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Jules Peck Introduces the Real Economy Lab

photo of Kevin Flanagan

Kevin Flanagan
30th January 2015

By Jules Peck


Recently Transition’s co-Founder Rob Hopkins responded to a critique of the Transition movement by Ted Trainer. Trainer’s critique was much discussed at the annual Degrowth Congress in Leipzig which I have blogged about already.  Trainer’s critique suggested that there is little more to the Transition Towns movement than community gardens. Naturally anyone who knows much about Transition will know that’s just not the case. And Rob has made a very good response to this already many times.

In this blog I want to share with readers an exciting piece of new work that Transition Network is part of and which illustrates just one way in which it this global movement is grappling with really complex big issues relating to the future of economics and the whole way we produce and consume, live and work.

The Real Economy Lab is a new collective enquiry and movement building initiative. The Lab is being led by myself working closely with Peter Lipman, Chairman of Transition Network, Tony Greenham, a Transition Network Trustee and the Head of Business and Finance at Nef (the New Economics Foundation) and Alice Martin of Nef. Its supported financially by the Swiss Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer/FPH and Nef.

The Lab responds to the context in which our current economic system is patently failing to work for the wellbeing of people and planet. It’s an economic system intent and reliant on exponential growth on a finite planet and on the concentration of power and resources into the hands of the few.

But the alternative future is already (partly) here, emerging in pockets of light around the world. Aside from nearly 500  Transition initiatives worldwide, there is a vast and increasing array of practitioning and thinking around what is being called the ‘new economy.’ As Professor Gar Alperovitz, a leading thinker and practitioner in this area, has recently said “just below the surface of media attention literally thousands of grass roots institution-changing, wealth-democratizing efforts have been quietly developing.”

This includes movements as diverse as the many members of the Post Growth Alliance and New Economy Coalition, and the P2Pcommonermakersharerbuen vivircollaborative economicsocial solidaritydirect action,  localisation  and co-operative movements and numerous others. All of these groupings themselves include many individual initiatives or what we are calling ‘tribes’. And many are being supported by enlightened local government initiatives like those of Bristol’s Mayor George Ferguson in his support for things like Bristol Pound – an exciting initiative that Transition Bristol have helped create and nurture.

This ecosystem also includes numerous academic groups working up radically alternative ways of running our economies active in areas such as Economic Democracy, Associational Democracy and Pluralist Commonwealth thinking.

So what’s the problem the Real Economy Lab seeks to respond to? Well, despite all this great work going on around the world, it’s hard to see how this plethora of work fits together into a broader ecosystem, let alone a coherent progressive force pulling in the same direction.  How do the ‘tribes’ within this ecosystem relate to each other? How does the practitioning link or not link to various schools of thinking about how a new economy could function?

Without such an understanding its perhaps no surprise that there is little in the way of a concerted progressive movement working together to create to new economy. There is a feeling that if we could all point in the same direction we might be able to do what the shock doctrine regressives did so successfully in ensuring neoliberalism succeeded for so long.

In this context, the Real Economy Lab is focused on helping emerging global movements working towards the development of a new economics to connect the dots and help to ensure that their impact can be greater than the sum of their parts.

Our first, and current task is to create a mind-map of the international new economy ecosystem. We see this ecosystem made up of many ‘tribes’ that sit within a series of meta categories. Transition would be just one of these many tribes.

Through desk research and a wide international consultation we’re developing an information database and taxonomy to act as the basis of a mind-mapping of the international new economy ecosystem to understand what various tribes are doing and planning, why and how.

We’ve identified a number of meta-categories within each of which sit hundreds of separate, though sometimes connected, ‘tribes’. These categories are:

  1. Cutting edge civil society – work and movements exploring new economy responses to limits to growth;
  2. The seeds of change – movements and experiments with alternative ways of living and working which are actively responding to the challenges of focus in category I.;
  3. Local or national governmental support for the new economy;
  4. Direct action for the new economy;
  5. Alternative citizen democracy movements;
  6. Academic thinking on alternative economic paradigms;
  7. Mainstream voices breaking from the pack and questioning accepted orthodoxies on economics;
  8. Mainstream NGO and think tanks.

