Commons-based peer production (CBPP) is a term coined by Harvard Law School professor Yochai Benkler. It describes a new model of socioeconomic production in which large numbers of people work cooperatively (usually over the Internet). Commons-based projects generally have less rigid hierarchical structures than those under more traditional business models. Often—but not always—commons-based projects are designed without a need for financial compensation for contributors. For example, sharing of STL (file format) design files for objects freely on the internet enables anyone with a 3-D printer to digitally replicate (distributed manufacture) the object saving the prosumer significant money.
The term is often used interchangeably with the term social production.
Benkler contrasts commons-based peer production with firm production, in which tasks are delegated based on a central decision-making process, and market-based production, in which allocating different prices to different tasks serves as an incentive to anyone interested in performing a task.
Benkler first introduced the term in his 2002 paper "Coase's Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm", whose title refers to the Linux mascot and to Ronald Coase, who originated the transaction costs theory of the firm that provides the methodological template for the paper's analysis of peer production. The paper cites Eben Moglen as the originator of the concept.
In his book The Wealth of Networks (2006), Benkler significantly expands on his definition of commons-based peer production. According to Benkler, what distinguishes commons-based production is that it doesn't rely upon or propagate proprietary knowledge: "The inputs and outputs of the process are shared, freely or conditionally, in an institutional form that leaves them equally available for all to use as they choose at their individual discretion." To ensure that the knowledge generated is available for free use, commons-based projects are often shared under an open license.
Not all commons-based production necessarily qualifies as commons-based peer production. According to Benkler, peer production is defined not only by the openness of its outputs, but also by a decentralized, participant-driven working method of working.
Peer production enterprises have two primary advantages over traditional hierarchical approaches to production:
In Wikinomics, Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams suggest an incentive mechanism behind common-based peer production. "People participate in peer production communities," they write, "for a wide range of intrinsic and self-interested reasons....basically, people who participate in peer production communities love it. They feel passionate about their particular area of expertise and revel in creating something new or better."
Aaron Krowne offers another definition:
commons-based peer production refers to any coordinated, (chiefly) internet-based effort whereby volunteers contribute project components, and there exists some process to combine them to produce a unified intellectual work. CBPP covers many different types of intellectual output, from software to libraries of quantitative data to human-readable documents (manuals, books, encyclopedias, reviews, blogs, periodicals, and more).
First, the potential goals of peer production must be modular. In other words, objectives must be divisible into components, or modules, each of which can be independently produced. That allows participants to work asynchronously, without having to wait for each other's contributions or coordinate with each other in person.
Second, the granularity of the modules is essential. Granularity refers to the degree to which objects are broken down into smaller pieces (module size). Different levels of granularity will allow people with different levels of motivation to work together by contributing small or large grained modules, consistent with their level of interest in the project and their motivation.
Third, a successful peer-production enterprise must have low-cost integration—the mechanism by which the modules are integrated into a whole end product. Thus, integration must include both quality controls over the modules and a mechanism for integrating the contributions into the finished product at relatively low cost.
Examples of projects using commons-based peer production include:
Several outgrowths have been:
Interrelated concepts to Commons-based peer production are the processes of peer governance and peer property. To begin with, peer governance is a new mode of governance and bottom-up mode of participative decision-making that is being experimented in peer projects, such as Wikipedia and FLOSS; thus peer governance is the way that peer production, the process in which common value is produced, is managed. Peer Property indicates the innovative nature of legal forms such as the General Public License, the Creative Commons, etc. Whereas traditional forms of property are exclusionary ("if it is mine, it is not yours"), peer property forms are inclusionary. It is from all of us, i.e. also for you, provided you respect the basic rules laid out in the license, such as the openness of the source code for example.
The ease of entering and leaving an organization is a feature of adhocracies.
Some believe that the commons-based peer production (CBPP) vision, while powerful and groundbreaking, needs to be strengthened at its root because of some allegedly wrong assumptions concerning free and open-source software (FOSS).
The CBPP literature regularly and explicitly quotes FOSS products as examples of artifacts "emerging" by virtue of mere cooperation, with no need for supervising leadership (without "market signals or managerial commands", in Benkler’s words).
