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Archive for 'Politics'

Video of the Day: 3 hacks for a resource-based economy

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
23rd October 2014


From the notes to the video:

The Zeitgeist Movement Ecuador invited Michel Bauwens to talk about a possible transition towards a Resource-based economic model and the “hacks” he proposes to achieve this (edited to include English audio only).

Michel Bauwens:

In this video I explain how, through the Commons-Based Reciprocity License, one can create an ethical entrepreurial coalition which co-produces commons, and which can, through the adoption of open book accounting and shared open logistics, move the ‘stigmergic’ mutual coordination which already exists for the production of immaterial goods (knowledge, code, design), to physical production itself.

This is a quote from our latest book, ‘Network Society and Four Scenarios for the Collaborative Economy‘, which touches on that issue:

“Through the ethical economy surrounding the Commons, by contrast, it becomes possible to create non-commodified production and exchange. We thus envision a resource-based economy which would utilize stigmergic mutual coordination through the gradual application of open book accounting and open supply chain. We believe that there will be no qualitative phase transition merely through emergence, but that it will require the reconstitution of powerful political and social movements which aim to become a democratic polis. And that democratic polis could indeed, through democratic decisions, accelerate the transition. It could take measures that obligate private economic forces to include externalities, thereby ending infinite capital accumulation.”

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Posted in Activism, Culture & Ideas, Events, Featured Content, Featured Video, Original Content, P2P Foundation, P2P Subjectivity, Politics | No Comments »

Video of the Day: Dilar Dirik, Kurdish Women’s Movement

photo of hartsellml

hartsellml
21st October 2014


Dilar Dirik, Kurdish Women’s Movement at the New World Summit Brussels, 2014. http://vimeo.com/107639261.

At the New World Summit in Brussels (2014), Dilar Dirik, an activist with the Kurdhish women’s movement, and doctoral scholar discusses the conditions under which the PKK operates in the three autonomous cantons in northern Iraq, near the borders of Turkey and Syria. Currently, the region is under assault from Islamic State forces. Her thesis is the unnecessary imposition of the nation-state system in favor of the Stateless State and the role women play, on the front lines, and in society. States are inherently oppressive and violent and under oppressive, statist systems women play the role of reproducers of the state system. There must be emancipation in a meaningful way. In the region around Kobane, the cantons show a resiliency to exist and to maintain a peaceful and democratic system, which is multicultural, within a hostile region both from Turkey and now the Islamic State or “the disgusting mentality which calls itself the Islamic State” which they have been fighting for two years but a conflict which has only just made news, recently. She reports that 70,000 had been displaced in the first 24 hours of fighting.

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Posted in Activism, Featured Video, P2P Warfare | No Comments »

Towards Blockchain Companies

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
20th October 2014


Excerpted from John Robb:

“A blockchain company isn’t like any company you know.

It’s not run organically (it doesn’t have faux person-hood). It doesn’t have CEO, COO or effing board of directors. It doesn’t go to a fund or a bank for funding. It never floats an issue on Wall Street. Blockchain companies don’t need all of that legal cruft and the parasitic overhead that comes with it.

The entire company is simply open source software. It’s built to provide a function and divide up the rewards of providing that function to the participants.

A company like this runs as software, in the same way bitcoin is run: decentralized. That means the company doesn’t pivot, reorganize, or recapitalize. It either provides a useful function it gets paid to do, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t work, it is replaced by a new company that does it better.

A blockchain company doesn’t have shares of stock. Everything that it earns is paid to the people in possession of the companies coin on a pro rata basis (using the blockchain currency of choice). Ownership is simply a call on this revenue, and all it is paid out in real time.

Earning a blockchain company’s coin is done by the company’s participants. You can earn coin doing everything from providing cloud services to doing the same types of stuff you already do online (writing, rating, and curating). There are ways to measure all of this and connect these activities to revenue.

Investment, to the extent it is needed to launch a venture is crowdsourced, usually by prepurchasing goods and services to be delivered in the future.

A blockchain company doesn’t need Silicon Valley, Wall Street or Washington.

It just needs to be open, decentralized, and useful enough to suck value out of the old economy.”

