Talk:Introduction to the P2P Foundation Wiki Material about Relational Topics

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1. Dialogue between Adrian Chan and Michel Bauwens

Hi Adrian,

I'd like to discus some points in your intro. My comments start with <<

Michel, my comments start with ;-)

AC: What kind of human relationships arise in a peer to peer context? What are their dynamics? When we say that P2P takes a relational approach to the world, what do we mean? We mean that relations are paramount. In contrast to individuals or entities, for example. Relations among terms are given privilege over the terms themselves. Now this doesn't of course mean that the terms have no value for us. It means that we believe the terms will be given their value through the relations they take up.

<<I agree, but would put it that relations are what enrich and constitute individuals, so that in no way is peer to peer an obstacle to individualism

-) "Of course. I'll reword it
I meant to convey that relational approaches treat nodes/terms as black boxes, and view relations as having organizing force."

The relational view, while dating far back in western thinking to debates on causality, identity, truth, predication, and so on, gripped philosophical traditions mid 20th century with what's known as the "linguistic turn." A product of European semiotics and structuralism, philosophies took up the pursuit of truth and value in the organization of relations rather than in terms themelves. Context of meaning took precedence. This view drew from linguistics, which ascribes meaning not to a single word but to its use.

<<I think that peer to peer and relationality should be seen as resulting from multiple traditions, including many pre-linguistic turn strands such as the cosmobiological tradition of the renaissance, the tradition of socialist individualism, etc.., including premodern and non-western traditions. I agree with you that the linguistic turn is important, but not exclusive.

-) "Feel free to add; I'm not as versed in those."

There are many ways of organizing relations. P2P has its roots in cybernetics and network relation theory, both of which have been used to model communication and production. Networks comprise of nodes (people, organizations, etc) and relations between them. They are visualized as dots connected by lines, and nothing more. For this and other reasons, p2p stands apart from social theories that examine the historical and traditional hierarchies and power relations that structure and organize society.

<<Does P2P really derive from cybernetics? Perhaps the part that inspired the internet engineers, but all of them? Networks relations theory, is a form of subtle reductionism (to use Wilber) or interactionism (to use Bhaskar), as you indicate. But peer to peer as I understand it, is not dots connecting, but subjects connecting, and peer to peer implies that we all treat each other as subjects, not objects. Thus it does not stands apart from theories of power and society, which study alienation and emancipation from it.

-) "This is really interesting. My sense of P2P may be off. I've not understood it to take an intersubjective approach, say along the lines of hermeneuics and much of the philosophical traditions borne out of that. That was the gist of end of my editorial
that an intersubjective reading of how the dots connect could complement P2P. Addition of a communication theory that place emphasis on modes of connection, esp mediated modes (P2P technologies). I should reword the last sentence."

It stands apart also from theories oriented to exchanges of meaning, interpersonal dynamics and communication, psychologically-oriented theories that take an interest in the individual. But p2p does have a view of the actor, and it is sensitive to the actor's position in a network of relations.

Where p2p has compelled thinkers to consider its application to fields beyond cybernetics is in its flatness and equality as a form of organization. P2P is used, for example, as a model for new kinds of production. Or for the organization of grassroots movements. In many of these, p2p, or peer production, creates the communication that sustains the organization. Messages, not power, organize relations. We can see then how networking technologies make an easy fit, to wit, democratizing social arrangements, flattening or challenging traditional power, and embedding authority within communication rather than inherited social arrangements.

<<From the above comment, it results that I do not agree with a restrictive interpretation of p2p in those terms.

-) "I'm into expanding the view
could you suggest a rephrasing?"

This section examines topics related to p2p-oriented views of relations, which are, and true to the p2p tradition, inventive and exploratory. A great deal of interest is focused on markets, social relations, and production efforts (knowledge, research, products, even politics). --Adrian Chan This page and on-going investigation is maintained by Adrian Chan and Remi Sussan.

<<I agree with the conclusion <g>. Mine is, after citing my questions and differences, that your approach is appropriate but partial, and should not exclude those that you say a p2p approach stand apart from.

-) "No problem -- I don't need to constrain the definition. I'll rephrase and email you first."


Email exchange between Adrian Chan and Michael Bauwens

Adrian Chan:

"I just reread your introduction on individuality, relationality, and collectivity. I don't get how you move from pomo to sociality, the collective and to the necessity of subject-object approach.