Based on our research and consultation we are building a database that will map for each tribe things like their:

  • Position on key new economy principles such as Environmental sustainability, Scale and urgency of change needed, Wellbeing maximization – rather than growth and wealth, Equality, Justice, Participation and solidarity, Economic democracy, Sharing, Resilience, Common cause intrinsic values, Sufficiency over efficiency, Appropriate scale and subsidiarity),
  • Organization type (NGO, sector focused, grassroots etc),
  • Outcomes sought (policy, watchdog, advocacy, grassroots change etc),
  • Mode of change (incremental, transformative, stepping stone etc),
  • Relation to power,
  • Profit or not for profit or hybrid motives,
  • Geography,
  • Links to others in new economy ecosystem,
  • Position on growth, capitalism and alternative economic models (such as market or non market socialism, economic democracy etc)

Based on this taxonomy and database and utilizing tagging and qualitative research software to create diagrams of relationships between concepts, themes and ideas, the resulting mind-map will provide a detailed and highly interactive online platform which we hope will be of great use to these tribes in formulating their strategies and collaborations.

Imagine an evolving multi-dimensional map of ideas, principles, practices, and locations of everything going on in the ‘new economy’ world. Imagine being able to user-generate idea-maps relevant to your own inquiries. Or being able to see where tribes stand on a set of core principles for the new economy.

These idea-maps might suggest areas where more emphasis or a change of direction might be needed by tribes or networks. And anyone will be able to interrogate the mind-map to see linkages, gaps in practice or thinking, differences of opinion, opportunities for collaborations, requirements for funding or other resources and much much more.

The mind-map will serve as an interactive, iterative and evolving tool for this new economy ecosystem.  It will seek to establish clarity and consensus on key principles and objectives for the new economy that can act as a foundation for the convergence of action. And it will highlight ways the various tribes might work together and will serve as the foundation for networking and collaboration towards the development of a convergence-alliance for the new economy.

Phase I of building the initial mind-map will end in May 2015, after a detailed consultation with leading international thinkers and practitioners in the new economy starting in February. Phase II, the launch of the mind-map platform, will planned for September 2015.  Phase III, networking and collaborating with tribes to start the process of developing a convergence-alliance, will be concurrent with phase II and ongoing through 2015 and beyond.

We hope you will want to get involved in the Lab and would be delighted to hear from Transitioners and non-Transitioners on the issues above. Please contact jules on jules@flourishingenterprise.org

Jules Peck has had a life-long passion for heterodox economics and undertaken extensive work in this area with think-tanks and others. As well as being convenor of the Real Economy Lab, Jules is also a founding partner at strategy consultancy Jericho Chambers, a Trustee of the think-tank Nef, a member of the Advisory Board of Sir Richard Branson’s B Team, an Associate of The Futures Company, a Practitioner of Happiness Works, a Director of the Happy City movement and a member of the Transition Towns training and consulting strategy group. 


Posted in Activism, Featured Movement | No Comments »

Project of the Day: Credibles

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Michel Bauwens
29th January 2015

“Credibles crowd-funds small, sustainable food-related businesses. The re-payment of the funding is in-kind – edible credits, or Credibles. The Clearbon platform manages and balances the shared credits among multiple businesses, giving the funder more liquidity for redemption.”

An explanation excerpted from Mira Luna:

“Several years back a group of us currency geeks got together at the Hub SOMA and NoiseBridge for brainstorming sessions to ponder how to link local currencies to the all important food system for better currency flow and convert it into credit for cash-strapped farmers. Credibles cofounder Arno Hesse, also of Slow Money, was part of those meetings and helped dream up Credibles’ brilliant model – one part loyalty program, one part Slow Money investment, one part crowdfunding campaign, and one part credit currency. Several years ago just a pipe dream, Credibles now helps fund local food businesses by paying for food ahead of time, in exchange for edible credits.

