P2P Foundation https://blog.p2pfoundation.net Researching, documenting and promoting peer to peer practices Wed, 21 Feb 2018 16:45:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 62076519 In Search of Benevolent Capital: Part II https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/in-search-of-benevolent-capital-part-ii/2018/02/21 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/in-search-of-benevolent-capital-part-ii/2018/02/21#respond Wed, 21 Feb 2018 16:32:38 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=69779 This two-part, semi-gothic literary essay seeks a provisional definition of “benevolent capital” and a working description of types of artistic and scholarly work that have no value for Capital as such. The paradox observed is that such works may actually appeal to a certain aspect of Capital, insofar as present-day capitalism has within it forms... Continue reading

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This two-part, semi-gothic literary essay seeks a provisional definition of “benevolent capital” and a working description of types of artistic and scholarly work that have no value for Capital as such. The paradox observed is that such works may actually appeal to a certain aspect of Capital, insofar as present-day capitalism has within it forms of pre-modern political economy that may actually save Capital from its mad rush toward self-immolation.

PART II

I. Personal Capital and Return

When a project is “before” Capital, seeking forms of benevolent capital, which by definition only exist buried within capitalist exploitation (across platforms and across institutions), and then fails to register with the powers that be as “of value,” there is the fall-back position of, or return to, personal capital – i.e., an existential justification for the work that redeems the work in the face of failure. Beckett’s “Fail, fail again, fail better” is of this order. Works that are of no use to Capital, while often dismissed as “neo-hermetic” (a claim often levelled at the avant-garde), will fail repeatedly in the attempt to find the necessary agency to go forward, while that forward motion will not depend entirely on external sources of benevolent capital.

“Before Capital” is not so much the test of the value of the work but a test of the merits of the work for Capital (for appropriation, expropriation, and assimilation). “Failure” before Capital is, therefore, the repeated step in the development of works in search of benevolent capital. The return to personal and symbolic capital is the return to the project as such, or to works for works. The author returns to the “Muse,” “Muse” signature gesture of the event of the emergence (incarnation) of the work. As a fictive ontology for works, “Muse” signals the cosmological, immemorial figures inhabiting the work – the constellation of forces and factors (lights, intelligences, aeons) that brought the project or work into being. “Muse” is the proverbial backstory for works.

Personal capital in search of the transpersonal inhabitation across works toward the life-work also represents not so much a banal investment of labour as the comprehensive configuration of what is irreducibly a confraternal order – origins for works always being multiple or polyvalent. Origins being half-unconscious, the conscious half is the artistic endeavour (labour), whereas the unconscious half is the name of the Muse (theft, appropriation, inspiration).

Return endlessly follows upon event, and “return” can be an inevitable aspect of the productive or generative élan of works that edge toward works for works. Event, Fall, Return (c.f., Badiou, Žižek) – while apparently setting up eternal recurrence for works – is often an element of the field of the work that is incomprehensible to authors, experienced but non-negotiable in the accounting houses of capitalization for works. Fidelity to such works (c.f., Badiou) is the key. Capital vanishes at such moments – symbolic or otherwise – and personal capital is the “zero degree” works pass through en route to archive, nominal extinction, or re-play. Cultural systems betray a half-conscious knowledge of this ancient generative economy, while it is also quite evident that the guardians and gatekeepers of cultural systems rely on this vague knowledge to manipulate cultural production in the pursuit of privileges. Avant-garde works are assimilated to forms of cultural patrimony once they are rendered harmless to patrimony or converted to historical artifacts.

What appears in this process of cyclical return from the search for benevolent capital is the delineation of the damaged ecosystems engaged – the forays into markets determining not the value of the work as work for works but the value of the work for capitalization across markets. This pernicious reduction of free intellectual inquiry to market ideology includes academic systems of exploitation (c.f., Harvey, Eagleton, Giroux) that masquerade as platforms open to all (the ubiquitous open calls), claiming to privilege works versus reputations, though increasingly these platforms spell out in excruciating detail the rules of engagement (generally formulated in language and terms reducible to “return on investment” or “deliverables”). Justification of research merit proceeds in such instances as “product development” for institutions plugged directly into external industries of one kind or another. In the Arts and Humanities, the games of expropriation via residency, fellowship, or exhibition, while indirectly playing to the vanity of all concerned, are often openly or covertly constructed according to networks of privilege that service the professoriate – the openly careerist maneuvers of key players directly linked to escalating opportunities for key players. Works for works (forms of free inquiry without imposed ideological bias) cancel this opportunistic gambit simply by existing as use-less to what is nothing other than an institutionalized form of the production of cultural capital masquerading as benevolence offered; offered nominally on behalf of authors and works. If truly “open,” such calls are benevolent insofar as they are not also ideologically sustained or “gamed” (set up in advance to bring in fellow travellers for those who act as gatekeepers). The ecosystems involved may be judged by the language games perpetuated. These games include the use of “linguistic agents” as denoted by Bourdieu et al., if the platform is sociologically biased, while any number of other “linguistic agents” may be brought into play to turn the operation toward “cultural hacking” or neo-avantgarde posturing. “Return to zero” for works qua free works is, then, the equivalent of return to resistance within the system, with the resultant electrical discharge producing new doors left ajar or new windows through which to pitch the proverbial paper airplane. That the majority of these doors and windows are electronic doors and windows is the fundamental trait for exposing the class who partake of such vectorial systems that consistently and progressively act as protective borders for privilege, and as filters for “discovery” of works to be appropriated. It is not authors who are of interest to the vectorial class and their enablers in academia and elsewhere, but works. And it is the accrual of works to the ledgers of the privileged that allows the game to move forward, with capture of works to systems the primary vehicle for the production of the matching precariat.

In most cases today truly free works are to be found outside of academia in both the accidental and the intentional wildernesses that form beyond the reach of Capital, in the most use-less of endeavors (e.g., poetry and literature). The irony is that while these use-less endeavors may undergo a renaissance or revitalization outside of academia, they will then begin to attract attention from within, and academia will attempt to reincorporate what it has formerly driven from its hallowed halls.

II. Ideology and Academic Networks

The extensive and insidious links between academia and various for-profit industries on the prowl for harvesting works from within academia for external capitalization is on display in the various internal and external offers for scholars to “sign on” to programs and events as guests. This includes the widening array of conferences, which may be judged or justified by their connections to industry or their distance from industry. Rarely do such opportunities offer the visiting scholar the freedom to do whatever s/he pleases. While this seems a foundational consideration for the Arts and Humanities, especially when understood as a super-discipline versus a discrete set of studies, the Arts and the Humanities historically offer two of the last places for something altogether “off the map” to be developed – e.g., works for works (orphaned or use-less works). If it is increasingly a matter of pleasing one’s masters in the age of the neo-liberalization of the so-called knowledge commons, the proliferation of networks between the art world (which has been thoroughly neo-liberalized) and academia (which is approaching complete capitulation to Capital) makes sense. Benevolent patronage may still exist within both worlds, but it will become increasingly difficult to locate until there is a widespread rebellion from within against the importation of market ideology to two worlds that once favoured free inquiry.

Atop this layer of manufactured significance for programs and platforms is the proliferation of institutes and “cross-disciplinary” activities led by scholars from within the fold of programs and disciplines that require external sources of “meaningful activity” to prop up the general lack of meaningful activity within academia other than the questionable production of platforms. These programs and platforms all substitute for research at the base, or for the absence of significance within disciplines that are internally exhausted. If PR-value reigns supreme within neo-liberalized academia, use-less works justified only by their abject and intentional uselessness will be either valorized as intellectual fashion statement or shunned as trivialities.

The ideological underpinnings of the discursive operations are generally spent generative causes that are also generally safe because they are spent causes – circularity of discursive appropriations the chief sign of the re-cycling of motivation in absence of the “Muse.” Thus, personal capital is almost always imported into academia by way of the residencies, fellowships, and conferences utilized to compensate for the moral vacuum within universities beholden to the production of degrees, the securing of reputations, and the fostering of the horizontal networks of procurement, production, and dissemination of equity that substitute for the creation of works for works. These networks are eminently careerist in nature, as are most all bespoke or custom-designed institutes, and the personnel is vested insofar as their presence delivers vertically organized and capitalized cultural goods. The conference leads to the book-publishing enterprises of for-profit companies allied with academic networks that feed the increasingly digitalized production of value (e.g., the proliferation of online journals and e-books), whereas the institutes lead to external funding by industry or non-profit organization toward the perpetuation of an ideological project (e.g., foundation grants for the mass digitalization of research, in whatever form that might take). The ideological underpinnings for such activities are in most cases crafted for public consumption as “progressive” or “liberal” causes, while they are quietly neo-liberal. The actual production of works then is incidental to the platform, and the platform is the primary means (primary venue) for leveraging works as intellectual property for regimes of privilege. “Author retains copyright” is a common refrain in most all instances of expropriation by academia of personal capital (e.g., author rights), appropriation from within or from without, while the author’s presence as co-production assistant within the networks more closely resembles a case of “work for hire” than research as such. “Author retains copyright” is relative nonetheless to the useful life of the work within the network or system of appropriation, with digitalization of works dialogically locking down all works submitted to platforms (“dialogically” in this case meaning that the work in question is the property of the author only when it is no longer of any use to the platform).

