Core Peer-2-Peer Collaboration Principles

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Context and Acknowledgements

The project links to other efforts on Social Ventures

Introductory Note and Request for Comments

This is a collaborative project. Please feel free to make changes directly, or to contact any of the authors by email with submissions.

Project Intent

This effort is designed to serve as a normative framework to guide those interested in implementing p2p infrastructure and as a guide for conventional institutions that find themselves puzzled by trying to interact with p2p oriented projects. It is not a charter or rulebook; it is more of an apology (as a justification or defense of an act or idea)--for a p2p worldview.

Of course there is no one single p2p worldview and no one can represent an inherently diffused concept. However, many of us find ourselves trying to explain p2p to those not familiar with the concept. A number of teaching and introduction tools are necessary to meet this demand, and this is one aimed perhaps at more advanced interactions.

This, again, is a collaborative project, and no author wishes to diminish the insights of others by saying that this document is the only truth.



P2P should evolve to meet whatever needs peers have in building a commons or similar works. Perhaps the term or whole concept of P2P will be subsumed by other ideas or become irrelevant for one reason or another over time. For now, P2P implies some conceptual elements to many who work to advance its ideals and to research its elements, and there is value in setting down such details even if they often do not apply to a number of particular instances.

Note that these Collaborative Principles are not intended as legal structures, definitions, or definitive assertions about the nature or future of P2P relationships. They are set down as a working, living, tentative set of ideas for discussion and as a normative guide for those who wish to advance their own understanding of P2P as others see it who have tried to travel the road either through application, research or both. They are not intended to be trivially ignored just as they should not be blindly subscribed. They are norms to be considered, agreed, or rejected for cause when a group approaches a P2P partnership, project or framework. As any living document, it should change, evolve and reflect the ideas of those working with P2P, researching it, or implementing successor ideas.

In the context of the P2P Foundation

We use a very precise definition of p2p:

  • Peer production is based in voluntary input, participatory process, commons-oriented output.
  • The peer to peer dynamic is free self-aggregation to create common value without direct expectation of reciprocity from any particular individual.
  • It is therefore not a hierarchical allocation method, not an exchange based market form, and not a reciprocity based gift economy.
  • We can use it in a looser sense as well, as mere self-aggregation amongst equals. We use 'peer-informed' to indicate processes.
  • So it all depends on context whether the precise definition or the looser principle of aggregation is relevant.
  • Finally, there are different levels, the factual definition described above, the underlying values and ethical principles on which it is based, and the social ideals and praxis that it inspires.

It's important to keep these levels apart when we can for clarity of meaning.

Of course, people are free to define it in any way they want, but 'traditionally' this is how it has been defined in our context at the P2P Foundation where people aggregate to study these matters, but again, people can disagree.

Section 1: Toward a Peer to Peer (p2p) Collaborative Ethos

Article 1. P2P Interactions

A. High quality Peer to Peer interactions exist between peers. Peers typically recognize and interact with each other without reference to rank or hierarchies. Interactions are best when cordial, tolerant, respectful and made, where possible, without judgments especially regarding aspects not directly relevant to the P2P domain.

B. Peers' willingness to interact is not primarily linked to external drivers. External drivers might include, for example, prestige in undertaking an interaction, financial gain, or duty.

C. P2P interactions are not amoral or value neutral. A p2p ethos embodies trying to act with goodness and goodwill as well as with practical skills and wisdom.

D. Peer interactions are judged (by others who aspire to a p2p ethos) as qualitatively superior if linked to contributing to a commons.

E. Another measure of quality is the contribution to mission critical functionality. For example, this might involve efforts that save lives, advance learning and understanding, enable sustainable economic processes or otherwise support or enable key components of the public good as openly understood in free, deliberative and collaborative societies.

F. P2P interactions attempt to minimize mediating forces or organizations. Hierachies that impose governance on p2p interactions that are otherwise consistent with social standards and laws are not appropriate to the ethos. This is particularly true if the party imposing governance is acting with some interest other than enabling smooth, stable and harmless p2p interactions.

G. A p2p ethos is inconsistent with the purposeful extraction of value from interactions when no such value is contributed directly to a given interaction. Simply enabling future actions is not a creation of p2p value worthy of repeated compensation. That is, royalties or licensing fees are not consistent with a p2p ethos.