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Posted in Economy and Business, Ethical Economy, P2P Business Models, P2P Governance | No Comments »

Tiziana Terranova reports on Social Network Unionism Strategies in Europe

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
20th October 2014


(via the networked labour mailing list; version without notes; this article introduces some new developments in p2p-driven labor strategies)

Tiziana Terranova:

“Over the past few years, European social movements have struggled to find new ways of cooperating and connecting in order to oppose the verticalization of European governance. Following the crash of 2008, in fact, a regime of austerity, that is severe cuts to public spending, has gone together with a remodulation of modes of welfare and work inspired by the German model. This model has seen the massive introduction of part-time, badly paid jobs (the so called *mini-jobs* ) which are part of a system of workfare where the state makes sure that everybody is forced to accept whatever job available through a new capillary control of recipients? lives. While the European Central Bank like the Federal Reserve has deployed quantitative easing, and inundated the financial system with money, none of this has effectively gone into the creation of new jobs, into expanding credit to consumers and business or to essential public services. The process of complete precarization of labor and increasing accumulation of wealth is thus unfolding along the lines of a geographical and ethnic division of labor which sees the European Union divided between centre and periphery, North and South, East and West with war pressing in on its Eastern and Southern borders.

The verticalization of European governance has thus reinforced a whole series of trends: “the attack on waged labor, the compression of union rights, the dequalification and privatisation of learning and research, the enclosure of common goods, a new government of labor mobility and the exploitation of migrant labor” (http://www.autistici.org/strikemeeting/). These considerations are central to the formation of a transnational space of action for social movements aiming to reverse the tide of complete neoliberalization of Europe and opening onto the global level as the only adequate dimension of struggle.

At the core of the summer school of the Euronomade free university network which took place in Passignano sul Trasimeno, Italy in September 2014 was the relation between this crucial importance of the geopolitical dimension in the unfolding of financial command over the productive cycle and new forms of unionism. The traditional trade unions have in fact proven themselves completely unable to answer new demands emerging out of a dispersed and individualized workforce which is no longer primarily assembled in factories (or only in the most transient form with high turnover of workers) but, as Stefano Harney has argued, through the expansion of the assembly-line by means of a generalized logistical infrastucture through the whole of society and across all geographical borders. It is in this context that what was once called peer production has become effectively integrated in the *keizen *line of logistics: synaptic labor performed under the mode of forced continous improvement spurred by performance metrics and analytics. (Harney 2014)

In a document authored by the Pisa-based Italian collective exploit directed at the usual technology hype of the Internet Festival 2014, the appeal of the mythology of the digital entrepreneurs has also been shown to be fading (eXploit 2014). While the latter continue to espouse the image of the Internet as a revolution induced by free market capitalism able to welcome new ideas and reward them with wealth while promoting social progress, it has in fact produced new monopolies and the progressive deterioriation of working and living conditions for the many. This is evident at all three levels of exploitation enacted by the digital economy as summarized by exploit: the material infrastructure of digital devices which is increasingly under the control of large multinational corporations mining minerals in Africa and able to outsource production where labor is less paid and protected; the immaterial level of software production, web services and crowdsourcing where labor is once again ever more precarious, underpaid and fragmented; and the large market in metadata which extracts value out of the most mundane acts of digital communication. This scenario postulates a “extractivist” model of accumulation where the inorganic, organic and the social strata are put to work, that is commanded and forced to yield surplus value, expressing new challenges and demanding new strategies. As the eXploit collective put it, the collective ?rewriting of the operating system? of the digital economy and the “breakdown of the rules of the market” appear as primary condition to reconquer that share of wealth produced by social cooperation but appropriated and controlled by the few.

