Ladder of Participation in the Peer Economy

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The following was inspired by the Ladder of Participation and by a typology around the Direct Economy produced by Xavier Comtesse. While the former was applied to the participation of youth in youth-directed projects, the latter takes insufficient account of autonomous Peer Production so I completed it.

Peer Economy model of production by communities and institutions

The following is a gradation starting from active institutions/corporations with passive consumers all the way up to autonomous peer producers no longer interested in monetization. The model is written from the point of view of corporations wanting to engage with various degrees of participation.

1. Consumers : you make, they consume. The classic model.

2. Self-service: you make, they go get it themselves. This is where consumers start becoming prosumers, but the parameters of the cooperation are totally set by the producing corporation. It's really not much more than a strategy of externalization of costs. Think of ATM's and gas stations. We could call it simple externalization.

3. Do-it-yourself: you design, they make it themselves. One step further, pioneered by the likes of Ikea, where the consumers, re-assembles the product himself. Complex externalization of business processes.

4. Company-based Crowdsourcing: The company organizes a value chain which lets the wider public produce the value, but under the control of the company .

5. Co-Design : you set the parameters, but you design it together . The Lego Factory, which allows for the self-design of new lego packages, is the paradigmatic example.

6. Co-Creation : you both create cooperatively. In this stage, the corporation does not even set the parameters, the prosumer is an equal partner in the development of new products. Perhaps the industrial model of the adventure sports material makers would fit here. This trend has been described most prominently by Eric von Hippel in the Democratization of Innovation.

7. Communities of Minipreneurs create exchange value, using proprietary platforms as a context for doing business in a distributed fashion. Minipreneurs are freelance designers operating on their own or through networked micro agencies and have a full ecology of enabling webites at their disposal.

8. Sharing communities create the use value, Web 2.0 proprietary platforms, attempt to monetize participation.

9. Peer Production proper: communities create the value, using Commons oriented approaches, with assistance from corporations who attempt to create derivative streams of value. Linux is the paradigmatic example . Open Design communities also fit in this category.

10. Peer production with cooperative production: peer producers create their own vehicles for monetization . Example: the OS Alliance free software cooperative in Austria.

11. Peer production communities or sharing communities place themselves explicitely outside of the monetary economy, and eventually attempt alternatives to monetization. Wikipedia is an example of a collective production endeavour which has explicitely refused income from advertising.

One of the domains of non-monetary valuation has been called the Adventure Economy by the organizers of the Couchsurfing Hospitality Exchange Network:

"We coin the term adventure economy to refer to a gift economy that is pay-forward, in-person, global and among strangers. In any economy, there are challenges in allocating resources effectively and avoiding abuse, but these are of special concern in non-market economies among strangers, where we don't have the information mechanisms of the price system nor of social relations, and we are also missing the risk-reduction mechanisms of contracts ."