Here’s how Credibles works: food enterprises issue store credits for money received in advance. Customers and fans prepay the business on the Credibles website. In exchange, they receive a balance of Credibles — or edible credits — that they “eat up” over time. One Credible equals $1. To make Credibles appealing, participating businesses offer a bonus for paying up front. For example, a yogurt producer gives a customer 10 percent extra product when he pays $200 or more up front. That means he receives 220 Credibles.”


Posted in Ethical Economy, Featured Project, Food and Agriculture | No Comments »

Essay of the Day: Free Software and the Law

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Michel Bauwens
28th January 2015

* Article: Free software and the law. Out of the frying pan and into the fire: how shaking up intellectual property suits competition just fine. By Angela Daly. Journal of Peer Production, Issue 3, July 2013

From the Abstract:

“Free software is viewed as a revolutionary and subversive practice, and in particular has dealt a strong blow to the traditional conception of intellectual property law (although in its current form could be considered a ‘hack’ of IP rights). However, other (capitalist) areas of law have been swift to embrace free software, or at least incorporate it into its own tenets. One area in particular is that of competition (antitrust) law, which itself has long been in theoretical conflict with intellectual property, due to the restriction on competition inherent in the grant of ‘monopoly’ rights by copyrights, patents and trademarks. This contribution will examine how competition law has approached free software by examining instances in which courts have had to deal with such initiatives, for instance in the Oracle Sun Systems merger, and the implications that these decisions have on free software initiatives. The presence or absence of corporate involvement in initiatives will be an important factor in this investigation, with it being posited that true instances of ‘commons-based peer production’ can still subvert the capitalist system, including perplexing its laws beyond intellectual property.”


Posted in Copyright/IP, Featured Essay, Free Software, P2P Legal Dev. | No Comments »

Book of the Day: eGaia by Gary Alexander

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Guy James
27th January 2015

eGaia by Gary AlexanderI was fortunate enough to meet Gary Alexander, a New Yorker living in East Anglia, UK, at the Open Everything meetup in Cloughjordan, Ireland in the autumn of last year (2014) and was party to the discussion of some of the ideas contained in this book, although with all that was going on we didn’t have too much time to get into them in any depth. However his book sounds very interesting; my mammoth reading list means I haven’t had time to read it yet but I present it as something which may be interesting to the P2P community.

A short summary by Keith Parkins of the basic economic structure proposed in the book:

“In eGaia, three interlocking economies described

– local co-operative
– regional
– global

Within the local economy, everything is on a sharing basis, no money, people are expected to keep in balance,and contribute their fair share. It goes one stage further than granting a Basic Income.

For what the local economy cannot supply, will source from either regional or global economy, for which a financial exchange takes place, using a digital currency, there being a regional and global currency.

If one of the businesses operating within the local economy requires money, it goes to the regional bank. Free money is created (ie interest free), when paid back, the money self-destroys. The economy is not built on drbt.

Additional accounts are kept of ecological footprint of every transaction.

Businesses innovate to offer a better service, not to gain a competitive advantage as not in competition, and will share their innovation.

All carried out by means of smart phone apps.”

There is an interesting interview with Gary here at medium.com on his background and how he came to write the book.

There is a review of the book here at the Open University website (the organisation for which Gary Alexander used to work).

Keith Parkins has commented that although the basic structure of his proposal, that of self-organising autonomous networks, seems solid, there are in his opinion some naive assumptions and misunderstanding of economics in the book. Probably the best thing to do is to read it yourself and form your own opinion as there seems to be enough good ideas in it to form the basis of discussion – you can obtain the book (buy printed copy or free ebook) from Gary Alexander’s ‘Earth Connected’ website here.


