Protocol Commons

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= concept used by Jose Ramos in a presentation in the Global Commons Forum of Seoul on October 2, not to be confused with the concept of Protocol Cooperatives

Contextual Quote

"What is necessary is an orientation towards seeing a number of commoning activities as intrinsically linked. I describe this as an emerging protocol commons that allows us to see how we are implicated in each other's interests and struggles as a common family of humanity and life."


Jose Ramos:

"we could see the protocol cooperativism discussed by Michel Bauwens, where cities across the world are able to mutualise resources.

The Commons is not a singular phenomenon, there are many different types of Commons and commoning activity. Bollier and Helfrich’s seminal work makes this abundantly clear. For the commons to grow, we need to find synergies between many different types of commoning activity and scales of activity. Of course we need cooperative, distributive and regenerative forms at the scale of the enterprise. But we need as well urban Commons that supports a garden bed of commoning to thrive — partner cities that grow the commons intentionally. And we need transnational forms of solidarity, such as city to city mutualization and cosmo local production.

The challenge is both an epistemological one and as well related to our maturity as human beings. Our worldviews come from our sense of place, language, experience and embodiment. It is too often too easy to see what we do in isolation from the multiplicity of other activities in the world, we are so deeply embedded in our own struggles, challenges and activities. And then there is the ego. We want to see our creations, our priorities, as primary. So in order to create these pop up political economies we need to see ourselves as part of potential ecosystems. We need to begin to create a system of shared language and messaging that allows one commoning activity to leverage or find synergies with another. This ‘protocol commons’ would allow for collaboration and synergy even when these activities and projects are fundamentally different. It means that there is a way for one commoning activity to be asymmetrical to another commoning activity and yet be able to develop generative synergies.

We can think of the metaphor of the bee and the flower. They do not fundamentally know how each other think, but there is a form of signaling that allows each to find a synergy with the other and reciprocate the value that forms the basis for their survival.

This indicates that commons synergies can comprise of ontological and epistemological complexity. It means that we do not have to share the subjectivity of the other in order to collaborate fruitfully. It also means that two entities can be different in form and function, and still form a generative ecosystem of commoning. There is a kind of metalanguage, a protocol, of the Commons which allows for complex and asymmetrical reciprocation, collaboration, value exchange, generativity.

Through this we can envision this variety of commoning activity, from the micro cooperative scale, to the scale of the urban commons, and to the transnational scale.

We all know that we are mutually implicated into our survival. How the Amazon goes we go. How the oceans go we go. A protocol Commons is more than just a technical metalanguage for communication and asymmetrical reciprocation but is underlined by the knowledge that we are interdependent, and the language and practice of this interdependence is fundamental to our collective survival." (