shares a variety of interviews, along with his impressions on the pseudo-mainstream People’s Climate March and the wilder affair that was Flood Wall Street. Originally published at C-Realm.com

From the Shownotes to the episode:

KMO attended the People’s Climate March on Sunday and Flood Wall Street the next day. The first event was a permitted march that respected authority and was timed not to disrupt business. The second was unauthorized and was deliberately disruptive to traffic around the icons of finance capital in lower Manhattan. There were zero arrests at the People’s Climate March. There were 102 arrests at Flood Wall Street. KMO shares interviews collected on location at both events.



Socialist Alternative: http://www.socialistalternative.org/
Autonomous Resilient Community 38: http://arc38.org/
Renée Renata Bergen: http://www.renegadepix.net/

Posted in Activism, Collective Intelligence, Culture & Ideas, Featured Content, Featured Podcast, Media, P2P Ecology, Podcasts, Politics | No Comments »

Book of the Day: The Mutual Ownership Revolution That Britain Needs

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16th October 2014

* Book: Making It Mutual. The ownership revolution that Britain needs. Edited by Caroline Julian.

pdf: http://www.respublica.org.uk/documents/qrz_Making%20It%20Mutual_The%20ownership%20revolution%20that%20Britain%20needs.pdf



“Diverse and devolved ownership, power and capital, alongside user, consumer and employee participation in governance and decision-making, are principles that we can all agree with. Unlike any other policy agenda, mutual, employee-owned and co-operative models, and their underpinning ideals, have attracted cross-party support and have been promoted as foundational players to our public institutions, private services and businesses, not just in this Government’s lifetime, but the ones that have preceded it also.

This is not to say that mutual models are a ‘silver bullet’ for all of our economic and societal problems, or indeed, that such models have been or will be successful in all sectors and public services. We have argued elsewhere that it must be right for the locality, the employees and the industry, and, as many of the contributors within this collection point out, must be considered as one model amongst others that could seek to promote similar principles. Greater plurality and competition within markets – both public and private – matched with greater participation, ownership and control, is first and foremost needed.

Mutual models also vary in legal type, governance and wider outreach. For the purposes of this collection, we have not restricted the definition of ‘mutual’ to a particular business model, but have included, and encouraged authors to draw upon, the importance of distributed and devolved ownership, alongside ‘mutuality’ and ‘co-operation’ in their broadest sense. Again, no single model or legal form will be suitable for every community’s and industry’s needs.

ResPublica has, however, particularly advocated models that can offer a real ownership stake – an entry point into a given market that has become closed and out of reach for so many. This model must also be capable of transforming the drive of such markets from what has often been a consumerist, individualist and self-interested enterprise, to one where communities, employees and users can take control.”



Posted in Featured Book, P2P Lifestyles, Peer Property | No Comments »

John Holloway on Changing the World Without Taking Power

photo of David Bollier

David Bollier
15th October 2014


John Holloway, a sociology professor in Mexico, recently gave an interview with Roar magazine suggesting how to introduce a new social and economic logic in the face of the mighty machine of neoliberal capitalism.  Holloway’s idea, recapitulating themes from his previous book and 2002 thesis, is to build “cracks” in the system in which people can relate to each other and meet their needs in non-market ways:  “We have to keep building cracks and finding ways of recognizing them, strengthening them, expanding them, connecting them; seeking confluence, or preferably, the commoning of cracks.”

This strategic approach has immediate appeal to commoners, it seems to me — even though some engagement with state power is surely necessary at some point.  Below, Holloway’s interview with by Amador Fernández-Savater. It was translated by Richard Mac Duinnsleibhe and edited by Arianne Sved of Guerrilla Translation.

In 2002, John Holloway published a landmark book: Change the World Without Taking Power. Inspired by the ‘¡Ya basta!’ of the Zapatistas, by the movement that emerged in Argentina in 2001/’02, and by the anti-globalization movement, Holloway sets out a hypothesis: it is not the idea of revolution or transformation of the world that has been refuted as a result of the disaster of authoritarian communism, but rather the idea of revolution as the taking of power, and of the party as the political tool par excellence.