H. A P2P ethos is consistent with advancing the interests of the underprivileged, the weak, those on the bottom of the digital divide, or any who have need of a more sustaining commons provided through fair and honest means.

I. Unless dire political consequences are involved, peers should not be anonymous.

J. P2P interactions ought not to be used as a opening to proselytize, sell, advance unrelated political, social or moral positions except when such discussions are expected, invited and made welcome by other peers.

K. What to avoid: P2P specifically does not aim to circumvent human rights, democratically enacted laws, rightfully established organizational controls, or legitimate claims of property in force. Rather, p2p seeks to build and expand common resources that are expressly free, open, collaborative and mutually beneficial.

Article 2. Recognition of the Commons

A. Concepts such as Open Access, Open Source, Open Content, Creative Commons, Science Commons and their supporting frameworks are consistent with the core principles of p2p.

B. While not specifically non-commercial, p2p interactions recognize the value and ideal of expanding shared and freely available resources particularly related to knowledge and information but also to design, art, architecture and other conceptual goods that can be framed as intellectual property.

C. Commercial gains are more consistent with p2p when they benefit entities that are themselves inclined to participate in more frequent p2p interactions. That is, a firm that contributes to the commons is more consistent with p2p than one that extracts content from the commons, alters it for profit, and then sells a quasi-p2p system.

D. Attribution and acknowledgment of contributions are consistent with p2p, and the development of peer-reviewed reputations and ratings can be consistent with a p2p ethos so long as they reflect contributions to p2p or the commons rather than extrinsic or non-p2p achievements.

E. Missuse, overuse, abuse or sabotage of commons can in no way be consistent with a valid p2p ethos. Mutual trust is a necessary and valued component of p2p participation. A strong P2P ethos would sympathize with ideas that the tragedy of the commons is neither inevitable or natural to humans.

F. Participation in a commons, from a p2p perspective, is less about membership than it is about rights and responsibilities. Participation does not lead to an exclusionary perspective. A peer project only judges persons on their voluntary participation to the common object, without requiring involuntary changes in identity concerning matters unconnected to the project.

G. What to avoid: P2P interactions should avoid a permission culture. That is, private copyrights, trade secrets, Intellectual Property boundaries or other boundaries between attributed contributions are actively discouraged. Overall, rigid boundary systems of property are inconsistent with a p2p ethos.

Article 3: Economic and Political Theories

A. P2P is not associated or disassociated with any particular economic theory such as capitalism or socialism.

B. P2P relations, in their strongest form, are specific types of non-reciprocal exchange characterized by voluntary contribution to a pool shared by all. P2P is arguably its own economic theory but it is not exclusive of other economic approaches. A person picking up a piece of litter in a park is making a non-reciprocal contribution to a commons...the park. From a P2P ethos perspective, this is done out of advancement of a shared resource. It is not a duty, but a practical way to live. The expectation is that, in concert with others committed to sharing and advancement of commons, a responsible network of mutual benefit and shared purpose is feasible. Further, the conflicts associated with sharing can be minimized through reasonable agreements and norms. Avoiding free riders and selfish uses is perhaps easiest in the context of non-rival goods--goods where nothing is lost through sharing. Thus one finds P2P systems often associated with software--a classic non-rival good. But it is in the area of exclusivity where P2P takes on its primary political traits. P2P respects rights to exclusivity, but normatively attempts to advance willing participation in systems where exclusivity is minimized or abandoned in the interests of a shared advancement. Some systems such as publishing scientific research are partially exclusive or non-exclusive with attribution, etc. P2P advocates typically advance the weakest reasonable exclusivity arrangements. Such views often lead to P2P being likened to a utopian communist system or a mutualist/anarchist system. These are not unreasonable comparisons. However, P2P itself is not an exclusive economic framework.

C. The value of contribution and responsibility to work toward contribution where feasible is an essential normative value of a P2P ethos. As such, means of fairly accounting for and assessing contributions are important.

D. There is much interest in the ways P2P systems influence and work in association with other economic systems. For example, how does a free software framework influence or change software markets or consumer actions?

E. Strong advocates of a P2P ethos search for means by which a culture of sharing and trust could largely reduce or replace the need for many market or governmental systems.

F. P2P is most consistent with democratic systems where free expression and other human rights are respected and protected; however, no political model other than one that abolishes the concept of a commons is antithetical to a p2p ethos. It is implausible that a political system with strong restrictions on freedom of expression could be consistent with a p2p ethos. P2P is often associated with Non-Market Economics. It might also be situated with certain branches of Communitarianism.

