Video: “Infrastructure, Communities and Corporations: Is There a Middle Way Between Open and Closed?”

Michel Bauwens is the Founder of the P2P Foundation. He presents a 30 minute keynote entitled “Infrastructure, Communities and Corporations: is There a Middle Way Between Open and Closed?” at the Emerging Communications (eComm) conference held in Mountain View, California, on Friday 14th March 2008. Telecom operators take note!

1 Comment Video: “Infrastructure, Communities and Corporations: Is There a Middle Way Between Open and Closed?”

  1. AvatarPatrick Anderson

    Michel says there is a “crisis of value” because “use value” is being created, but cannot be ‘captured’ by the original investors.

    But this analysis misses one case where the community itself can be organized to fund that production. In that case, the only expected return for that investment is product. Keeping price above cost through scarcity (profit) is then not a requirement, and in fact only has meaning for new users that are not yet part-owners in the physical sources of that venture.

    This explains the one of the reasons Free Software developers choose to do work (a form of investment) without apparent pay. These produsers are being paid. They are being paid in product. They do it for “use value” alone. This has been called “scratching their own itch” by others (I think Eric Raymond said this once for instance).

    So there is no crisis, we don’t need to keep production partially closed, and scarcity can be fully eliminated if the community of users are the investors and owners of the means of that production.

    Now, making a small community that owns the capital is possible, but as that community grows by allowing new non-owning users to participate, there is a possibility for this special case to be disrupted if the originating owners do not somehow distribute the new property that is purchased during that growth. If the originators choose to retain ownership of that which was purchased as a result of the need for growth as indicated by new users attempting access, then they become standard capitalists who will seek profit through scarcity.

    But it is possible for such a community to scale to any size (and to split whenever there is internal strife) by treating any amount a new user pays above cost (profit) as an investment from and for the very user that paid it. By doing this, the ownership is self-balancing while both profit and the drive for scarcity approach zero.

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