It can be argued, however, that in the development of any less than trivial piece of software, irrespective of whether it be FOSS or proprietary, a subset of the (many) participants always play—explicitly and deliberately—the role of leading system and subsystem designers, determining architecture and functionality, while most of the people work “underneath” them in a logical, functional sense.
The Harvard legal scholar Yochai Benkler has called this phenomenon 'commons-based peer production'.
“Anti-rival good” is a neologism suggested by Steven Weber. According to his definition, it is the opposite of a rival good. When more people share an anti-rival good, the more utility each person receives. Examples include software and other information goods created through the process of commons-based peer production.
An anti-rival good meets the test of a public good because it is non-excludable (freely available to all) and non-rival (consumption by one person does not reduce the amount available for others). However, it has the additional quality of being created by private individuals for common benefit without being motivated by pure altruism, because the individual contributor also receives benefits from the contributions of others.
An example is provided by Lawrence Lessig: "It's not just that code is non-rival; it's that code in particular, and (at least some) knowledge in general, is, as Weber calls it, 'anti-rival'. I am not only not harmed when you share an anti-rival good: I benefit."The production of anti-rival goods typically benefits from network effects. Leung (2006) quotes from Weber (2004), "Under conditions of anti-rivalness, as the size of the Internet-connected group increases, and there is a heterogeneous distribution of motivations with people who have a high level of interest and some resources to invest, then the large group is more likely, all things being equal, to provide the good than is a small group."Although this term is a neologism, this category of goods may be neither new nor specific to the Internet era. According to Lessig, English also meets the criteria, as any natural language is an anti-rival good. The term also invokes reciprocity and the concept of a gift economy.Collaboration
Collaboration is the process of two or more people or organizations working together to complete a task or achieve a goal. Collaboration is similar to cooperation. Most collaboration requires leadership, although the form of leadership can be social within a decentralized and egalitarian group. Teams that work collaboratively often access greater resources, recognition and rewards when facing competition for finite resources.Structured methods of collaboration encourage introspection of behavior and communication. Such methods aim to increase the success of teams as they engage in collaborative problem-solving.
Collaboration is present in opposing goals exhibiting the notion of adversarial collaboration, though this is not a common use of the term.
In its applied sense,"(a) collaboration is a purposeful relationship in which all parties strategically choose to cooperate in order to accomplish a shared outcome."Distributed manufacturing
Distributed manufacturing also known as distributed production, cloud producing and local manufacturing is a form of decentralized manufacturing practiced by enterprises using a network of geographically dispersed manufacturing facilities that are coordinated using information technology. It can also refer to local manufacture via the historic cottage industry model, or manufacturing that takes place in the homes of consumers.HowlRound
HowlRound is a non-profit service organization based out of Emerson College’s Office of the Arts. Its aim is to support developing theatre practitioners and facilitating dialogue within not-for-profit theatre and performance arts field. Like Wikipedia, their platforms use commons-based peer production as their content methodology.Mayo Fuster Morell
Mayo Fuster Morell (born 1975, Oliva (Valencia)) is a social researcher. Her research has focused on sharing economy, social movements, online communities and digital Commons, frequently using participatory action research and method triangulation. She has been part of the most important research centres studying Internet and its social effects, including the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, the MIT Center for Civic Media or the Berkeley School of Information. As an active citizen, she is the co-founder of multiple initiatives around digital Commons and Free Culture, such as the Procomuns Forum on collaborative economy.Mutualization
Mutualization or mutualisation is the process by which a joint stock company changes legal form to a mutual organization or a cooperative, so that the majority of the stock is owned by employees or customers. Demutualization or privatization is the reverse process.Neomercantilism
Neomercantilism is a policy regime that encourages exports, discourages imports, controls capital movement, and centralizes currency decisions in the hands of a central government. The objective of neo-mercantilist policies is to increase the level of foreign reserves held by the government, allowing more effective monetary policy and fiscal policy.Open admissions
Open admissions, or open enrollment, is a type of unselective and noncompetitive college admissions process in the United States in which the only criterion for entrance is a high school diploma or a certificate of attendance or General Educational Development (GED) certificate.Open collaboration
