Ted Lumley: a critique of P2P from the point of view of inclusionality

Ted Lumley of Goodshare has a point of view which is both supportive and critical of our peer to peer paradigm, from his own paradigm of inclusionality. The following is one of the best summary statements concerning the similarities and differences in both approaches, it’s part of a longer text which you can find here:

Ted Lumley: P2P News (“an emanation of the Foundation for Peer to Peer Alternatives�), brought together the ideas of a multitude of thinkers who are committed to bringing about a change in society that moves us away from the suppression/oppression of control-hierarchy towards ‘peer-to-peer’ relationships that facilitate spontaneous collaborative connectivity. see, for example http://blog.p2pfoundation.com/

[michel bauwens is a Belgian internet consultant who, after twenty years as entrepreneur and corporate manager, became disenchanted with the corporate central control hierarchy organizing model and is currently investigating social alternatives under the umbrella of the Foundation of Peer to Peer Alternatives. He is an author and editor of works on the anthropology of digital society, and currently a university instructor in Chiang Mai, Thailand and editor of P2P News, a monitor of P2P developments.]

these goodshare webpages resonate with similar intention to that which are embodied in the collected works and dialogue which michel continues to bring together under the ‘P2P banner’ but there is, as yet, a fundamental difference between most of the thinking reflected in P2P News and the P2P Foundation blog, and the writings here on www.goodshare.org .

what is missing in most of the writings on P2P in michel’s websites is ‘space’, and it is missing in the same manner discussed above in the ‘prologue’ to this (today’s) blog. The working definition of P2P is a spaceless definition rendered in terms of ‘what things do’, i.e.;

“Peer to peer is specifically the relational dynamic that arises in distributed networks. … It is a specific form of relational dynamic, is based on the assumed equipotency of its participants , organized through the free cooperation of equals in view of the performance of a common task, for the creation of a common good, with forms of decision-making and autonomy that are widely distributed throughout the network. … Cooperation must be free, not forced, … It exists to produce something. It enables the widest possible participation. … Whereas participants in hierarchical systems are subject to the panoptism of the select few who control the vast majority, in P2P systems, participants have access to holoptism, the ability for any participant to see the whole.â€?

what the writers are NOT talking about (generally speaking) is the cooperation of the ‘wildgeese’ and ‘exceptionally performing teams’ which, rather than emanating from the assertive actions of discrete participants, involves the manner in which the dynamical inhabitant-habitat balance is achieved (through attunement and sustaining harmony). that is, when one acknowledges that the dynamics of the inhabitant and the habitat dynamic are relative (rather than seeing the inhabitants as INDEPENDENT pieces of property whose actions push out from their self-centers driven by their ‘inner-purpose’) the way is opened for achieving the condition of ‘resonance’ in the inhabitant-habitat’ codynamic.

this is the cooperation of the wildgeese as they fly in their inverted ‘V’ formation and it involves their relationship with the space they are included in which coordinates their relationship with one another. cooperation which is pure logical cooperation amongst a multitude of ‘independent’ participant objects is ‘idealization’ that does not mesh with natural reality. it is the type of cooperation that could be engaged with by a group of people in the cart on the way to the guillotine. it attracts our eye but it is a highly incomplete representation of ‘what is really going on’.

both the control hierarchy organizational model and the ‘peer-to-peer’ model defined above are based on the highly unlikely (impossible, in fact) scenario where the organization operates in empty (euclidian) space. in reality, a diverse multitude of cooperative ventures are operating within a common hostspace. when ten cooperative ventures have to share a common space, they ‘interfere’ with one another; i.e. they move under one another’s simultaneous mutual influence. this ‘interference’ is spatial-relational and it sets up an accommodative backpressure that counters the actualizing of assertive potentials of the cooperative team/network (and/or the control hierarchy). what the cooperative team/network is actually achieving is mutually shaped by the accommodative backpressure of the hostspace it is operating in.

‘holoptism’ is not an option in the ‘real world’ wherein a diverse multiplicity of cooperative ventures are underway within a common, shared hostspace. a local ‘group activity’ within an ecosystem does not have a ‘holoptic view’ of the entire ecosystem (which, for example, have been shown to put sockeye salmon in interdependence with pacific coast rain forests via the connecting services of grizzly bears). the individual teams in nature let the actualizing of their assertive potentials be shaped by the accommodative backpressure of the hostspace dynamic they are included in, moving into a resonant condition which they then sustain in a standing wave ‘holding pattern’ (since resonances lowers the energy requirement)..

my aim is not to ‘put down’ the P2P initiative but rather to support it (by broadening it, so that it acknowledges the hostspace dynamic in which all ‘realworld’ (as opposed to rationally modeled) P2P initiatives must transpire within.)

in a nutshell, the thrust of the current thinking articulated in P2P News and the P2P Foundation blog is rational/causal (employing the logic of mutual exclusion) while the thrust of P2P in goodshare.org (and in ‘inclusionality’) is intuitive/inclusional (employing the logic of mutual inclusion).

(1.) in its simplest-because-idealized form, peer-to-peer cooperation is where multiple independent participants cooperate, without a management hierarchy, to bring about the achievement of an explicitly expressed common objective (a ‘common good’, ‘to produce something’.) .

(2.) a more complex and realistic form of peer-to-peer cooperation is where multiple participants working towards diverse objectives do so within a common operating space. (reminder: the simple definition of peer-to-peer cooperation in (1.) makes no mention of ‘space’ or ‘habitat’ and assumes that all that matters is what ‘inhabitants do’.). the ethic in friendly (cooperative) crowd/traffic dynamics ongoing within a common operating space (habitat) is where the ‘inhabitants’ subordinate their private agendas and put their (spatial-relational) movements in the service of sustaining a harmonious flow dynamic within the common operating space. in other words, the inhabitants attune to the dynamic of the common, shared hostspace (which as complex systems science informs us is beyond deduction from the dynamics of the individual inhabitants) and flex their internally source behaviours so as to sustain harmony in the inhabitant-habitat codynamic.

the more complex form of peer-to-peer (2.) includes the simple form of peer-to-peer (1.) as a (mathematically) degenerate case in the same way that the euclidian space of classical dynamics is included as a mathematically degenerate case in the more complex (non-euclidian) spherical space of relativity. another way of saying this is that the ‘suprasystem dynamic’ in which multiple teams in a common operating hostspace (‘habitat’) move under one another’s simultaneous mutual influence is what the individual team’s members ‘push off from’ and thus the motion is not absolute but relative to the hostspace dynamic (the inhabitant’s dynamics are relative to the habitat dynamic).

2 Comments Ted Lumley: a critique of P2P from the point of view of inclusionality

  1. Avatarjames

    ted’s commentary really got me thinking. It was great to rethink the p2p meme and others processes while remembering the contex of the ’empty’ space. It made me think of Francisco Varela’s discoveries and about how i work each and every day. It reminded me of when i work with people to listen and try to ‘stop’ from always rushing afte goals. I think i somehow do integrate this principle in my life…a good reminder to integrate this point into theoretical structures as well..muchas gracias

  2. Avatarted lumley

    james raises the issue of the need to integrate into our theoretical structures, this fact that when working within a common space where others like ourselves are pursuing their different objectives, our theory must address this apparent need to ‘give way’ for one another (relax our individual agendas) so as to sustain harmony in our shared operating space. as a precursor to this, we can revisit how this issue arose in physics and how we are dealing with it (we are not). this topic (how harmony is sustained amongst multiple ‘individual’ dynamical behaviours within dynamical collectives in nature)is explored at http://www.goodshare.org/blog.htm#james

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