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Re: [ox-en] Difference between Physical and Information production

Hi Patrick, Diego, Michel, Markus, Franz, all!

@Patrick: Thanks for changing the subject :-) .

6 days ago Patrick Anderson wrote:
Stefan Merten wrote:
 The thesis that there is perhaps no principal
difference between physical and information production

First I'd like to emphasize that I talked of *production* (of goods).
If we talk of economy I think that production is the important issue
to look at since this is certainly part of an economy.

is far from
widely understood and accepted theoretically.

Diego Saravia wrote:
:) its not true

complete diferent animals

I'm very interested in the perceived and actual differences between
the 'informational' and the 'physical' goods.

I agree that physical and information goods as a concept are quite
different. But as far as production is concerned there are many
similarities or - probably - equalities.

As you might notice, this subject fascinates me.

Not only in a strategic sense because of the importance it holds in
keeping us from understanding how to proceed economically,

Indeed I think it is one of the key topics to understand if you want
to generalize peer production which we currently see flourish in the
realm of (some) information products.

But also in the psychological or social sense that keeps either group
(those who claim there is no difference, and those who claim there is)
from being able to prove their stance to the other group.

Maybe it is just a misalignment of word definitions causing the
parties to ignorantly "talk past" one another with incomplete

May be the key is to understand that though information and physical
goods are quite different the *production* aspect is the same.

6 days ago Diego Saravia wrote:
"production" (duplication) of info goods is only a copy of bytes, 0 marginal
cost if you have internet

The important point in this sentence is "if you have internet". Before
the Internet *reproduction* of information goods actually *was*

And this is indeed the point I'm trying to make. What we see today is
that reproduction of information goods is cheap *because* we developed
machinery to make this reproduction cheap.

The *initial production* of information on the other hand is not very
much impacted by this reproduction machinery. It still needs brains
and other means of production to create new information. For Free
Software / Wikipedia you just need brains. For OpenAccess you need
more. Scientific research sometimes uses expensive machinery like
particle colliders or spacecrafts or clinical tests to produce
original interesting information.

My summary of this is: Means of production are needed for physical
products as well as for initial production of information goods as
well as for reproduction of information goods.

For information goods we have a reproduction machinery which is part
of the general infrastructure meanwhile. For physical production as
well as for many forms of initial information production this is not
the case.

The logical conclusion for me is that developing machinery for the
other tasks is high on the priority list of someone who wants to
generalize peer production.

The goods news is that capitalists and peer producers have the same
goal here: In both cases the human labor needed should be minimized.
And the capitalists already did a good job here. The challenge for a
peer producer of course is to build on this fundament and develop it

the only scarcity is "artificial" , copyright law

That is what the old copyright system relied on: Reproduction of
information goods is expensive because it involves expensive machinery
like printing presses. The digital revolution simply reversed this
assumption. That is the reason why the copyright system has a problem

so info goods are not economic goods

Sure they are. But they are hard to make scarce so it is hard to
include them in an economy based on scarcity (aka capitalism).

6 days ago Michel Bauwens wrote:
Of course, I often use the simplifying, but ultimately misleading polarity
of immaterial vs. material, to make the important point of understanding
abundance, while in fact scarcity and abundance are polarities with many
intermediate stages, as so well explained in the work of Roberto Verzola.

As I said: I think there is an important difference between immaterial
and material. But as far as production is concerned the difference is

6 days ago CTVN wrote:
i think one important issue/difference relates to the nature of tasks  
involved and consequently the incentives of people to contribute: physical  
production involves to a much larger degree repetitive, boring tasks.  

Sorry, but I think as far as production is concerned this more and
more becomes a myth. The rising unemployment rate shows that people
are less and less needed for these repetitive, boring tasks for
creating instances of physical goods. I mean the output of physical
goods has not dropped but the labor needed for their production has
dropped massively.

The way to go for me is to make this trend even stronger. This creates
bigger problems inside capitalism and every system based on abstract
exchange but opens the door for a peer production based world.

imho, this is likely to have a considerable impact on incenvtives of  
people to contribute voluntarily without any remuneration. writing code,  
making songs, drawing comics challenges the creativity of the contributor.  

In other words: There are still tasks which are hard to conceptualize
as Selbstentfaltung. True. But the way to go is IMHO to automate these

6 days ago Michel Bauwens wrote:
perhaps if the open hardware movement takes route, and starts re-envisioning
not just what we make, but also how we make it, there might be a return to
craftsmanship ...

I strongly hope this won't be the case - given a common understanding
of the word craftsmanship.

a lot of repetitive tasks are linked to the current industrial model,

No. They are linked to exchange based systems where you have
incentives external to the actual work. If you can coerce people
structurally to do boring tasks then there is no need to remove them.

there's evidence that peopled liked to work on crafts and gardening in the

As a hobby: Yes. As a basis of an economy: Definitely no. The
productivity (i.e. output per human effort) of the industrial system
must be improved upon to make generalized peer production a reality.
Applying craftsmanship in the common sense is clearly counter
productive for that.

It's a little comparable to organic agriculture, which is, if I'm not
mistaken, on average more than 20% more productive (in food per acre)_ than
green-revolution-industrial-agriculture (which is more productive in $ per
man-hour), and thus gets de-selected by the coercive overall system.

I'd be astonished if this would be the case. Sounds more like one of
those primitivists' myths.

6 days ago Franz Nahrada wrote:
The vision of an electronic handicraft might perhaps stand at the end of a
process which has the target that the handicraft assumes the new arranging
possibilities which result in the flexible tools and transform them in an
economic successful model of production and consumtion.

This is what took place long ago - though I would not call it
*hand*icraft any more. I remember that I once saw a metal work firm
where the father of the current boss actually produced those
sophisticated small series pieces by hand. His son still produces
those sophisticated small series pieces - but by an expensive CNC
machine. The labor force dropped from more than 20 to 0 in this time.
However, though the father might be called a craftsman the son is
certainly an engineer.

To this we need
laboratories and workshops in which the artistic use of the new
technological and designing possibilities are in the centre of
professional formation and experimental production.

But this has nothing to do with craftsmanship.


Contact: projekt

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