Holloway discerns another concept of social change at work in these movements, and generally in every practice—however visible or invisible it may be—where a logic different from that of profit is followed: the logic of cracking capitalism. That is, to create, within the very society that is being rejected, spaces, moments, or areas of activity in which a different world is prefigured. Rebellions in motion. From this perspective, the idea of organization is no longer equivalent to that of the party, but rather entails the question of how the different cracks that unravel the fabric of capitalism can recognize each other and connect.

But after Argentina’s “que se vayan todos” came the Kirchner government, and after Spain’s “no nos representan” appeared Podemos. We met with John Holloway in the city of Puebla, Mexico, to ask him if, after everything that has happened in the past decade, from the progressive governments of Latin America to Podemos and Syriza in Europe, along with the problems for self-organized practices to exist and multiply, he still thinks that it is possible to “change the world without taking power.”


Firstly, John, we would like to ask you where the hegemonic idea of revolution in the 20th century comes from, what it is based on. That is, the idea of social change through the taking of power.

I think the central element is labor, understood as wage labor. In other words, alienated or abstract labor. Wage labor has been, and still is, the bedrock of the trade union movement, of the social democratic parties that were its political wing, and also of the communist movements. This concept defined the revolutionary theory of the labor movement: the struggle of wage labor against capital. But its struggle was limited because wage labor is the complement of capital, not its negation.

I don’t understand the relation between this idea of labor and that of revolution through the taking of state power.

One way of understanding the connection would be as follows: if you start off from the definition of labor as wage or alienated labor, you start off from the idea of the workers as victims and objects of the system of domination. And a movement that struggles to improve the living standards of workers (considered as victims and objects) immediately refers to the state. Why? Because the state, due to its very separation from society, is the ideal institution if one seeks to achieve benefits for people. This is the traditional thinking of the labor movement and that of the left governments that currently exist in Latin America.

But this tradition isn’t the only approach to a politics of emancipation…

Of course not. In the last twenty or thirty years we find a great many movements that claim something else: it is possible to emancipate human activity from alienated labor by opening up cracks where one is able to do things differently, to do something that seems useful, necessary, and worthwhile to us; an activity that is not subordinated to the logic of profit.

These cracks can be spatial (places where other social relations are generated), temporal (“Here, in this event, for the time that we are together, we are going to do things differently. We are going to open windows onto another world.”), or related to particular activities or resources (for example, cooperatives or activities that pursue a non-market logic with regard to water, software, education, etc.). The world, and each one of us, is full of these cracks.

The rejection of alienated and alienating labor entails, at the same time, a critique of the institutional and organizational structures, and the mindset that springs from it. This is how we can explain the rejection of trade unions, parties, and the state that we observe in so many contemporary movements, from the Zapatistas to the Greek or Spanish indignados.

But it isn’t a question of the opposition between an old and a new politics, I think. Because what we see in the movements born of the economic crisis is that those two things come to the fore at the same time: cracks such as protests in city squares, and new parties such as Syriza or Podemos.

I think it’s a reflection of the fact that our experience under capitalism is contradictory. We are victims and yet we are not. We seek to improve our living standards as workers, and also to go beyond that, to live differently. In one respect we are, in effect, people who have to sell their labor power in order to survive. But in another, each one of us has dreams, behaviors and projects that don’t fit into the capitalist definition of labor.

The difficulty, then as now, lies in envisioning the relation between those two types of movements. How can that relation avoid reproducing the old sectarianism? How can it be a fruitful relation without denying the fundamental differences between the two perspectives?

Argentina in 2001 and 2002, the indignados in Greece and Spain more recently. At a certain point, bottom-up movements stall, they enter a crisis or an impasse, or they vanish. Would you say that the politics of cracks has intrinsic limits in terms of enduring and expanding?

I wouldn’t call them limits, but rather problems. Ten years ago, when I published Change the World without Taking Power, the achievements and the power of movements from below were more apparent, whereas now we are more conscious of the problems. The movements you mention are enormously important beacons of hope, but capital continues to exist and it’s getting worse and worse; it progressively entails more misery and destruction. We cannot confine ourselves to singing the praises of movements. That’s not enough.

Could one response then be the option that focuses on the state?

It’s understandable why people want to go in that direction, very understandable. These have been years of ferocious struggles, but capital’s aggression remains unchanged. I sincerely hope that Podemos and Syriza do win the elections, because that would change the current kaleidoscope of social struggles. But I maintain all of my objections with regard to the state option.