The main challenge of organizing a labor force which unfolds throughout society and according to intermittent times lies in the strong individualisation of cognitive labor: “cognitive labor is labor without factories, as fixed place of exploitation and class recomposition which makes more difficult the formation of a class consciousness among cognitive workers. For the same reason? because of the temporal fusion between time of work and time of life, the old forms of blocking production are obsolete, if not impossible: the time of work is diffuse, not demarcated, and there is no factory as site of direct action”. This is the space of production that traditional trade unions are unable to organize as they have proceeded to become co-managers of the crisis and of the productive process within the boundaries of individual firms (as again in the German model). It is not by chance, maybe, that the only successful union struggles that have managed to achieve their goals have been those carried out by workers operating in the crucial sector of logistics. IKEA, Amazon and the Italian coop system have been hit by a wave of strikes organized by logistical workers who have been able to deploy the solidarity which emerges out of working physically together in the same space everyday with a successful reconstruction of the topology of the whole network of valorization. Maybe being aware of being part of the speculative logistical assembly-line of continuous performance improvement is an advantage in this configuration. Research discussed at the summer school about the strike of Amazon logistical workers in Germany have pointed out the importance of the “existential” dimension in triggering participation: the feeling of being a cog in the machine, of not having an input in the process constituted one of the factors which distinguished workers who joined the strike from those who didn’t.

As an answer to these challenges, Alberto De Nicola and Biagio Quadrocchi, have proposed to redeploy the tradition of “social unionism” as a way to ?connect the different experiences of struggle which, within and outside organized unions, oppose the blockage of social conlifct and the pacifying role of traditional forms of union? (De Nicola and Quattrocchi 2014). The effort goes into thinking of a common name able to account for the “proliferation of dispositifs of struggle” which are reconfiguring the form of the union pointing to the invention of a new “form of unionism”. As in the tradition of social unionism, the urgency is how to reconnect various experiences of struggles which have sedimented over the: the experiences of occupation of social spaces and houses, conflicts around a democratic reappropriation of welfare and the diffusion of new mutualisms and forms of organization of autonomous and precarious labor, demand a better connection. The use of the term ?social unionism? applied to practices which do not recognize themselves as such is meant to produce a new perspective able to connect these experiences. De Nicola and Quattrocchi deploy the term “social” in social unionism as a means to indicate the level of connection breaking through the dispositifs of “confinement” which have kept these experiences as separate instances.

The concept of “social unionism” has been rediscovered in militant milieus at the same time as its first practical implementation was deviced and launched: the ?social strike? called for by a network of activists who met for three days in Rome in September 2014 (Italians, but also French, Greek, German, Spain and Portugal) which is going to unfold through a series of events in view of the first official date of November the 15th 2014 (Strike Meeting 2014). The platform of the strike composes all the instances emerging out of the world of :work and education, of not-work and social cooperation”. The platform is crucially centered on the demands for a “new welfare” or “welfare of the common”: the right to housing, an income unlinked from waged work, a European minimum wage, free access to education, rejection of the subjection of the school and university system to the logic of the enterprise?. The notion of a *commonfare* which would not only guarantee a minimum income, but also able to refound the old institution of welfare around a process of co-production where services are no longer delivered but co-produced is crucial in the domains of health and education provision, but also housing, management of natural resources, and insurance. The social strike proposes to be a permanent experiment of invention and diffusion of forms of strikes that can be practiced also by those who cannot strike according to the traditional model: the unemployed, the precarious, the domestic worker, the crowdworker, the migrant without official documents. It thus aims to redeploy, reconnect and invent all forms of strike: ?the general strike of waged labor, the strategies of blockages and occupation experimented by precarious workers and urban dwellers, the strike of those who cannot strike, netstrikes, strikes within the spaces of education, the gender strike A kaleidoscope of practices to patiently construct through a series of territorial strike labs? (Strike Meeting 2014)

