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Digital innovation or Biourbanism? Both, of course!

photo of Marco Fioretti

Marco Fioretti
30th September 2014


(this is the translation, first published on my own blog, of the final part of an article I published on the italian Pionero Web magazine in April 2014. The translation of the first part is available here)

The official definition of Biourbanism starts with the focus on “the urban organism, considering it as a hypercomplex system, according to its internal and external dynamics and their mutual interactions.”

In practice, as an almost total ignorant when it comes to architecture, urbanism, psychology and the like, I understand this to mean that Biourbanism proposes to make the places we inhabit decent places, that is places worth living in because they are:

  • (self) organized, bottom-up
  • taking their history and unique characteristics into account
  • designed with a process which is biophilic, that is friendly to all the levels and sides of human life (family, personal relationship, emotion, work…)
  • managed with little interventions, cheap and not invasive (biourban acupunture), that match the real needs and features of each place

The International Society of Biourbanism (ISB) has led, and continues to organize and propose with this spirit, several initiatives for the renaissance of italian villages and small towns, in the mountains and elsewhere, starting with Progetto Artena.

I discovered ISB by chance in the summer of 2013. Since then, we have done several things together, including the parts on education on digital matters and open technology of Progetto Leo. This cooperation has also led, among other things, to the reorganization of several courses, which I and others were already proposing, in a new package called Minimi Comuni Digitali, which is both autonomous but perfectly compatible with Biourbanism activities and educational programs. The package name, roughly translatable with “Minimal Digital Commons/Cities” hints to the possibilities, also for small towns, to benefit from knowledge and usage of appropriate, open digital technologies and communities.

Why talk of architecture, psychology and so on, on a website like Pionero (where the original article appeared), whose slogan is “Digital Innovation”? Easy: to suggesto a generic model just for digital innovation.

Italy (and many other countries, if you ask me) needs to be rebuilt from the foundations. ISB, if I got it right, proposes and practice a way to rebuild it based on the principle that, if you want a decent life, you should rebuild common spaces and services from the bottom, putting people in the first place, in the most efficient and sustainable way. They aren’t the only ones to say this, of course, but I like their approach and general vision.

Above all, since we should be talking about Digital Innovation, I like Biourbanism for a very specific reason I believe that, if you start to reboot a city the way Biourbanism does, things like Free Software, Open Data, Open Government, Fablabs, Maker Faires and so on surely enter the picture, eventually. You couldn’t avoid them even if you wanted. BUT, the point is, starting from Biourbanism those things would enter the picture in a way that is much more productive, sustainable and long lasting than all the other ways tried so far by us “digital maniacs”: only, that is, as the last thing, stealthily, in the smallest possible amounts, as an unavoidable consequences of the starting ideas, and actual needs, of local non-geeks. Stay tuned for more, but in the meantime do let me know your thoughts!

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Posted in Free Software, Networks, Open Hardware and Design, P2P Architecture and Urbanism, P2P Development, P2P Governance, P2P Mapping | No Comments »

Social Media were a weapon of choice in the Gaza-Israel Conflict

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
29th September 2014


“The rise of the internet has helped to reconstruct the fragmentation of Palestine, as it is a way for Palestinians to reconnect and break their isolation. I think the effect of the social media boom among young Palestinian social media activists somehow succeeded in changing public perception of the Palestinian in the West,”

Excerpted from Yousef al-Helou:

“When 16-year old Palestinian, Farah Baker began tweeting about the bombs falling around her, she could never have guessed that she would rise to such prominence. But in the space of just a few weeks, her followers on Twitter jumped from 800 to 207,000 with people hungry for a first-hand, personal account of what was transpiring in Gaza. Baker is just one of the few Palestinians turning to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to share photos of the destruction in the Gaza Strip, disseminate information, updates, and posts.

Even when the power was out, citizen journalists managed to post pictures of dead bodies, destroyed neighbourhoods and injured people to the outside world. Photography has always been a powerful force, but the Gaza conflict was one of the first wars to be photographed mainly by amateurs and social media platforms, allowing those images to spread far and wide at the click of a button, helping the people of Gaza win hearts and minds, and subsequently causing unprecedented outrage against Israel. In demonstrations around the world, such photos were enlarged and carried by demonstrators, demanding that their respective governments take action to halt Israel’s onslaught.

“I noticed that most of the Western media supports Israel, so also some people abroad believe that we Palestinians are the murderers and that it is us who started the attacks on Israel. This is not right. I felt I had to do something to help Gaza. I used Twitter as a weapon to share what exactly happen in Gaza by posting links of recorded clips of bombs, photos of the smoke to make people who follow me feel as if they are living in Gaza. to let them know we are the victims.” Farah Baker said.