Reputations rise and fall in a vast, interconnected system that requires incessant replenishment of spent intellectual goods. Works are assimilated and mined for value (e.g., scalability) and forgotten or assimilated as fodder for the next-generation platform. Authors (and artists) are curated into oblivion and, if they are not assimilated to the machine as day labourers, replaced by the next generation of recruits trained to submit their wares in pursuit of holographic, stereophonic, or hyper-mediatized glory.

III. Inassimilable and Use-less Works

Work for works (i.e., free works) are first of all inassimilable and use-less to Capital. If they are also of no use to platforms, within the art world or within academia, they are paradoxically of maximum use for the development of alternatives. Shades of grey in this mathesis also suggest that some works might co-inhabit platforms or systems that are transitional states between parasitical and benevolent capital. Yet all such works are essentially developed on the performative-formalist side (as lived works), and they may be re-naturalized “downstream” in markets or sent “upstream” toward extant spectral ecosystems, so-called weeping meadows (c.f., Angelopoulos), where no market is to be found. In the latter case, the role of the utterly use-less work is to wear the appropriate crown of thorns – as martyred work. It is here that a Christic development occurs for works of such an order. There is no “sublunary” place of taking-place present, while the proverbial and dynamic absence of a place of taking-place ironically takes precedent. In the Arts and Humanities this empty “place” or “space” used to be called the avant-garde. The simple solution, without “scholastic” equivocation (c.f., Ockham, Scotus et al.), is the transfer of moral rights to works as such – with the knowledge commons as new-old “address” (place) for use-less works. With this transfer of rights to the commons comes the responsibility of the commons for the author or artist. Notably, collectivization without respect for the individual has been – historically – a disaster. That the disaster has occurred both on the left and on the right is well worth noting.

In the annals of literary and artistic history, for example, there are innumerable examples of such errant works belatedly assimilated to cultural patrimony. Yet they generally return only as mockery of their former selves – tidily commodified for consumption by the art and literary worlds, where they only half existed previously as aberrations (c.f., Debord, Marker et al.). What is self-evident in the age of hyper-mediatic performance for both scholarship and the arts is that works that head “upstream” will generally vanish in the process – appearing here and then appearing there, ultra-temporally, but having no “proper” home address. Chris Marker’s epistolary works are exemplary in this respect. The role of the author in such cases is transfigured by the orphaned work for works. Yet for very different reasons than the fate of authors under structuralist or post-structuralist critique (c.f., Saussure, Barthes, Foucault, Derrida), the author or artist does not exist in the multiple worlds consumed by neo-colonial capitalist conquest.

The search for benevolent capital advances with the work, on cat’s paws. The work for works inhabits multiple dimensions of socio-economic and socio-cultural intrigue simultaneously. It hovers here, and it dashes over there. It is cat’s meow and it is cat’s grin. Often it is “a grin without a cat” (c.f., Carroll, Marker). Benevolent capital approaches insofar as the work is captivating, beguiling, or reminiscent of something Capital regrets having destroyed – wildness in a sense, but primordiality as cipher for freedom from exploitation and domestication. The next-level paradox is that Capital may need that beguiling something to redeem itself – not to save itself, which is hardly in the best interest of all, but to sacrifice itself to a cause other than itself. Mimicking the sacrifice of aeons as theorized in Gnosticism, and suggesting a War in Heaven, concealed or vanquished prospects are revealed or reborn. Immemoriality and eschatology (c.f., Levinas, Derrida, Marion) reveal themselves as, secretly, one thing. Far from “immanentizing” the immemorial or the eschaton (a common complaint levelled against privileging that which formally transcends any direct relation with thought), both remain at a distance in works, effectively crossing works, and connoting the metric of the work (c.f., Agamben). Alternatively, criticism of such a nuanced view of immemoriality and eschatology indicates an aversion to non-relational works, or to works that remain wilfully unsituated or ill-situated in mere utilitarian orders. All utility is internalized, and all relations are sublated (c.f., Cacciari et al.). Notably, such works for works open onto elective nihilism, or forms of revelation and reverie (dream-states and anamnesis). The law disappears …

Can Capital step out of its own way? Can Capital facilitate its own redemption? Is the figure of benevolent capital a figment of the imagination (wishful thinking) or a figure eight within the ravages of rampant, bloodthirsty contemporary capitalism? The mining of the “commons” by Capital, while a long-standing affair, grows more desperate today as untapped resources to assimilate to the circuit of capital diminish. Additionally, there is the odd “mis-use” of the public domain or the commons, by Capital, to effectively “park” resources while awaiting a means (usually technological and legal) to convert collective capital into private capital. Rights for works as works is the corrective to this theft.

The hypostatization is evident. There is no one thing named Capital. Capital is a mask worn by souls – many waiting for another cause other than the worship of Mammon. The theological precepts are basically a-theological. There is no religion involved. There is only the hoped-for respite from centuries of hard-bitten penury for works, which always infers “for authors.” As all authors are, after all, mere day labourers, such also launches the necessary search for benevolent capital, while suggesting the transfer of rights to works, to benefit all concerned, is one way out of the present stalemate. The most abstruse work of all is to work on behalf of all. Artist and author, demoted over time to wage slave, represents Everyman. Shelley clearly knew this, while dodging creditors back in England, both before and when he drowned at sea off of Venice, Italy … Did he know it after he drowned? The life-work is a vector of another order. Certainly he left this impression.

Titian’s Hour returns at evening under the right atmospheric circumstances. The glow is spellbinding. Yet for many it is merely a postcard to mail home after a day trip elsewhere.

FINIS

Photo credit: “Trapped in the Victoria and Albert Museum,” London, England, 2018. Photo: Ishita Jain.

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Money Is Not Wealth: Cryptos v. Fiats! https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/money-is-not-wealth-cryptos-v-fiats/2018/02/21 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/money-is-not-wealth-cryptos-v-fiats/2018/02/21#respond Wed, 21 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=69748 Most bankers, economists and investors after a couple of drinks, will admit that money is not wealth. Money is a metric, like inches and centimeters, for tracking real wealth: human ingenuity and technological productivity interacting with natural resources and biodiversity undergirding all human societies along with the daily free photons from our Sun, as described in... Continue reading

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Most bankers, economists and investors after a couple of drinks, will admit that money is not wealth. Money is a metric, like inches and centimeters, for tracking real wealth: human ingenuity and technological productivity interacting with natural resources and biodiversity undergirding all human societies along with the daily free photons from our Sun, as described in “Valuing Today’s Circular Services Information Economies”. So brainwashed are we by the false money meme of “money as wealth” that whenever anyone proposes needed infrastructure maintenance, better schools and healthcare or any public goods, we are intimidated by some defunct economist who says “Where’s the money coming from?” They ought to know better, since, of course money is not scarce, it’s just information as I pointed out in 2001 at the annual meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank in an invited talk “Information, The World’s Real Currency, Is Not Scarce “(see World Affairs, April-June, Vol. 5, 2001, Delhi, India).

Since the 2008 global financial meltdown and bailouts, trust is disappearing: in banks, stock markets, corporations, governments, religious institutions, experts, academia, political parties’ rhetoric and even the Internet and social media. This mistrust has fueled global populists across the political spectrum, with ubiquitous signs at their rallies, “Where’s MY Bailout?”  We see the rise of cryptocurrencies becoming bubbles, as many seek alternative stores of value and mediums of exchange they hope will prove more trustworthy than central banks’ fiat currencies: dollars, yen, euros, pounds, pesos backed only by their governments’ promises.

Trust is a precious commodity which undergirds all humanity’s markets, trading and exchange. Trust does not scale easily, abiding in face-to-face, handshake interactions in humanly-scaled communities, based on common agreements, shared infrastructure, resources and culture. Trust does not reside in packages of software, apps, AI, big data or social media platforms, as we learned in 2016. So trust was sought in the blockchain platforms first developed by the mysterious computer expert, Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009 for his bitcoin. Now, over 1000 blockchain-based start-up companies and blockchains underlie the over 1,500 cryptocurrencies traded on electronic exchanges including Coinbase. These computer-based distributed ledger blockchains are designed to engender trust by allowing person-to-person ability to verify each transaction or contract with a permanent record open to all.

Crypto promoters aspire to create global-level trust in the value of cryptocurrencies due to this transparency and their protocols limiting finite amounts to be issued, to create artificial scarcity. This vision is sullied by the many cases of criminality, hacking, stealing, frauds and other shenanigans. Nevertheless, faith and trust in these cryptos remains strong, since proponents say central banks also manipulate their fiats — which is true!  We see fiat money being printed on TV shows! Yet fake visuals of cryptos, such as the shiny golden colored coins are also shown with news about bitcoin. This is a “bit-con” since bitcoin is a digital algorithm, a string of computer code which is unlikely to become a ubiquitous medium of exchange or a store of value.

