My encounter with Franz Nahrada’s work on Global Villages, with quintessential nomad Dante, and the reading of this most interesting review of the neonomad meme by Thomas Jankowski (which I recommend reading in full), is leading me to the conclusion that the P2P Foundation itself is actually an instantiation of a neonomad structure.
Neonomadism refers to the ability to work ‘on the move’, without direct linkage to a fixed office. There is many partial neonomadism around, but full neonomadism, while temporarily possible on the individual level, would seem impossible for any collective structure.
But please think again.
The P2P Foundation undoubtedly produces use value, in the value of documentation that has been visited by more than 150,000 people, who downloaded more than one and a half million pages in about a year. And that’s just the wiki, which contains at least 3,000 pages of documentation, representing the collective intelligence of a large number of people.
All this is produced without a fixed office or headquarters, though I suppose that most people in our collective have their home office. Nevertheless, there is no ‘there’ in terms of headquarters. Our volunteers are located in at least four continents.
While most are living from their own arrangements and projects, I am myself an example of a business model which has been created through the creation of a commons. I am (almost, we are very close) living from global lectures, based on invitations from people which have never seen me face to face, but trust the global brand and quality material we have collated, which they see as a sign of expertise. Most of the time it works like this: an institution sends a fairly well-paid invitation, which funds the speaking fee, the travel, and the lodging. The network is them mobilized with the message, “hi guys, I’m coming to your neigborhood’. Usually within ten days, this results in an additional half a dozen invitations, which makes the trip sustainable, and a means of living. In just one academic year, I will have undertaken 6 trips of about 20 days, one every other month. Even when I’m on the move, as I’m now, writing from Sydney, there is actually hardly a dip in our production on the blog and wiki, partially because the collective takes over, partly because with a laptop, and wireless connections, it is increasingly possible to produce at any time, from anywhere.
Note that all of this has been achieved in just over one year of online presence, through virtual branding through networks, with zero advertizing and marketing budgets, just consistent efforts to create quality content. Even in such a short time, a ‘brand’ has been created, which results in real life physical effects and some kind of (minor, but real) global influence.
We are of course not making any physical products, but nevertheless, it proves that it can be done. What do you think?