History of the P2P Foundation

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The following text was posted to the mailing list by Michel Bauwens on 25 May 2009, in a response to a transparency request by Matt Cooperrider. It is posted here, lightly edited, to serve as stub for a more complete history page.

Some background, as requested, in reverse chronological order

The list was created by Ned Rossiter after Andreas Wittel's Peer Production workshop meeting in Nottingham in November 2007 .. About 2 months ago, he quit as listmaster, and the settings he choose went to Kevin Carson and Ryan Lanaham for review. I have no details about what they changed.

Ning was set up by Josef Davies-Coates, but is administratively maintained by me.

Tne blog was set up by James Burke, who is admin and gives out pw/id's usually on my request. I produce 90% of the content, 3-4 items per day. He pays for the server space.

The wiki was set up by Brice Leblevennec and about 18 months ago, admin was transferred to James Burke. Since short, it seems a web of trust is technically operating, i.e. existing members give access to new ones, before, it was james and I. I produce about 85%, perhaps more, of the content, from 5 to 25 items per day, depending on my time.

I can easily spent 8 hours a day on this, which was what I did before I started this job, now I'm down to 4 ... which requires 2 extra hours outside of the office and 2 times 4 hours on both weekend days.

But to be clear, my work is content oriented and I always forward technical issues to James, list issues to kevin and ryan, technical ning issues to joseph ..

There is no formal governance, but I would argue, neither a tyranny of structurelessness. In fact, inside our resources, the case with Marc (a list etiquette dispute) was the first conflict.

The P2P-F has a legal structure in the netherlands, with a board and all, but no real existence so far.


Here are some extra things that I remember in terms of contributions:

  • Kasper Souren is very active in helping us with Wiki technical issues
  • Mauro Bieg produced a introduction to P2P for beginners, the one accessible from the box on the left side of our main wiki
  • Vasilis Kostakis has been very active in Greece
  • Philippe Vandenbroeck (with Alain Wouters and others from Whole Systems) organized the first p2p camp in Leuven, Belgium, in 2005 (?) and supported us financially, later through his new company Shift
  • Andreas Wittel organized a second P2P conference, dedicated to research, at Notthingham Trent in November 2007
  • Valentin Spirik developed a substantive guide to audiovisual production in 2007-2008
  • Athina Karatzogianni has found funds for conferences organized under the heading of a to be created Internet and P2P Research Group, at the University of Hull in 2010
  • Chris Pinchen is regularly contributing to the blog
  • Kevin Carson, Eric Hunting, and Paul Fernhout are very active in contributing thoughtpieces in the p2p research mailing list, which are regularly published in the blog
  • Bas Reus has convened a Dutch group of p2p sympathizers
  • With the help of the editors of Re-Public, the Greek online magazine which covers wiki politics, we obtained our very first EU 'FP7' research funds, which will give the Foundation a real 'practical' existence. The project, starting in March 2010, involves Adam Arvidsson, Natalie Pang and myself as co-researchers and concerns the role of digital networks in the religious practice of female migrants
  • A varied number of individuals such as Tere Vaden, Vasilis Kostakis and others have regularly lend or given some sums of money to go through the most dire circumstances in the period before February 2009
  • I work particularly close with Adam Arvidsson on the topic of the 'crisis of value' in contemporary capitalist society, and Adam's notion of the ethical economy is very close to my own understanding
  • Nathan Cravens has been very active in redesigning a number of Wiki sections in 2009, and has also created and assisted with the section of distributed Manufacturing

This list is not exhaustive, and reflects my current memory and awareness, in July 2009

Here is another lightly edited message to the list on 26 May 2009 that explains more history

James is the man to give you details about the nonprofit. I lost all details along with my stolen laptop.

Philippe Vandenbroeck was with Whole Systems and now with Shift, until last year, they provided me with 2-3k euro, just to make sure I didn't totally sink under the poverty level (<g>), without really any counterparty.

Philippe and Alain Wouters also organized and funded a first p2p gathering back in 2006 I believe.

I still put shiftn in my sigfile as courtesy to all the assistance I received in the past, it was not a lot, but a crucial amount for me, and without any request for counter-services ...

Here is a lightly edited message from James Burke on the history of the nonprofit entity, posted to the list on 26 May 2009

I registered the non-profit i think 2 years ago. (i have the papers all scanned in but not on this computer as i'm not at home while writing this). It has never been used for applications for funding. Somehow no concerted effort was ever really put into motion to attain funds, even though michel and i were often searching for donations to help fund basic living costs for michel and pay off some of the costs for the websites. The original plan was to change the board of directors there every year, but seeing as this entity was parked in stasis, there was no need to incur further legal costs just to change some names. Original board members were sam rose, Natalie Pang, Salvino Salvaggio, michel and james.