Still, the allure to libertarians, hackers and speculators is that cryptos exist with no middleman, for peer-to-peer global private use with no governments, no banks or financial intermediaries and few outside rules except those imposed by issuers. Millions of hackers worldwide soon began solving the ever more complex mathematical puzzles needed to claim their next block of newly minted bitcoin. These “miners” now use some 30 terawatts annually of fossil-generated electricity, equivalent to the consumption of a country the size of Ireland, plus gobs of computer power. They are now affecting the Earth’s climate as I described in “Hey COP23: Bitcoin Miners Exploding CO2 Emissions!”

The loss of trust in fiat dollars, pounds, yen, euros, pesos we always use to pay each other cannot be replaced by cryptos—in spite of the current hype, as traditional financial markets now trade bitcoin futures and ETFs concocted by eager Wall Street players.  Nations including Russia, North Korea and Venezuela under international sanctions for violating norms, are now issuing their own cryptos to escape financial controls set by governments for fiat currency transactions. How will this war between governments and libertarian hackers’ cryptos versus fiats work out?

Clearly, trust in all forms of money is fading. Today, people barter more goods and services on electronic platforms, swap and match, often directly without any use of currencies on platforms like Freecycle, and for everything from baby-sitting, sharing garden tools, spare rooms, vacation homes to finding their true love matches! The familiar fiat currencies we still spend our lives earning, investing and saving for our retirement are losing their dominance in our lives and with that their role as a promised store of value. For example, few fiat currencies remain stable, as we see on FOREX trading screens daily. Even our US dollar has lost about 80% of its value over the past 30 years— due to inflation, budget deficits, interest payments to bond-holders on our national debt, which recent tax cuts may increase by another $1.5 trillion.

Most US and European citizens register disbelief when they learn that all their national money in circulation is created out of thin air by private banks when they create loans and is therefore only backed by other peoples’ debts, not gold or any other commodity of value! Governments in Britain, the USA and most countries gave their sovereign power to coin their own national money away to their private banks and allowed them to charge interest on their loans as well, as Ellen Brown explains in “Web of Debt”, (2010). Our TV Special “The Money Fix” details on how this happened in the USA with founding of the Federal Reserve in 1913 and the rise of local currencies, barter and credit circles.

Governments’ policies became ever more erratic, swinging between obsolete textbook policy prescriptions: either “stimulation “(quantitative easing QE, i.e. money-printing, tax cuts, lowering interest rates, buying dud mortgage-backed securities) or “austerity “(cutting safety nets, education, healthcare, public services, selling off public assets) while continuing to bail out too-big-to-fail firms without prosecuting their reckless executives. Ethical Markets dissects such obsolete economic policies and offers more realistic alternatives (www.ethicalmarkets.com).

Today, failing policy levers are being bypassed by the rise of cryptos, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending, electronic barter, information-based direct trading I describe in “FINTECH: Good and Bad News for Sustainable Finance”.  They reveal the stunning truth: Money Is Not Wealth and worse, it is no longer a reliable store of value!  All those dollars we pinched to save for our retirement are losing their value until we use them to buy something useful, and shift our investing from obsolete, polluting, unsustainable corporations into trustworthy, sustainable, well-managed and transparent enterprises so we can monitor their performance and social impacts ourselves.

As the shock of this reality sets in, it reveals how most financial market players try to make money out of money, trading stocks with each other which are tradeable contracts issued by big companies as explained by law professor Lynn Stout in “The Shareholder Value Myth”, (2012). The latest Wall Street bubbles are index-based stocks and ETFs, reaching additional levels of abstraction. I first unraveled these truths in “Creating Alternative Futures” (1978,1996) and “The Politics of the Solar Age” (1981,1986). I described the essential unpaid tasks underpinning the cash-based sectors measured in GDP and incomes of mostly male “breadwinners”. Textbooks designated their wives to perform all the work of maintaining households, raising the next generation, caring for elders, volunteering in community service —all unpaid, as in this diagram (Cake). Economic textbooks described all this vital productive work I called the Love Economy as “non-economic”!

Feminists emerged worldwide to insist this work be recorded and paid, as in Marilyn Waring’s “If Women Counted” (1990); lawyer Riane Eisler’s Caring Economy campaign and Kate Raworth’s “Doughnut Economics” (2017). I documented how thousands of communities around the world starved by their central governments of fiat currencies by austerity programs, simply created their own local currencies, like the famous “Berkshares” issued by the Schumacher Society and circulated, even by local banks in Great Barrington, MA. These townsfolk realized that using their own local currencies and credit could clear their local markets and employ their people meeting local needs. Photographs of thousands of such local currencies issued all over North America and Mexico are catalogued in, “Depression Scrip of the United States 1930” (1961). They taught a key lesson: money cannot be a store of value –it must circulate in the community in order to meet needs and create jobs and prosperity. To assure these currencies were not saved, but spent, they all carried expiration dates and require stamps to re-validate them regularly affixed until they finally expired.

So this myth of money as a store of value is now threadbare. Electronic platforms open up new possibilities for direct barter, with all the fintech exchanges now disrupting traditional finance and banking. These innovations offer hope that both cryptos and fiats may eventually be properly managed and regulated in the service of decentralized prosperity and focus on the new model; the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) now ratified by 195 governments. Accountants are renovating their models for information-based economies  where services account for some 80% of production: from unpaid voluntary work to intellectual property, R &D, design, brands, networks, “infostructure” (broadband, internet) and institutions, described in “Capitalism Without Capital” (2018). The International Integrated Reporting System (IIRC) models six forms of capital: finance, built facilities, intellectual, social, human and natural capitals, which then measure the extent to which companies and governments enhance or degrade all six forms. This accounting revolution also from the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB); the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants www.cimaglobal.com, (ICAEW) finally discloses and internalizes all those “externalities” into companies’ balance sheets and provides full spectrum accounting— beyond money as the single metric. Honest money: currencies fully backed 100% for example, by kilowatt hours of renewable electricity, productive assets and services can continue to be useful as mediums of exchange. Expert Shann Turnbull in “Is A Stable Financial System Possible”, shows why currencies cannot be a predictable store of value, i.e. money is not wealth.


Cross-posted with permission from Ethical Markets.

Photo by reynermedia

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Is manufacturing of the future OPEN SOURCE? https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/is-manufacturing-of-the-future-open-source/2018/02/21 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/is-manufacturing-of-the-future-open-source/2018/02/21#respond Wed, 21 Feb 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=69758 In the spring of 2016, Elon Musk and his company Tesla stopped enforcing their patents, and Google, Facebook, Microsoft and IBM are all going open source with various robotics, artificial intelligence and phone projects. A trend is emerging: Is future manufacturing open source? Christian Villum: Giants such as Google and IBM have lately been followed by... Continue reading

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In the spring of 2016, Elon Musk and his company Tesla stopped enforcing their patents, and Google, Facebook, Microsoft and IBM are all going open source with various robotics, artificial intelligence and phone projects. A trend is emerging: Is future manufacturing open source?

Christian Villum: Giants such as Google and IBM have lately been followed by Canadian D-Wave, the leading developer of quantum computers, which opened up parts of their platform in January. But it’s not just the large, financially strong American technology companies who are painting the picture of open source as a global megatrend. Start-ups and small to medium-sized companies all over the world, and not just within the tech industry, are creating new and exciting open source-based physical products. 3D Robotics, Arduino and the British furniture company Open Desk, which is creating open design furniture in collaboration with 600 furniture creators all over the world, are just a few examples of how open source has become the foundation of some of the most innovative and interesting business models of our time.

Danish Design Centre has dived into this trend for the past year; a trend which is part of a large wave of technological disruption and digitization and which is currently top of mind for many companies. How do you get started with digitizing your business model, and how do you know if open source manufacturing is the future of your company? These questions aren’t easy to answer.

Growth programme for curious Danish production companies

This is why we, in collaboration with a range of partners, have initiated REMODEL, which is a growth programme for Danish manufacturing companies who wish to explore and develop new business models based on open-source principles, and which are tailor-made to fit their industry and their specific situation. REMODEL demystifies a complex concept and helps the company develop economically sustainable business models which can open op new markets and new economies.

We do this by using strategic design tools, which make up the foundation of the programme, and which are based on strong design virtues such as iterative experimentation, the development of rapid prototypes and most importantly, focusing on the needs of the end-user. On top of this, REMODEL also involves a global panel of experts, CEOs and researchers within the field of open source, which allows the programme to pull on expertise from some of the world’s most visionary innovators.

Timeline for the programme

REMODEL consists of a series of design-driven stages. Last year the programme was launched in a testing phase in which the Danish Design Centre collaborated with a handful of Danish manufacturing companies, including renowned hifi-manufacturing company Bang & Olufsen, who went through early modules of the programme over the course of the spring 2017. These modules were reiterated along the way based on the feedback from those tests.