G. Implementations of Alternative Currencies, Open Money and modes of exchange that do not necessitate governments, central banks or state-based regulatory authorities are linked elements of a p2p ethos.

H. P2P is not typically a national system. P2P entities are perhaps most appropriately situated with or compared to transnational civil society organizations.

I. What to avoid: P2P is not a transaction-based mode of exchange where compensation is explicitly expected. Optimization of trades and exchanges exclusively for personal gain is not consistent with a p2p ethos.

Article 4: Moral Foundations

A. P2P interactions are considered qualitatively superior if they advantage larger, open and sharing communities.

B. Core values include tolerance of other groups, approaches and affinities, sharing and trust. P2P advocates are typically slow to build boundaries against other ideas or approaches. Said another way, ego is downplayed in p2p management or leadership. P2P management emphasizes leadership as collaboration, enabling and facilitation rather than management as command and control.

C. The ideas associated with sustainable production or sustainable operation of production resources are at the root of a p2p ethos. Introducing ideas of carbon neutrality or sequestration, recycling and avoidance of adverse social or environmental impacts is an esteemed principle of the p2p ethos.

D. P2P transactions are not appropriate mediated by political, social, gender, sex or religious biases. Interactions occur openly without respect to identities or group participation by peers in other aspects of their lives. Free expression in p2p interactions is a valued human right, not a privilege. A high burden of proof should exist for any entity that judges peer to peer interactions as a threat to the state, the peace, or common decency. A strong p2p ethos is perhaps more suspicious than usual of titles, credentials and claims of expertise that are not specifically related to a given function.

E. Transparent execution of transactions in the full view of any party is consistent with the best ideals of a p2p ethos.

F. Where resources are allocated or invested in those who might contribute to a p2p framework, openness of selection processes, transparent decision criteria and inclusive capacity to participate as a candidate for selection are core principles.

G. P2P interactions are not biased against transhumans, AI, other species or forms of intelligence that can act as peers if it is reasonable to recognize such participants as peers in the context of an interaction.

H. What to avoid: Peers should avoid pre-judging counter parties based on affiliations, ranks, or associations unless those associations specifically address competence or capacity associated with the aspects of a particular p2p interaction. That is, if you want a game, play chess with those who also want a game; however, it is appropriate to seek games with those who have a certain chess rating. It is not appropriate to a p2p ethos only to play chess with PhDs.

Article 5: Science and Technology

A. The use of evidence-based scientific facts, sound technical assessments and fact-based risk evaluations are esteemed as core p2p principles.

B. Access to information, information appliances, computers, cellular services, networks and raw data is paramount. Schemes to reduce, tax or limit interactions, open information access or sharing (particularly of digital resources in the commons) are preposterous to the p2p ethos. Open and low cost hardware schemes including open manufacturing are central to a strong p2p ethos. Just as there can be open science, there can be open engineering with a strong commitment to a p2p ethos.

C. The p2p ethos values experimentation with open results and the capacity for all stakeholders to learn and develop through participation. Stakeholders are taken to be a broadly defined group with current or future interests vested in a given framework or circumstance. That is, stakeholders are the beings that do care, should care or might likely care in future about outcomes. The p2p ethos does not esteem races to the correct answer carried on behind closed doors or competitive science aimed to realize external goals, prestige or rewards. P2P is not against prestige or reputation, it is against trading on (that is, profiting significantly) from such reputations earned when a commitment has been made to the public domain, the commons or to general service in the creation of a shared resource. Domains of science and information are considered appropriate venues for an overwhelming commitment to shared knowledge and public service rather than private gains. This is particularly true when the funding, tools, support and ethos behind the development of science (as at a government, commons or university laboratory)is supplied by public support. A p2p ethos also stands against hiding information, limiting publications or similar strategies so as to advantage future prestige or reputations or a future dependent discovery.

D. P2P frameworks tend to instill resilience. They tend to offset fragility, including weak capacity, illegitimacy and political division, as well as specific challenges of post-conflict settings and authoritarian states. Presumably both the technical/network aspects of p2p as well as its emphasis on sharing/trusting culture contribute to this tendency. Moreover, human interaction at what amounts to 1:1 levels may enhance the capacity for individual differences to be subordinated to collective action. In other words, p2p can be self-reinforcing of its own value framework. It is inherently normative.