No doubt reporting in a war zone like Gaza is risky, even if you take all required precautions. Of the 2016 Palestinians killed in the current Israeli assault, 14 were journalists, including a foreign reporter who worked for local and international media outlets. Simultaneously, a number of buildings housing media offices and outlets were attacked.

Israel is ranked 96th in the world on the “Press Freedom Index” – a report compiled by Reporters without Borders – because of the Israeli military’s targeting of Palestinian journalists in the occupied Palestinian territory. This ranking was published before the start of Israel’s 3rd war on Gaza, called “Operation Protective Edge.”

“Since the start of the Gaza blockade in 2006, a new generation of Palestinians have come to prominence in Gaza. Articulating their message in fluent English through blogs and Twitter, they conveyed their message to the world as a means to break their isolation, not only from the outside world but also from the rest of the occupied territories in the West Bank and the capital of East Jerusalem,” said Abed al-Nasser Abu Oun, a TV correspondent and radio presenter at a local radio station.

As the war progressed, it was an online battle of narratives – between heavily funded Israeli state media outlets, represented by Israeli spokespersons of the Israeli government and the army with decades of experience – versus Palestinian citizen journalists who only had their own laptops, smartphones and cameras.

Some citizen journalists from Gaza argue that they were even able to win the cyber-war, and reach the public in the West by repackaging, commenting on, and distributing content in innovative ways, tweeting updates a lot faster than other media outlets.

The use of social media also forged connections with international media organizations, who contacted Gaza residents and citizen journalists with questions and interview requests.

Twitter became a platform for tens of thousands of regular people who have an opinion to share, for those who wish to challenge someone else’s point of view, or those who simply want to share updates and their own personal feelings on the human cost of Israel’s war. Many of these messages can be viewed under the hashtags #GazaUnderAttack and #PrayforGaza.

“Many people – young and old alike – are using social media to report on their immediate circumstances in ways that the mainstream media cannot. We see this shifting coverage and understanding of events from Gaza to Ferguson. In both places, tweets from local residents have offered immediate news to those watching from elsewhere. In some cases, citizen journalists have greatly challenged the narratives of more established sources,” said Joe Catron, an American pro-Palestine activist in Gaza.”

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Posted in P2P Warfare, Social Media | No Comments »

Book of the Day: The Prince of Evolution

photo of hartsellml

hartsellml
29th September 2014


* Book: The Prince of Evolution, By Lee Alan Dugatkin.

= the story of the Russian prince, evolutionary theorist, and political radical Peter Alexeyevich Kropotkin

 

Description

Eric Michael Johnson:

“In The Prince of Evolution Dugatkin tells the story of the Russian prince, evolutionary theorist, and political radical Peter Alexeyevich Kropotkin whose Darwinian theory of mutual aid was the first to argue that cooperation was an integral part of natural selection. Today, the quest to understand how cooperative behavior evolved is one of the hotest areas in the life sciences, though few researchers realize that many of their questions were first posed by Kropotkin more than a century ago.

“Kropotkin was not only the first person who clearly demonstrated that cooperation was important among animals,” Dugatkin writes, “he was the first person to forcefully argue that understanding cooperation in animals would shed light on human cooperation.”

Dugatkin’s book [an excerpt of which has been posted at Scientific American.com] is a précis on Kropotkin’s life and work, an overview that highlights the common theme of mutual aid in both his scientific and political ideas. Some may be familiar with Kropotkin as the revolutionary theorist of anarchism, a political system in which people organize their own affairs at the local level without interference from an external government, but few are likely to realize that this “anarchist Prince” started out as a physical geographer and geologist whose work was celebrated around the world. The discoveries that Kropotkin made of glacial formations during the Quaternary Period in Russia were received with international acclaim and earned him invitations to join the Imperial Russian Geographical Society, the British Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as a Cambridge University endowed chair in geology (which he turned down because it came with the stipulation that he give up his political work).

