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“Together we know everything….”

photo of chris pinchen

chris pinchen
1st May 2012


Source: OUISHARE

… And together we have everything”. Michel Bauwens’ motto outlines the optimism he shared with us during the OuiShare Talk he gave us yesterday. Yes, we already have everything we need at hand… we just need to share it!

For Michel Bauwens, a key to the social and environmental issues we will have to face in the next few years is to be found in the sharing of knowledge, and more precisely, solutions. We no longer have the time to wait half a century for a good idea to take shape. In the past, the spread of innovations has often been slowed down because a change of values was needed to make them mainstream.

Today, an inversion of values is needed and it lies in our attitude towards sharing resources and knowledge.

What came out with clarity yesterday evening, is the link between open design/innovation and environmental issues. Because our system was founded on a false abundance of energy and resources, private design needs to create artificial market scarcity to exist. This leads directly to planned obsolescence : this is “not a bug, but a feature of the system”.

Common design produces exactly the contrary : according to Michel Bauwens, it is inherently favourable to sustainable development.

“We are Coming to a Henry Ford Moment for P2P Production” 

Today, the development for Peer Production is on the verge of reaching a tipping point in transformation production systems, which is comparable to the emergence of mass production with the invention of assembly lines. The old system was based on economies of scale, the new one will have to be built on economies of scope, through the mutualization of knowledge and resources.

But to achieve a transition, a political influence will have to come out. The commons model can gather supports from many sides, if it is made clear that is represents a new social logic and is not an ideological approach.

Why it will succeed

Michel Bauwens argues that the commons model is more competitive and productive than the old one. The best evidence he gives is that open source projects keep on challenging traditional innovation. And transaction costs have lowered so much that cooperation has become more competitive than competition.

It seems that it is also more reliable, in building collective benefit, than a model based on the homo economicus and Adam Smith’ Invisible Hand of the Market. Contribution to the commons is not driven by altruism and in open source methods, people assemble around an object rather than brought together by values. What makes cooperation effective and reliable is that contribution models (like Wikipedia) align individual interest and collective benefit.

What’s more, collaborative design creates love and care for what is collectively created or achieved. Love for the commons : the simplest principle could provide an inspiring direction the collaborative economy.

Thanks Michel !

Flore – @Floreblooms

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