p2p and human evolution
Michel sharing (on his bday 2017):
RT @asimong: I’ve just reformatted “P2P and Human Evolution” by mbauwens from 2005. Now more rewarding to read!
so i’m reading/adding..
The following essay describes the emergence, or expansion, of a specific type of relational dynamic, which I call peer to peer. It’s a form of human network-based organisation which rests upon the free participation of equipotent partners, engaged in the production of common resources, without recourse to monetary compensation as key motivating factor, and not organized according to hierarchical methods of command and control. It creates a Commons, rather than a market or a state, and relies on social relations to allocate resources rather than on pricing mechanisms or managerial commands.
The common format in which the peer to peer dynamic emerges is the format of the “distributed network”, which, according to the defintion of A. Galloway in his book Protocol, differs both from the centralized network (all nodes have to pass through one single hub), and from the decentralized network (all nodes have to pass through hubs). In a distributed network the nodes, as autonomous agents, can connect through any number of links. Hubs may exist, but are not obligatory.
not in the sense of an inevitable natural evolution, but as an intentional moral breakthrough
2\P2P as the Technological Framework of Cognitive Capitalism
2.1.A. Defining P2P as the relational dynamic of distributed networks
P2P processes are not *structureless, but are characterized by dynamic and changing structures which **adapt themselves to phase changes. It rules are not derived from an external authority, as in hierarchical systems, but generated from within.. It ***does not deny ‘authority’, but only fixed forced hierarchy, and therefore accepts authority based on expertise, initiation of the project, etc… P2P may be the first true ****meritocracy. The threshold for participation is kept as low as possible. Equipotency means that there is ****no prior formal filtering for participation, but rather that it is the immediate practice of cooperation which determines the expertise and level of participation.
***art ist bot ist ness
****ugh – careful – meritocracy ness
Whereas hierarchical systems are based on creating homogeneity amongst its ‘dependent’ members, distributed networks using the P2P dynamic regulate the ‘interdependent‘ participants preserving heterogeneity. …Culturally, P2P is about unity-in-diversity
Though P2P is related to earlier social modes, those were most in evidence in the early tribal era, and it now emerges in an entirely new context, enabled by technologies that go beyond the barriers of time and space.
2.1.B. The emergence of peer to peer as technological infrastructure
This relationship is borne out by our description of the use of P2P technologies to create an alternative peer-based communications infrastructure (2.1.C), as well as for an infrastructure of human cooperation (2.1.D.).
Filesharing systems were the first to be explicitly tagged with the P2P label, and this is probably the origin of the concept in the world of technology…..Finally, grid computing uses the P2P concept to create ‘participative supercomputers’, where resources, spaces, computing cycles can be used from any participant in the system, on the basis of need. I
2.1.C. The construction of an alternative media infrastructure
Mackenzie Wark, in his Hacker Manifesto, distinguishes the producers of immaterial use value, from the owners of the vectors of information, without whom no exchange value can be realized. The promise of the internet is that we now have a vector of information production, distribution and exchange, that functions at least partly outside of the control of what he calls the ‘vectoralist’ class.
The situation seems to be the following, and we use the distinctions drawn up by Yochai Benkler in his “The Political Economy of the Commons” essay. The physical layer, networks, and communication lines, are widely distributed between commercial, state, and academic interests, with no single player or set of players dominating, and the computers themselves are widely in the hands of the public and civil society.
These developments are a new vehicle for the production of ‘public opinion’, for the creation, expression, distribution and sharing of knowledge. And it is both supplementing and competing with the traditional mass media vehicles that used to mold public opinion. It represents an important opportunity to distribute views that fall outside the purview of ‘manufactured consent’. Clay Shirky has called it a ‘process of mass amateurisation’, an analysis that is related to my own concept of ‘de-institutionalisation’, a key aspect of peer to peer process which I discuss in 3.3.C.
All this outpouring of expression, news and commentary is interlinked in a blogosphere, which has developed its own techniques to distill what is important, from what is less important.
or not.. that’s what i think tech is for.. a no-agenda/judgement listening.. all/nothing is important.. what’s important is making connections via individual/daily curiosities… less decision making.. as in meetings/votings.. and more doings/beings..
David Weinberger, focusing on the role of the blog for the individual, says it is ‘an expression of ‘the self in conversation’,
that is available as a *permanent record …For Yochai Benkler,the development of a “Open physical layer” based on open wireless networks, the so-called Spectrum Commons, is a key precondition for the existence of a “Core Common Infrastructure“.
rather.. that is available for *ongoing dancing
What needs to be built is:
- a meshwork of netcasting transmitters, as proposed by Mark Pesce
- user-friendly desktop software, to manage content (Pesce’s Open Tuner proposal)
- better social mechanisms to select quality into such an alternative framework
2.1.D. P2P as a global platform for autonomous cooperation
But is also emerging as much more than that: as a whole set of enabling technologies that allow global affinity groups to work and create value together on a autonomous basis.
