Online Creation Communities

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= "Online Creation Communities (OCCs) are collective action performed by individuals that cooperate, communicate and interact, mainly via a platform of participation in the Internet, with the goal of knowledge-making and which the resulting information al pool remains freely accessible and of collective property." [1]

Description

Mayo Fuster Morell:

Online Creation Communities (OCCs) are a set of individuals that communicate, interact and collaborate; in several forms and degrees of participation which are ecosystemically integrated; mainly via a platform of participation on the Internet, on which they depend; and aiming at knowledge-making and sharing.

In order to approach OCCs it is useful to make an analytical distinction between two spaces. On the other hand, there is a platform of participation where participants interact and which can grow enormously.

On the other, there is a generally small provision body that provides the platform on which the community interacts. For example, the Wikimedia Foundation is the provider of the infrastructure within which the community of participants which build Wikipedia interact. NTIs lower the costs of established forms of collective action (Benkler, 2006). However, they still depend on interaction within an infrastructure. The provision of this infrastructure cannot be seen as a dysfunction or unimportant; instead it solves some of the questions this type of online collective action necessarily raises. For example, platform provision involves the control of servers and the domain name and other important components which sustain the interaction both technically and legally.[2]

Governance

Mayo Fuster Morell:

"In the analysis of OCCs’ governance there is instead a need to look at both spaces (community around the knowledgemaking and infrastructure provision) and their particular connections, because both are important and have functions in the governing of OCCs. In this regard, my analysis search to enrich Benkler’s (2006) analysis of OCCs (or commons-based peer production) as this research does not leave the infrastructure aspects as environmental institutional conditions; but integrates in the analysis the necessary interface of CPBB, with its environment and how it (and its governance) shapes community action.

The OCCs can be classified in terms of how their provision spaces function.

Two main axes concerning the infrastructure provision strategies can be distinguished: open versus closed to community involvement in infrastructure provision, and freedom and autonomy versus dependency on the infrastructure (netenabler versus blackbox).

...

Five main models of online infrastructure provision can be distinguished:

  • Corporation services,
  • mission enterprises,
  • university networks,
  • representational foundations and
  • assemblearian collective self-provision

Each option of these models has advantages and disadvantages, and importantly, these models differently shape the communities generated in terms of participation growth and type of collaboration established."


...

"The two models of infrastructure governance based on for-profit strategies: corporate service model and mission enterprise model:

The corporate model of infrastructure governance is characterized by a provider body closed to participant involvement and based on blackbox conditions.

Participants are “trapped” in the platform, as the copyright and proprietary software framework restricts the freedom and autonomy of the participants in the platform. The corporation model applies to cases of communities owned by communications companies with large pools of technological skills such as Google, the provider of YouTube.


The Mission Enterprise Model of Infrastructure Governance is characterized by being closed to participant involvement. Importantly, the enterprise model is based on netenabler conditions, which favor the autonomy of collaboration. The enterprise model is the case of startups, which maintain independence from big communications companies. It is a strategy for developing new business models which are compatible with netenabler conditions. One example is Wikihow, a how-to collaborative manual, or Wikitravel, a collaborative travel guide, both provided by small startups." (http://wikis.fu-berlin.de/download/attachments/59080767/FusterMorell-Paper.pdf)


Examples

For the corporate model, see Flickr - Governance (Flickr

For the Mission Enterprise Model, see Wikihow - Governance (Wikihow)

Discussion

Mission Entreprises and their Netenabler Doctrine

Mayo Fuster Morell:

"Although most of the literature focuses on corporations, these are not the only commercial providers.

There is another set of commercial providers, enterprises, which are based on a missionoriented and netenabler doctrine. Mission enterprises are distinct from corporations in aiming to preserve the free net philosophy. In this regard, they are based on the netenabler policy instead of the blackbox policy of corporations. As Stallman had already noted in the 1980s, this different policy has a profound political meaning, as blackbox conditions limit the freedom of speech and of association (Stallman, 1996; R. Stallman, Interview, Juny 12, 2007). This new willingness to show that it is possible to create profit and sustainability under netenabler conditions can be observed in the discourse of the mission enterprises: frequently, successful start ups are bought by large media corporations. However, mission enterprises tend to remain independent from corporations and do not “sell” the platforms to them. Examples of this trend are cooperatives such as FLOSS and also Wikihow and Wikitravel.


Some of the channels of the commercial providers for making profits are personalized publicity, payment for sophisticated aspects of the service, publication of contents generated on the platforms or the selling of participants’ profiles as social profile data. The distinction between these two models importantly lies in their different approaches to the net and participant’s freedom and autonomy towards the infrastructure mission enterprises is a convinced enable net and flow continuity (portability) and blackbox corporations are closed points of flow.


Each platform does not act in isolation: the collaboration and flow of data between them creates a network effect. Both in the case of the corporate model as well as in the case of mission enterprises, networks are created between these two types of commercial form. In this regard, both in the corporation service and in the mission enterprises there are “clusters” or “net districts” (similar to an Industrial district) of platforms which cooperate to different degrees and share connections. While corporations create “close” agreements between corporate services, netenablers create open networks for data flow between them and beyond. For example, in relation to the corporate model, there is an integration of services among participants’ accounts, such as amongst Google, Facebook, Skype and Twitter. With regard to the mission enterprises, the provider’s part of a “net district” is inspiring and advising each other and building upon others’ learning experiences: they try not to damage each others’ interests with their decisions and find places in the market for each of them; they share licenses in order to facilitate the flow of content between the platforms and the sharing of information; they use shared protocol to simplify participant registration in the different sites; they collaborate in terms of sharing “human resources” to fill available positions with active contributions from other platforms; and they participate in the same networking events.6 This is the case for example with Wikihow, Wikitravel and Wikia. Furthermore, these “wiki net districts” work within the parameters of Wikipedia. For example, these cases are among the main donors to Wikipedia." (http://wikis.fu-berlin.de/download/attachments/59080767/FusterMorell-Paper.pdf)


The Issue of Exploitation of Free Work

Mayo Fuster Morell:

"Another question related to the role of the commercial providers of OCCs is the use of voluntary contributions to benefit commercial companies. This represents a grey area. According to MoulierBoutang, it questions the crisis of the wage system of employment (2009). While some authors have characterized it as free labor (Terranova, 2000, 2004), several authors argue that commercial platforms constitute a source of exploitation by the companies of volunteer work or free work, because the corporation benefits from the value generated by collective interaction (Petersen, 2008; Terranova, 2000; Rossiter, 2006). An even more salient characteristic of the corporations is the gap between the very small number of employees and the massive number of volunteer participants involved. For example, Flickr’s working team has 48 employees while the platform involves millions of participants.

...

All in all, the use of volunteers in commercial platforms opens up legal and ethical questions. Indeed some theorist argue against the use of commercial platforms (Lovink & Rossiter, 2007). While other authors claim that community members should be compensated." (http://wikis.fu-berlin.de/download/attachments/59080767/FusterMorell-Paper.pdf)


Conclusions on the Governance of OCC's

See: Online Creation Communities - Platform Governance

More Information

  1. http://www.onlinecreation.info/