P2P Foundation:Sandbox

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search

In the sandbox you can play with wiki syntax and more.

You answered (11jan09):

"As free software moves from the margins to center stage, more and more

corporations adapt to the model, and pay programmers to do such parts of the free software as needed for themselves, but they use the open licenses. So these corporations compete, but also collaborate through the common platform of free software.

For Linux, 75% of programmers are now paid by such corporations, which means they have an increasing influence over the direction of development, have a seat in the Foundations etc; (...)

The reality of the various projects is then strongly influenced by the governance model, which can be controlled primarily by a community-oriented foundation, or by a corporate-oriented format."

Some remarks about the existence of "hybrid forms" and about the dynamics of these forms.

The reality you describe is a hybrid social form of production, borrowing aspects from both systems, capitalism and P2P, or peer production. Using your definition of peer production (free and open input; free volunteering production; universally available output), one can say that there are hybrid aspects at the three moments of the process: 1. input, raw material is partly capitalistic as the computers, the offices, etc. are privately owned by the corporations (as IBM), but, for software production, free/open software is also a "raw material"; 2. production is not based on free volunteering, but some aspects of the production are new, non capitalistic, as the cooperation between programmers of antagonistic corporations; 3. the output can be oriented by corporations more towards their own needs (commercial management software, for example) but the output remains universally available.

The "social networking" also generates hybrid forms. If you take MySpace or YouTube: 1. the input is partly capitalistic (the infrastructures and the financing by advertising), but for the rest most of the input (videos, blogs, etc.) are free and open; 2. the production process is based partially on capitalist wage relations for the infrastructure management, but the rest is based on free volunteering; 3. the output is supposed to be universally available but corporations impose limits and try to extend these limits, provoking open conflicts with users/producers. (See for example: http://bang.calit2.net/tts/2008/12/31/why-i-am-deleting-my-myspace-account-and-you-should-too/)

Hybrid forms also developed in the past transitions between modes of production. Between the 6th and the 10h century, many landlords, including the Church, had simultaneously slaves and serfs (or "coloni" which were the first form of serfs). Between the 12th century and the 19th century many hybrid forms developed especially in the cities where capitalism developed within feudal relationships.

The evolution of these forms has been often slow, with periods of acceleration but also periods of recession. The example of the Arsenal of Venice, which in the early 16th century employed some 16,000 people and could produce almost a ship per day using production-lines, something not seen again after until the industrial revolution, illustrates how non-linear this evolution can be.

The dynamic of that evolution depends on many factors. The evolution of technologies is one of them, but it is far from explaining everything, as the Venetian Arsenal example shows. Here the social consciousness, the social and political conflicts play a crucial role. The European wars of religion after the 16th century and the bourgeois revolutions where indirect or direct expressions of the conflict between the old feudal logic and the raising capitalistic one.

In the conflict you refer to about the management of Free/open software foundations, between "community-oriented" and "corporate-oriented" formats, we are witnessing the same kind of conflict between the old logic and the new. Its dynamic depends and will depend not only on material-technological realities but also on social and "political" struggles, at micro and macro scales. And things should become harsher when peer production will pretend to extend to the realm of material production.

You also wrote:

"This is inevitable, as no free software project can survive in the long run without a core of developers being paid."

Yes. As long as the material means of production (and thus the material means of consumption) remain under the capitalist logic governance, the peer production realities will be in a way or another limited. (At a certain level, the problems to finance the 4th Oekonux Conference, or your personal difficulties to keep working the P2P Foundation while being obliged to work in order too feed your family are also materializations of that reality).

The development of the present economic crisis should make more visible at a social scale the need to overcome the dominant logic. The "invisible hand" is paralyzing an increasing share of the material means of production while workers are made redundant and unsatisfied material needs explode. Let's hope that this evidence will help to develop the consciousness of the urgency to extend peer production principles to the material sphere.