The Internet enables like-mindedÂ people to find each other and work together. I started this blogÂ toÂ begin to understand howÂ this abilityÂ to form ad-hoc teamsÂ information-sharing teamsÂ wasÂ revolutionizingÂ media.
Now in anÂ essay titled,Â “The Political Economy of Peer Production,”Â Michel Bauwens takes the revolutionary potential of the Web to aÂ UtopianÂ extreme.Â Bauwens, a European authorÂ teaching in Thailand,Â argues that peer-to-peer production systems –Â like Linux and WikipediaÂ –Â allow many people, each owning their own means of digital production, to share labor and cooperate.Â He linked thatÂ idea toÂ aÂ school of thoughÂ called “cognitive capitalism.” As I understand it, cognitive capitalists think the wealth gained through technology belongsÂ not to individuals or corporationsÂ but to “knowledge workers”Â as a class. Or rather to the entire society that supports these pampered smarties.Â So instead of makingÂ Bill Gates orÂ fill-in-the-blanks rich, wealth should be poured into a common pot and redistributedÂ as a “universal basic income.”
Bauwens openedÂ his essay thus:
” Not since Marx identified the manufacturing plants of Manchester as the blueprint for the new capitalist society has there been a deeper transformation of the fundamentals of our social lifeÂ . . .Â a new human dynamic is emerging: peer to peer (P2P). As P2P gives rise to the emergence of a third mode of production, a third mode of governance, and a third mode of property, it is poised to overhaul our political economy in unprecedented ways.”
That’s a mouthful of a statement and a departure from the business-as-usual of this blog, but a statement that bold demands to be considered. It took about 30 minutes to read the essay last night on my train ride home, and was loaded with idealistic, often unrealistic and yet provocative notions such as:
“At a time when the very success of the capitalist mode of production endangers the biosphere . . . this still nascent P2P movement, (which includes the Free Software and Open Source movement, the open access movement, the free culture movement and others) which echoes the means of organization and aims of the alter-globalization movement, is fast becoming the equivalent of the socialist movement in the industrial age.”
To further explore these thoughts visit Integral Visioneering, which appears to beÂ the e-newsletter of the P2P utopians.
* * *
Meanwhile it appears that the intermediate P2P idealists, as exemplified by the WikiaÂ posse surroundingÂ Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, are moving into media production.Â In anÂ articleÂ for Red Herring, Jennifer L. Schenker writes from Paris about OpenServing.com, the new P2P newsÂ site being organized by Wikia CEO Gil Penchina.
“Open Serving will give authors free, managed hosting space, a collaborative news blog, customer support and let them keep all revenue from adverts placed on their site, Mr. Penchina said. He said he had no idea how Open Serving would make money from the project. But, by creating the platform for a whole generation of new types of zines based on open source software and open content he figures Open Serving will become an on-line publishing powerhouse.”
Schenker’s piece offers a taste of Web 2.0 hype ala Europe.
* * *
In a final P2P note, leÂ me also brieflyÂ reference this MediaPost articleÂ that calledÂ the Venice ProjectÂ “a new model for cost-effective distribution of video and a new platform and business model for content producers–both big and small–to monetize their creations.”Â