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Re: [jox] Critical Studies in Peer production or Critical Studies in Commons Production?

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[posted on behalf of MB who bounced again - M]

Dear Mathieu,

At the P2P Foundation and in my own writing, I have persistently defined
peer production as including at least three aspects:

- access to free and open raw material and permissionless contribution in
the input phase

- participatory governance in the process of production

- commons oriented output

However, I still believe this can be done in a capitalist context as well
... i.e. Linux is a good example, it has elements of the three, yet is
embedded in market activities ...

I think here Dmytri Kleiner's observation of the necesary of common stock,
and keeping surplus value inside the process, is vital, and what you get is
a polarity between emancipation/domination, immanent/transcendence vis a
capitalism, augmenting the circulation of capital vs augmenting the
circulation of the commons ...

I personally strongly believe these are polarities not absolutes and that
zero sum distinctions are not always operative ..

THe important thing is to have a point of view which alllows you to
distinguish these polarities. Change to commons production would not solve
these contracdictions (and please note benkler always used commons-based
peer production as his concept)

Now as an advocacy journal, you could stress the emancipatory aspects, but
as a academic journal, you have to honour and study  both polarities and I
think this project is the latter.

I am for keeping the current name, but stressing our interests in analysing
these polarities in the explanatory statement of our journal,


On 08/24/11, Athina Karatzogianni  <athina.k> wrote:
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Hi Everyone

I have been off the gird for a while this summer, so apologies for not
participating at my normal level.
First of all, I found Mathieu's efforts brilliant in relation to summing up
and demonstrating some of the work produced for the journal.
I am aware that many others have worked toward reviewing and maintaing the
site, as well as processing the various special issues.
These type of activities deserve our thanks and gratitude.

As this is an experimental journal and we learn as we go alone, the debates
generated in the last couple of years or so point to an admittedly slow but
nevertheless crystallising consensus of that what the journal is about both
in terms of internal governance and process, as for many who have joined
this effort find this is of critical importance, but also about content
which is what is externally consumed more and there considerable work has
been done to ensure
fairness and trasnparency to the colleagues who submit to us, to reviewers
and potential readers.

What I would propose at this point is that perhaps more *incentive is given
to individuals to participate even more actively to boost up production of
content and turn out, as well as a faster resolution on issues which are of
a more administrative nature*, such s names and indexing and so forth. A way
to do this I believe is to have a meeting of the core individuals at some
point online even this year which of course will be open to everyone who
would like to get involved more closely with the project and the journal.

A second issue is *visibility *of the journal, and here I believe we should
look into linking beyond the usual internet studies specialists to other
journals and sites which look into more broad issues of political economy,
governance, politics, organizational studies, business psychology and invite
academics from varied backgrounds to contribute to the discussions. The
criteria to join the SCcommittee in my opinion would be based on merit in
relation to the area, but also willingness to actively participate in the
production of the journal. A broader mix of individuals could forge a
special issue on the broader context within which peer production finds
itself currently for instance. Reaching out to more broader areas would mean
we would have *larger participation, more hands on dock, a broader
readership, and many mroe connections which would raise the visibility of
what we do and also more importantly raise quality of output for the
journal, so it becomes more relevant and recognised as such contributing to
the overall debates as they unravel presently.*

On the micro-physics of everyday running of the journal, I believe that to a
certain extent *some small decisions need to be taken much faster by the
core,* unless there is a feeling that the issue has a merit to be discussed
throughly on the list. This would indeed save us time and would avoid task
and process related relentless back and forth, which has in the past delayed
considerably the production process. Not to say that some of the debates
haven't made the focus clear, but at times I am of the opinion that we could
have been all spared of smaller issues relating to maintenance and the
politics of semiotics and so on.

