P2P Commons Boundary Conditions

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Positive Boundary Conditions

Proposed by Ryan Lanham: "I think the key boundaries are as follows:

Primary Boundaries:

1. A P2P Commons attempts to maximize free, voluntary and open sharing of assets that are engaged in the commons.
2. Assets placed in the commons are irrevocably there and cannot be removed for personal gain. Ongoing participation in a commons implies shared responsibility for the expenses needed to sustain it. When a commons can no longer be sustained, it is dissolved so as to maximize reuse and sharing of its prior assets without cost or selfish limitations.
3. P2P emphasizes reduced hierarchical control and greater autonomy of the individual. The role of parties, states, churches, co-ops, corporations, shareholding owners and other collective action bodies is intentionally minimized in any form of governance of the commons.

Secondary boundaries (some may reject these in individual terms and still claim status as a P2P commons):

1. Commons work to avoid free riding by encouraging valid and useful contributions to the commons as a sustainable process.
2. P2P commons work to minimize governance interventions.
3. Commons work to provide useful and valuable tools, assets and services to participants.
4. Commons reject inputs and uses that are applied for gains, that are not sustainable, or that adversely impact the environment.
5. Commons apply open, fair and recognizably democratic means to govern themselves.
6. Commons are not owned by a state. They are created out of a spirit of voluntary participation where users and participants continually and freely choose to contribute and where the right to exit from participation and support at any time clearly exists.
7. Commons are not a part of or party to any form political ideal such as capitalism, communism, anarchism or socialism and are compatible with any form of government that allows voluntary and free participation in protected sharing schemes that are ::self-governing within reasonable constraints (e.g. valid safety or environmental regulations).
8. P2P commons reject the idea of a single controller, a controller or governor for life, or any mode of control or ownership of the commons that positions one person or one group as a vanguard, protector, trustee or governor acting beyond reasonable terms of a few years and freely chosen by participating members. Organizers and social entrepreneurs who start commons with benign intent and who have imbued a commons with their own personal will have greater latitude under this criterion so long as their actions are reasonably consistent with the long-term goals and boundaries of commons.
9. Commons are perpetual and may not be privatized.
10. Commons work toward ideals of general public good even if the public good is at odds with the interests of some of the members of the commons."

Negative Boundary Conditions

1. A commons is not a corporation because a corporation has a defined purpose other than useful sharing. A commons may be organized as a corporation legally but a corporation cannot become a commons unless its purpose is free, open sharing with minimal purposes beyond those ends.
2. A commons is not a co-op because it is perfectly reasonable for a co-op to attempt to maximize the intrinsic value of its assets. A commons would not do this as a stated goal. Still, a co-op could be structured to be a commons or to have many commons-like features. The similarities are perhaps greatest here.
3. A commons is not a state because it does not create its own mechanisms for policing and enforcement beyond rudimentary social guides and constraints. It also does not hold "public" property.
4 commons is not a commune because individual property rights are not inconsistent with the commons. A person may use, for example, a creative commons license and still participate in the commons.

More Information

  1. Core_Peer-2-Peer_Collaboration_Principles