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"Peer production, peer governance, peer property",

Excerpt of Article by Michel Bauwens - link :

"Peer to peer social processes are bottom-up processes whereby agents in a distributed network can freely engage in common pursuits, without external coercion. It is important to realize that distributed systems differ from decentralized systems, essentially because in the latter, the hubs are obligatory, while in the former, they are the result of voluntary choices. Distributed networks do have constraints, internal coercion, that are the conditions for the group to operate, and they may be embedded in the technical infrastructure, the social norms, or legal rules.

P2P social processes more precisely engender:

1) Peer Production: wherever a group of peers decided to engage in the production of a common resource

2) Peer Governance: the means they choose to govern themselves while they engage in such pursuit

3) Peer Property: the institutional and legal framework they choose to guard against the private appropriation of this common work; this usually takes the form of non-exclusionary forms of universal common property"

The approach of the P2P Foundation

Additional theses on peer governance by John Heron

1. There seem to be at least four degrees of cultural development, rooted in degrees of moral insight:

  1. autocratic cultures which define rights in a limited and oppressive way and there are no rights of political participation;
  2. narrow democratic cultures which practice political participation through representation, but have no or very limited participation of people in decision-making in all other realms, such as research, religion, education, industry etc.;
  3. wider democratic cultures which practice both political participation and varying degree of wider kinds of participation;
  4. commons p2p cultures in a libertarian and abundance-oriented global network with equipotential rights of participation of everyone in every field of human endeavor.”

2. These four degrees could be stated in terms of the relations between hierarchy, co-operation and autonomy.

  1. Hierarchy defines, controls and constrains co-operation and autonomy;
  2. Hierarchy empowers a measure of co-operation and autonomy in the political sphere only;
  3. Hierarchy empowers a measure of co-operation and autonomy in the political sphere and in varying degrees in other spheres;
  4. The sole role of hierarchy is in its spontaneous emergence in the initiation and continuous flowering of autonomy-in-co-operation in all spheres of human endeavor

Strong Recommendations by Michel Bauwens

  • This hybrid governance proposal by Forrest Landry corresponds to my own learnings and intuitions on how to govern peer production processes:
    1. consensus is best for small groups but requires very long processing time and inhibits fast and adaptable action when necessary
    2. hence the autonomy of the executive process must be protected (deliberation is split from action)
    3. but the meritocratic autonomy of action easily leads to autocratic abuse of separating leaderships, hence democratic processes are paramount as counter-balance, as a key part of the anti-oligarchic protocols every organization must think about
  • Read more about the Small Group Method‎ based on the Structural Archetypes for Group Organization from Forrest Landry
  • Data is crucial for the successor civilization but ownership is the wrong paradigm. This is the idea behind the Data Coalitions‎ proposal of Matt Prewitt. [1]

Introductory Material


The entries in the directory below covers different aspects which should be distinguished from each other

  1. The forms of peer governance of open/free communities and peer production groups. See A Model of a Mature Open Source Project for a case study of the Plone community.
    1. Informal leadership models that are pragmatically used to govern such projects: what is the nature of leadership and hierarchy in peer production?
    2. The use of formal management models.
    3. The use of legal formats such as Foundations to formalize leadership of the infrastructure that enables the common production to occur.
    4. Formal legislative process in government and political parties. Apart from non-representational self-governance models in the small teams responsible for peer production, whenever the allocation of scarce resources need to takes place, 'peer-informed' representational models will arise.
  2. The methods of production used in peer production: how is the work actually done?
    1. The tools used in the production process (ie. Bitkeeper, CVS, etc.)
    2. The design of interactions at the level of the product/technological architecture (modularity, encapsulation, information hiding)
  3. Governance of the infrastructures needed by the Online Creation Communities
    1. According to Mayo Fuster Morell, five main models of online infrastructure provision can be distinguished: 1) Corporation services, 2) mission enterprises, 3) university networks, 4) representational foundations and 5) assemblearian collective self-provision

A proposed institutional framework for governing the commons at all scales

  1. Six Modules for the Institutions of the Global Commons‎‎
  2. Three Institutional Spheres of Commoning‎

Typology of Commons Regulation

things Access Regulation
Res nullius all non-regulated
Res privatae owner market-regulated
Res publicae public state-regulated
Res communes community peer-regulated

For Historical Inspiration

  1. Athenian Democracy ; Foundations of Athenian Democracy
  2. Iroquois Confederacy‎‎ ; Anishinaabe Council of Three Fires; (to check: Indigenous African Institutions
  3. European Medieval Democracy
  4. Viking Democracy
  5. Pirate Governance
  6. Paris Commune

Characteristics of the Blockchain that favor Commons-Based Governance

1. Antonio Tenorio-Fornes et al. :

"Six affordances (Hutchby, 2001), which constitute functional and relational aspects that frame the potentialities of self-organized collectives for agentic action, with regards to blockchain-based tools for commons governance (Rozas et al., 2021b, 8–20):

I. Tokenization: refers to the process of transforming the rights to perform an action on an asset into a transferable data element, a token, on the blockchain.