The collective to me is a very fuzzy idea, as it seems to aggregate individuals without a social theory of what binds them. My sociological self doesn't see a concept of the social in the collective (this is directed here not at you but at the concept)...

Sociality sets up a protocol... This seems sociological but I don't recognize the approach referred to here. is this normative? Is it discursive? Does the protocol appear thru discipline? Communication/commands and orders? Is it the protocol of gemeinschaft or gesellschaft, of work or leisure? Etc.

Then agents relate around an object. If relations are mediated by objects, where do we put symbolic interactionism, which describes intersubjective interaction as a communicative act (no object required). If you mean "objective," we'd have to ask how can we assume that interactants share an objective. There are numerous cases of interaction in which people exploit a situation, or each other. Not to mention examples of artistic expression, performance, etc which don't seem to include an object of action or relation.

If I can better understand where we can go with relations I think I can help better. I don't mean to be tossing up speedbumps; this is all in the interest of a better and more refined understanding!"

Michel Bauwens:

Thanks for your questions and remarks, though I'm not sure I can answer them.

I think a general point is that I do not have the same academic grounding, and am thus often not aware of the various schools and theories in existence.

I'm positing my own conclusions based on my own reading and reflection.

My point about the collective and society is that it is an irreducible part of reality, the thickness of it that we encounter, so that we are never totally free in our subjectivity and relations but shaped by that pre-existing totality. I have an inkling that this is well explained by critical realism, which I only recently encountered. I think that forms of institutional thought might also fit the bill. But not being a sociologist, I'll leave open the exact mechanisms through which this impacts on individuals and relations.

I also know there is a distinct school of object oriented sociology (

The concept of protocol is derived from the book of Galloway, where he states that power and control are now hidden in the protocol of networks, and I pretty much think that is true for the overall network that is society.

Your object to object-relations by referring to symbolic interactionism? That's perhaps an aspect that I forgot, but I include it in the individual/individuality aspect: human reflexivity.

My point is that no approach of reality that does not combine both the subjective and the objective, can be in the end satisfactory, a point well argued by the various integral/integrative approaches (Wilber, Bhaskar). We can of course use reduction and bracketing, such as in network theory, and it can be partially effective, but then has to be brought back to the interdisciplinary field where the missing aspects need to be re-introduced.

So to answer your objection to the object, you might be correct, but such approach is nevertheless illuminating, and has been used with success to explain the failings of some social networking projects. I tend to believe that human intentionality is also irreducible, and that it necessarily involves an object.'

Excerpt from PeerPoint

--Poor Richard 04:32, 30 June 2012 (UTC) -

I am looking at a set of relational concepts that are common to organizations, production, and technology–-so I think they are pretty fundamental. Most of this has a p2p orientation but none of it is very rigorous at this point. Its just for discussion.

All of the following concepts are highly recursive and interwoven so the following outline could be arranged in alternate ways.

1. Individual sovereignty (need definitions–what it is & isn’t in p2p context)

  • Interdependence
  • Equality of agency

2. Cooperation (need definitions–what it is & isn’t in p2p context)

  • Intersubjectivity
  • Reciprocity
  • Meritocracy
  • Enlightened self-interest

3. Openness (need p2p definitions)

  • Transparency
  • Informed Consent
  • Open participation

4. Commons (need p2p definitions)

  • Sustainability
  • Access
  • Scarcity and rivalry
  • markets

5. Composability

Per Wikipedia: Composability is a system design principle that deals with the inter-relationships of components. A highly composable system provides recombinant components that can be selected and assembled in various combinations to satisfy specific user requirements. In information systems, the essential features that make a component composable are that it be:

  • self-contained (modular): it can be deployed independently – note that it may cooperate with other components, but dependent components are replaceable
  • stateless: it treats each request as an independent transaction, unrelated to any previous request. Stateless is just one technique; managed state and transactional systems can also be composable, but with greater difficulty.

6. Subsidiarity

  • (Christianity / Roman Catholic Church) (in the Roman Catholic Church) a principle of social doctrine that all social bodies exist for the sake of the individual so that what individuals are able to do, society should not take over, and what small societies can do, larger societies should not take over
  • (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) (in political systems) the principle of devolving decisions to the lowest practical level
  • Per Wikipedia: The concept of subsidiarity is applicable in the fields of government, political science, cybernetics, management, military (Mission Command) and, metaphorically, in the distribution of software module responsibilities in object-oriented programming. Subsidiarity is, ideally or in principle, one of the features of federalism, where it asserts the rights of the parts over the whole.