The social strike launched in September crucially includes the “digital strike” as one of its components. The importance of social networks in organizing, connecting and amplifying various struggles is undeniable, but with the years we have witnessed a growing awareness of the ways in which the social Internet has been reconfigured to become a space which operates according to a logic of security, working often in tandem with mainstream media to marginalize activists. During the BlockBCE event – which was also included in the series of events composing the social strike as permanent mobilization and which saw a rally of activists contesting the meeting of the European Central Bank in Naples, Italy – mainstream media and Facebook for example worked together to marginalize and contain the risk of contagion. This was not an intentional effect, wanted by and aimed for, as much as the result of a kind of automatic logic of security as it permeates both public discourse and communication technologies. The production of ?toxic narratives? and ?order words? by the media, the construction of activists as violent extremists, the action of police on the ground who pressured citizens and shopkeepers to close and keep indoors for the duration of the rally, are the first side of the double pincer attempting to block the generalization of the social strike, containing it as a kind of contagion. The second side of the pincer is the algorithmic calculation that reinforces and modulates the tendency of social networks to decompose into sub-networks, where most acts of communication fail to expand beyond a close numbers of related contacts and the diffuse sense of surveillance which as even corporate-funded research acknowledges produces a kind of new conformism on the Internet, a fear of ending up in the wrong database (Crawford 2014) . If the rally in Naples against the European Central Bank managed to break the siege that wanted activists to march alone in an empty city to perform a ritualized clash able to provide suitable images for the media by changing route and marching through the city, collecting solidarity and encouragement on the way, other strategies need to be deviced to break the circle that confines the social strike event within social network platforms.

The social strike launched in Rome in September has started experimenting with some strategies to break this process of marginalization on the Internet: the design of standardized but customizable images to be used as profile pics on social networks was one such level; the second was the twitter campaign launched on the 10th of october during the strike of students and of the school sector which pushed the hashtag #socialstrike to the rank of second highest trending topic. In the future, as part of the permanent laboratorial character of the social strike, new tactics could be experimented and redeployed: Anonymous-style Denial of Service Attacks, but also experimentation with hyper-popular forms of social network culture such as personality tests, games, viral links factories etc. The digital strike can thus become a new form of strike able to work synergetically with a long-term process of expansion and remodulation of strike tactics in a social unionism framework. The logic of social unionism, linking territorial labs and digital networks, posing together the establishment of long-term sites of elaboration of tactics and strategies, physical and digital action, carries the struggle of labor on that field of indistinction where work and life, digital and physical merge.”

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Posted in P2P Labor, P2P Movements, P2P Theory, Politics | No Comments »

P2P Theory: The War of Maneuver vs War of Position

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
19th October 2014


“Politics isn’t, first and foremost, a matter of making allegations and raising awareness; there is no one straw that breaks the camel’s back, and what’s bad can be tolerated indefinitely. Instead, it is a sort of shedding of the skin, by which we become sensitive to this or allergic to that. Nor has it much to do with convincing (discourse), or seducing (marketing), but rather with opening all sorts of spaces to experience another way of living, another definition of reality, another vision of the world. In the struggle for hegemony, the skin – yours, mine, everyone’s – is the battlefield.”

It seems to me that the p2p transition is mostly a ‘war of position’, see below for the explanation of Gramsci’s theory on this.

Excerpted from Amador Fernández-Savater:

“Gramsci enters the debate making a distinction between a “war of maneuver” and a “war of position”. The concept of class struggle as war, described in military strategy terms, was prevalent in the Marxism of the time. What’s more, Gramsci was writing from Mussolini’s prison, and continually obliged to come up with new metaphors to evade censorship. Paradoxically, his use of cryptic and elusive language, rather than classical Marxist vocabulary, made Gramsci’s work a thousand times more useful as a source of inspiration for future readers.

Okay, so, the key features of the “war of maneuver” are: speed, limited appeal, and frontal attack. Gramsci makes his arguments via Trotsky’s “permanent revolution”, George Sorels’ general strike, Rosa Luxembourg´s worker insurrection and, particularly, the Leninist power grab. These images of revolutionary change clash, time and again, with European and Western reality: the bloody repression of the Spartacist movement in Germany (1918), the disbanding of worker’s councils in Italy during the Bienno Rosso (1919-20), and so on. To avert a predictable sense of frustration and to keep actively aspiring to social change, we have to reimagine revolution.

Writing behind bars, Gramsci reflects that the war of maneuver can only succeed where society is relatively independent from the State, and civil society (ie., institutions interrelated with State power: justice, media, etc.) is basic and unstructured, as was the case in Russia. By contradiction, Western Europe’s civil society was extremely solid, and acted as an “entrenchment and fortification to protect social order. It seems as if economic catastrophe has decisively breached the enemy position, but this remains a superficial effect, for behind it lies an efficient line of defense”.