The current environment in academia, at least in the UK where I am based is
in a remarkably difficult state, as some of you may know. Academics do have
unfortunately focus their activities on publishing in high-impact
publications at this point for the forthcoming Research Exercise Framework
and this consideration might turn into a low-interest in activities such as
these. Our advantages over these publications is that *we can publish FAST
and correct even faster*, *and generate online debates in a cutting edge
area.* We should start therefore focusing on these aspects and move much
faster that we have done in the past, *network more with broader groups of
scholars and practitioners and aim to generate public debates on these
issues which take us beyond preaching to the converted.*

I know that certain elements of what I have just wrote do not exactly paint
the rosiest picture of the environment within which we are called to
contribute, but as I said at the start we can make a contribution, and make
this journal relevant to more people, if we actively point our attention to
these issues right at this point in the journal's development.



On Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 8:47 AM, Mathieu ONeil <mathieu.oneil>wrote:

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Hi Rob, all

I've been away from my computer for a couple of days and was looking
forward to checking to see if there were any neat-o messages and I am "fully
stoked" there are, and that one of them is a comment by Rob on this list!

Its true that peer production effort is being co-opted by capital. But I
think there is another side to this, which is that what matters is the issue
of to what extent peer production is not only commons-based, but also

It is its quality as commons, i.e. as negation of the commodity, which
opposes commons-oriented peer production  (C.O.P.P.?) to the capitalist
market, which is based on the rarity of some commodities, or the protection
of non-rare ones through copyright.

The governance question is then mainly a question of how to favour the
production of this commons. There is usually some overlap between different
modes of legitimate domination, which can be described in neo-Weberian terms
(collectivist, charismatic, etc) or as some other combination of
regulation/governance mechanisms, see for example:

DEMAZIÈRE D., HORN F. and ZUNE M. (2007), « The Functioning of a Free
Software Community. Entanglement of Three Regulation Modes - Control,
Autonomous and Distributed », in Science Studies, vol. 20, p. 34-54.

In this regard, the fact that the journal is called Critical Studies in
Peer Production (CSPP) is starting to bother me a little, because it
puts, in my view, too much emphasis on the _process_ (peer production,
which is to certain extent dependent on, and enmeshed in capitalism)
rather than on the sought-after _result_ of the process, the production of
commons. So I am wondering if a more appropriate title for the journal
might not
be Critical Studies in Commons Production (CSCP)?

Since the journal has not yet been put up for indexation it would not
be a big deal to change the name, we could just explain why we felt it
was necessary.




On 08/22/11, Robert Ackland  <robert.ackland> wrote:

I decided it was time to de-lurk and comment on the "comparing peer
production to capitalism" thread(s).

A caveat is that my interest in peer production is more practical than
academic, having used of linux and other open source software in my
research since the late 90s.

What I don't understand about some parts of this thread is where peer
production is compared directly with capitalism.  To the extent that PP
is a new mode of governance, isn't more appropriate to compare it with
other existing modes of governance e.g. market and hierarchy (and
network, for that matter)?  The paper on this I keep on going back to

Demil, B. and Lecoq, X. (2006). Neither market nor hierarchy nor
network: The emergence of bazaar governance.  Organization Studies,

Even the production of FLOSS is in my opinion not pure peer production.
In a lot of FLOSS developer communities there exists hierarchy and
network, alongside PP.  So it is a overlay of different governance
systems but with FLOSS, PP is the dominant mode of governance while the
e.g. Microsoft way of creating software is more about hierarchy (and

In terms of production and distribution of goods, capitalism emphasises
market and hierarchy, while communism emphasises hierarchy (command and
control).  It is interesting to see how peer production is being added
to the capitalist's toolkit (alongside market and hierarchy) - this has
been pointed out by others in this thread.  I contributed to an Oxford
Internet Institute-McKinsey Technology Initiative project called
"Performance of distributed problem-solving networks".  This was
ostensibly about peer production, and those guys (McKinsey) are not

Thank you for an interesting discussion list.


