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This will function as a mini-guide to Peer Production proper, in the more narrow sense, so that this key material is no longer only available through our almost unwieldy section on P2P Business trends in general.

We recommend the following 2 articles outlining the role of the P2P Foundation, 'which peer produces knowledge about peer production'.

  1. Prophets and Advocates of Peer Production. By George Dafermos. [1]. Excellent introduction to the role of the P2P Foundation in the context of the re-emergence of a commons movement that is linked to digitally-enabled self-organization.
  1. Digital Commons: Cyber-Commoners, Peer Producers and the Project of a Post-Capitalist Transition. By George Dafermos. [2]: Excellent introduction to the theoretical and strategic work of the P2P Foundation.


  1. The Common as a Mode of Production. Towards a critique of the political economy of common goods. Carlo Vercellone. [3]
  2. Christian Siefkes: Peer Producing Plenty in the Physical World
  3. Karim Lakhani on the Open Source Software communities Open Development process [4]
  4. A Bibliography on Peer Production. Recommendations by James Boyle.
  5. Georgie BC: How a Stigmergy of Actions Replaces Representation of Persons‎
  6. Dmytri Kleiner: Flawed Circuits of Value in the Lulz Economy

More on a potential future form:

Characteristics of Peer Production

  1. Beyond Classes‎
  2. Beyond Commodity‎
  3. Beyond Exchange‎
  4. Beyond Exclusion
  5. Beyond Labor‎
  6. Beyond Money
  7. Beyond Politics
  8. Beyond Scarcity
  9. Beyond Socialism

  • Peer production carries with it many different fundamental innovations, that are starkly different from traditional business practice. Here are a number of these practices, contrasted with the practices

of the market and the business firm:

  1. Anti-Credentialism: refers to the inclusiveness of peer production. What matters is the ability to carry out a particular task, not any formal a priori credential ( ≠ credentialism).
  2. Anti-Rivalry: sharing the created goods does not diminish the value of the good, but actually enhances it ( ≠ rivalry).
  3. Communal Validation: the quality control is not a 'a priori' condition of participation, but a post-hoc control process, usually community-driven ( ≠ hierarchical control).
  4. Distribution of Tasks: there are no roles and jobs to be performed, only specific tasks to be carried out ( ≠ division of labor).
  5. Equipotentiality: people are judged on the particular aspects of their being that is involved in the execution of a particular task ( ≠ people ranking).
  6. For Benefit: (Benefit Sharing; Benefit-Driven Production). The production aims to create use value or 'benefits' for its user community, not profits for shareholders ( ≠ for-profit).
  7. Forking: the freedom to copy and modify includes the possibility to take the project into a different direction ( ≠ one authorized version).
  8. Granularity: refers to the effort to create the smallest possible modules (see Modularity infra), so that the treshold of participation for carrying out tasks is lowered to the lowest possible extent.
  9. Holoptism; transparency is the default state of information about the project; all additions can be seen and verified and are sourced ( ≠ panoptism).
  10. Modularity: tasks, products and services are organized as modules, that fit with other modules in a puzzle that is continuously re-assembled; anybody can contribute to any module. (See also: Composability, from software engineering terminology, [http//])
  11. Negotiated Coordination: conflicts are resolved through an ongoing and mediated dialogue, not by fiat and top-down decisions ( ≠ centralized and hierarchical decision-making). (See also "subsidiarity", "the delegation of decision-making power over a particular area of operation by those working directly in that area." [6])
  12. Permissionlessness: one does not need permission to contribute to the commons( ≠ permission culture).
  13. Produsage: there is no strict separation between production and consumption, and users can produce solutions ( ≠ production for consumption).
  14. Stigmergy: there is a signalling language that permits system needs to be broadcast and matched to contributions.

Suggested characteristics: (composability, Subsidiarity)


“Since evolutionary changes are not completely predictable, it is obvious that there is room in the world for what we call free will. Each individual decision to accept, resist, or change the current order alters the probability that a particular evolution outcome will occur. While the course of cultural evolution is never free from systemic influence, some moments are probably more “open” than others. The most open moments, it appears to me, are those at which a mode of production reaches its limits of growth and a new mode of production must soon be adopted. We are rapidly moving toward such an opening.”