Posted in Featured Book, P2P Books | No Comments »

Book of the Day: Sociofobia

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26th January 2015

Book: Sociofobia, El cambio político. César Rendueles

Link: Sociofobia



Geert Lovink:

“At a conference in Barcelona in June 2014 I ran into Madrid-based critic César Rendueles who told me about the success of his book Sociofobia, El cambio político en la era de la utopia digital in the Spanish speaking world, published late 2013. On the cover it reads: “the ideology of the network has generated a diminished social reality.” Rendueles (b. 1975) used to work for the cultural organization Círculo de Bellas Artes and now teaches at Complutense University, Madrid. I would characterize Rendueles’ approach as that of a straight forward academic, without the customary doubt, double meanings and postmodern cynicism, amplified by a clear populist-left set of demands (inspired by Latin-America) to re-nationalize public infrastructure, in this case the mix of telecom, knowledge production, education and media. This southern European variety of “cybersocialism” stands in contrast to the Blairist “third way” that originated in northwestern Europe and accepted limited state intervention in economic ownership. It is also distinct from a “commons” approach, where the commons are governed by an undefined coalition of “stakeholders” in which the real power of both monopoly corporate players and the state is obscured. Instead, Rendueles focuses on a more traditional analysis of economic and political institutions, one that may pave the way for political transformation in the technological field.

Why hasn’t Sociofobia been translated yet? Of course one can blame the slow politics of the publishing world with their outdated copyright system that hampers free cultural exchange within Europe and the absence of a subsidy system for translations of crucial cultural texts within the EU realm. How can Italian readers find out about the lively “post-Snowden” debates in Berlin? Should I perform the usual public self-criticism, admitting that I once preferred the sensual Italian over the harsh Spanish language – and now bear the consequences? Having said which, the book will come out in German (Suhrkamp) and in the United States – two years late.” (http://networkcultures.org/geert/2014/10/25/conversation-with-spanish-social-critic-cesar-rendueles/)


Posted in Featured Book, P2P Subjectivity | No Comments »

Podcast of the Day: Brewster Kahle and Matt Senate on the Revival of the Green Range Progressive Farming Tradition

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
26th January 2015

Reposted from Shaping San Francisco


young-ags“January 14, 2015 , panel on “Home on the Grange”:

“Grange Future” celebrates the history and contemporary expression of ‘the grange idea.’ From the 19th century populist movement that backed the early campaign for an “information commons” in the form of Rural Free Mail delivery, to public banking and Farmers co-op banks, this vital movement is re-emerging to confront information and agricultural monopolists of our own era. Severine von Tscharner Fleming leads a panel discussion with the Internet Archive’s Brewster Kahle and Matt Senate from the Omni Commons and Sudo Room Hackerspace.”


Posted in Commons, Cooperatives, Culture & Ideas, Featured Podcast, Food and Agriculture, P2P Lifestyles, Podcasts | No Comments »

Top P2P Books You Should Have Read in 2014 (1): The return of the cooperative commonwealth

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Michel Bauwens
25th January 2015

Our book of the year is Humanizing the Economy by John Restakis. See why below.. I can truthfully say it’s one of the most important books I have read in the last ten years.

2014 was definitely the year of the commons – cooperative convergence. Two objective trends especially since the systemic economic crisis of 2008 are the revival of the commons, mostly driven through peer production; AND a revival of cooperatives and cooperativism, which had been subjected to a certain decline and even a neoliberal degeneration in the period since the 1980’s. What was new in 2014 is that these two sectors started talking and looking at each other. At the P2P Foundation, we call for a new synthesis in the form of open cooperativism, i.e. cooperatives which consciously and structurally co-produce commons, as pioneered by the Catalan Integral Cooperative or the Allianza Solidaria in Quito.

The best record of this, which we don’t count as a book, is the following report of a in-depth convergence conversation by leading commoners and cooperativists:

* 0. “TOWARD AN OPEN CO-OPERATIVISM. A New Social Economy Based on Open Platforms, Co-operative Models and the Commons. A Report on a Commons Strategies Group Workshop Berlin, Germany, August 27-28, 2014. By Pat Conaty and David Bollier. CSG / Boll Foundation / Foundation pour le Progres de l’Homme, 2014.

We strongly urge everyone to read this.