The Prince of Evolution offers a tantalizing peek into the life and ideas of a man Dugatkin calls “one of the world’s first international celebrities,” someone who filled auditoriums throughout Europe, England, and the United States with talks ranging from biology to anarchy to Russian literature. Kropotkin was a thinker whose ideas were so large that a single discipline could not contain them, and they were thought to be so dangerous that he was arrested multiple times and spent lengthy prison terms in Russia and France for communicating them. Part of what made him such a threat to the monarchs of Europe, Dugatkin suggests, was that Kropotkin refused to accept any authority that wasn’t based on scientific principles. He urged people everywhere to reject illegitimate tyranny and to use the tools of critical thinking and science to build a more equitable society themselves.” (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/primate-diaries/2011/09/13/prince-of-evolution/)

 

Discussion

From an interview of author By Lee Alan Dugatkin by Eric Michael Johnson:

“He generally had a negative view of capitalism but, even more important, was his work on mutual aid in human evolution from early on through the medieval period. His research showed that over and over again people figured out a way to create small, interacting cooperative groups like the guilds in the Middle Ages. But the problem he found was that, as soon as these cooperative groups emerged, it immediately created selection pressures that favored parasites. These parasites would come in and suck up what they needed from individuals who were being good to one another and, eventually, cause the society to crumble. So, certainly, Kropotkin would not have been at all surprised by what has happened today.

I think this gets to the episodic nature of social change in Kropotkin’s view. As soon as you establish a cooperative society, you immediately create these dramatic forces that favor cheating. The question of how to stop that was one that Kropotkin was obsessed with.” (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/primate-diaries/2011/09/13/prince-of-evolution/)

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Posted in Activism, Featured Book, P2P Epistemology, P2P Governance, P2P Theory | No Comments »

On the Dangers of Monetizing Nature

photo of David Bollier

David Bollier
26th September 2014


double sérénité

“We can see the application of economic valuation in the real world and the damage that application has in far too many cases already done to communities who depend on and defend their territories against outside decisions that will destroy the land that provides them with a livelihood.”

I remember in the late 1970s how the corporate world essentially invented the use of cost-benefit analysis in health, safety and environmental regulation. It was a brazen attempt to redefine the terms for understanding social ethics and policy in terms favorable to capital and markets.  Instead of seeing the prevention of death, disease and ecological harm as a matter of social justice, period, American industry succeeded in recasting these issues aseconomic matters.  And of course, such arcane issues must be overseen by a credentialed priesthod of economists, not ordinary mortals whose concerns were snubbed as selfish NIMBYism (Not in My Backyard).

And so it came to be that, with the full sanction of law, a dollar sum could be assigned to our health, or to the cost of getting cancer, or to a statistical baby born with birth defects. Regulation was transformed into a pseudo-market transaction.  That mindset has become so pervasive three decades later that people can barely remember when ethical priorities actually trumped big money.

It is therefore a joy to see Barbara Unmüssig’s essay,“Monetizing Nature:  Taking Precaution on a Slippery Slope,”which recently appeared on the Great Transition Initiative website.  Unmüssig is President of the Heinrich Boell Foundation in Germany and a stalwart supporter of the commons, especially in her backing of the 2010 and 2013 conferences in Berlin.

Striking a note that is note heard much these days, Unmüssig points out the serious dangers of seeing the natural world through the scrim of money.  Here is the abstract for her piece:

In the wake of declining political will for environmental protection, many in the environmental community are advocating for the monetization of nature. Some argue that monetization, by revealing the economic contribution of nature and its services, can heighten public awareness and bolster conservation efforts. Others go beyond such broad conceptual calculations and seek to establish tradable prices for ecosystem services, claiming that markets can achieve what politics has not.

However, such an approach collapses nature’s complex functions into a set of commodities stripped from their social, cultural, and ecological context and can pose a threat to the poor and indigenous communities who depend on the land for their livelihood. Although the path from valuation to commodification is not inevitable, it is indeed a slippery slope. Avoiding this pitfall requires a reaffirmation of the precautionary principle and a commitment to democratic decision-making and social justice as the foundations of a sound environmental policy for the twenty-first century.

Unmüssig’s essay is followed by comments by some fantastic commentary by nine ecological economists and environmental policy experts, among others, who take issue with parts of the essay and elaborate on points of agreement.  Among the commentators are the noted ecological economists Herman Daly and Bob Costanza, but there are also some insightful comments by Neera Singh, Jutta Kill and Neil Glazer.

I especially liked biologist Jutta Kill’s comments:

We can see the application of economic valuation in the real world and the damage that application has in far too many cases already done to communities who depend on and defend their territories against outside decisions that will destroy the land that provides them with a livelihood.

And finally, adopting someone else’s frame—the frame that sees “nature” in a way that capital does—by default requires devaluing and undermining the values we (used to) consider worth fighting for. That would likely entail losing moral authority and legitimacy, at least over time. Adopting the concept of economic valuation means adopting the values of actors whose business model is built on limitless growth and the associated wrecking of “nature”—and many people’s livelihoods.