E. What to avoid: Modes of interactions that represent p2p as against science, technology advancement, improved living standards achieved with minimal social and environmental costs, against learning, as arbitrarily exclusive in defining peers or as in any reasonable way against sharing.


1. Borrowing from the Wikipedia article on ethos [1]:

There are three categories of ethos, which, if followed in the situation of speaking, could help develop a high ethos:

  • phronesis - practical skills & wisdom
  • arete - virtue, goodness
  • eunoia - goodwill towards the audience.

Each of these components is relevant to what is included in Section 1 with the adaptation that they apply not to rhetorical speaking but rather to p2p interactions. That is, the eunoia component of this ethos is not so much goodwill toward the audience but goodwill toward others who may benefit in future from a p2p interaction.

2. This ethos is meant to be normative. It is not an appropriate document to be used authoritatively as rules or as a basis of governance.
3. Samuel Rose offers the following on anonymity:

community wiki comments goes back at least 15 years, to the original wiki

The problem it was trying to solve was (and is) that the wiki can be edited by anyone, without logging in. The wiki system cannot really afford very many unidentified people. The lower the participatory barrier, the more valuable it is to be able to identify the people within it. This identity is one of the only ways to really sustain the "commons" of the system over time.

See also

JOHO the Blog relevant post

Section 2: Recommended Means of Governance for p2p Projects, Frameworks or Networks

First principle: Governance exists to enable stable, smooth operations of p2p interactions. It does not exist for external financial, political or rhetorical aims. Thus governance is not "over" p2p transactions, but in service to them. Regulatory functions are protective of peer interactions executed without widely destructive results or malicious intent.

Article 1. Planning and Preparation

A. Facilities for high quality p2p interactions merit planning and preparation.

B. While decisions must ultimately occur through some process, opennness and transparency of deliberations and deliberation processes as well as inputs to decisions are of fundamental importance. Arbitrary and capricious policies, rules or designs are not consistent with good p2p governance.

C. Design, planning and preparation for p2p facilities should allow for hospitable, accessible, functional environments and schedules that serve the participants' logistical, intellectual, biological, aesthetic, identity, and cultural needs.

D. What to avoid: Untrained, inexperienced, or ideologically biased organizers design programs that do not fit the purpose of the effort, or that do not respect and engage the relevant stakeholders. The venue is inaccessible, ugly, and confusing, and the poorly constructed schedule is inflexible or rushed, with inadequate time for doing what needs to be done. Logistical, class, racial, and cultural barriers to participation are left unaddressed, effectively sidelining marginalized people and further privileging elites, majorities, "experts," and partisan advocates.

Article 2. Transparency

A. P2P interactions should minimize secretive aspects along with components that cannot be investigated, audited or otherwise reviewed. For example, no one should have the capacity to secretly change a core piece of open systems source code without any record of their actions being available to any interested party. A good standard is the article history framework associated with Wikipedia.

B. Decisions about membership, inclusion, credentials required and other baseline standards should be openly presented and justified. Such standards should acknowledge and explain means of challenging their authority or aptness to a given situation.

C. A p2p ethos is generally less concerned about rights to privacy than other frameworks. That said, items of a clear personal nature such as medical histories, personal photos, etc. can and should be protected where necessary.

D. Actions taken that are alleged to be harassing, destructive or otherwise malicious should be dealt with through reasonable and due processes. Outcomes of such reviews should be open to further interpretation and challenge befitting the stakes involved.

E. Interests that potentially change one's perspective should always be dislosed openly or at least to parties needing to know.

F. What to avoid: Secret data, secret processes, secret memberships, secret outcomes.

Article 3. Compensation

A. P2P interactions are inherently free and open. However, fair compensation for skills, risk or efforts is not inconsistent with good p2p governance. Compensations rates and terms should be as transparent as possible.

B. Repeated transaction-based rewards such as a royalty for works created in past are not in the best spirit of p2p and are detrimental to p2p governance.

C. The idea of "share and share alike" is the best reward system for a p2p system or framework. The idea is expressly to avoid syndicates or exchanges where transactions are the norm.

D. What to avoid: A transaction mentality or the idea of sustained earnings for creative productivity.

Article 4. Acknowledgment of Co-existing Systems

A. P2P interactions and frameworks co-exist with other non-p2p systems. These other systems can have governance impact and relevance to the construction and operation of p2p systems. The first rule of such interactions is respect for and compliance with the authority associated with the co-existing systems. However, aspects of the p2p core principles should be compromised to the minimum feasible.