Any government of this kind entails channeling aspirations and struggles into institutional conduits that, by necessity, force one to seek a conciliation between the anger that these movements express and the reproduction of capital. Because the existence of any government involves promoting the reproduction of capital (by attracting foreign investment, or through some other means), there is no way around it. This inevitably means taking part in the aggression that is capital. It’s what has already happened in Bolivia and Venezuela, and it will also be the problem in Greece or Spain.

Could it be a matter of complementing the movements from below with a movement oriented towards government institutions?

That’s the obvious answer that keeps coming up. But the problem with obvious answers is that they suppress contradictions. Things can’t be reconciled so easily. From above, it may be possible to improve people’s living conditions, but I don’t think one can break with capitalism and generate a different reality. And I sincerely believe that we’re in a situation where there are no long-term solutions for the whole of humanity within capitalism.

I’m not discrediting the state option because I myself don’t have an answer to offer, but I don’t think it’s the solution.

Where are you looking for the answer?

Whilst not considering parties of the left as enemies, since for me this is certainly not the case, I would say that the answer has to be thought of in terms of deepening the cracks.

If we’re not going to accept the annihilation of humanity, which, to me, seems to be on capitalism’s agenda as a real possibility, then the only alternative is to think that our movements are the birth of another world. We have to keep building cracks and finding ways of recognizing them, strengthening them, expanding them, connecting them; seeking the confluence or, preferably, the commoning of the cracks.

If we think in terms of state and elections, we are straying away from that, because Podemos or Syriza can improve things, but they cannot create another world outside the logic of capital. And that’s what this is all about, I think.

Finally, John, how do you see the relation between the two perspectives we’ve been talking about?

We need to keep a constant and respectful debate going without suppressing the differences and the contradictions. I think the basis for a dialogue could be this: no one has the solution.

For the moment, we have to recognize that we’re not strong enough to abolish capitalism. By strong, I am referring here to building ways of living that don’t depend on wage labor. To be able to say “I don’t really care whether I have a job or not, because if I don’t have one, I can dedicate my life to other things that interest me and that give me enough sustenance to live decently.” That’s not the case right now. Perhaps we have to build that before we can say “go to hell, capital.”

In that sense, let’s bear in mind that a precondition for the French Revolution was that, at a certain point, the social network of bourgeois relations no longer needed the aristocracy in order to exist. Likewise, we must work to reach a point where we can say “we don’t care if global capital isn’t investing in Spain, because we’ve built a mutual support network that’s strong enough to enable us to live with dignity.”

Right now the rage against banks is spreading throughout the world. However, I don’t think banks are the problem, but rather the existence of money as a social relation. How should we think about rage against money? I believe this necessarily entails building non-monetized, non-commodified social relations.

And there are a great many people dedicated to this effort, whether out of desire, conviction or necessity, even though they may not appear in the newspapers. They’re building other forms of community, of sociality, of thinking about technology and human capabilities in order to create a new life.

John Holloway is Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Autonomous University of Puebla in Mexico. His latest book is Crack Capitalism (Pluto Press, 2010).

Originally posted at bollier.org


Posted in Activism, Collective Intelligence, Culture & Ideas, Empire, Networks, Open Access, Politics | No Comments »

Recreating Collective Meaning: Unravelling the Collaborative Economy – A Dissertation by Felipe Cunha

photo of Kevin Flanagan

Kevin Flanagan
14th October 2014

Felipe Cunha

I am delighted to be able to introduce this new dissertation Recreating Collective Meaning: An Unravelling of the Collaborative Economy through the Sensibility of Culture. Felipe, who is Brazilian, recently graduated in the Economics for Transition masters degree from Schumacher College, and in this dissertation he describes the essential focus of his enquiry as:

In what degree the emergence of Collaborative Economy is catalysing a deep cultural reform towards the Common(s)? From this, a careful investigation opens the doors of this economic phenomenon through the cultural perspective. Therefore, whilst keeping the common(s) as the beacon of reference, this work is an attempt to explore Collaborative Economy’s shadows and lights and how it is affected and is affecting people’s values, beliefs and meanings.