Forestry scholar Neera Singh also has a nice response to the perversity that sees ecological conservation as a sacrifice for which market payment should be paid:

“How can we honor the gift of conservation care labor that goes into the production of ecosystem services in ways that it is seen as a gift rather than as production of a service whose exchange can be sealed with a payment? And can we see these gifts—gifts by nature, by people who live in ecologically sensitive landscapes, gifts emerging from human-nature relations—as invitation for long-term exchanges in sharing the burden and joy of environmental care?”

Read the essay and then the comments.  Some terrific insights into the pathological monetization of nature.


Originally posted in Bollier.org

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Posted in Activism, Culture & Ideas, Featured Content, Featured Essay, Original Content, P2P Bibliography, P2P Ecology, P2P Foundation, Politics | No Comments »

The Handicap Principle is a Force for Good or Evil

photo of Øyvind Holmstad

Øyvind Holmstad
26th September 2014


Terje Bongard was treated with
the same ignorance
by the Research Counsil of Norway,
as Galileo Galilei was by the inquisition

The handicap principle is a concrete force, it’s the driver of human behaviour and interaction, and we can use this force for good or for evil.

The handicap principle is there, just like the sun is there. We can learn to harvest its energy, like with solar energy, for the benefit of human civilization.

The Research Council of Norway didn’t understand this fact. If Terje Bongard’s application was for harvesting solar energy, he would most surely got fundings for his research project MEDOSS.

The Research Council of Norway is just as narrow minded as the inquisition, those men who didn’t accept that the Sun is the centre of our solar system. The same way is the handicap principle the force that directs human behaviour.

Here is the answer I gave to a comment from my friend Vera Bradova:

The RID-Model is a down-up system, but as a democracy it has to include everyone. If one hawk is free to predate on the system, it will fail. It has to include everyone into the system, so it has to be implemented top-down, as you say. It has to be equal for everyone at once.

 

The RID-model will be focused around production, every in-group to be responsible for their own little part of the production system. This is because the production system is what threatens our survival, still it’s outside of democratic control.

 

What is the point of the ingroup-model is to harvest the fruits from the “positive” side of the handicap principle, which is the driver of human behavior. This “good force” we can use to organize every aspect of society. No matter how it comes alive, bottom up or top down, the fruits of this force are the same, cooperation, sacrificing, modesty etc.

 

You see this aspect of the handicap-principle most clearly among the social flock bird the arabian babbler, which Amotz Zahavi, the “founder” of the handicap-principle, studied in the Negev Desert for 40 years. See the book: The handicap principle: A Missing Piece of Darwin’s Puzzle. 1997, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. By Amotz and Avishag Zahavi.

 

On the contrary, our capitalist and modernist system, almost entirely grows the “dark side of the force”, the “janus face” of human nature. Terje Bongard exemplifies this in his book “The biological human being” (http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/the-biological-human-being-individuals-and-societies-in-light-of-evolution-first-chapter/2014/01/30) with using the Australian satin bowerbird as an example of a “capitalist”, that mean growing the “destructive” force of the handicap principle in human society. If a society is organized around this side of the handicap principle, you get a bunch of egoists.

 

Earlier people instinctively organized to harvest the benefits from the handicap principle, like in the tribe. Or in the alexandrine pattern 37: http://www.patternlanguage.com/apl/aplsample/apl37/apl37.htm

 

The RID-Model would create the ultimate commons, dissolving both the market and the state, making us all part of a superorganism. Where every individual had an equal say. This is a highly scientific model stemming from the best knowledge available about human behavioral biology.

Terje Bongard’s RID-Model is a gateway to create the ultimate commons for humanity. A key to give back hope for future generations and our Earth.
 
Terje Bongard’s book “The Biological Human Being“, preliminary only in Scandinavian language, gives the answers to what a human being really is. It explains why we act as we do, and reveals how we can use inherited biological drivers to design for cooperation and sustainability.
 
A model of the ultimate representative democracy, adjusted for Norway. Larger nations will need one more level of ingroups.


Related:

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Posted in Collective Intelligence, Open Government, P2P Collaboration, P2P Governance | No Comments »

Book of the Day: Capitalism vs. the Climate

photo of hartsellml

hartsellml
26th September 2014


This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. By Naomi Klein.

D.R. Tucker:

“This Changes Everything deserves to be viewed not as one of the greatest nonfiction works of the 2010s, but as one of the greatest nonfiction works of all-time. Disregard that 2008 Obama speech—the publication of this book will truly mark the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and the planet began to heal. I write this filled with self-doubt; I’m not certain I can put into words the majesty, the power, the glory of this book. I grew covetous of her talent as I read it; how can one communicate so much truth so effectively, so clearly, so crisply?