B. P2P systems are potentially disruptive. Income earning ventures, modes of production, systems of government and other highly valued social components can come into direct conflict with the disruptive nature of p2p interactions. The core principle is respect, tolerance and openness in response to such conflicts.

C. What to avoid: P2P benefits are usually legitimate human rights; however, the specific advancement of p2p systems as a disruptive weapon against existing and ongoing social relations should be employed only under the gravest, most restrictive or morally repugnant of situations. Specifically designing p2p systems for forced access to private property, for highly disruptive fun or sport, or assault on an individual, firm or government to precipitate some minor change or advance a relatively minor protest, is generally not consistent with good p2p governance.

Article 5. Inclusion or Inclusiveness of Peers

A. Governance mechanisms for P2P interactions and frameworks should be as inclusive in the definition of peer as possible.

B. Unless dire political consequences are involved, peers should not be anonymous.

C. Communications to peers or peer groups should be styled as a communication to another person, as in a conversation.

Article 6. Sustainability

A. Sustainability is the capacity to carry on a process indefinitely without depleting inputs or causing other systems to fail by requiring increasing amounts of scare resources. P2P governance approaches attempt to achieve sustainable processes wherever they have influence.

Article 7. Participatory and Collaborative Frameworks

A. A p2p governance system is quick to seek input from those it governs, impacts or transforms.

B. Those charged with governance must seek to make decisions and build plans with the maximum reasonable participation of stakeholders.

C. What to avoid: Never close the door in a meeting that can be open.

Article 8. Fair Deliberations

A. A p2p governance system should seek means to define and execute fair deliberative processes. Defining the standards and components of fairness should be a foremost priority.

Article 9. Willingness to be Surplanted

A. A p2p governance system does not seek to perpetuate itself if its approaches are not logical, efficient or contributing satisfactorily.

B. What to avoid: Avoid rationalizing radical transformations to protect participants who have other realistic options. P2P frameworks must foremost serve peers who interact, not those who create or manage p2p frameworks.

Article 10. Commitment to Research, Learning and Development

A. A governance system supporting p2p interactions invests regularly and thoughtfully in advancing capacity and means of service by training administrators, building learning environments, supporting research and otherwise developing its human resources and its non-human intellectual resources as well as other capital.

Section 3: Documenting Ideals and Best Practices

Inclusiveness, Open Agenda

The following letter was sent concerning an Open Governance Conference:

Friends of the Collaboration Project,

The Open Government and Innovations Conference has opened a call for participation for their July 21-22 conference in Washington, DC. In the spirit of participation and social media, 1105 Government Information Group, the host organization, is calling upon military, civilian and local government leaders, social media evangelists, web content managers, information technologists, program managers, consultants, academics and citizens to help shape the content direction of this conference.

OGI is taking submissions for session topics on their website (, where users can also vote and comment on other proposals in a “crowdsourced” fashion. The deadline for proposal submissions is May 6, 2009, and voting will be closed on May 22.

Please find the attached call for participation for more information, or contact [email protected].

The OGI Conference is hosted by 1105 Government Information Group in partnership with AFCEA International, the Association for Enterprise Integration, the National Academy of Public Administration, and MiXT Media Strategies.

This is a great opportunity to build community and share success stories. We hope you will participate!

Warmest regards,

The Collaboration Project National Academy of Public Administration 900 7th Street NW, Suite 600 Washington, DC 20001 Phone: (202) 204-3190 Fax: (202) 393-0993 Email: [email protected] Web:

Informing Peers, Using Facebook to Build Coalitions and Communicate With Them

The following letter was sent via a Facebook group. Note the signature is not from a leader but the group, yet a single person does provide their name and identity to send the message so that a response can be directed.


Laura Agnich sent a message to the members of Advancing Diversity and Inclusion at Virginia Tech.

Subject: Update

Dear allies for advancing diversity and inclusion at VT,

I apologize if you get this message twice. Thank you for joining this group, and to the numerous individuals who have expressed their commitment to this very important cause.