On Mon, 2011-08-22 at 09:45 +0200, Maurizio Teli wrote:



Still waiting to hear from Maurizio and Vincenzo on how they want to
address the criticism by StefanMn that they are not properly addressing the
issue. So far StefanMz has expressed support for StefanMn. This is an edited
version of what I wrote on the issue on july 21:

"I understand what you say about peer production being a new
phenomenon, but I don't see how it can be separated from the 95% rest of the
world economy which is capitalistic. PP is both dependent on and enmeshed
within this wider order. For me the interesting thing scientifically is
precisely to work out the relationship between these two orders and -
possibly from a more activist perspective - to work out how to extend the
commons and peer production (...) if you want to get your point across
effectively IMHO it would be best to submit a paper to the journal for our
upcoming issue on peer production theory - that way you can explain what new
tools and concepts are needed etc. A whole issue on Oekonux can be envisaged
for later, we don't have the writing and editorial resources right now. The
peer production theory issue can be released next December. Is an article

Matthew Allen then agreed with this (sort of) see:

-- COMMENT ON THE TOPIC (quite long)

StefanMn was an interesting point, that I try to collapse in the
conviction that "Peer production is a new mode of production. *As such*
it can not be understood with the tools which were valid and fine for
the previous mode of production - namely capitalism."
I can agree with that but at the moment, stating that "peer production
IS a new mode of production" is so strong that the "old tools" should
tested and proven uneffective for the task at hand (and, by the way,
same concept of "mode of production" is an old tool that as proven to
extremely effective)

Mathieu and Matthew argument (FS is part of a capitalist society, so
understanding the relationship between the two modes of production is
useful) is a convinving one and, moreover, the aim of the special issue
is explicitly to understand the novelty of PP in the instance of FS
other points of view, not only the ones of organization of labour or
economic production.
To make it short, our perspective is: IF Free Software is changing the
epistemology of Computer Science, THEN Free Software novelty is
than thought until now.
Otherwise, the debate on the novelty should move further in exploring
the relationship between means of production, their property, and the
institutional setting that is previewed by the configuration of such
relationship (Jakob concept of productive negation is an interesting

going over on the debate, Stefan wrote:

Last week (12 days ago) Maurizio Teli wrote:
   > From the perspective of social organization, Free Software can  be
   > conceived as [...] standing outside
   > institutionalized forms of power

Well, someone who writes this has no idea of peer production not
speaking of Free Software. Of course there are institutionalized forms
of power.

Now the *really* interesting question is: As a modern leftist you
believe that institutionalized forms of power are bad in general. How
does it come then, that in Free Software we see such institutionalized
forms of power?

Here probably the short presentation of the special issue was lacking
idexicality. Kelty's argument is that Free Software is standing outside
ACTUALLY instituzionalized forms of power, creating NEW ones.

If we look at FS, the case of corporate FLOSS is showing clearly how
actual institutional setting (in its wider sense, including "the
market") is envisioning a potential of domestication of FLOSS as
tool in the reproduction of capital. Therefore, the novelty of FS
be investigated further.


Dr Robert Ackland
Fellow and Masters Coordinator, Australian Demographic and Social
Research Institute, The Australian National University

e-mail:   robert.ackland

Information about the Master of Social Research
(Social Science of the Internet specialisation):


Dr Mathieu O'Neil
Adjunct Research Fellow
Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute
College of Arts and Social Science
The Australian National University
email: mathieu.oneil[at]

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Dr Athina Karatzogianni<,_culture_and_society/staff/karatzogianni,_dr_athina.aspx>
Lecturer in Media, Culture and Society
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
The University of Hull
United Kingdom
T: ++44 (0) 1482 46 5790
F: ++44 (0) 1482 466107
E: a.karatzogianni

Download my work for free here:

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Dr Mathieu O'Neil
Adjunct Research Fellow
Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute
College of Arts and Social Science
The Australian National University
email: mathieu.oneil[at]

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