Our top book about the cooperative commonwealth tradition is paradoxically a book that appeared in 2010, but that strongly deserves a second life with its second print run this year. It is the marvelously well written book by John Restakis, entitled “Humanizing the Economy”, which places cooperativism in its historical tradition, and presents innovations such as solidarity cooperatives. Learn there about the cooperative tradition in Emilia-Romagna and the innovative Seikatsu movement in Japan. Since, John Restakis has developed a much stronger understanding of the commons and worked with the P2P Foundation and myself on the commons-cooperative convergence. The evidence of this lies in our P2P-Foundation published e-book on the Commons Transition, which has strong chapters by John Restakis on the convergence of the commons economy, the partner state approach, and the cooperative economy. Finally, our own book, “Network Society and Future Scenarios for a Collaborative Economy” co-authored by Vasilis Kostakis, gives a detailed vision of expectations related to this cooperative commons economy: will it fullfill its promise, of fall victim to the forces which extract its value for purely private benefit of large multinationals of netarchical capital?

1. Humanizing the Economy. Co-operatives in the Age of Capital. by John Restakis. New Society Publishers, 2010

1. 1. b eBook: COMMONS TRANSITION: POLICY PROPOSALS FOR AN OPEN KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY. By Michel Bauwens and John Restakis. P2P Foundation, 2014

* 1.1.c. Network Society and Future Scenarios for a Collaborative Economy. By Vasilis Kostakis and Michel Bauwens. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014

The second trend, the revival of the commons, produced two very important book this year, by David Bollier and Jeremy Rifkin.

David Bollier’s book is a very well written general introduction of what ‘commoning’ means for human life, comparable to these great classics like The Gift by Lewis Hyde; Jeremy Rifkin’s book may not go deep enough in the problematic transition, but gives a great historical introduction to changes in the modes of production, and why the commons is now an economic fact, destined to grow not just in the so-called ‘immaterial’ economy, but also in the physical economy, through the ‘margical cost’ effects of distributed energy and 3D printing.

* 2. Think Like a Commoner. A Short Introduction to the Life of the Commons. by David Bollier. New Society, 2014

* 2.1. The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism. by Jeremy Rifkin. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014

More good books on the Revival of Cooperativism:

* 3. Capital and the Debt Trap. Learning from Cooperatives in the Global Crisis. By Claudia Sanchez Bajo and Bruno Roelants. Palgrave MacMillan (2013)

“The recent financial crisis has had a devastating impact around the globe. Thousands of businesses have closed down and millions of jobs have been cut. Many people have lost their homes. Capital and the Debt Trap explains how key economies have fallen into a ‘debt trap’, linking the financial sphere to the real economy, and goes beyond, looking into alternatives to the constant stream of financial bubbles and shocks. Overlooked by many,cooperatives across the world have been relatively resilient throughout the crisis. Through four case studies (the transformation of a French industrial SME in crisis into a cooperative, a fishery cooperative in Mexico, the Desjardins Cooperative Group in Quebec and the Mondragon Group in the Basque country of Spain), the book explores their strategies and type of control, providing an in-depth analysis within a broader debate on wealth generation and a sustainable future.”

* 3.1 e-Book: Democratic Wealth: Building a Citizens’ Economy. Ed. by Stuart White, and Niki Sethi-Smith. openDemocracy and Politics in Spires, 2014

“Democratic Wealth’ is a collection of essays that challenges the poverty of thinking around economic policy, particularly after the 2007 financial crash. It explores the renewed interest in republicanism and suggests this as a framework to shape an economy that serves the common good. It is a selection of articles from a series published by openDemocracy and Politics in Spires, a blog run by the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

* 3.2 eBook: Alternatives To Capitalism: Proposals For A Democratic Economy. by Robin Hahnel, Erik Olin Wright. New Left Project, 2014

“New Left Project’s new e-book, Alternatives to Capitalism: Proposals for a Democratic Economy, is now available for download.
In it the leading radical thinkers Robin Hahnel and Erik Olin Wright take on the crucial but all-too neglected question: what kind of society should we be fighting for instead of capitalism? Hahnel favours ‘participatory economics’. Wright advocates ‘real utopian socialism’. Alternatives to Capitalism puts these practical proposals through their paces in an in-depth, frank and extremely instructive debate about the central question of our time.”