A group of faculty, staff and students that met on Friday and Monday in the Multicultural Center in Squires, and named ourselves the “Alliance for Diversity and Inclusion” drafted a response to the recent administrative handling of external pressure from FIRE. President Steger and Provost McNamee, and other administrators, agreed to meet with our group this morning. They assured us that Virginia Tech is still committed to diversity and, of course, no policies have been changed. We expressed our concerns regarding the handling of the response to FIRE, which did not involve important stakeholders and expertise on matters of diversity within the university, and how the administrative response to FIRE negatively affected Virginia Tech’s public image.

Because students are so directly affected by this issue, as the value of our degrees in a global economy depends on the education we receive here, the students that attended the meeting this morning will be meeting tonight to draft our own response. We will update you all soon on our collective progress, and will certainly call upon your expertise as we move forward to advance diversity and inclusion.

Thank you for your support and patience,

Student members of the Alliance for Diversity and Inclusion

Section 4: Common p2p Product and Service Strategies and Concerns

Constructing a Commons

Defining a Peer Group


Avoiding Transformation into an Institutional Monolith

Section 5: Apparent Failures, Risks and P2P Governance Crises

A. BitTorrent Piracy

Specific Documentation Supporting This Project

  1. P2P Commons Boundary Conditions

Toward a P2P Governance Bibliography

Notable Sources

  • Some brief portions of the document derive from or are copied verbatim from

Core Public Engagement Principles -- Explanatory Text for Version 3.0 associated with the Public Engagement Principles Project forum at [2]

  • The definitions for many key terms (e.g. Open Software, Creative Commons) are meant to aline with Wikipedia articles on those topics. Eventually suitable links may be embedded throughout the document, but that is not a current priority.
  • The chart at [3] brought to my (Ryan Lanham's) attention by Michel Blauwens, the Chief Executive of the P2P Foundation, and Alex Rollin has proved particularly helpful.
  • The P2P wiki also substantially informs a number of items here and is perhaps the primary source.
  • The Lessig Wiki is a worthwhile source to consider on matters related especially to intellectual property.

General Documentation Supporting This Effort

Preliminary Portrait of p2p Governance

Some Words and Neologisms Associated with P2P Governance

As a point of departure, some of the concepts below are consistent with a p2p weltanshauung or worldview. They offer a conceptual portrait of p2p when viewed together, and can lead to interesting zones of explorations when taken individually.

Characteristics of Peer Governance

Forms of Leadership

The following represents some alternatives to hierachy:

Models for Community

Organizational Principles

Models of Management

Institutional Formats

Capital Formats

Political Models

External Links Associated with p2p Governance

Conventional Leadership and Management Texts That Bridge to P2P Ideas

While not explicitly p2p texts, these management classics could be taken as reasonable points of connection between conventional management and governance theories and those appropriate to P2P.

  • Argyris, C. (1990). Overcoming organizational defences: Facilitating organizational learning. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
  • Badaracco, J.L. Jr. (2002). Leading quietly. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
  • Bennis, W., & Biederman, P.W. (1997). Organizing genius. The secrets of creative collaboration. Toronto: Addison-Wesley.
  • Chaleff, I. (1995). The courageous follower. Standing up to and for our leaders. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.
  • Drucker, P. F. (1990). Managing the non-profit organization: Practices and principles. New York: Harper Collins.
  • Greenleaf, R. K. (1977). Servant leadership. A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness. New York: Paulist Press.
  • Heifetz, R. A. (1994). Leadership without easy answers. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.
  • Selznick, P. (1984). Leadership in administration. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  • Senge, P. M. et al. (1994). The fifth discipline field book: Strategies and tools for building a learning organization. New York: Doubleday.

P2P Hall of Fame

Presenting a Hall of Fame is somewhat paradoxical in that p2p as a worldview is often associated with the decentering of individual identity and prestige in favor of less self-centered ego-driven initiative. There are inevitably "rock stars" of p2p, however. Many of these persons have made selfless contributions to p2p initiatives, and perhaps all emphasize their own participation as peers in large open networks of individuals.

Link to be added...

Some Intellectual Antecedents, Co-Travelers and Influences on P2P Governance Theory

Other Key Internal Links

Some Grand Open Questions

Please add links to blogs, wiki articles, etc. that address any of these, or add others.

Is p2p a philosophy, an economic system, a worldview, a fad?

See Peer to Peer

What does P2P require or what optimizes P2P?