- Marvin Harris - “Cannibals and Kings” P.291

With the advent of the P2P Mode of Production, the community and its common is now the appropriate scale

"We’re seeing something that is historically shocking—the reduction to zero of the cost of an especially valuable part of capital, which materializes directly knowledge (free software, free designs, etc.). And above all we see, almost day by day, how the optimum size of production, sector by sector, approaches or reaches the community dimension.

The possibility for the real community, the one based on interpersonal relationships and affections, to be an efficient productive unit is something radically new, and its potential to empower is far from having been developed. This means that we are lucky enough to live in a historical moment when it would seem that the whole history of technology, with all its social and political challenges, has coalesced to put us within reach of the possibility of developing ourselves in a new way and contributing autonomy to our community.

Today we have an opportunity that previous generations did not: to transform production into something done, and enjoyed, among peers. We can make work a time that is not walled off from life itself, which capitalism revealingly calls “time off.” That’s the ultimate meaning of producing in common today. That’s the immediate course of every emancipatory action. The starting point."

- David de Ugarte [7]

On the connection between Modularity and Sharing

"If the stuff to hand isn't modular, you can't really share, because your stuff isn't compatible with other people's stuff. If it isn't modular, you can't share out tasks and scale. If you can't share out tasks, you can't have people working independently, at their own pace and in their own way, which means the project isn't really open. If it isn't modular, you can't swap in some new elements while leaving everything else untouched, which means no "release early, release often", no experimentation, no rapid evolution. Modularity is indispensable."

- Glyn Moody: [8]

The Best Anthropological Definition of Equality Points To Peer Production

"The best anthropological definition of egalitarian societies, that proposed by Fried (1967): in egalitarian societies there are as many positions as there are qualified individuals to fill them. The respect for the abilities of different individuals creates tolerance for the variation on which cultural developments draw. Egalitarian and hierarchical elements co-exist in all human societies. Though both appear to have roots in our simian heritage, why were both maintained through social selection and cultural means? Institutionalized hierarchy reduces internal competition and the often-destructive race to the top, allows for efficient organization of collective action, and coordinates responses to intergroup competition which benefit many group members. Egalitarian institutions reduce the transaction costs of social and economic exchange in a number of respects. As equals, it is not necessary to work out relative social standing with every interaction. Women and men can help each other knowing that as equals they can give, ask, take and receive help when in need. With egalitarian institutions people do not fear that assistance given will be used to dominate, fostering the conditions and trust for delayed exchange. Finally, equality facilitates the mobility necessary for intergroup interaction, as hierarchies do not mesh easily."

- Polly Wiessner [9]

Key Resources

Key Articles


Important Details via:

  1. Paul Hartzog on the Advantages of Scale of Openness and Peer Production
  2. Dmytri Kleiner's Critique of Peer Production Ideology
  3. Michel Bauwens: Is Peer Production a Real Mode of Production?
  4. The 'Circulation of the Common': Analytical concept proposed by Nick Dyer-Witheford in a landmark essay of the same title.. It refers to the social reproduction mechanism of Peer Production, in a process analogous with the Circulation of Capital described by Marx. [12]
  5. P2P Is Not a Mode of ProductionToni Prug. Journal of Peer Production, Issue 1, 2012. [13]
  6. How the Iron Law of Oligarchy Extends to Peer Production

See also:

  • Ten Peer Production Patterns. Stefan Meretz. Comment by Michel Bauwens: A word of caution. The text by Stefan Meretz is useful to understand the post-capitalist patterns that are inherent in peer production, however, it also abstracts from its embeddedness in present society and the way these aspects are instrumentalized by the present society and economic system, and create hybrid mechanisms of mutual adaptation. It also skirts around the central question of the self-reproduction of the means of production (however, see pattern 10 on the Germ Theory of change.

Key Books

Key Reports

From the Industrial Cooperation Project:

  1. Peer Production and Industrial Cooperation in Biotechnology, Genomics and Proteomics
  2. Peer Production and Industrial Cooperation in Alternative Energy‎‎
  3. Peer Production and Industrial Cooperation in Educational Materials‎
  4. Peer Production and Industrial Cooperation in Telecommunications

Key Video


This category has only the following subcategory.


Pages in category "Peerproduction"

The following 200 pages are in this category, out of 667 total.

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