Meta Collab

Peer to peer is the relational dynamic at work in distributed networks, and the condition for horizontal cooperation. This process takes the form of peer production (collective production of value), peer governance (bottom-up and dynamic self-governance of such projects), peer property (new legal forms for universal access which protect against private appropriation of a collective effort).

Commons-based peer production[]

Commons-based peer production is a term coined by Harvard's Law professor Yochai Benkler to describe a new model of economic production in which the creative energy of large numbers of people is coordinated (usually with the aid of the internet) into large, meaningful projects, mostly without traditional hierarchical organization or financial compensation. He compares this to firm production (where a centralized decision process decides what has to be done and by whom) and market-based production (when tagging different prices to different jobs serves as an attractor to anyone interested in doing the job).

Another definition, by Aaron Krowne (Free Software Magazine): commons-based peer production "refers to any coordinated, (chiefly) internet-based effort whereby volunteers contribute project components, and there exists some process to combine them to produce a unified intellectual work. CBPP covers many different types of intellectual output, from software to libraries of quantitative data to human-readable documents (manuals, books, encyclopedias, reviews, blogs, periodicals, and more)."

The term was first introduced in Yochai Benkler's seminal paper Coase's Penguin. A more concise explanation, and an application of the model to the production of educational material, can be found in his Common Wisdom: Peer Production of Educational Materials.

Examples of products created by means of commons-based peer production include Linux, a computer operating system, Slashdot, a news and announcements website), Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, and Clickworkers, a collaborative scientific work.

The easiness in joining and leaving is a feature of adhocracies.


Several unexpected but foreseeable outgrowths have been:

  • Customization/Specialization. With Open Source small groups are capable to customize a large project to specific needs.
  • Immortality. Once code is open-sourced the genie cannot be put back into the bottle.
  • Cross-fertilization. Experts in a field can work on more than one project with no legal hassles.
  • Technology Revisions: A core technology gives rise to new implementations of existing projects.
  • Technology Clustering: Groups of products tend to cluster around a core set of technology and integrate with one another.


See also[][]

There is a lot of overlap between cooperation/collaboration theory, and peer to peer theory, and many resources have been collated at the Foundation for P2P Alternatives (otherwise known as, such as the P2P Encyclopedia with over 300 entries. Meta Collab an will be exploring collaborative ventures to expand and develop the research and understandings surrounding the intersections between collaboration and p2p methods, tools and objectives.


External links[]