* 3.3 Gary Alexander. eGaia Growing a peaceful, sustainable Earth through Communications. Published by Lighthouse Books, ISBN 0907637248 (2nd ed. 2014)

A updated second edition. See here for reviews.

* 3.4 Co-operatives in a Post-growth Era. Creating Co-operative Economics. Edited by Sonja Novkovic and Tom Webb. Fernwood Pubn. (with Zed Books), 2014

“Featuring a remarkable roster of internationally renowned critical thinkers, this book presents a feasible alternative for a more environmentally sustainable and equitable economic system. The time has never been better for cooperatives everywhere to recognize their own potential and ability to change the economic landscape.”

* 3.5 Robert Costanza and Ida Kubiszewski. Creating a Sustainable and Desirable Future: Insights from 45 Global Thought Leaders. World Scientific, 2014

“The book offers a broad, critical discussion of what a sustainable and desirable future should or can be, with chapters written by some of the world’s leading thinkers, including: Wendell Berry, Van Jones, Frances Moore Lappe, Peggy Liu, Hunter Lovins, Gus Speth, Bill McKibben, and many more.”


Posted in Cognitive Capitalism, Commons, Commons Transition, Cooperatives, Ethical Economy, Featured Book, Open Models, P2P Books, P2P Business Models, Peer Property, Sharing | 1 Comment »

Essay of the Day: The Role of Crowdsourcing for Better Governance in Fragile States

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
25th January 2015

* Report: The Role of Crowdsourcing for Better Governance in Fragile States Contexts. World Bank, 2014

From the Summary:

““[The report serves] as a primer on crowdsourcing as an information resource for development, crisis response, and post-conflict recovery, with a specific focus on governance in fragile states. Inherent in the theoretical approach is that broader, unencumbered participation in governance is an objectively positive and democratic aim, and that governments’ accountability to its citizens can be increased and poor-performance corrected, through openness and empowerment of citizens. Whether for tracking aid flows, reporting on poor government performance, or helping to organize grassroots movements, crowdsourcing has potential to change the reality of civic participation in many developing countries. The objective of this paper is to outline the theoretical justifications, key features and governance structures of crowdsourcing systems, and examine several cases in which crowdsourcing has been applied to complex issues in the developing world.”

Patrick Meier discusses the findings:

“The research is grounded in the philosophy of Open-Source Governance, “which advocates an intellectual link between the principles of open-source and open-content movements, and basic democratic principles.” The report argues that “open-source governance theoretically provides more direct means to affect change than do periodic elections,” for example. According to the authors of the study, “crowdsourcing is increasingly seen as a core mechanism of a new systemic approach of governance to address the highly complex, globally interconnected and dynamic challenges of climate change, poverty, armed conflict, and other crises, in view of the frequent failures of traditional mechanisms of democracy and international diplomacy with respect to fragile state contexts.
That said, how exactly is crowdsourcing supposed to improve governance? The authors argues that “in general, ‘transparency breeds self-correcting behavior’ among all types of actors, since neither governments nor businesses or individuals want to be caught at doing something embarrassing and or illegal.” Furthermore, “since crowdsourcing is in its very essence based on universal participation, it is supporting the empowerment of people. Thus, in a pure democracy or in a status of anarchy or civil war (Haiti after the earthquake, or Libya since February 2011), there are few external limitations to its use, which is the reason why most examples are from democracies and situations of crisis.” On the other hand, an authoritarian regime will “tend to oppose and interfere with crowdsourcing, perceiving broad-based participation and citizen empowerment as threats to its very existence.”
So how can crowdsourcing improve governance in an authoritarian state? “Depending on the level of citizen-participation in a given state,” the authors argue that “crowdsourcing can potentially support governments’ and/or civil society’s efforts in informing, consulting, and collaborating, leading to empowerment of citizens, and encouraging decentralization and democrati-zation. By providing the means to localize, visualize, and publish complex, aggregated data, e.g. on a multi-layer map, and the increasing speed of genera-ting and sharing data up to real-time delivery, citizens and beneficiaries of government and donors become empowered to provide feedback and even become information providers in their own right.”