In this dissertation Felipe explores the degree to which the emergence of the Collaborative Economy is catalysing a deep cultural reform towards the commons. He describes his work is an attempt to explore Collaborative Economy’s “shadows and lights and how it is affected and is affecting people’s values, beliefs and meanings”.

Felipe Cunha Dissertation
Recreating Collective Meaning: An Unravelling of the Collaborative Economy through the Sensibility of Culture

This is a deep dissertation, and for the essence lies in Felipe’s attempts to dig down into the real meaning of the collaborative economy. This journey is not without its pitfalls:

My intention is not just to deliver definitions of the word “culture” (although, in the following chapters, I will present what it does mean for me), rather it is to have it as the magnifying glass to understand contemporary economic phenomena, particularly the “Collaborative Economy”.

Probably this slippery characteristic is part of this phenomenon: sometimes I fall into denial of its connective profile due to the singularities of some unique examples: and sometimes it is so huge and evident (it is everywhere, every when) that I cannot embrace it. Thus, observing “culture” in its wholeness is a constant movement of contraction and expansion. I believe this is because this background of every social and psychical relationship – culture – is, indeed, full of paradoxes: it distinguishes and unites us at the same time; it is, simultaneously, the net weaver between people’s minds, values and behaviours and the essence of identity.

Taking his inspiration from the work of both Ken Wilbur’s integral theory, and focusing on the nature of holons as described by Wilbur (the inspiration of which came from Arthur Koestler), Felipe recognises that his enquiry will need to move away from an object-orientated perspective to a process-orientated perspective:

Instead of keeping thinking that the universe is a collection of objects, it is important to shift to the understand that in fact is much more like an abundance of subjects in relationship and interaction, where objects are alive and in constant cooperation (or as Gregory Bateson affirms, every organism on the planet can be recognized as “mind”, with self-organisation, intention for life and awareness, permanently involved in communication). Therefore, we need a science with deeper intentions, including wisdom and awareness of a larger whole, i.e. a meaningful science open to different kinds of knowing and not ego-oriented ambitions (“science for the sake of science”).

Lest this all sound too philosophical, for those who disparage of the notion of philosophy (and I of course do not), Felipe grounds his enquiry using the methodology of deep listening, inspired by Otto Scharmer’s U process, interviewing a number of Brazilian pioneers in the collaborative economy. These are:

  • Bernardo Ferracioli: Co-founder of Matéria Brasil and GOMA
  • Camila Carvalho: developer of Tem Açucar – a sharing platform for lending, donation and swapping of goods between neighbours.
  • Guilherme Lito: Co-founder of Arca Urbana and a new economy Consultant.
  • Daniel Larusso: a collaborative entrepreneur and co-founder of Nós.vc
  • Ursulla Araújo and Vinicius de Paula Machado (interviewed together): both co-founders of Carioteca and GOMA
  • Eduardo Cuducos: designer; entrepreneur, member of Mutuo – the Collaborative Consumption platform
  • Sharlie Oliveira: member of Curto Café – a collaborative-based café.

As I highlighted in my last article on Service Design in Brazil, Brazil is buzzing with creativity, and you can see by Felipe’s roster of interviewees an even greater sample of cutting edge projects emerging, disrupting and taking off in Brazil. These entrepreneurs and thinkers clearly helped focus and shape Felipe’s deepening conceptualisation of the collaborative economy, and he summarises this thinking by saying how he believes that:

the Collaborative Economy is part of a deep cultural change in process, which is happening right now, and hence we don’t know yet if it’s leading to a reform (or a metamorphosis) in its deeper structures or not. Indeed, Collaborative Economy is provoking changes and new possible social patterns as we saw, i.e. at least clearly demonstrates that there are other ways we can address our needs – without depending so much on middlemen – and that economic transactions based in collaboration are possible with a potential unfolding in different shapes of work and community relationships.

You can download the complete dissertation here:
Recreating Collective Meaning: An Unravelling of the Collaborative Economy through the Sensibility of Culture

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Our book Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter

This is Service Design Thinking – the 2014 Service Design Talks, São Paulo


To find out more about Schumacher College’s Economics for Transition masters degree please see: www.schumachercollege.org.uk/courses/ma-in-economics-for-transition

Article Source – http://transitionconsciousness.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/recreating-collective-meaning-unravelling-the-collaborative-economy-a-dissertation-by-felipe-cunha/


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