“What is really preventing us from putting out the fire that is threatening to burn down our collective house?” Klein asks early on, before observing:

= I think the answer is far more simple than many have led us to believe: we have not done the things that are necessary to lower emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology for the entire period we have been struggling to find a way out of this crisis. We are stuck because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe—and would benefit the vast majority—are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets.

As Klein observes, the twin demons of globalization and market fundamentalism began to possess the developed world in the late-1980s, and have yet to be exorcised. Only a powerful, determined, diverse, international, grassroots progressive movement can drive those demons out:

- The mainstream environmental movement…generally stands apart from…expressions of mass frustration, choosing to define climate activism narrowly—demanding a carbon tax, say, or even trying to stop a pipeline. And those campaigns are important. But building a mass movement that has a chance of taking on the corporate forces arrayed against science-based emission reduction will require the broadest possible spectrum of [progressive] allies.

Klein notes that climate-change deniers are so grotesque in their attacks on climate science because they know what’s at stake if concerned citizens take emissions seriously:

- More fundamentally than any of this, though, is [deniers’] deep fear that if the free market system really has set in motion physical and chemical processes that, if allowed to continue unchecked, threaten large parts of humanity at an existential level, then their entire crusade to morally redeem capitalism has been for naught. With stakes like these, clearly greed is not so very good after all. And that is what is behind the abrupt rise in climate change denial among hardcore conservatives: they have come to understand that as soon as they admit that climate change is real, they will lose the central ideological battle of our time—whether we need to plan and manage our societies to reflect our goals and values, or whether that task can be left to the magic of the market.

Klein holds nothing back, condemning the decision by certain prominent environmental organizations to play pattycake with polluters, faulting former Vice President Al Gore for being “largely responsible for getting so many Big Green groups on board” to support the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993, exposing the chasm between the words and the deeds of Richard Branson, Michael Bloomberg and President Obama on climate.

Klein notes that even the political center-left trembles at the implications of the climate crisis:

- This is where the right-wing climate deniers have overstated their conspiracy theories about what a cosmic gift global warming is to the left. It is true…that many climate responses reinforce progressive support for government intervention in the market, for greater equality, and for a more robust public sphere. But the deeper message carried by the [climate crisis] is a profound challenge to large parts of the left as well as the right. It’s a challenge to some trade unions, those trying to freeze in place the dirtiest jobs, instead of fighting for the good clean jobs their members deserve. It’s a challenge to the overwhelming majority of center-left Keynesians, who still define economic success in terms of traditional measures of GDP growth, regardless of whether that growth comes from rampant resource extraction.

The book is profoundly hopeful, praising the emergence of “a resurgent grassroots climate movement” opposed to tar sands mining, fracking, and the overall culture of contamination that the fossil-fuel industry has fought for decades to maintain, a movement that “is winning a series of startling victories against the fossil fuel sector as a result,” including victories on the divestment front. She notes that the fossil fuel industry’s obsession with sucking every last bit of dirty energy from the ground has awakened sleeping giants across the economic spectrum:

- …[T]he scope of many new extraction and transportation projects has created opportunities for people whose voices are traditionally shut out of the dominant conversation to form alliances with those who have significantly more social power…In the 1990s, it was trade deals that brought huge and unlikely coalitions together; today it is fossil fuel infrastructure.

Klein concludes by noting that in addition to resisting the abuse of the Earth by the fossil fuel industry, the new grassroots climate movement is “actively building an alternative economy based on very different principles and values” than the economy that gave birth to the climate crisis. Either this alternative economy is out future…or we won’t have a future.

Klein declares:

- …[A]ny attempt to rise to the climate challenge will be fruitless unless it is understood as part of a much broader battle of worldviews, a process of rebuilding and reinventing the very idea of the collective, the communal, the commons, the civil, and the civic after so many decades of attack and neglect. Because what is so overwhelming about the climate challenge is that it requires breaking so many rules at once—rules written into national laws and trade agreements, as well as powerful unwritten rules that tell us that no government can increase taxes and stay in power, or say no to major investments no matter how damaging, or plan to gradually contract those parts of our economies that endanger us all. Fundamentally, the task is to articulate not just an alternative set of policy proposals but an alternative worldview to rival the one at the heart of the ecological crisis—embedded in interdependence rather than hyperindividualism, reciprocity rather than dominance, and cooperation rather than hierarchy. This is required not only to create a political context to dramatically lower emissions, but also to help us cope with the disasters we can no longer avoid. In the hot and stormy future, we have already made inevitable through our past emissions, an unshakable belief in the equal rights of all people and a capacity for deep compassion will be the only things left standing between civilization and barbarism.” (http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2014_09/damn_right_this_changes_everyt052173.php)