Gramsci critiques the “historical mysticism” (revolution as a miraculous enlightenment) and economic determinism (the supposition that economic collapse will trigger the revolutionary process) and posits a new strategy, an alternate image for social transformation: the “war of position”. The defining feature of the war of position is the affirmation and development of a new vision of the world. Each of our daily actions, according to Gramsci, holds an implicit vision (or philosophy) of the world. Revolution disseminates a new vision – along with other expressions – of the world that slowly leaks power away from the old vision to, finally, displace it. This process is described by Gramsci as the “construction of hegemony”. No power will last long without hegemony, without control of the expressions of everyday life. It’d be domination sans legitimacy, power reduced to pure repression and fear. The taking of power must, therefore, be preceded by a “taking” of civil society.”

Thus, the war of position, unlike the war of maneuver, is more an infiltration than an assault. A slow displacement, rather than an accumulation of forces. A collective and anonymous movement, rather than a minority and centralised operation. A form of indirect, everyday and diffuse pressure, rather than a concentrated and simultaneous insurrection (but, make no mistake, Gramsci doesn’t exclude insurrection at any stage, but subordinates it to the construction of hegemony). And, above all, based on the building and development of a new definition of reality. This, as explained in the words of the philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis as “what counts and what doesn’t count, what makes sense and what doesn’t, a definition not inscribed in books, but on the very being of things: the actions of human beings, their relations, their organization, their perception of what is, their affirmation and search for what counts, the materiality of the objects they produce, use and consume”.

Politics isn’t, first and foremost, a matter of making allegations and raising awareness; there is no one straw that breaks the camel’s back, and what’s bad can be tolerated indefinitely. Instead, it is a sort of shedding of the skin, by which we become sensitive to this or allergic to that. Nor has it much to do with convincing (discourse), or seducing (marketing), but rather with opening all sorts of spaces to experience another way of living, another definition of reality, another vision of the world. In the struggle for hegemony, the skin – yours, mine, everyone’s – is the battlefield.”

Two Examples: Christianity and the Enlightenment

To illustrate his argument for another idea of revolution, Gramsci offers two examples: Christianity and the Enlightenment. It’s quite curious: he utilizes a religious reform and an intellectual overhaul as models to conceptualise the political revolution he longs for. In both examples, the determining catalyst of change is a new definition of reality.

In the case of Christianity, it’s the idea that Christ has resurrected and there is life after death. Christianity coalesces around this “good news” that filters through every crack left behind by the old pagan world. The interesting feature is that the first Christians avoided power. Instead, their actions ultimately led power to come to them, as exemplified by the conversion of Emperor Constantine in the 4th Century A.D. The lesson of the first Christians would be: don’t fight directly for power, be the message-bearer of a new concept of the world, and, finally, the power shall fall (into your hands).

In the case of the Enlightenment, it’s the idea that all persons are of equal worth, as beings gifted with reason. The Enlightenment was the movement that spread this idea, in salons, clubs or encyclopediae. In the end, remarks Gramsci, once the French Revolution actually took place, it had already be won. Domination has no legitimacy because this new concept of the world has silently displaced the old, overtaking the powers of the Old Regime without them even noticing. The lesson from the Enlightened would be: the revolution is won before the revolution takes place, through the elaboration and expansion of a new image of the world.

These are the examples mentioned by Gramsci, who died in prison in 1937. But the 20th century has surely offered us other examples much closer to our own experience. Take, for example, the Gay Rights Movement. A movement both seen and unseen, formal and informal, political and cultural, that completely transforms the common perception regarding affective and sexual differences and goes on to effect legislative change. Or the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King Jr. explained that the irresistible strength of the movement resided in overcoming the deeply internalised feelings of inferiority by confronting the opponents as equals (in civil disobedience campaigns, for example). An uprising in dignity that spurred modifications in the laws of the land.”

Translated by Stacco Troncoso, edited by Jane Loes Lipton

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Posted in P2P Theory, Politics | No Comments »

Can the decentralization of power in public services prevent the market failures of privatization ?