The key learnings from these test as well as workshops with members of the expert panel then became the foundation for the official REMODEL programme, which launched on February 5, 2018, and where 10 pioneering companies are currently working their way through the programme, which has been set up as an 8 week design sprint. The outcome is for them to have gained a thorough strategic understand of the concept of open source hardware as it relates to their industry and furthermore a draft strategy to open one of the existing products in their portfolio.

Radical sharing of knowledge

Learnings, tools and methods from both the test runs and the main programme will be collected and shared in a REMODEL open source hardware business model toolkit, which will be freely available after the program.

On top of this we will be organising a REMODEL knowledge sharing summit in October 2018, where participating companies, the international expert panel, prominent speakers and anyone else who are interested are invited to Denmark to share their experiences and think about the next steps for open sourced-based business models and strategies for manufacture companies.

Discussing REMODEL internationally

In March 2018, Danish Design Centre is yet again participating in the world’s largest technology event, SXSW Interactive, in Austin, Texas. We have been invited to host a panel debate as part of the official schedule under the title ‘Open Source Innovation: The Internet on Your Team‘, where speakers from Bang & Olufsen, Thürmer Tools and Wikifactory will discuss the topic in general as well as tell stories from the REMODEL program.

Learn more

Curious to follow the REMODEL program in more depth? Read more here or sign up for the newsletter. Eager to discuss? Join the conversation on Twitter under the #remodelDK hasttag or contact Danish Design Centre Programme Director Christian Villum on cvi@ddc.dk


Originally published in danskdesigncenter.dk

Lead image: Open Desk builds furniture as open design. (c) Rory Gardiner

Text image: CC-BY-NC Agnete Schlichtkrull

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Goteo – crowdsourcing for open communities https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/goteo-crowdsourcing-for-open-communities/2018/02/20 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/goteo-crowdsourcing-for-open-communities/2018/02/20#respond Tue, 20 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=69728 Levente Polyák: Goteo is a platform for civic crowdfunding founded by Platoniq, a Catalan association of culture producers and software developers. Goteo helps citizen initiatives as well as social, cultural and technological projects that produce open source results and community benefits, with crowdfunding and crowdsourcing resources. Since its launch in 2011, Goteo’s crowdfunding campaigns have mobilised more than... Continue reading

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Levente Polyák: Goteo is a platform for civic crowdfunding founded by Platoniq, a Catalan association of culture producers and software developers. Goteo helps citizen initiatives as well as social, cultural and technological projects that produce open source results and community benefits, with crowdfunding and crowdsourcing resources. Since its launch in 2011, Goteo’s crowdfunding campaigns have mobilised more than 90,000 people, collecting over 4,5 million euros and successfully funding initiatives in more than 70% of the cases. Beyond collecting funds, Goteo also helps initiatives gather non-monetary contributions and establish partnerships that can advance their work. Through the projects it enables, Goteo promotes transparency, open source information, knowledge exchange and cooperation among citizen initiatives and public authorities. This interview was conducted with Carmen Lozano Bright.

Goteo is a complex entity, how would you describe yourselves?

Smart Citizen kit – campaign run on Goteo. Image (c) Goteo

Goteo is a collective that tries to promote participation and collaboration between institutions and citizens. With the Goteo platform, we help create stories through tools, merge them together and grow them; on the other hand, we also generate communities around initiatives. We work on bringing together individuals and public institutions to “collaborate forward,” for example, by opening up the institutional processes of participation or distributing funding evenly and in a more participatory way. We also track different organisational and development systems, including new funding models. More precisely, Goteo is a platform for crowdfunding campaigns, but it is not limited to funding: it also involves crowdsourcing. We do not only help our partners in acquiring the funds to carry a project on, but also in collecting non-economic contributions that a community can help with, and in sharing open-sourced collective benefits for the community, allowing projects to be replicated, reused, disseminated, or even improved or copied for further uses.

What makes the platform specific?

What is unique about Goteo is that we push for open source resources, collective initiatives, and we promote sharing collective benefits after a project passes through our crowdfunding campaign. We ask campaign promoters to publish their digital resources in an open source way once the campaign is over. It means sharing open source licenses, whether it’s a code or a design, a manual or any kind of file that shows the project. It is important for us to think of how this process contributes to the city and to the urban movement of gathering collective resources: we believe that it is an interesting way of putting clusters in movement.

Why so much emphasis on open-source?

We think that when you ask for support from a community, you should give something back. If you are an artist asking for funding for a CD, you should publish your CD with a creative common license or other free licenses afterwards, and give it back to the community. By doing so, we are also helping expand knowledge and provide access to free knowledge at a time when many forces are trying to enclose knowledge. The pressure on knowledge is similar to the pressure on social centres that are trying to resist enclosure.

Isn’t open source a constraint for the projects that run campaigns on your platform?

We really trust that the more open your project becomes, the more it attracts, the more it creates and the bigger it grows. That’s why we always push for the open licensing of the products and projects we support, and their outcomes – and that’s also why our platform itself is open source. You can download and copy the code of our platform, and have your own crowdfunding platform, use it, share it, improve it. We call this crowdfunding with crowd impact and crowd benefits. Goteo in Spanish means “leak”, and that’s how a campaign grows successful, drop by drop. Like the way you irrigate a garden: we understand that a way of funding collectively means that every drop adds to whatever you need to complete the watering of your garden.

How do the events you organise connect to the crowdfunding activities?

We believe that open knowledge creates more open knowledge, this is why we conduct workshops and bring together communities to cross-feed each other. Over 2000 people have come to our workshops, from many different countries and contexts: some apply the new ideas they gathered to urbanism, some to culture management, others to technology as well as many other fields. When you add layers to a project or invite different ideas to engage in dialogue with their counterparts, you can grow together and create more successful projects.

We always ask if crowdfunding is compatible with crowd benefits. People who prepare crowdfunding campaigns, ask us, “Do you think this is viable, do you think this feasible, do you think I can go through with it or is it something that is not going to be successful?” When we assess the project, we look for two ways of rewarding, not only the individuals who support the project, but also the community.
We divide rewards into two different groups: one consists of individual rewards, referring to when a person supports the project with 20 euros, and receives a postcard, a copy of your disk or participation in your workshop. The other refers to collective incentives that are more important for us, to push the community to support a project and add social importance to it. When something feels important and adds value to society, it is likely that more people will support and engage with it.

How do you define crowd benefits?

When we consider a project, we always ask promoters about their own experience, details, facts and issues of their projects that can help them conduct their projects in a better way. We ask about their needs. Of course, all projects in the fields of culture, urbanism and architecture need money. If there are no financial resources available, we look for alternative ways to support the project. We also ask about the tasks to be carried out, the infrastructures that they own, can count on or need and an outline of the materials needed for the project. Based on these, we assess what rewards one is able to give back to the community. Collective benefits can be digital archives, manual guides, codes, apps, websites or designs that can be downloaded, copied and adapted to the needs.

How can you help projects?

When gathering a group of people around a project, some might donate money while others might have important contributions that are not of a monetary nature. We promote our partners to also share their non-monetary needs in their communities. Projects often need a van to move things, or a translation. We have a feature on our platform to exchange these possible means of cooperation. We feel that when people get together and get to know each other and their projects, it is also easier to engage them and create community through social networks.

On average, around 200 people support each project, with contributions that range from 20 euros to 1500 or with their skills. 70% of our crowdfunding campaigns are successful, and one of every three donors does not want anything in return, they are donating because they value the project. We believe it is possible to talk about the culture of generosity in a world where we are constantly told that we have to be individuals, and we have to make it ourselves, be self-made men. We believe instead that the culture of generosity is really at our core, in our heart.

How do you define how much money is obtainable with a crowdfunding campaign?

Spain in Flames – campaign run on Goteo. Image (c) Goteo

We always establish two different budget goals for campaigns: there is a minimum which we consider the project needs just to kickstart, and then there is an optimum budget that could take the project further. We do respect the numbers identified by the promoters themselves, because they know more than anyone else about their needs and the costs in their local contexts, but we keep an eye on budget requests to make sure that what they ask for is clear and the plan is coherent. We suggest to keep the projected budgets at the right scale and advise initiators to make their budgets transparent and modular: if a project needs 10.000 euros, what budget categories does it include? Once initiators understand their own budget better, they often realise that some their needs can be covered with existing infrastructure or non-monetary contributions. Another criteria for projecting budget is an initiative’s capacity of social outreach: if an organisation has never disseminated anything in social media, or the initiator is an individual with limited online engagement, it might be better to keep the projected budget low. To this, we add another specific layer of knowledge about what different people from random places can do in areas that are not necessarily on our minds, for instance, in rural areas. We are generally very much focused on cities, but there are interesting initiatives in rural areas that contribute to the commons.

What is your experience about campaigns that addressed development or construction projects?