Broadband Policy: Beyond privatization, competition and independent regulation. by Larry Press. First Monday, Volume 14, Number 4 - 6 April 2009 [21]

Key essays:

What kind of information infrastructures do we need for more widespread collaborative production to occur, and how do we achieve such policies? This essay has also remarkable good explanations of the various types of property and goods that we are dealing with.

  • Report by Educause about international efforts to create broadband infrastructures: A Blueprint for Big Broadband. 2008

Can non p2p organizations "do" p2p?

What would a p2p education look like?

Do conventional economies have a limit or carrying capacity for p2p efforts?

What are the differences between p2p and socialism? Capitalism? Communism? Panarchy? Wikinomics?

Michel Bauwens from 2006

P2P and the Market

P2P exchange can be considered in market terms only in the sense that free individuals are free to contribute, or take what they need, following their individual inclinations, with a invisible hand bringing it all together, without monetary mechanism. But they are not true markets in any real sense of the word: market pricing nor managerial command are required to make decisions regarding the allocation of resources. There are more differences:

– Markets do not function according to the criteria of collective intelligence and holoptism, but rather, in the form of insect-like swarming intelligence. Yes, there are autonomous agents in a distributed environment, but each individual only sees his own immediate benefit.

– Markets are based on 'neutral' cooperation, and not on synergistic cooperation: no reciprocity is created.

– Markets operate for the exchange value and profit, not directly for the use value.

– Whereas P2P aims at full participation, markets only fulfill the needs of those with purchasing power.

Amongst the disadvantages of markets are:

– They do not function well for common needs that do not assure full payment of the service rendered (national defense, general policing, education and public health), and do not only fail to take into account negative externalities (the environment, social costs, future generations), but actively discourages such behavior.

– Since open markets tend to lower profit and wages, it always gives rise to anti-markets, where oligopolies and monopolies use their privileged position to have the state 'rig' the market to their benefit.

P2P and Capitalism

Despite these differences, P2P and the capitalist market are highly inter-related. P2P is dependent on the market, and the market is dependent on P2P.

Peer production is highly dependent on the market. The reason is that peer production produces use value, through mostly immaterial production, without directly providing an income for its producers. Participants cannot live from peer production, though they derive meaning and value from it, and though it may out compete, in efficiency and productivity terms, the market-based for-profit alternatives. Thus: 1) peer production covers only a section of production, while the market provides for nearly all sections; 2) peer producers are dependent on the income provided by the market. So far, peer production is created through the interstices of the market.

But the market and capitalism is equally dependent on P2P. Capitalism has become a system relying on distributed networks, in particular on the P2P infrastructure in computing and communication. Productivity is highly reliant on cooperative teamwork, most often organized in ways that are derivative of peer production's governance. The support given by major IT companies to open source development is a testimony to the use derived from even the new common property regimes. The general business model seems to be that business 'surfs' on the P2P infrastructure, and creates a surplus value through services, which can be packaged for its exchange value. However, the support of free software and open sources by business poses an interesting problem. Is corporate-sponsored, and eventually corporate managed FS/OS software still 'P2P'. The answer is: only partially. If it uses the GPL/OSI legal structures, it does results in common property regimes. But if peer producers are made dependent on the income, and even more so, if the production becomes beholden to the corporate hierarchy, then it would no longer qualify as peer production. Thus, capitalist forces will mostly use partial implementations of P2P. The tactical and instrumental use of P2P infrastructure, collaborative practices, etc.. is only part of the story however. In fact, contemporary capitalism's dependence on P2P is systemic. As the whole underlying infrastructure of capitalism becomes distributed, it generates P2P practices and becomes dependent on them. The French-Italian school of 'cognitive capitalism' (i.e. those that emit the hypothesis of) in fact stresses, in my view correctly, that value creation today is no longer confined to the enterprise, but beholden to the mass intellectuality of knowledge workers, who through their lifelong learning/experiencing and systemic connectivity, constantly innovate within and without the enterprise. This is an important argument, since it would justify what we see as the only solution for the expansion of the P2P sphere into society at large: the universal basic income. Only the independence of work and the salary structure, can guarantee that peer producers can continue to create this sphere of highly productive use value.

Does all this mean that peer production is only immanent to the system, productive of capitalism, and not in any way transcendent to capitalism?

What do futurists say about p2p?

What are some leading research efforts on p2p governance?

Who hates or is threatened by p2p?

What can never be or clearly isn't now p2p?

Is there a psychology, anthropology or sociology of p2p?

Is there an identifiable history of p2p?