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
18th October 2014


Excerpted / republished from Maria Felicita Ferraro:

“When the neo-liberal approach of “marketisation” began to spread, it was rooted on a particular critique of state-run services. They were indeed perceived as top-down, inefficient and out of touch with people’s needs, knowledge and preferences. The public service agenda of the following governments has more often than not been based on market competition and consumer choice, with the aims of reaching lower costs, increasing quality and respond better to consumers’ preferences.

As rightful as all of these aims sound, though, it doesn’t seem like they have been reached. Public services often leave very little power to citizens, in favor of experts and politicians. What did we expect, though? Competition tends to lead to fragmentation and opposition between stakeholders, it discourages partnerships and it induces private companies to prioritise shareholder-return, which contrasts with public policy priorities such as meeting social needs. And while competition has been negative on the public sector, an alternative model of commissioning would allow for a collaborative partnership between different publicly oriented institutions.

The New Economic Foundation (NEF) has hence recently argued that public services should be delivered democratically and with the help of other not-for-profit community and civil society groups. It proposed a top-down approach that could bring more power to citizens thanks to a series of steps:

The first is co-production among experts and citizens who are recipients of a service, in order to combine their knowledge.

Then there is participatory democracy, that allows service users more control over decisions, over public spending (through participaroty budgeting) and even over political decisions (an example is Iceland, who recently tried to “crowdsource” its new constitution).

One more measure to shift power is the reformation of public agencies so that they resemble the model of cooperative governance structures, by granting less hierarchical working cultures that ensure more autonomy and trust to their staff, as Newcastle has succesfully demonstrated.

Indeed, there already are positive outcomes coming from the implementation of this approach: some public agencies, across the UK and beyond, are already enjoying the benefits of co-production, seeing services designed and delivered through an equal partnership between professionals and service users.:

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Posted in P2P Governance, P2P Public Policy | No Comments »

Can we turn Netarchical Platforms into worker-owned businesses?

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
18th October 2014


facebook
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.

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

Book of the Day: Digital Solidarity

photo of hartsellml

hartsellml
18th October 2014


Book: Digital Solidarity. Felix Stalder. Mute Books and Post-Media Lab, 2013

 

Review

“Felix Stalder’s extended essay, Digital Solidarity, takes its point of departure from the waves of new forms of networked political organisation which have met the onset of the global economic crisis of 2008. Following Karl Marx, Stalder lays out how in the current period there are emergent contradictions between applied innovation and technical progress and the economic institutions whch organise or restrain this progress. The contradictions between forces of production and relations of production are placed in a context in which we have left McLuhan’s Gutenburg Galaxy behind for good and the struggles over where we will arrive are only just beginnning. A co-publication of Mute Books & the Post-Media Lab.”

 

 

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Posted in Featured Book, P2P Governance, P2P Public Policy, P2P Theory | 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…

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Posted in Anti-P2P, Copyright/IP | 2 Comments »

Call for Papers: The Materiality of the Immaterial: ICTs and the Digital Commons

photo of Vasilis Kostakis

Vasilis Kostakis
17th October 2014


CfP: tripleC-Special Issue “The Materiality of the Immaterial: ICTs and the Digital Commons”
Special issue of tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique (http://www.triple-c.at)
Abstract submission deadline: January 15, 2015

Guest editors: Vasilis Kostakis, Ragnar Nurkse School of Innovation and Governance, Tallinn University of Technology (Estonia), P2P Lab (Greece); Andreas Roos, Human Ecology Division, Lund University (Sweden)

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With an escalating environmental crisis and an unprecedented increase of ICT diversity and use, it is more crucial than ever to understand the underlying material aspects of the ICT infrastructure. This special issue therefore asks the question: What are the true material and socio-environmental costs of the global ICT infrastructure?

In a recent paper (Fuchs 2013) as well as in the book Digital Labour and Karl Marx (Fuchs 2014), Christian Fuchs examined the complex web of production relations and the new division of digital labour that makes possible the vast and cheap ICT infrastructure as we know it. The analysis partly revealed that ICT products and infrastructure can be said to embody slave-like and other extremely harsh conditions that perpetually force mine and assembly workers into conditions of dependency. Expanding this argument, the WWF reported (Reed and Miranda 2007) that mining in the Congo basin poses considerable threats to the local environment in the form of pollution, the loss of biodiversity, and an increased presence of business-as-usual made possible by roads and railways. Thus ICTs can be said to be not at all immaterial because the ICT infrastructure under the given economic conditions can be said to embody as its material foundations slave-like working conditions, various class relations and undesirable environmental consequences.