We had several campaigns in the fields of urbanism and architecture: they give us insights on how to facilitate different behaviours in urban and rural areas and how to share knowledge among communities that were previously not in touch. For instance, La Fabrika de Toda la Vida is an initiative using a former cement factory in Extremadura, not far from the Portuguese border: they financed their start-up phase, the rebuilding of a part of an enormous factory, with a successful crowdfunding campaign through Goteo, they raised 133% of their minimum budget. Their offer to give back to society was the building itself: they turned it into an open space that anyone can use and suggest activities for.

Another example is the Instituto Do It Yourself: it is a knowledge hub, an infrastructure that helps people exchange knowledge in a peripheral neighbourhood of Madrid. The Institute was started in 2013; it is a nice example of a free knowledge resource, established with the help of a campaign we launched together. There are also journalism projects we supported that are closely linked with urbanism. For instance, Goteo supported a campaign for a research on land use in Galicia, Northern Spain, where wildfires are closely connected to speculation: the devastation caused by wildfires usually opens the way for changing land use and building more profitable buildings on formerly agricultural land. Another project is the Smart Citizen Kit, built with open-source Arduino hardware to be installed in your home. The kit monitors air quality and sends data to a centralised device that collects data from different parts of a city.

The Social Coin – campaign run on Goteo. Image (c) Goteo

How do your campaigns contribute to the creation of a more collaborative tissue of community initiatives?

Processes through our platform turn out to be barometers of what a more collaborative and ethical society could become through implementing more open source collaborative processes and programs. For instance, some projects deal with cooperation in a larger sense. One of the initiatives produced a set of coins, kind of tokens, for collectives, companies of big groups to measure their collaborations: a way to visualise a chain of favours, to highlight how non-monetary contributions and collaborations function within a team or among several teams.

What are the overall results of the platform?

In five years, we collected over 4,5 million euros altogether, with an average contribution of 48 euros, and with over 200,000 euros in match funding. At stats.goteo.org, the platform has open data about our campaigns: it shows tendencies, categories, money collected for each project, and the time it takes a project to collect the necessary funding. We also developed an app with which people can freely use the data. Tracking accountability is very important for us: the more we know about a project we support, the more vigilant we can be in what they do, and also receive better outcomes from them.

Do public institutions play any role in your campaigns?

It is an important issue. Some people would say, “All right, crowdfunding is nice, and so are the collective benefits, but we are exploiting our families, our friends, communities and ourselves just to extract more money from them for our projects. Isn’t it a bit contradictory, doesn’t it promote the notion of ‘Big Society’ advocated by conservative ideologues?” We’re aware of this and work on attracting private and public money, to balance contributions to the projects we support: we work on many of our funding processes with private companies as well as with different local and regional public administrations and universities.

From crowdfunding to crowdadvocacy guidebook. Image (c) Goteo

In the past years, we have been working with various public administrations, and they would agree to add some budget to specific calls, match funding a set of campaigns selected by an open panel including public officials and our team with 10,000 or 12,000 euros. These are projects that go through crowdfunding campaigns, but public institutions double the amount given by citizens; so for each euro made through crowdfunding, the administration offers another euro. It is a way to open the process of decision-making: there are initiatives that institutions would not fund without collective support.

La Fabrika de Toda la Vida for instance, was also supported by the regional government’s match funding. At the time, the conservative government of the Estremadura region would probably have not understood what it meant to restore a former factory in a village; but with the support shown to the project by other institutions, the citizens and us, they realised that it was intelligent to invest in a project like this.

Our cooperation with public institutions is not exclusively monetary. Lately we have been working with public institutions, for instance with different municipalities in Barcelona and elsewhere, on how they are developing their participatory processes, their policy-making, and on how they can engage their citizens and promote more open and meaningful decision-making processes. This is a horizon that we have: we are looking for growing alliances between public and private actors to raise funding for citizen projects, soon at a much larger scale than today.

 

This text in an excerpt from the book Funding the Cooperative City: Community finance and the economy of civic spaces.

 

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Mutual Aid Network: an update https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/mutual-aid-network-an-update/2018/02/20 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/mutual-aid-network-an-update/2018/02/20#respond Tue, 20 Feb 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=69830 The Mutual Aid Network(s) has always been a great source of inspiration for the P2P Foundation. A living, thriving example of what we term as a meta-economic network, MAN was also recently featured as a case study in our Commons Transition Primer. To see what they have been up in the last year, read this... Continue reading

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The Mutual Aid Network(s) has always been a great source of inspiration for the P2P Foundation. A living, thriving example of what we term as a meta-economic network, MAN was also recently featured as a case study in our Commons Transition Primer. To see what they have been up in the last year, read this rollicking (and brutally honest) recap, written by Stephanie Rearick and originally published in their site. Please read Stephanie’s story below and click here to help support her ongoing work for MAN.

Stephanie Rearick:  Happy new year! (yeah, I know it’s a bit late but this too-long post took too-long to write! but you can take too-long to read it, there’s plenty of good stuff to be found)

I’m excited to see what big developments 2018 will bring, and expect that we’ll have some happy ones in MAN-land. There’s a convergence afoot among lots of likeminded people and their networks, all across the globe. And that’s all we need to remake this world. So let’s get on with it!

But first, some reflection on 2017…

I wrote much much less than usual in 2017, primarily because it was so extremely eventful and that eventfulness included breaking my shoulder (and other arm injuries from the same bike crash), and more recently getting tendonitis in my other arm while helping redo my roof.

So I’m trying to make up for some of that in this recap. Hope you enjoy it!

January we worked on proposals for hubs in the Madison MAN here at home.

February we decided to officially change our name from the Main MAN to HUMANs (Humans United in Mutual Aid Networks). Read more about that here.

Then we hosted another Summit.

We scheduled this to coincide with a visit from our friend Kali Akuno, of Cooperation Jackson. He and other friends were set to present at a public event called Resist & Build, of which Mutual Aid Networks was a sponsor. So we organized a summit around this event, and brought more of our active members and pilot stewards together for mutual learning.

A lot of very rich discussion and forward momentum happened here, and I’ve shared pictures of our whiteboards and shown where to find some notes here.

But now will note just one very lovely bit of serendipity –

Our friend Blair Anderson, a potential pilot steward in Detroit and generally amazing human and organizer, was in Chicago for a family memorial. The night before our summit’s last day, Blair suddenly felt called to come to Madison. He went and booked a bus at one in the morning, then got here early the next day. He called me in the morning to ask what was happening here, and I was able to invite him to our last day of workshops and planning.

Blair came and gave us a really beautiful and poignant history of his own family, through slavery, then chain gangs under Jim Crow vagrancy laws, then civil rights activism, to Black Panther leadership, to political imprisonment, to organizing new ways of thriving in this culture. And then introduced an incredible vision of making a mutual aid network that can provide meaningful sanctuary to people under threat for a variety of reasons, unfortunately the list of which grows daily.

This discussion spawned lots of new ideas and energy. And also inspired me to think of creating a Church of HUMANs (for real, I’ll share details later) and gain a fondness for the adjective “superversive.” Superversive incorporates, transforms and transcends all which comes before it. That’s the HUMAN approach to our economy.

Speaking of (needing) a new approach to our economy – In March we officially Ran Out Of Money. Well, it actually does hurt. But it is the way of getting all our (my) skin in this game. As the main person who has relied on Mutual Aid Network work for somewhat of a livelihood, it’s giving me a new urgency to making this work to support me doing what I feel called to do in this world.

April – I did a MAN tour of New Zealand!!! This one I did post about, a bit, as I went – in segments 1 and 2 (more photos here). And it resulted in a couple radio interviews you can hear here. But in a nutshell, I was given the most incredible opportunity to tour New Zealand for three weeks, with 11 different stops and hosts, at no monetary cost to myself. My hosts paid for my flight so I could speak at the Living Economies Expo (amazing!) in Lyttelton (home of the famous Project Lyttelton and Lyttelton TimeBank that did such fantastic work in earthquake relief after the 2011 quakes). Then Cherie Conrad put out word to cooperative economy leaders throughout the country and I was hosted for the rest of the time on an epic journey of learning and sharing experience, ideas and inspiration. I learned how they approach savings pools and was also able to show how MAN frameworks could turn savings pools into a more deliberate driver of equity. Tons of beautiful ideas emerged throughout the trip, and are taking form as Mutual Aid Networks of Aotearoa (MANA).

I returned home April 22 and a week later I broke my arm (left humerus right up by my shoulder) in a bike crash. Ouch.

May – The week after breaking my arm I flew to Barcelona Spain to present at the fourth International Complementary Currencies Conference. Actually, staying with 10 friends at a beautiful home in Barcelona was a fine place to recover from a freshly broken arm. And my presentation went well too, despite my awkward gesturing with a sling-bound arm… Here are the slides to the presentation I gave and here is the paper I wrote, Becoming HUMAN: Superversive Strategies in the Face of Fascism and Ecocide, in order to be able to present. Unfortunately I wrote the paper in a hurry so it isn’t academic enough in style and doesn’t have good citations in order to be publishable. But I do hope to keep working on the theme, and implementing the ideas. The gist is that, during this time of the US doubling down on corporate hegemony, private ownership and deregulation, Mutual Aid Networks are a form of corporation that should position ourselves to compete for the new economy and win by playing a smarter game that’s more fun and that includes everyone.

