Re: [ox-en] Peer Economy. A Transition Concept.
- From: Karl Dietz <karl.dietz online.de>
- Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2008 21:55:57 +0100
speech in German on the book in the subject in berlin. more:
Karl Dietz schrieb:
hi stefan mz.,
Stefan Meretz schrieb:
recently I wrote a review about the peer economy book of Christian
Siefkes, published in the small Vienna journal named "Streifzuege".
Now, here is a quick translation of this review. However, it is not a
replacement of reading the book;-)
Corrections due to my limited english usage are welcome:
one remark. if you refer to the book in the bibliographic record, it
would be good to mention the size: 156 pages.
the 2.50 euro plus for sending would also be helpful. it makes more
than 25 per cent difference in the prize.
*Christian Siefkes, 16 Oct 2007*
Es hat etwas länger gedauert als gehofft, aber meine Einführung in die
Peer-Ökonomie ist jetzt auch als gedrucktes Buch verfügbar. Wer an
einem Exemplar interessiert ist, kann es ab sofort im Peerconomy-Wiki
bestellen. Bei Onlinebestellung kommen zu den 9,50 EUR für das Buch
(156 Seiten) noch 2,50 EUR Versandkosten, die ich leider nicht
vermeiden kann [...]
a few weeks ago i read in keimform.de that there were appr. 400
downloads of the book.
thats pretty good imho.
Peer Economy. A Transition Concept.
by Stefan Meretz
Inside the critical left there is a small group refering to free
software and free culture movement being already start points (»germ
forms«) for new possibilities beyond commodities, money, market, and
state. Such approaches on their part are critized as to be limited to
reproducible information goods and being unable to reach the world of
Christian Siefkes now has presented the »Peer Economy« concept
dealing with this central critique of germ form ideas. In his english
book »From Exchange to Contributions« Siefkes generalizes the
principles of free software and free culture production into the
Starting point is the consideration, that people have to spend
efforts during the production of their living conditions. While
capitalism uses the market as an »indirection« to allocate produced
goods---although afore it is not clear, if they are needed or can be
sold---peer production does not distribute goods, but the effort to
produce them. Doing this it will only be produced what is
needed---the relationship between needs and products is »direct«.
How can this work? Here the peer principle comes into play. The term
»peer production« was introduced by Yochai Benkler in order to
describe the open and cooperative type of production of free
information goods. Individual people (»peers«) work together on a
voluntary basis, in fact from a single reason: they want to do it.
They make contributions to a project to bring it to success.
Intensity, extent, and duration is determined by each person
themself. On the other side peer projects depend on contributions and
will do everything to be attractive for participation.
Peer production bases on so called Commons being ressources without
owner controlling the usage. As a rule results of peer project are on
the other hand part of the commons. Currently this does not apply to
physical means of production, they are private property of the peers
Free cooperation is an additional fundament of peer projects.
Coercion as a mean to organize the production does not exist, because
means of coercion are absent. Participation is voluntary and there
are no sanktions when leaving a project. Inside peer projects formal
status and its symbols, but also other criteria like gender, origin,
age etc. don't play a role. What counts are the contributions one
makes. They determine reputation, credit, and confidence one gets.
Now, how can needs of the producers be coordinated with the needs of
the consumers? Today peer projects can function, because peers
dispose of production means and because non-physical goods being once
created can almost arbitrarily be reproduced. This does not apply to
the physical world. Peer projects of physical goods have to demand an
adequate compensation for the taking of goods requiring each time
anew an effort to produce them.
But which contribution is adequate? This question is decided by the
project. It weights the contributions using the time duration
inversely proportional to its popularity: unpopular tasks only
require a small contribution, while popular tasks require a big
contribution. This sounds similar to role the economic value is
playing in market economy.
The economic value maps complex actions on simple once. However,
while always complex actions are manifolds of simple once---resulting
in less volume of spending---a generalized peer production tend to
function the other way around: Simple tasks no one likes to do will
be highly weighted to guarantee its execution, while popular and
often highly qualified tasks get a lower weight. The
weighting---according to the proposal---is nothing static, but is
permanently adjusted. This adjustment is done automatically using an
»auctioning system« mediating demand and supply. Thus one hour
garbage removal can thoroughly correspond to one week writing
Concerning the allocation of the goods peer projects join together
and form distribution pools, in order to be able to provide a larger
bandwith of useful goods. At the same time the project extent should
(but not need to) be straightforward, problems should be handled
directly »peer to peer«. Everybody contributing something to a local
project can gather goods from the respective distribution pool.
Depending on the type of goods the ways of disribution differ, from
flat rate allocation to preference weighting.
It is remarkable, that Siefkes concretely discusses a number of
critical questions, which are usually avoided by refering to a future
»where everything will be solved«: How will limited resources and
goods be distributed? What about infrastructures and meta-tasks? How
will decisions be made, how conflicts be solved? How will global
projects be organized? What about people being not able or willing to
make a contribution? Who decides what a »contribution« is? What about
migration? Are laws further on necessary?
To my opinion the presented concept is a pragmatic transition model,
not a general model of a post-capitalist society. Main limitation is
the interlinking of contribution and taking. However, it is well
imaginable, that the strict interlinking between contribution and
taking during the phase of competition to capitalism will be resolved
after its overcoming.
Christian Siefkes has not written his book in terms of a notion
critique, but pragmatically oriented at discourses of the english
language area. As the text is released under a free license a german
translation should be possible soon. A set book!
Christian Siefkes, From Exchange to Contributions. Generalizing Peer
Production into the Physical World, Berlin, Edition C. Siefkes, 2007,
9.50 Euro, Web: peerconomy.org.
Contact: projekt oekonux.de
Contact: projekt oekonux.de