At the same time, the emerging digital commons provide a new and promising platform for social developments, arguably enabled by the progressive dynamics of ICT development. These are predominantly manifested as commons-based peer production, i.e., a new mode of collaborative, social production (Benkler 2006); and grassroots digital fabrication or community-driven makerspaces, i.e., forms of bottom-up, distributed manufacturing. The most well known examples of commons-based peer production are the free/open source software projects and the free encyclopaedia Wikipedia. While these new forms of social organisation are immanent in capitalism, they also have the features to challenge these conditions in a way that might in turn transcend the dominant system (Kostakis and Bauwens 2014).

Following this dialectical framing, we would like to call for papers for a special issue of tripleC that will investigate how we can understand and balance the perils and promises of ICTs in order to make way for a just and sustainable paradigm. We seek scholarly articles and commentaries that address any of the following themes and beyond. We also welcome experimental formats, especially photo essays, which address the special issue’s theme.

Suggested themes

  • Papers that track, measure and/or theorise the scope of the socio-environmental impact of the ICT infrastructure.

  • Papers that track, measure and/or theorise surplus value as both ecological (land), social (labour) and intellectual (patent) in the context of ICTs.

  • Understanding the human organisation of nature in commons-based peer production.

  • Studies of the environmental dimensions of desktop manufacturing technologies (for example, 3D printing or CNC machines) in non-industrial modes of subsistence, e.g. eco-villages or traditional agriculture, as well as in modern towns and mega-cities.

  • Suggestions for and insights into bridging understandings of the socio-economic organisation of the natural commons with the socio-economic organisation of the digital commons drawing on types of organisations in the past and the present that are grounded in theories of the commons.

  • Elaboration of which theoretical approaches can be used for overcoming the conceptual separation ofthe categories immaterial/material in the digital commons.

References

Benkler, Yochai. 2006. The wealth of networks: How social production transforms markets and freedom. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Fuchs, Christian. 2014. Digital labour and Karl Marx. New York: Routledge.

Fuchs, Christian. 2013. Theorising and analysing digital labour: From global value chains to modes of production.The Political Economy of Communication 1 (2): 3-27. http://www.polecom.org/index.php/polecom/article/view/19.

Kostakis, Vasilis and Michel Bauwens. 2014. Network society and future scenarios for a collaborative economy. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Reed, Erik and Marta Miranda. 2007. Assessment of the mining sector and infrastructure development in the congo basin region. Washington DC: World Wildlife Fund, Macroeconomics for Sustainable Development Program Office, 27. http://awsassets.panda.org/downloads/congobasinmining.pdf

Schedule

About the journal

tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique  is an academic open access online journal using a non-commercial Creative Commons license. It is a journal that focuses on information society studies and studies of media, digital media, information and communication in society with a special interest in critical studies in these thematic areas. The journal has a special interest in disseminating articles that focus on the role of information in contemporary capitalist societies. For this task, articles should employ critical theories and/or empirical research inspired by critical theories and/or philosophy and ethics guided by critical thinking as well as relate the analysis to power structures and inequalities of capitalism, especially forms of stratification such as class, racist and other ideologies and capitalist patriarchy.

Papers should reflect on how the presented findings contribute to the illumination of conditions that foster or hinder the advancement of a global sustainable and participatory information society. TripleC was founded in 2003 and is edited by Christian Fuchs and Marisol Sandoval.

Paper submission

All submitted papers must follow the editorial guidelines provided in the instructions for authors for the tripleC journal which can be accessed via the website: http://triple-c.at/index.php/tripleC/about/submissions#authorGuidelines. The following tripleC template should be used: http://fuchs.uti.at/wp-content/tripleC_2013.dot

Image source

Opensource.com. Accessed 14, October 2014.https://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/4370249843/

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