And speaking of smarter, I had the immense pleasure of meeting some of the people from Cooperativa Integral Catalana, a beautiful project I’ve heard about (in concert with Fair Coop, another favorite of mine) for years. I got to talk a lot with Joel, meet one of the coop’s founders, and tour their Barcelona space (photos from there). Here’s an article that p2p Foundation ran about them. Check it out! They’re great at integrating different sectors of a local economy to make a pretty self-sustaining system.

June we held a small MAN retreat and pilot exploration in Detroit and attended the Allied Media Conference.

During the conference we crashed the meeting of the Digital Stewards, a Detroit organization making mesh wireless networks owned and operated by neighbors, who also use them to create community communication systems. We plan to replicate this in Madison and beyond! We were also thrilled to connect with people from Red Hook Initiative in Brooklyn, who train in this and lots of other cool tech stuff. Hopefully we’ll work together in the future.

For our pilot exploration we held a discussion about how to move forward on a couple projects, including the sanctuary network that came up in our February summit, and a learning circuit between different pilot sites including St. Louis, Detroit, Jackson, and Madison. We had people from St. Louis, Madison, and Detroit, and laid the initial groundwork for a more future work in Detroit and between sites.

July 27 was an inauspicious day, when we lost the wonderful Cheri Maples to injuries she’d sustained in a bike/van accident the previous summer. The loss of Cheri was huge for me personally and for all of us professionally, and as humans. Cheri was instrumental in helping to start and run the Dane County TimeBank, and especially its various transformative justice efforts including the TimeBank Youth Court, mindfulness and NVC training in prisons, support for people coming home from prison, and timebanking in jails. This work was just one piece of a lot of interconnected, powerful, beautiful work in the world as a Dharma teacher (ordained by Thich Nhat Hanh) and former cop, corrections official, assistant WI Attorney General, and more. You can read more about her here.

Summer was spent building the Madison MAN Cooperative, for which we met weekly.

October I did a little MAN tour through Ohio and then Asheville NC. Ohio stops included Columbus, Youngstown, and Yellow Springs where I presented at the Economics of Happiness Conference hosted by Community Solutions, and also did a MAN exploration there. Lots of exciting possibilities, and the conference was cool.

Youngstown was an informal chat at the TimeBank Mahoning Watershed’s monthly movie night.

Columbus was particularly fruitful, and fortunately we solidified more of a relationship with the Care and Share TimeBank and especially Steve Bosserman, who has been helping a lot with Mutual Aid Platform software and way more. Here’s his report on the Columbus MAN developments:
“We gave a presentation at our September Care and Share Time Bank potluck to prep the audience for your program at the October Potluck on the OH-NC tour. Here’s a link to the presentation handouts.

Also, following your visit, we posted a summary of outcomes to our CSTB Facebook group in which we outlined ways we could bring CSTB more fully into the MAN experience. Here is the link to that post on Facebook and as a viewable Google Doc.

In addition, based on your tour visit, we are featuring MAN in a grant proposal to be submitted by the Interfaith Association of Central Ohio (IACO), Simply Living, and CSTB to the Ohio Humanities in March with a preliminary review next month. The purpose of that grant is to have faith groups, “nones”, and secular humanists convene a set of online and face-to-face conversations in the Columbus area to explore how we can move more aggressively toward a “time-based economy” rather than remain dependent on the prevailing monetary economy.”

Awesome!

Then I headed to Asheville NC at the invitation of our friend from the Impact Economy summit and Madison mapping summit, Paul Hartzog.

At the end of the Asheville trip Steve Cooperman took me to meet Kevin Jones, co-founder of SOCAP and champion of Impact Hubs, among other stuff. We had a quick and energetic chat about each of our work. He’s working toward making a long-term investment model for young people to invest in forests. I was able to show him the way MANs can create means for people with money to directly redistribute it, investing in communities with less access. He was intrigued enough to become my first-ever patron! Helping me with a regular donation toward my living expenses, Kevin got the ball rolling on the vision we’ve held for awhile, creating crowdfunded patronage that everyone can tap into. His generous support will be a good motivator for us to create a web-based template to accept contributions like this regularly, in all kinds of currencies and resources. Watch for it!

November – We incorporated the Madison MAN Cooperative, our multi-stakeholder cooperative which we intend to be our city-wide MAN pilot site!

And the next day I flew to LA and went straight to Santa Ana, about 40 min. south, to spend time with the amazing and wonderful Ana Urzua, one of my fellow BALLE fellows and powerhouse cooperative organizer, and her friends and colleagues. I learned some of what they’re doing with Santa Ana Building Healthy Communities and beyond, and we held a MAN pilot site exploratory discussion that was super exciting.

December 13 we held the official launch party for our Madison MAN Cooperative. And one of the first projects we’ve set up is to host a monthly gathering with food and childcare, to make it easy for people to drop in after work or whatever they need. We’ll partner with a founding member organization, Dane County TimeBank, to be at each other’s monthly events so that each of us can have a presence on both a weekday and a weekend each month. The point now is maximum accessibility and consistency so we can keep inviting people in and building our collective work. Stay tuned!

If you’ve gotten this far, you just read a long-ass post. (or skipped ahead. but that’s OK. You can always search keywords if you want to know about certain places, or bits of work, or you can read bit by bit or skip it altogether). Thanks for bearing with me!

Follow the links to learn more about each thing, and join us in our soon-to-resume office hours. And of course join the HUMANs global cooperative network.

And thanks for your interest, work, support, and everything else.

Enjoy your 2018!
–Stephanie

founder of this version of Mutual Aid Networks, Board President of HUMANs

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New poll: 82% of Uber users ready to quit the service https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/new-poll-82-of-uber-users-ready-to-quit-the-service/2018/02/19 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/new-poll-82-of-uber-users-ready-to-quit-the-service/2018/02/19#respond Mon, 19 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=69714 This recent poll – conducted by the New Economics Foundation – shows that 82% of Uber customers would be likely to use an alternative service with better rights for drivers. New Economics Foundation:  Four-fifths of Uber customers would use an ethical alternative – and over half would pay a higher fare to do so App-based companies like Uber... Continue reading

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This recent poll – conducted by the New Economics Foundation – shows that 82% of Uber customers would be likely to use an alternative service with better rights for drivers.

New Economics Foundation: 

  • Four-fifths of Uber customers would use an ethical alternative – and over half would pay a higher fare to do so
  • App-based companies like Uber and Deliveroo are facing multiple legal challenges relating to the treatment of their workers
  • The New Economics Foundation is developing an ethical, driver-owned alternative to Uber to combat the trend toward insecure and precarious work.

New polling shows that 82% of Uber customers would likely use an alternative service with better rights for drivers.

According to the BMG poll [2] commissioned by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) and Left Foot Forward, 54% of Uber customers would be willing to pay more for their journey if it meant that drivers got a fairer deal.

This follows news that app-based companies like Uber and Deliveroo are facing multiple legal challenges relating to the treatment of their workers. While some workers in the gig economy say they enjoy the flexibility offered by these companies, many are campaigning for basic working rights including regular contracted hours, holiday and sick pay.

The UK’s gig economy is expanding rapidly, and a large section of the country’s workforce are already in jobs that fail to meet even basic employment rights. In London, the number of gig economy workers in the transport sector has grown by 82% since 2010, according to recent analysis of new Government data [3] by the New Economics Foundation [4].

At the same time, the number of Londoners working for companies in the conventional transport sector has dropped by 9%. This suggests an ever greater proportion of Londoners are moving into insecure and precarious work.

Recent research by the New Economics Foundation found that two in five people in the UK workforce are stuck in ‘bad jobs’ where they face insecure working conditions, are paid below the Living Wage, or both [5].

The latest findings come as the New Economics Foundation works to develop an alternative to Uber in the capital – a driver-owned platform app, provisionally called CabFair.

Stefan Baskerville, Director of Unions and Business at the New Economics Foundation, said:

These results show there is a strong demand for a more ethical alternative to Uber. The gig economy is employing more and more people, but there’s a huge imbalance of power. Customers want a fairer deal for cab drivers and many are prepared to pay a little more to ensure this.

At the New Economics Foundation we are seeking to develop a new ride-hailing app, owned by its employees and which would give a fair deal to both drivers and passengers. We want our alternative to keep transport accessible, low-cost, fast and easy for all.

We are working with trade unionists, tech partners and passengers to build something better than Uber – a driver-owned alternative that is just as convenient and competitive on price, but treats its passengers and drivers with respect.

We hope the new service will put drivers and customers firmly in control.

Josiah Mortimer, Editor of Left Foot Forward, said:

Clearly there is a huge appetite for a ride-hailing app which respects workers’ rights, and gives a fair deal to drivers. Londoners want reasonable fares – but they don’t want to throw their morals out in the process.