According to the study, this transformation can take place in three ways:

1) By sharing, debating and contributing to publicly available government, donor and other major actors’ databases, data can be distributed directly through customized web and mobile applications and made accessible and meaningful to citizens.

2) By providing independent platforms for ‘like-minded people’ to connect and collaborate, builds potential for the emergence of massive, internationally connected grassroots movements.

3) By establishing platforms that aggregate and compare data provided by the official actors such as governments, donors, and companies with crowdsourced primary data and feedback.

“The tracking of data by citizens increases transparency as well as pressure for better social accountability. Greater effectiveness of state and non-state actors can be achieved by using crowdsourced data and deliberations* to inform the provision of their services. While the increasing volume of data generated as well as the speed of transactions can be attractive even to fragile-state governments, the feature of citizen empowerment is often considered as serious threat (Sudan, Egypt, Syria,Venezuela etc.).” *The authors argue that this need to be done through “web-based deliberation platforms (e.g. DiscourseDB) that apply argumentative frameworks for issue-based argument instead of simple polling.”

The second part of the report includes a section on Crisis Mapping in which two real-world case studies are featured: the Ushahidi-Haiti Crisis Map & Mission4636 and the Libya Crisis Map. Other case studies include the UN’s Threat and Risk Mapping Analysis (TRMA) initiative in the Sudan, Participatory GIS and Community Forestry in Nepal; Election Monitoring in Guinea; Huduma and Open Data in Kenya; Avaaz and other emergent applications of crowd-sourcing for economic development and good governance. The third and final part of the study provides recommendations for donors on how to apply crowd-sourcing and interactive mapping for socio-economic recovery and development in fragile states.”


Posted in Featured Essay, P2P Governance | No Comments »

Who Owns All the Bitcoins – An Infographic of Wealth Distribution

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Stacco Troncoso
24th January 2015

This brilliant infographic is from March 2014 but still worth sharing. It was originally published at Cryptocoins News

Everyone knows that global wealth is unevenly distributed. The top 1% has control over almost 50% of the global economy. But how does bitcoin wealth distribution compare to the global distribution of fiat and fixed assets? This gorgeous infographic explains:



It turns out that the distribution of bitcoins among users is even more skewed than the distribution of traditional wealth across the globe. This is understandable, since bitcoin favours early adopters who either mined or purchased their coins a few years ago. Furthermore, the amount of bitcoins in circulation is capped at 21 million, which also helps create an unequal distribution of wealth. Interestingly, the FBI has the second largest known stash of bitcoins, a whopping 174,000 BTC from the Silk Road seizure. It’s unknown exactly when and how the FBI will sell these bitcoins, but the agency should auction them off sometime soon, a common practice for getting rid of assets seized from criminals. All in all, it’s interesting to see such a skewed wealth distribution, and it’s difficult to predict how this distribution will change in the future.

Infographic from WhoIsHostingThis?.


Posted in Culture & Ideas, Economy and Business, Featured Graphic, P2P Money, P2P Technology, Technology | 3 Comments »

Book of the Day: Cyber-Proletariat

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24th January 2015


URL = http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/C/bo20704212.html



“The utopian promise of the internet, much talked about even a few years ago, has given way to the information highway’s brutal realities: coltan mines in the Congo, electronics factories in China, devastated neighborhoods in Detroit. In Cyber-Proletariat, Nick Dyer-Witheford shows the dark side of the information revolution through an unsparing analysis of class power and computerization. He reveals how technology facilitates growing polarization between wealthy elites and precarious workers and how class dominates everything from expanding online surveillance to intensifying robotization. At the same time he looks at possibilities for information technology within radical movements, casting contemporary economic and social struggles in the blue glow of the computer screen.

Cyber-Proletariat brings Marxist analysis to bear on a range of modern informational technologies. The result is a book indispensable to social theorists and hacktivists alike and essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how Silicon Valley shapes the way we live today.” (http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/C/bo20704212.html)


Posted in Featured Book, P2P Labor | No Comments »