George Dafermos

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George Dafermos is a social scientist and writer who investigates free software, open source, hacking, user innovation, peer production and online communities.

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Questions for George Dafermos

0. Thanks for describing your background and the specifics of your research activities.

1. At the P2P Foundation, we distinguish peer production, peer governance and peer property. Would you agree with this trilogy and is it a fair assessment to say you are one of the few researchers specializing in the peer governance of peer production communities. Do you agree that there is a specific modality of governance which applies for peer production communities. How does peer governance relate to democracy?

2. In Charles Leadbeater's We Think, p. 80, he makes the very strong claim about the governance of open source and online collaborative communities: "what they are not, ever, is egalitarian self-governing democracies". Do you think this is correct, why or why not, and how should we judge the peer governance practices of such communities. Can you tell us your views on the tension between equality and hierarchy in peer production. What do you think of the concept of benevolent dictator?

3. Peer production involves communities of contributors, paid and unpaid; for-benefit associations such as the FLOSS Foundations, and participating companies. How do these three players relate to each other. Is there a point when the role of companies distorts the p2p and commons dynamics to such a degree that we can no longer speak of peer production?

4. What do you see as the relation between peer production and the emerging sharing economy, which includes collaborative consumption, that is the main theme of Shareable? Are both expressions of something broader yet?

5. Please also give details about your insights into the similarities and differences amongst the FLOSS Foundations. Now that open hardware is developing, to what degree is the logic of peer production in software also moving to the field of open hardware. Do you see the same social dynamics and institutions emerging, or are there differences. Are there also open hardware foundations with a similar role?

6. What might geographic communities aspiring for a peer economy learn from the communities building software through peer production? What obstacles do you see in translating an online economic mode to an offline context like a town or city?

7. What initiatives or events would you point to that demonstrate that social production of software is influencing the larger culture? This is a theme explored by David Bollier in Viral Spiral, but I'm curious about the direct links you see from these communities to other arenas of life.

8. What do you see for the future of free and open source software? What are the threats internally and externally to its vitality and also the new conditions that might expand its production and use?

9. Some claim is that the FOSS community produces few original products, that this mode is good at creating free versions of products innovated privately. What is your view?

10. The interplay of FOSS to the market economy is complex and nuanced. What are the most common misconceptions about this relationship?