Friends-of-a-friend software is a fast growing segment. These type of software is often coupled to ‘presencing’ software which allow you to know, who is also visiting your webpage, whom of your friends is available for instant messaging, and mobile proximity alert services which tell you if one of your associates is close by, by using ‘geo-location’ services such as GPS (Global Positioning Systems).
so we go deeper.. using all the above .. but only agenda is: shortening gap between intention/curiosity and action/connections .. everyday.. ie: 1\ individual self-talks curiosity by 9am 2\ gets message of potential kins/affinity/tribe people locally by 11 3\ quick meetup just to see
Howard Rheingold has also distilled seven recommendations to anyone thinking of launching technology-enabled cooperative ventures:
*3\learn how to tap invisible resources
2.2. Explaining the Emergence of P2P technology
Expertise comes out of a precise combination of experience, which is unpredictable in advance. Thus, systems are needed that allow expertise to unexpectedly announce itself, when it learns that it is needed. This is precisely what P2P systems allow to an unprecendented degree. Conclusion: P2P is ‘enabling
2.3.A. Placing P2P in the context of the evolution of technology
2.3.B. P2P and Technological Determinism
Efficiency and productivity thinking has taken over the sphere of intimacy. …Think of paid-for online dating, as a symptom of the loss of skill in dating, as one example.
did we ever have it..? marriage ing and soul mate ness et al
Technological determinism can also have a optimistic reading. In this view, for example represented by the progress ideology of the late 19th century, and currently by the technological transhumanists, such as Kurzweil (Kurzweil, 2000), technology represents an increasing mastery and control over nature, a means of going beyond the limitations set to us by nature, and, for this type of interpretation, that is *an entirely good thing.
The position I personally feel the closest to is the ‘critical philosophy of technology’ developed by Andrew Feenberg (Feenberg, 1991, 1999). In his analysis, technological artifacts are a social construction, reflecting the various social interests: those of capital, those of the engineering community conceiving it, but also, those of the critical voices within that community, and of the ‘consumers’ subverting the original aims of technology for entirely unforeseen usages.
cool.. but i think we need a pause/do-over/reset.. so everyone can legit decide for themselves what matters.. ongoingly.. ie: if honest/clear (ie: realizing money is made up .. yet we treat it as a god given os.. bow to it.. et al).. how many would choose capital/consumer ness..
..rather the opposite, the technology reflects a new way of being and feeling, which we will discuss in section 6A in particular. This position is a version of that put forward by Cornelis Castoriadis in his “L’Institution Imaginaire de la Societe”. Society is not just a physical arrangement, or a rational-functional arrangement, but everything is experienced symbolically and reflects a meaning that cannot be reduced to the real or the rational. It is the product of a ‘radical social imaginary’. And this imaginary though rooted in the past (through the symbolic meaning of institutions), is nevertheless a constitutive creation of mankind.
What we now have for the first time is a densely interconnected network of affinity-based P2P networks. Thus, the technological format that is now becoming dominant is an essential part of a new feedback loop, which strengthens the emergence of P2P to a degree not seen since the demise of tribal civilization. It is in this particular way that the current forms of P2P are *a historical novelty, and not simply a repeat of the tolerated forms of egalitarian participation in essentially hierarchical and authoritarian social orders.
eagle and condor ness
Technology philosophers such as Marshall McLuhan (McLuhan, 1994) and others, have pointed out that technology is an ‘extension of our bodies’, or more precisely of the faculties of our bodies and minds. In a simplified way: tribal-era technologies, such as spears and arrows, reflect the extremities of our limbs, the nails and fingers. Agricultural era technologies reflect the extension of our muscular system and the limbs proper: arms and legs. Industrial era technologies reflect our central body and its internal metabolic functions: the transformation of raw materials into more refined products that can be used by our body. … But the information economy era is characterized by the externalization of our nervous system (telephone and telegraph) and our minds (computers), with a logic of first one-to-one communication technologies, then many to one (mass media), and finally with the internet and computer networks: many to many.
According to system theorists, complex systems cannot themselves control their increasing number of ever-more efficient subunits, unless by granting them ever more increasing functional autonomy. The larger system controls whether a subunit has carried a task, but no longer how it is carried out. Thus his law of ‘requisite hierarchy’ which states that the need for hierarchy diminishes in so far as the subunits increase their own capacity for control.
In much simpler terms, let us then conclude that the development of information-processing capabilities has liberated cooperation from the constraints of time and space. Thus, while accepting the argument that P2P processes have always existed, but confined to small bands (or, it eventually emerged for very short periods in revolutionary situations only to be defeated by their then still more efficient authoritarian and centralized enemies), it is indeed ‘only now’, that such massive emergence of P2P is possible. We must thus inevitably conclude that technology IS a very important factor in this generalized emergence.
indeed.. couldn’t happen w/o mech to facil chaos of 7 bn curiosities.. everyday..
