How the financial meltdown will affect peer production and social innovation

The bursting of the internet bubble in April 2000 caused the emergence of a thriving social innovation that became the Web 2.0 phenomenom.

Similarly, we may expect the current crisis not to derail peer production and social innovation, but to actually stimulate it.

Coming to a similar conclusion, but using the utilitarian language of pure self-interest, is Chris Anderson, who examines the fortunes of the various aspects of what he calls the ‘free economy’.

What he calls, inappropriately, the gift economy, is what we understand to be peer production and social innovation.

Chris Anderson:

Gift economy: This is driven primarily by people’s “spare cycles” (AKA cognitive surplus) and rising unemployment means more spare cycles, sadly. Obviously people still need to pay the rent, so many of these shared contributions are really just advertisements for the contributor’s skills. But other contributions will be idle hands finding work while they look for their next job. As a result I think you’ll see a boom in creativity and sharing online as people take matters into their own hands. Today, if you’re in-between jobs you can still be productive, and the reputational currency you earn may pay dividends in the form of a better job when the economy recovers.”

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