Open collaboration is "any system of innovation or production that relies on goal-oriented yet loosely coordinated participants who interact to create a product (or service) of economic value, which they make available to contributors and noncontributors alike." It is prominently observed in open source software, but can also be found in many other instances, such as in Internet forums, mailing lists and online communities. Open collaboration is also thought to be the operating principle underlining a gamut of diverse ventures, including bitcoin, TEDx, and Wikipedia.Open collaboration is the principle underlying peer production, mass collaboration, and wikinomics. It was observed initially in open source software, but can also be found in many other instances, such as in Internet forums, mailing lists, Internet communities, and many instances of open content, such as creative commons. It also explains some instances of crowdsourcing, collaborative consumption, and open innovation.Riehle et al. define open collaboration as collaboration based on three principles of egalitarianism, meritocracy, and self-organization. Levine and Prietula define open collaboration as "any system of innovation or production that relies on goal-oriented yet loosely coordinated participants who interact to create a product (or service) of economic value, which they make available to contributors and noncontributors alike." This definition captures multiple instances, all joined by similar principles. For example, all of the elements — goods of economic value, open access to contribute and consume, interaction and exchange, purposeful yet loosely coordinated work — are present in an open source software project, in Wikipedia, or in a user forum or community. They can also be present in a commercial website that is based on user-generated content. In all of these instances of open collaboration, anyone can contribute and anyone can freely partake in the fruits of sharing, which are produced by interacting participants who are loosely coordinated.
An annual conference dedicated to the research and practice of open collaboration is the International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration (OpenSym, formerly WikiSym). As per its website, the group defines open collaboration as "collaboration that is egalitarian (everyone can join, no principled or artificial barriers to participation exist), meritocratic (decisions and status are merit-based rather than imposed) and self-organizing (processes adapt to people rather than people adapt to pre-defined processes)."Open university
An open university is a university with an open-door academic policy, with minimal or no entry requirements. Open universities may employ specific teaching methods, such as open supported learning or distance education. However, not all open universities focus on distance education, nor do distance-education universities necessarily have open admission policies.P2P Foundation
P2P Foundation: The Foundation for Peer to Peer Alternatives is an organization with the aim of studying the impact of peer to peer technology and thought on society. It was founded by Michel Bauwens, James Burke and Brice Le Blévennec.The P2P Foundation is a registered institute founded in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its local registered name is: Stichting Peer to Peer Alternatives, dossier nr: 34264847.Peer production
Peer production (also known as mass collaboration) is a way of producing goods and services that relies on self-organizing communities of individuals. In such communities, the labor of a large number of people is coordinated towards a shared outcome.Post-industrial economy
A post-industrial economy refers to a period of growth within an industrialized economy or nation in which the relative importance of manufacturing reduces and that of services, information, and research grows.
Such economies are often marked by:
A declining manufacturing sector, resulting in de-industrialization.
A large service sector.
An increase in the amount of information technology, often leading to an "information age". Information, knowledge, and creativity are the new raw materials of such an economy.The industry aspect of a post-industrial economy is sent into less developed nations which manufacture what is needed at lower costs (see outsourcing). This occurrence is typical of nations that industrialized in the past such as the United Kingdom (first industrialised nation), most of Western Europe and the United States.Prosumer
A prosumer is a person who consumes and produces a product. It is derived from "prosumption", a dot-com era business term meaning "production by consumers". These terms were coined in 1980 by American futurist Alvin Toffler, and were widely used by many technology writers of the time. Today it generally refers to a person using commons-based peer production.
"Prosumer" is also a trade term, used from a business perspective, for high-end electronic devices (such as digital cameras), meaning a price point between "professional" and "consumer" devices.SHARE (computing)
SHARE Inc. is a volunteer-run user group for IBM mainframe computers that was founded in 1955 by Los Angeles-area users of the IBM 701 computer system. It evolved into a forum for exchanging technical information about programming languages, operating systems, database systems, and user experiences for enterprise users of small, medium, and large-scale IBM computers such as IBM S/360, IBM S/370, zSeries, pSeries, and xSeries. Despite the capitalization of all letters in the name, the official website says "SHARE is not an acronym; it's what we do."A major resource of SHARE from the beginning was the SHARE library. Originally, IBM distributed its operating systems in source form
and systems programmers commonly made small local additions or modifications and exchanged them with other users. The SHARE library and the process of distributed development it fostered was one of the major origins of open source software.In 1959 SHARE released the SHARE Operating System (SOS), originally for the IBM 709 computer, later ported to the IBM 7090. SOS was one of the first instances of "commons-based peer production" now widely used in the development of free and open-source software such as Linux and the GNU project. In 1963 SHARE participated with IBM in the development of the PL/I programming language as part of the "3x3" group.