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Posted in Activism, Featured Book, P2P Movements | No Comments »

Kostakis & Bauwens: Network Society and Future Scenarios for a Collaborative Economy

photo of David Bollier

David Bollier
25th September 2014


Vasilis Kostakis and Michel Bauwens

Vasilis Kostakis and Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis have just published a new book that offers a rich, sophisticated critique of our current brand of capitalism, and looks to current trends in digital collaboration to propose the outlines of the next, network-based economy and society.

Network Society and Future Scenarios for a Collaborative Economy is a scholarly book published by Palgrave Macmillan. If you’d like to look at a working draft of the book, you can find it online here.

Bauwens is the founder of the P2P Foundation, and Kostakis is a political economist and founder of the P2P Lab. He is also a research fellow at the Ragnar Nurkse School of Innovation and Governance at Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia.

Kostakis and Bauwens write:

The aim of this book is not to provide yet another critique of capitalism but rather to contribute to the ongoing dialogue for post-capitalist construction, and to discuss how another world could be possible. We build on the idea that peer-to-peer infrastructures are gradually becoming the general conditions of work, economy, and society, considering peer production as a social advancement within capitalism but with various post-capitalistic aspects in need of protection, enforcement, stimulation and connection with progressive social movements.

The authors outline four scenarios to “explore relevant trajectories of the current techno-economic paradigm within and beyond capitalism.” They envision the rise of “netarchical capitalism,” a network-based capitalism, that sanctions several types of compatible and conflicting forms of capitalism – what they call “the mixed model of neo-feudal cognitive capitalism.”  There are variations that are possible, including “distributed capitalism, resilient communities and global Commons.”

Kostakis and Bauwens regard resilient communities and the global Commons as “the hypothetical model of mature peer production under civic dominance,” and propose that this scenario – the Commons – represents “a sustainable alternative to capital accumulation.”  However, moving to this scenario requires transition strategies for the state, the market and the civic domain, for which Kostakis and Bauwens make some tentative proposals.

Those of you who have been following Michel Bauwens’ thinking for some time will find many familiar themes and arguments.  Yet this book also represents a the best single, comprehensive overview of Bauwens’ pioneering thinking, informed by dozens of real-life examples around the world. The great virtue of this book is its careful, empirically informed analysis and its integration of political and cultural factors in making sense of the economy.  Highly recommended!

Contents

PART ONE: THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

1. Capitalism as a creative destruction system

2. Beyond the end of history: Three competing value models

3. The P2P infrastructures: Two axes and four quadrants

PART TWO: COGNITIVE CAPITALISM

4. Netarchical capitalism

5. Distributed capitalism

6. The social dynamics of the mixed model of neo-feudal cognitive capitalism

PART THREE: THE HYPOTHETICAL MODEL OF MATURE PEER PRODUCTION: TOWARDS A COMMONS-ORIENTED ECONOMY AND SOCIETY

7. Resilient communities

8. Global Commons

9. Transition proposals towards a Commons-oriented economy and society


Originally published at Bollier.org

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Posted in Campaigns, Collective Intelligence, Commons, Culture & Ideas, Featured Book, Featured Content, Open Content, Original Content, P2P Collaboration, P2P Development, P2P Foundation, P2P Theory, Politics, Theory | No Comments »

Oct 13th – 27th Join Global #MapJam 2.0 to Put the New Economy on the Map!

photo of Kevin Flanagan

Kevin Flanagan
24th September 2014


MapJam

The P2P Foundation are happy to announce our partnership with Shareable and the Sharing Cities Network in supporting this years Global #MapJam.

This October, the Sharing Cities Network will launch the Second Annual Global #Map Jam to bring activists together in cities around the world to connect the dots and map: grassroots sharing projects, cooperatives, community resources, and the commons.

Mapping all of the shared resources in your city not only shows that another world is possible–it shows it’s already here! Asset maps are powerful organizing tools. They  make community assets more visible–creating a base for further community development, leading to new collaborations and illuminating openings for new project ideas to fill in the gaps. They also get a lot of traffic! Depending on the size of your city, your map could easily get thousands of visits in just a few months after creating it.

Scheduled to correlate with New Economy Week, the Map Jam will launch on Indigenous People’s Day and continue for 2 weeks from Monday, October 13th – Sunday, the 27th.

