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Some citations on governance in the p2p age

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
12th December 2012


For the sourcing of the quotes, see here.

The trust is to the commons as the corporation is to the market – Peter Barnes

Peter Suber: From Profit-Maximization and Market-Orientation to Mission-Focused

Profit maximizing limits access to knowledge, by limiting it to paying customers. If anyone thinks this is just a side-effect of today’s market incentives, then we can put the situation differently: Profit maximizing doesn’t always limit access to knowledge, but is always ready to do so if it pays better. This proposition has a darker corollary: Profit maximizing doesn’t always favor untruth, but is always ready to do so if it would pay better. … Instead of hypnotically granting the primacy of markets in all sectors, as if there were no exceptions, we should remember that many organizations compromise profits or relinquish revenues in order to foster their missions, and that we all benefit from their dedication. Which institutions and sectors ought to do so, and how should we protect and support them to pursue their missions? Instead of smothering these questions for offending the religion of markets, we should open them for wider discussion.

There are already plenty of existing examples to show that stakeholder trusts can achieve things that neither government nor markets can: responsible and equitable long-term management of a shared resource. – David Bollier

E.F. Schumacher against the professional cooptation of community:

“The professional co-option of community efforts to invent appropriate techniques for citizens to care in community has been pervasive. Therefore, we need to identify the characteristics of those social forms that are resistant to colonization by service technologies while enabling communities to cultivate and care. These authentic social forms are characterized by three basic dimensions: they tend to be uncommodified, unmanaged, and uncurricularized. The tools of the bereavement counselor make grief into a commodity rather than an opportunity for community. Service technologies convert conditions into commodities and care into service.

The tools of the manager convert communality into hierarchy, replacing consent with control. Where once there was a commons, the manager creates a corporation. The tools of the pedagogue create monopolies in the place of cultures. By making a school of every-day life, community definitions and citizen action are degraded and finally expelled. It is this hard-working team—the service professional, the manager, and the pedagogue—that pulls the tools of “community busting” through the modern social landscape. If we are to recultivate community, we will need to return this team to the stable, abjuring their use.”

The industrial Age of modernization brings the Secularization of authority, whereas the postindustrial stage brings emancipation from authority. – Alan Moore

Kevin Werbach on Abundance as a Policy Goal:

“The cyber-solution to this governance dilemma is to fight the constraint that produces all the tensions: scarcity. Abundance trumps governance. There is no need to worry about resource allocation when there are more than enough resources to go around. And those who find their norms ill-served can choose a more suitable environment, because the costs of forming new groups and institutions are so low.

The good news is that cyberspace – if we let it – can be the greatest engine of abundance the world has ever known. From the billions of search clicks that Google pairs with targeted text ads to the millions of WiFi devices using shared wireless spectrum to the hundreds of thousands of books along Amazon.com’s long tail, abundance is the driving force of the Internet economy. It should be an abiding goal of Internet governance as well. Furthering the historical analogy, it was territorial expansion, to the Western edge of the continent and beyond, that channeled and checked the tensions of the nascent American constitutional republic.

If cyberspace is to be well-governed, therefore, it must grow. We must resist the temptation to look back nostalgically to the frontier homesteading days, when norms dominated because so many of them were shared. Let us, as David urges, embrace the Internet’s wondrous chaos. At the same time, though, let us sing the praises of its well-designed rules. The shared enemy is not structure, but exclusivity and other barriers to choice and connectivity.“

The single most fundamental impact from all of these new capabilities may be felt in connection with the way in which we form the middle tier of the social fabric — organized, persistent, collaborating (non–governmental) groups. – David Johnson

Iqbal Quadir, founder of Grameenphone of Bangladesh:

“If concentration of power has contributed to poor governance, the solution must lie in dispersing power… ICTs empower from below while devolving power from above, resulting in a two-pronged attack on abuse of state power that has left so much of the world’s population languishing in poverty… ICTs can be the means to both freedom and development by blindsiding obstacles to both.”

If we want to create an environment in which users have refined control, political control, you have to deal with two obstacles — making code subject to political control, and making it possible for the group to own their own environment. – adapted from Clay Shirky

Rosabeth Moss Kanter on the new ‘horizontal’ influentials

“Today, people with power and influence derive their power from their centrality within self-organizing networks that might or might not correspond to any plan on the part of designated leaders. Organization structure in vanguard companies involves multi-directional responsibilities, with an increasing emphasis on horizontal relationships rather than vertical reporting as the center of action that shapes daily tasks and one’s portfolio of projects, in order to focus on serving customers and society. Circles of influence replace chains of command, as in the councils and boards at Cisco which draw from many levels to drive new strategies. Distributed leadership — consisting of many ears to the ground in many places — is more effective than centralized or concentrated leadership.”

Wikipedia’s success dramatizes instead a change in the nature of authority, moving from trust inhering in guarantees offered by institutions to probabilities created by processes. – Clay Shirky

Josu Jon Imaz: The Era of the Globalisation of People

“Globalisation is not a new phenomenon. As analysed by Thomas Friedman in The World Is Not Flat, in the 16th and 17th centuries empires became global, whereas in the 20th century it was companies that became global, and the differential factor is that since the end of the millennium, ten years ago, it is people who are becoming global. And again it is a third technological revolution that is promoting the transformation: the revolution promoted by new information and communication technologies, of which the internet is the most transformative expression.”

Self-organization and strong central control are (not) incompatible: individual projects self-organize because the participants choose to be there–they select themselves, and they choose to follow the project’s benevolent dictator (or else they leave). – Eric Raymond

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