3. P2P in the Economic Sphere
3.1.A. Peer production as a third mode of production and new commons-based property regime
3.1.B. The Communism of Capital, or, the cooperative nature of cognitive capitalism
However, we believe that though the cognitive capitalism and vectoralist class arguments are key to understand the current era, it is not sufficient, and we will put forward our own hypothesis that will help in understand the emerging future: the emergence of a netarchical class, which is not dependent on either knowledge assets or information vectors, but enables and exploits the networks of participatory culture.
3.1.C. The Hacker Ethic or ‘work as play’
3.2 Explaining the Emergence of P2P Economics
3.2.A. Advantages of the free software/open sources production model
Eric Raymond has summarized the advantages of peer production in his seminal The Cathedral and the Bazaar:
- programmers motivated by real problems work better than salarymen who do not freely choose their area of work;
- “good programmers can write, but great programmers can rewrite”, the latter is greatly accelerated by the availability of open code;
- more users can see more bugs, the number of collaborators and available brainpower is several orders of magnitude greater;
- continuous multiple corrections hasten development, while version control permits falling back on earlier versions in case of instability of the new version;
- the internet allowed global cooperation to occur.
3.2.B. How far can peer production be extended?
Yochai Benkler, who has focused his explanations of its success to the dramatic lowering of transactions costs, squarely places peer production within the limits of immaterial production, but doesn’t see an expansion beyond that, explicitly stating that it will not endanger capitalist markets. I take a much more expansive view, because of the ‘transcending’ factors that I have mentioned repeatedly, and because I believe that human intentionality in favour of participation, will pressure social structures into an expansion of the sphere of peer production. But I do agree that there are limits to this expansion. How can we view such a possibility?
In fact, there are various initiatives aimed at creating the possibility of a *non-scarcity based monetary system, based on either general reform of the ‘protocol’ of money, or on bottom-up systems of complementary currency systems. The most radical proposals involve P2P-based ‘open money’ systems. One of the historical precedents showing that **such reform is not utopian is the existence of ‘brakteaten’ money in Europe between the 12th and 15th centuries, a period of sustained growth within a system on non-accumulable money .
*scarcity isn’t the trouble with money.. it’s that it’s a mech to measure things that . . i’m thinking.. shouldn’t be measured.. ie: transactions.. value..
**also not beneficial to a human be ing ness
An important aspect of any transitional period between the present limits on peer production and a possible future expansion, would be the introduction of the basic income.
totally agree.. but see it as a very temp placebo..
But peer production is not a cure-all and will continue to co-exist with other modes of production. In our opinion, it should co-exist within the context of a reformed market, an expansion of reciprocity-based gift economy practices, and a state form that has integrated new forms of peer governance and multistakeholdership.
Even within the sphere of abundant information and knowledge, continued expansion of P2P is not guaranteed. As McKenzie Wark (Wark, 2004) explains, information might be abundant, but in order for it to be accessed and distributed, we need vectors, i.e. the means of production and distribution of information. And these are not in the hands of the producers themselves, but in the hands of a vectoral class. Use value cannot be transformed into *exchange value, without their intervention.
At the same time, through intellectual property laws, this vectoral class is in the process of trying to make information scarce. For Wark, the key issue is the property form, as it is the property form, and nothing else, which renders resources scarce. However, the natural abundance of information, the peer to peer nature of vectors such as the internet, makes this a particularly hard task for the vectoral class. Unlike the working class in industrial capitalism, knowledge workers can resist and create to numerous interstices, which is where true P2P is thriving. Their natural task is to extend free access to information, to have a commons of vectoral resources; while the natural task of the vectoral class, is to control the vectors, and change the information commons into tightly controlled properties. But at the same time, the vectoral class needs the knowledge workers (or the hacker class, as McKenzie Wark puts it), to produce innovation, and in the present regime, in many cases, the knowledge workers need the vectors to distribute its work. In our own related hypothesis of the emergence of a netarchical class, which enables and exploits the networks of participatory culture, i.e. the needed platforms for collaboration, a similar tension occurs, since for-profit companies will tend to want to achieve dominance and monopoly and rig the platforms in their favor.
3.3 Placing the P2P Era in an evolutionary framework
‘historicise’ the emergence of peer to peer, to place it into an examination of different social formations
3.3.A. The evolution of cooperation: from neutrality to synergetics
- forced cooperation yields very low quality contributions;
- the neutral cooperation format of the marketplace generates average quality contributions;
- but freely given synergistic cooperation generates passion.
Participants are automatically drawn to what they do best, at the moments at which they are most passionate and energetic about it. This is one of the fundamental reasons of the superior quality which is eventually, over time, created through open source projects.
3.3.B. The Evolution of Collective Intelligence
1\first stage is the ‘original collective intelligence’, which can only exist in small groups,
2\second stage is the stage of pyramidal intelligence.
3\third form of collective intelligence is swarming
4\fourth level of collective intelligence is emerging, which Noubel calls ‘global collective intelligence
3.3.C. Beyond Formalization, Institutionalization, Commodification