Global Map Jam Day will take place on October 16th featuring a 24hr mapping ‘round the world across multiple continents and timezones.

Sign up now to be an Event Host and you will be provided with a comprehensive Guide to Mapping, Webinar, Q&A/Support Calls and Promotional Materials to support the success of your local event.

The second annual asset mapping event will build upon the tremendous success of last years campaign when 500 mappers partied together in 60 cities and made 50 maps in just 2 weeks launching the Sharing Cities Network in the process. Groups in many cities have already begun to step up and are planning to host Map Jams in Barcelona, Frankfurt, Hartford, Louisville, Nairobi and Rochester just to name a few and many groups from last year will be coming back together… who knew that mapping could be so much fun?

The Map Jam has received a broad base of support led by the Sharing Cities Network  and partners including: New Economy Coalition, US Solidarity Economy Network, Transition US, Center for a New American Dream, OuiShare, P2P Foundation, Post Carbon Institute, The People Who Share, Students Organizing for Democratic Alternatives, Solidarity NYC, Data Commons,  RIPESS (International Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy) and many other community and Sharing Cities groups.

Interested in organizing a Map Jam in your community? Or attending one? Please sign up here to get involved.

Map Jam’s are easy to organize and a small, dedicated group of people can get together for a few hours to map as many shared resources, cooperatives and sharing services in their city or town as possible. Like a musical jam, it should be fun, social, and jammers should find a groove as they work. Join the Sharing Cities Network facebook group to get the latest updates and meet other ‘map jammers’.

 

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Posted in Activism, Campaigns, Events, P2P Mapping | 1 Comment »

The Fabulous Future of P2P Economics, Commerce and Democracy

photo of Kevin Flanagan

Kevin Flanagan
23rd September 2014


By Jules Peck Founding Partner, Jericho Chambers; Trustee, New Economics Foundation, member of the Advisory Board of the B Team.

I’ve just returned from an eye-opening, mind-expanding week in Leipzig at the 4th Annual global Degrowth congress. This vibrant gathering brought together over 3,000, mostly young, ‘prosumer’ activists and practitioners from a variety of new economy movements.

While there I learnt a huge amount from makers, hacktivists, anarcho-syndical cooperativists, collaborative-commoners, anti-capitalists, free-culturalists, buen-vivir, transitioners, Fab-Lab-ers, p2p-ers and social-entrepreneurs from places as diverse as Spain, India, Bolivia and Brazil. And continuing the theme of new economics, on the train back I read Jeremy Rifkin’s important new book the “The Zero Marginal Cost Society – the internet of things, the collaborative economy, and the eclipse of capitalism.”

In preparation for Degrowth I also spent three days in Meissen on a deep-dive with a small group of p2p and commons movement leaders including David Bollier and Michel Bauwens who, in the introduction to his book, both praise Rifkin as a visionary of a new world order.

I was in Germany as part of the research and outreach for work on the Real Economy Lab, an initiative that aims to help connect theory and practice through a collaborative mind-mapping of the wider ecosystem of the post-growth new economy movement. The hope is that this process can form the start of a global alliance building to converge these various new economy movements into one force for good.

Germany was a good place to start as its probably the country furthest ahead in the combination of the Internet of Things, renewable, decentralized and community controlled energy, grassroots commons activists and ‘makers’.

One thing everyone I met have in common is a desire to create a new world order, a new way of creating, connecting and being which is beyond the market, beyond ownership, growth and capitalism. To them the idea of working for a large company for a wage has just never even been on the radar. Indeed the idea of large, shareholder owned private enterprises doesn’t feature in the world they are co-creating. Many of them have also conceptually, and in some cases, such as Cooperativa Integral Catalana, literally moved beyond any real relationship with politics and the state. Indeed, even the cutting edge of politics, Citizen-democracy parties like Partido X and Podemos, are running fast just to try to keep up with the convergence of these movements.

Emerging from this convergence is a powerful vision of a new world order and paradigm which represents real hope of building a bottom-up safety-net to catch the ever-more fragile top-down, as it unravels and collapses around us.

The new paradigm these movements are creating is post-enlightenment, lateral not hierarchical, chaordic, networked, decentralist, inclusive, open, rebellious and fun. It represents a near future that will test and fail much of the incumbent and dying models of politics and business. And it cocks a snoot at the Lockean, Millian and Social-Darwinian paradigm and story that has so atomised, excluded and isolated us from each other and so ravaged the planet.