In the wake of Sadiq Khan’s decision to revoke Uber’s licence, this should sound the alarm for Uber to up their game when it comes to giving drivers decent pay and proper employment rights.

There’s some real competition on the way, which could be a game-changer for the industry. Rather than throwing ethics by the wayside, Uber and other ride-hailing companies should take note.

Notes to editors

  1. The New Economics Foundation is the UK’s only people-powered think tank. The Foundation works to build a new economy where people really take control. www.neweconomics.org
  2. Source note: BMG interviewed a representative sample of 1,509 adults living in Great Britain between 5th and 8th December. Data are weighted. BMG are members of the British polling council and abide by their rules. Full details atwww.bmgresearch.co.uk/polling. The questions asked were: ‘If there was an alternative to Uber that offered drivers greater employment rights, how likely would you be to use it?’ And ‘If there was an alternative to Uber that offered drivers greater employment rights, how likely would you be to use it, even if this meant paying higher fares?’ All respondents who answered ‘very likely’ or ‘fairly likely’ are categorised as being ‘likely’. The sample was of around 300 Uber users, with statistically significant results.
  3. Data sourced from BEIS Business population estimates as published on 30th November 2017. Available at:https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/business-population-estimates-2017
  4. Methodology: The UK government does not directly publish figures on the size or growth of those working in the gig economy. The methodology used in these calculations has been adopted from the Brookings Institute, whereby “businesses” with no employees are used as a proxy for the gig economy: https://www.brookings.edu/research/tracking-the-gig-economy-new-numbers/. These “businesses” are often people who are effectively self-employed and being paid on a job-by-job basis. These figures also include those who have set up their own businesses but have not yet grown to employ staff. However, it is very unlikely that such cases could account for the dramatic increases in recent years. Analysis of similar trends in the US have found the growth of non-employer businesses tracks the adoption of platform economies in different cities.   https://hbr.org/2015/08/the-gig-economy-is-real-if-you-know-where-to-look . The calculations for London’s transport sector refer to SIC code H: Transportation and Storage. This category includes taxi services and couriers. A full list can be found here: https://www.siccode.co.uk/section/h
  5. See http://neweconomics.org/2017/08/bad_jobs/

Photo by Tati___Tata

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Transition Together: An International Symposium on the need for societal transitions and systems level change https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/transition-together-an-international-symposium-on-the-need-for-societal-transitions-and-systems-level-change/2018/02/19 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/transition-together-an-international-symposium-on-the-need-for-societal-transitions-and-systems-level-change/2018/02/19#respond Mon, 19 Feb 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=69834 I will be participating as keynote speaker and panelist in a very important and I think rather unique symposium whereby various movements will think about converging their strategies. Thursday, 21 June, 2018 – 18:00 to Saturday, 23 June, 2018 – 13:00 The 4th International Transition Design Symposium 6.00pm Thursday 21st June – 1:00pm, Saturday 23rd June 2018... Continue reading

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I will be participating as keynote speaker and panelist in a very important and I think rather unique symposium whereby various movements will think about converging their strategies.

Thursday, 21 June, 2018 – 18:00 to Saturday, 23 June, 2018 – 13:00

The 4th International Transition Design Symposium
6.00pm Thursday 21st June – 1:00pm, Saturday 23rd June 2018
Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon

The 2018 Transition Design Symposium will, for the first time, bring together representatives from major movements and initiatives to discuss the urgent need for sustainable societal transitions and systems-level change, and initiate the connections that will make rapid transition possible.

Speakers: Rob Hopkins, co-founder of Transition Town Totnes and the Transition Network, Professor Terry Irwin, Head of the School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University, Michel Bauwens, P2P Network and Commons Transitions; John Thackara, author of How to Thrive in the Next Economy: Designing Tomorrow’s World Today; noted futurist Stuart Candy and Cameron Tonkinwise, Professor of Design at University of New South Wales, Australia.

Panelists: Laura Winn, Head of the School for System Change, Forum for the Future, Sarah McAdam, Delivery Director, Transition NetworkAndrew Simms, Co-founder, The New Weather Institute (Transition Economics), Professor Terry Irwin, Head of the School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University (Transition Design), Peter NewellSTEPS Centre, Sussex University, Cheryl DahleFlip Labs and Future of Fish (Transition Design), Jules PeckThe Next Systems ProjectDamian WhiteJust Transitions and Rhode Island School of DesignMichel BauwensP2P Network and Commons Transitions, and Idil Gaziulusoy Socio Technical Research Network and Aalto University

About the symposium

Held on the Dartington Estate, home to pioneering experiments in education, the arts and crafts and rural development and now entering an exciting new phase where it is reviving its position as a laboratory for social change, the Symposium will bring together leading figures in global sustainability transition and system-change movements with designers, educators and activists to explore the potential for greater collaboration and the possibility of more widespread rapid transition.

Invited panelists, each representing a different area of transition related activity or system change, will present their perspective on societal transformation which will inform and guide the two panel discussions on day one. Participants will be invited to take part in these discussions and join a growing worldwide network of people engaged in transition-related projects, initiatives and research. On the second day of the Symposium a visioning session, led by the renowned futurist Stuart Candy, will introduce panelists and participants to the role future visions play in societal transitions and the value of the foresighting process in catalysing systems-level change.

The Symposium will begin on Thursday evening, with a welcome reception and dinner on the beautiful Dartington Estate that will provide panelists and attendees with the opportunity to meet one another and begin conversations. Friday will be comprised of panel discussions that explore the similarities, differences, and common goals among the different approaches to societal transition and systems change and discuss the potential for greater collaboration. On Friday evening participants will have further time for relaxed conversation over the collective evening meal. On Saturday, Stuart Candy will facilitate a foresighting workshop comprised of working groups and panelists. Cameron Tonkinwise offer closing remarks and reflections just before lunchtime.

Papers and proceedings from the Symposium will be published by Carnegie Mellon University and Schumacher College in the months following the event.

Fee:

£250 residential. This covers single accommodation for Thursday and Friday night, opening reception, all meals (but not Saturday lunch) and participation in the Symposium. BOOK FULL RESIDENTIAL HERE
£200 non-residential. This covers the opening reception, all meals (but not lunch on Saturday) and participation in the Symposium. BOOK NON-RESDIENTIAL HERE

You can also book by Telephone: 01803 847070

The Symposium is hosted by Schumacher College and Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design and the Dartington Hall Trust.

Organisers are Professor Terry Irwin, Head of School and Dr. Gideon Kossoff, Coordinator for Doctoral Studies at the School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University and Ruth Potts, Schumacher College.

Photo by Hollywood North

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Seeds: commons or corporate property? https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/seeds-commons-or-corporate-property/2018/02/18 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/seeds-commons-or-corporate-property/2018/02/18#respond Sun, 18 Feb 2018 11:00:00 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=69710 This is one of the most dynamic and illuminating films (39 min.) I have seen for quite a while. It follows the lives and struggles to save seeds – families, small farmers, communities, nations. It brilliantly facilitates deepening our understanding on several fronts – the predatory core and corruption of global capitalism in the seed... Continue reading

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This is one of the most dynamic and illuminating films (39 min.) I have seen for quite a while. It follows the lives and struggles to save seeds – families, small farmers, communities, nations. It brilliantly facilitates deepening our understanding on several fronts – the predatory core and corruption of global capitalism in the seed industry, the incredible resistance of farmers and peasants in 8 countries to having their seeds and thus food supply deemed illegal, and, how they are acting to preserve their food and cultural commons, and their basic human and cultural rights. I will definitely use this in educational settings to help people grapple with the multiple levels the struggle for transformation must contend in. So inspiring. The video is in Spanish but has subtitles in French, English and Portuguese. I think my colleagues in the food, commons, solidarity economy and cooperative movements will find this a useful resource.

From the video description:

Jointly produced by 8 Latin American organisations and edited by Radio Mundo Real, the documentary “Seeds: commons or corporate property?” draws on the experiences and struggles of social movements for the defence of indigenous and native seeds in Ecuador, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras, Argentina, Colombia, and Guatemala.

The main characters are the seeds – indigenous, native, ours- in the hands of rural communities and indigenous peoples. The documentary illustrates that the defence of native seeds is integral to the defence of territory, life, and peoples’ autonomy. It also addresses the relationship between indigenous women and native seeds, as well as the importance of seed exchanges within communities. Exploring the historical origins of corn, and the appreciation and blessing of seeds by Mayan communities, this short film shows the importance of seeds in ceremonies, markets and exchanges.

Local experiences of recovery and management of indigenous seeds demonstrate the significant and ongoing struggles against seed laws, against UPOV and the imposition of transgenic seeds. Whilst condemning the devastation that such laws bring, this film captures the peoples’ resistance to the advancement of agribusiness.

The documentary is available in Spanish; with English, Portuguese and French subtitles. We invite you to watch it and to share it widely in order to continue defending the seeds which have become both peoples’ heritage, and which serve humankind on the path towards food sovereignty.