SHARE later incorporated as a non-profit corporation based in Chicago, Illinois and as of 2013 is located at 330 N. Wabash Ave. The organization produces a newsletter and conducts two major educational meetings per year.
In September 1999, GUIDE International, the other major IBM mainframe users group, ceased operation. Although SHARE did not formally take over GUIDE in the United States, many of the activities and projects that were undertaken under the aegis of GUIDE moved to SHARE, and GUIDE suggested to its members that they join SHARE. In August 2000, SHARE took over the guide.org domain name.
In 2005 SHARE's membership of 20,000 represented some 2,300 enterprise IBM customers.Sensorica
SENSORICA is an open value network (OVN), dedicated to open source hardware development. It was a pilot project for commons-based peer production applied to hardware, designed to operate at large scale. It was established in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in February 2011.
SENSORICA uses the Resources, events, agents (accounting model) as a basis of its network resource planning and contribution / value accounting system (NRP-VAS).The advent of blockchain technology and Ethereum facilitates the OVN model proposed by SENSORICA.It is featured in the documentary movie.Social ownership
Social ownership is any of various forms of ownership for the means of production in socialist economic systems, encompassing public ownership, employee ownership, cooperative ownership, citizen ownership of equity, common ownership and collective ownership. Historically social ownership implied that capital and factor markets would cease to exist under the assumption that market exchanges within the production process would be made redundant if capital goods were owned by a single entity or network of entities representing society, but the articulation of models of market socialism where factor markets are utilized for allocating capital goods between socially owned enterprises broadened the definition to include autonomous entities within a market economy. Social ownership of the means of production is the common defining characteristic of all the various forms of socialism.The two major forms of social ownership are society-wide public ownership and cooperative ownership. The distinction between these two forms lies in the distribution of the surplus product. With society-wide public ownership, the surplus is distributed to all members of the public through a social dividend, whereas with co-operative ownership the economic surplus of an enterprise is controlled by all the worker-members of that specific enterprise.The goal of social ownership is to eliminate the distinction between the class of private owners who are the recipients of passive property income and workers who are the recipients of labor income (wages, salaries and commissions), so that the surplus product (or economic profits in the case of market socialism) belong either to society as a whole or to the members of a given enterprise. Social ownership would enable productivity gains from labor automation to progressively reduce the average length of the working day instead of creating job insecurity and unemployment. Reduction of necessary work time is central to the Marxist concept of human freedom and overcoming alienation, a concept widely shared by Marxist and non-Marxist socialists alike.The term "socialization" refers to the process of restructuring the economic framework, organizational structure and institutions of an economy on a socialist basis. The comprehensive notion of socialization and the public ownership form of social ownership implies an end to the operation of the laws of capitalism, capital accumulation and the use of money and financial valuation in the production process, along with a restructuring of workplace-level organization.Social peer-to-peer processes
Social peer-to-peer processes are interactions with a peer-to-peer dynamic. These peers can be humans or computers. Peer-to-peer (P2P) is a term that originated from the popular concept of the P2P distributed computer application architecture which partitions tasks or workloads between peers. This application structure was popularized by file sharing systems like Napster, the first of its kind in the late 1990s.
The concept has inspired new structures and philosophies in many areas of human interaction. P2P human dynamic affords a critical look at current authoritarian and centralized social structures. Peer-to-peer is also a political and social program for those who believe that in many cases, peer-to-peer modes are a preferable option.Yochai Benkler
Yochai Benkler (born 1964) is an Israeli-American author and the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School. He is also a faculty co-director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.
Intellectual property activism