What have till now been separate movements of the co-operative, commons, p2p, Transition and Makers are converging and learning that they have much in common and that if they stand and develop together they can be more than a side-show and thorn-in-the-side of the mainstream — they can become the mainstream in a new post capitalist, post growth world.

Jeremy Rifkin’s new book The Zero Marginal Cost Society is, along with Naomi Klein’s new “This Changes Everything – capitalism versus the climate,” a current must read. It documents an on-going shift to what Rifkin calls the Third Industrial Revolution. And it summarizes much of what I experienced last week in Leipzig about the coming together of the Internet of Things (IoT), the p2p worlds, the collaborative-commons and new economy movements.

Rifkin points to a central contradiction of capitalism which I find a useful addition to the new economy theories of people like Professors Schweickart, Olin-Wright and Alperovitz. This is that capitalism’s inbuilt dynamism drives it necessarily, if left to a truly free market, towards near-zero marginal costs of production for additional production units — what Rifkin calls ‘extreme productivity’. The implications of this are revolutionary — once at near-zero the system’s inbuilt dynamics stall and start to unravel — “goods an services become nearly free, the exchange of property on markets shuts down and the capitalist system dies”.

Thus the very DNA of capitalism, that which has made it such a success, has within it its own lethal sting in the tail. Its designed to kill itself. And to kill off any enterprise, such as the private shareholder owned corporate, reliant on its continuing. Capitalism has done its job and made itself redundant. If only we had made it to where we are now, on the edge of near-zero marginal costs, and the new economy it heralds, maybe 40 years ago, we might not now be in our nose-dive into possibly unstoppable, runaway climate chaos.

Rifkin’s view is that we are seeing the eclipsing of capitalism as a system and that incumbent centralised and vertically integrated profit-orientated businesses, whilst they will try to mimic, learn from and slip-stream this new order, will at best be carried only a short way on this journey to the new economy. Certain sectors like energy, health, finance and consumer products are first in the firing line. Some nimble incumbents in other sectors may morph into new forms of enterprise that can flourish within the new order.

The idea that we could soon all be able to 3D print our own homes, cars, clothes using open-access, open-source code, near-free energy and resources in local Fab Labs is mind-blowing but a near reality. It blows the hierarchical, inequality based current economy out of the (3d printed) bathtub. If done with a close eye on ecological limits it could herald a true circular economy.

I’ve long though the next paradigm will need to go beyond the tired state versus market, capitalism versus socialism debate and, as Rifkin says “the young collaborationists are borrowing the principles virtues of both the capitalists and the socialists, while eliminating the centralising nature of both the free market and the bureaucratic state”. I’m not sure what Marx would have made of the idea of the shift from exchange-value to ‘shared-value’, nor where this sits vis a vis ‘use value’ but as Rifkin says “The rule book that governs a market exchange economy becomes far less relevant to the life of society” in what he sees as the soon-to-be dis-enclosure of the means of production and the eclipsing of capitalism by the collaborative commons.

The vision of networked, open-source, open-access, exponentially-increasing extreme productivity in the hands of the masses, not private interests, is of course manna from heaven. I’m not entirely convinced by all of Rifkin’s logic. His future seems a world covered in endless Pv farms and wind turbines and his thinking on decoupling seems untested and incommensurable with the reality of the scale and intensity of energy and carbon reductions needed to keep us from a 4 degree world. But there is much in here which rings true.

Rifkin’s thinking dovetails nicely with Klein’s latest book which is also about the eclipsing of capitalism by people-power. Indeed Klein champions many of the movements I met in Leipzig and gave a keynote address to the congress.

This p2p, people-powered revolution in commerce, economics and democracy is all emergent stuff. Whilst experimentation is flourishing and producing real impact, the social and movement networks are not yet fully connected into a coherent global alliance. And as yet they don’t have an over-arching vision, narrative and route-map which can inform their various trajectories and combine to build a progressive anti Shock Doctrinaire alternative to the unravelling of our current systems.

But after what I’ve seen and heard this week I’m ever more optimistic. I feel a bit like I’ve just been plugged into the Matrix – only its not malign and its in our control. I’ve seen the future and it’s Fab-ulous.

Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jules-peck/the-fabulous-future-of-p2_b_5836834.html

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Video of the Day: 3 global experiences on Degrowth technologies

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
22nd September 2014


Can technology also help degrowth objectives, giving humankind a lighter touch on the planet ? A debate with two colleauges at Degrowth 2014.

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Posted in Commons, Conferences, Culture & Ideas, Events, Featured Content, Featured Video, Media, Original Content, P2P Ecology, P2P Foundation, P2P Technology, Videos | No Comments »