II. Self-enforcement and formalization of rules: refer to the process of embedding organizational rules in the form of smart contracts. As a result, firstly, there is an affordance for the self-enforcement of communitarian rules, such as those which regulate the monitoring and graduated sanctions in these communities. Secondly, this encoding of rules implies explicitation, since blockchain technologies require these rules to be defined in ways that are unambiguously understood by machines.

III. Autonomous automatization: refers to the process of defining complex sets of smart contracts as DAOs, which may enable multiple parties to interact with each other, even without human interaction. This is partially analogous to software communicating with other software today, but in a decentralized manner, and with higher degrees of software autonomy.

IV. Decentralization of power over the infrastructure: refers to the process of communalizing the ownership and control of the technological tools employed by the community through the decentralization of the infrastructure they rely on, such as the collaboration platforms (and their servers) employed for coordination.

V. Increasing transparency: refers to the process of opening the organizational processes and the associated data by relying on the persistence and immutability properties of blockchain technologies.

VI. Codification of trust: refers to the process of codifying a certain degree of trust into systems which facilitate agreements between agents without requiring a third party, such as the federal agreements which might be established among different groups that form part of such communities.


2. Sascha:

"When governance power is determined purely by capital, decision making is centralised, and the rich get richer. Those who aren’t whales are poorly represented in governance decisions, and there is no way to hold important stakeholders accountable to the desires of the broader community, or the past expectations they have bought into.

On the flip side, attracting capital is critical to the success and sustainability of tokenised communities. Decisions backed by skin-in-the-game are key to ensuring that those who don’t have any interest in the long-term success of a community can’t unduly influence how resources are allocated, and/or which policies are enacted.

So how do we balance these opposing forces, and create a more effective and aligned community?"



"Participants to open “organizations” should learn to swap the order of events: from “membership then participation” to “participation then membership”. This mental shift is probably the hardest and most important one, as it is the only way in which open “organizations” will be able to grow. Binary membership structures and its impact on our activities is so common and widespread that is even hard to notice, but it is around most of the things that we do. From learning at school to working at a company or participating in our local or national communities. In almost all occasions the order is clear: first you become a member of one organization (with an associated role), then you start interacting with it."

- Pepo Ospina [3]

Key Resources

  1. Bibliography on non-hierarchical self-organisation

Key Articles and Essays

  • Identifying and understanding the problems of Wikipedia’s peer governance: The case of inclusionists versus deletionists. by Kostakis, Vasilis. First Monday, Volume 15, Number 3 - 1 March 2010 [6]
  • Managing Boundaries between Organizations and Communities: Comparing Creative Commons and Wikimedia. Paper prepared for the 3rd Free Culture Research Conference, October 8-9, 2010, Berlin. By Leonhard Dobusch and Sigrid Quack. [7] : The general question we are addressing is: How do organizations in digital information economy manage the boundaries to related focal communities?
  • Commercial Providers of Infrastructure for Collective Action Online. Case studies comparison: Flickr Corporation model and Wikihow Enterprise model. By Mayo Fuster Morell. For the 3rd Free culture research conference Berlin, October 2010 [10]: Based on the case of online creation communities, the paper presents the two main models of commercial providers of infrastructure: corporate service model and mission enterprise model. It also presents an explanatory analysis of how the type of provider shape the community generated. The empirical analysis is based of a case study comparison of Flickr and Wikihow.
  • The Rise of Organizational Complexity, see: Y. Bar-Yam, Complexity rising: From human beings to human civilization, a complexity profile, Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS UNESCO Publishers, Oxford, UK, 2002); also NECSI Report 1997-12-01 (1997). [11]


Open Value Network peer Governance - from the OVN wiki

Key Books

  • Cyberchiefs. Autonomy and Authority in Online Tribes. Mathieu O’Neil. Macmillan/Pluto Press, 2009.
  • Protocol by Alexander Galloway, discusses the nature of power in distributed networks.
  • The Success of Open Source, by Steve Webber, discusses the governance of free software and open sorce software projects in detail.
  • Organisation of the Organisationless: Collective Action After Networks. By Rodrigo Nunes. PML Books (Mute / Post-Media Lab), 2014. [12]: "Rejecting the dichotomy of centralism and horizontalism that has deeply marked millennial politics, Rodrigo Nunes’ close analysis of network systems demonstrates how organising within contemporary social and political movements exists somewhere between – or beyond – the two."
  • Systemic Corruption: Constitutional Ideas for an Anti-Oligarchic Republic. By Camila Vergara. Princeton University Press, 2020. [13]: "This provocative book reveals how the majority of modern liberal democracies have become increasingly oligarchic, suffering from a form of structural political decay first conceptualized by ancient philosophers. Systemic Corruption argues that the problem cannot be blamed on the actions of corrupt politicians but is built into the very fabric of our representative systems. Camila Vergara provides a compelling and original genealogy of political corruption from ancient to modern thought, and shows how representative democracy was designed to protect the interests of the already rich and powerful to the detriment of the majority."


Solidarity Economy visualisation


This category has only the following subcategory.


Pages in category "Peergovernance"

The following 200 pages are in this category, out of 971 total.

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