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Hack the Cape: crisis or opportunity? https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/hack-cape-crisis-opportunity/2018/02/17 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/hack-cape-crisis-opportunity/2018/02/17#comments Sat, 17 Feb 2018 13:06:11 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=69737 By James Gien Wong and Jose Ramos  The city of Cape Town is confronting an unprecedented water crisis. Because of a complex number of factors, including a prolonged drought, the city is facing a complete shutdown of its municipal water distribution. The city has already established a “Day Zero”, the day when all taps will... Continue reading

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By James Gien Wong and Jose Ramos 

The city of Cape Town is confronting an unprecedented water crisis. Because of a complex number of factors, including a prolonged drought, the city is facing a complete shutdown of its municipal water distribution. The city has already established a “Day Zero”, the day when all taps will cease to flow, and its inhabitants will have to walk, drive, taxi or take the train each day to one of 200 water distribution points set up around the city to pick up 25L emergency rations of water. Bottled water is flying off the shelves, and home-owners are locking up their faucets to discourage water theft. The city has levied heavy fines against those violating the strict quota of 50L of water per person per day. The Day Zero dashboard shows all the new water supply projects to supply water to the city, but as of this writing, most of them are behind schedule. The city of 4 million is in a race against time to stretch the remaining reserves of water to last until new water arrives. If the reserves run dry, Cape Town will be the first major city in the world with the dubious honor of shutting off its water supply.

The citizens of Cape Town are responding with an equally unprecedented show of creativity, demonstrating that even in a crisis, there is a silver lining. In response to the crisis, the global citizen collective Stop Reset Go, the Cape Town Science Centre,  the global Berlin-based Open Source Circular Economy Days, and Envienta are banding together to launch a global ideation hackathon to crowdsource open source solutions. The hackathon will physically take place on Feb 24 and 25 at the Cape Town Science Centre with guest speakers, panelists, workshops, displays, and spaces for DIY citizen innovators. The process will be supported by SAREBI, a South African Renewable Energy Business Incubator, who will help in judging various ideas and offering valuable Master Business Incubator classes to promising technical water innovations. Simultaneously, the hackathon will take place virtually at the Open Source Circular Economy Days community page. Local physical participants will transcribe local work onto project pages, where global participants can co-participate.

The rationale of the hackathon is to mobilize the sleeping giant of “the commons”, creating a systematic and large-scale process for a planet of innovators to help solve a local crisis. In other words, what if Cape Town were not alone in addressing its crisis, but had the solidarity of thousands of citizen innovators, engineers, organizers and technology developers from around the world? What if an open source platform were created where all contributions were available to every citizen around the world to draw upon and produce/manufacture in their own locale? The citizens of Cape Town would be able to draw upon an unprecedented resource array to solve the city’s water crisis. Enter Hack the Water Crisis.     

The hackathon follows a strategy called cosmo localization, understood through the expression “Design Global, Manufacture Local. Leveraging the world wide web to mobilize designers to create a planetary design commons, we can create a resource accessible to local peer producers everywhere, empowered by old and new production technologies. Local South African journalist Daniel Silke writes: “…National government too, needs to move from its recent suspicion of the outside world to a new embrace. It’s not just about gaining foreign investment, it should be an embrace to harness global expertise – and Cape Town does need it urgently.” The hackathon event is part of phase 1, a global collaboration to gather ideas. In the following months, some of those ideas will be turned into prototypes and professional products then lead to a later phase 2 stage – the global distribution of the finalized designs to a network of local manufacturers and maker spaces to produce locally everywhere.

The critical question is can we establish such a planetary design commons that can help solve this crisis? Imagine a global open source alliance of cities drawing upon their citizens and resources to solve each other’s crisis. On a large scale this is what is being called “protocol cooperativism”, the development of protocols for sharing of knowledge and resources on a large-scale and systemic basis to mutualise our capacity to address the major challenges that we face.  

This project is an example of emerging projects which take a nontraditional approach to addressing development challenges. In addition to the open source and cosmo localization strategies, the project also takes an “urban planetary boundary approach”, to investigate the reasonable limits that should exist in a city’s ecological footprint if we are to create sustainable cities that do not overstep our planetary carrying capacity. Thus, while this project will leverage planetary solidarity to solve Cape Town’s water crisis, the city itself can be working toward making a contribution to solving our global ecological challenges.  

For those interested in supporting or participating in the hackathon, please find out more at  hackthewatercrisis.org  

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Help Support the Urban Commons Cookbook! https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/help-support-urban-commons-cookbook/2018/02/17 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/help-support-urban-commons-cookbook/2018/02/17#respond Sat, 17 Feb 2018 11:00:00 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=69821 Who doesn’t want an Urban Commons cookbook? Help support this project by pitching to their Kickstarter page. The following was written by Mary Dellenbaugh-Losse, founding member of the Urban Research Group and co-editor of the Urban Commons Cookbook. Mary Dellenbaugh-Losse: Dear friends of the urban commons, As some of you already know, a few members... Continue reading

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Who doesn’t want an Urban Commons cookbook? Help support this project by pitching to their Kickstarter page. The following was written by Mary Dellenbaugh-Losse, founding member of the Urban Research Group and co-editor of the Urban Commons Cookbook.

Mary Dellenbaugh-Losse: Dear friends of the urban commons,

As some of you already know, a few members of the Urban Research Group are hard at work on a follow-up publication to “Urban Commons: Moving beyond State and Market.” The Urban Commons Cookbook will combine the theoretical framework set out in the 2015 publication with real-world insights, usable tips, and tested methods for creating and maintaining commons from real urban commons projects. The result will be a practical handbook which can inform actors from the civil society and politics alike.

In order to develop a high-quality, low-cost product, we will be running a Kickstarter campaign from February 12th through March 9th. Upon completion, a barrier-free PDF of the book will be freely available for download (Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 license) and hard copies will be available for a nominal fee via print-on-demand.

Here is the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/883826659/the-urban-commons-cookbook

We would very much appreciate it if you could spread the word about the Kickstarter and the project through your networks. I’m attaching texts for blogs and social media to this email, along with a copy of the exposé for those of you who want more information on the project.

About the campaign

Urban commons are everywhere – but how can projects benefit from each others’ experiences?

Urban commons – new ways of managing and ensuring access to a wide variety of resources in cities – are increasingly the focus of political, academic, and urban development discussions. Many useful theories, methods, and case study collections are being developed above all on the academic level – however, this information often does not reach activists, community leaders, local politicians, or other interested parties on the ground. The Urban Commons Cookbook seeks to bridge this gap. The Urban Commons Cookbook will combine the theoretical framework set out in the 2015 publication “Urban Commons: Moving beyond State and Market” with real-world insights, usable tips, and tested methods for creating and maintaining commons from real urban commons projects. The result will be a practical handbook which can inform actors from the civil society and politics alike.

The core of the cookbook will be made up of interviews with commons projects across a broad spectrum of resource types and locations. The interviews will focus on the projects’ experiences – which ingredients and structures made their commons project possible? What challenges arose and how did they deal with them? What was critical to success and which lessons would they pass on to projects just starting out?

These real-world experiences will be supplemented with a clear and reader-friendly introduction to commons theory and a range of practical methods for starting a project, dealing with internal & external challenges, creating visibility and impact, and building trust and community.

About us: This project was initiated by Mary Dellenbaugh-Losse, co-author of “Urban Commons: Moving beyond State and Market.” Mary had been toying with the idea of a follow-up publication about urban commons for a wider audience when she met Nils-Eyk Zimmermann, co-author of “The Initiative Cookbook,” who was looking to get more experience with commons. And thus the idea for the Urban Commons Cookbook was born! It’s been a long and productive planning process full of countless cups of coffee. We’re excited that the project is finally moving forward and very motivated by the positive resonance we’ve gotten so far!

Specifications and distribution: Once completed, a barrier-free PDF of the book will be freely available for download; hard copies will be available for a nominal fee to offset printing costs via print-on-demand. We expect the book to be about 100 A5 pages. It will be written in English with a journalistic writing style which is accessible for people of different backgrounds and a large number of graphic elements (infographics, diagrams, photos) in order to be visually interesting. The intended audience includes activists, policy makers, district managers, and educators. We expect publication in fall 2018.

All about the money: We have turned to crowdfunding in order to develop a high-quality, low-cost product without engaging in precarious work practices. Our goal of 3,500€ reflects the minimum we need to cover our costs – anything above and beyond will go to funding our further work on commons.

Thanks for stopping by and for your support!

More information at http://www.urbancommonscookbook.com

Risks and challenges

Every publication comes with its own set of challenges – we learned that while writing Urban Commons: Moving beyond State and Market. But this experience also means that the editor team has a good track record of cooperation and open communication.

We’ve done our homework about print-on-demand, the case studies we’d like to interview, and groups we’d like to network with. All that’s left is to write the book!

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Photo by Drriss & Marrionn

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