[P2P-F] Call for Papers: Decentralizing the Commons

Kevin Flanagan kev.flanagan at gmail.com
Tue Dec 15 22:12:10 CET 2015

Call for Papers: Decentralizing the Commons


We are witnessing today a steady growth in the impact of user-generated
content and peer-production on the so-called sharing or collaborative
economy. These emergent practices are an indicator of radical changes in
the mode of production in an age of ‘prosumerism’, characterized by two
main trends. On the one hand, corporations such as Google, Uber or Facebook
are capturing the value created by the actors contributing to the
collaborative economy, in a way that has been described by some scholars as
an exploitation of free labour. On the other hand, projects such as
Wikipedia or GNU/Linux are emblematic of a new model of production that
relies on the contribution of many individuals collaborating to a
collective project that is not owned by any given entity but rather by the
community as a whole (Commons-Based Peer Production or CBPP). These
individuals organise themselves  without relying on traditional
hierarchical and mercantile organisational structures, to produce a set of
commons resources which are made freely available to the public for use and
reuse. In the last few years, CBPP has expanded beyond the field of
software and encyclopedias to also cover the realms of  information
(OpenStreetMap, Wikihow), hardware (FabLabs, Open Source Ecology),
accommodation (Couchsurfing, BeWelcome) and currency (Bitcoin, Altcoins).

The concept of decentralisation is a key requisite for the protection of
these commons — from their governance system, including the allocation  of
power and functions in the organisation of labour; to the characteristics
of the socio-technical means  of collaboration, in terms of both the
underlying technical infrastructure and the ownership structure of such
infrastructure. Despite the original design of the Internet as a
decentralized network, with the advent of the Web 2.0, centralized (and
often proprietary) platforms — typically driven by corporate interests —
 have progressively taken over the web. These centralized choke-points can
be used by governments to increase surveillance (as disclosed by the
Snowden revelations), to blackout the Internet (e.g. Egypt, Syria, or San
Francisco’s BART), or to restrict the activities of activist organizations
(such as Wikileaks). It has now become clear that it is not enough to
develop free/libre/open source (FLOSS) alternatives, if we do not as well
endeavor to re-decentralize the Internet. New decentralized software tools
may ultimately be useful to support the operation and the long-term
sustainability of CBPP communities.

In view of this, we organised the second FLOSS4P2P workshop (@Fablab
London, supported by P2Pvalue), gathering a wide spectrum of people working
on decentralized FLOSS projects that could help or support the activities
of peer production communities. Given the success of the workshop, we would
like to prepare a book in collaboration with the Institute of Network
Cultures (on the model of the former MoneyLab Reader) to explore the topic
of decentralisation in the commons sector.

We welcome proposals from academics, activists, researchers and
practitioners interested in exploring the topic from a wide set of
perspectives, ranging  from computer science, engineering, sociology,
philosophy, organisational theory, cultural studies, digital studies, etc.
Contributions can cover a variety of topics, including tools for grassroots
communities, commons-based peer production, both online and offline wikis,
maker culture, activism, hacktivism, free culture, citizen science and
hospitality exchange. Contributions can take a variety of formats, e.g. a
story, a sci-fi tale, a comicstrip, a manifesto, a critical essay, an
interview, a study, a poem, a conversation, a debate, a combination of the
former… we would like you to experiment and surprise us!

We invite you to submit an initial abstract (max. 750w; count each image as
200w, if any) explaining your idea by January 30, 2016. Examples of
possible topics are:

Dynamics of (de)centralization in CBPP communities

Decentralized software applications for online/offline communities

Decentralized solutions to tackle specific communities concerns

Guidelines for developers and/or researchers

Comparison of centralized/decentralized processes in CBPP (e.g.
decision-making, infrastructure ownership, value generation, value

Practical experiences around centralized/decentralized structures (in the
form of stories, research, interview, etc.)

The more compelling ideas will be selected to be included in the book.

Please upload your contribution using the following Easychair link:


If you have further questions about the expected content, format, etc. do
not hesitate to let us know. We look forward to hearing about your ideas!

Primavera De Filippi

Samer Hassan

David Rozas

Skype: kev.flanagan
Phone: +353 87 743 5660
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