The Peer Production of Public Policy

A new p2p-research project by Matt Cooperrider.


I’ve recently been exploring how peer production methods can be used to build smarter public policy. One benefit of this approach is that the community that drafted the policy would then become a political force urging its passage. Such a scenario might provide a means to counteract the often damaging influence of corporate special interest.

My first question, then, is how do we create an environment in which peer production of public policy can occur successfully? I find the following excerpt informative. It is taken from a Cooperation Commons summary of a work by Elinor Ostrom and Nives Dolsak called “Governing the Commons in the New Millennium“:

Resource users will devise new institutions for managing [a] resource or change existing rules governing its use when the perceived benefits of the change in the rules exceed the costs associated with creating the rules and with the change of the resource use pattern.

I suspect that peer production methods and appropriate web tools can help to lower the cost of such institution-devising and rule-changing. This in turn would increase the pace of institutional innovation, at a time when new rules and institutions for commons governance are desperately needed.

In order to move this research forward, I’ve created a wiki page at:

I hope that the work being done in this area is greater than what I’ve been able to uncover so far. If you have anything to contribute, please edit the page or make a suggestion in the comments.

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