Existing forms of Commons-based peer production, especially:
Free software, Wikipedia and Creative Commons, and related approaches
Wireless community networks
A FreeNetwork is any computer network that allows free local transit, following the guidelines of our peering agreement. By “transit”, we refer to information flowing through the network. While most of our members specialize in wireless networking, a FreeNetwork can be built using Ethernet, fiber optics, or any other kind of networking technology. A FreeNetwork is defined by what its users can do with it, rather than the particular technology it is built on.
-> Sharing of a “physical”, non-copyable resource (Internet access).
Basis for cooperation in community networks:
This document is an attempt to connect those network islands by providing the minimum baseline template for a peering agreement between owners of individual network nodes - the FreeNetworks.org Peering Agreement (FNPA)….
Article I. Free Transit: The owner agrees to provide free transit across their free network….
Article II. Open Communication: The owner agrees to publish the information necessary for peering to take place … under a free license.
Article III. No Warranty: There is no guaranteed level of service….
Article V. Local Amendments: (to be filled in ad-hoc by the node owner…)
Large community networks such as Freifunk are mesh networks: Multiple computers (nodes or peers) form a network without needing a central authority or hierarchical structures. Data “hops” from node to node until it reaches its destination.
Mesh networks are “self-healing”: Whenever a node leaves or joins the network, the network structure reconfigures itself so that all data still reaches its destination (unless the network splits into two parts because the lost node was the sole connection between different regions).
Generalize the approach of wireless community networks to co-produce and share (almost) everything that people like to have.
-> Build an open network for sharing and shared production:
Share what you know (-> Universal Production Set)
Share what you have (and don't need for yourself)
Share what you (like to) do (start or join a project)
Shares: goods that are shared
Parallel co-use (e.g. Wi-Fi)
Serial co-use (e.g. book lending, apartments)
Repositories (e.g. of tools; libraries)
Open Production Places (e.g. on-demand book/media printer, individual furniture-maker)
Floaters: goods that can “float” from one peer to another (“New user wanted”)
Sources (“Open X Source”): peers or projects producing new goods
Sinks: peers or projects using/consuming goods
Based on an idea by Thomas Kalka.
Family of constraints which shares may apply (family of “sharing agreements”, similar to the family of Creative Commons licenses):
Permanent: good must remain permanently in the commons (“permafloater”)
Transitive: any goods produced with the help of this good become part of the commons (“copyleft” for physical goods/means of production)
Attribution appreciated: sharers wish to be attributed, if practical (not a strict requirement)
Details for serial co-use:
Use on site (e.g. washing machine, on-demand press, house/apartment) or move to user (e.g. books)?
If move to user: who (user or sharer) organizes/pays for transport?
Transfer to others allowed? (only within a specific region?)
Return on date / on demand?
Must repair if broken by user?
For the same reasons that motivate people to develop free software or participate in community networks:
To produce goods they like to have (“scratching an itch”)
To do something they enjoy doing (“fun and passion”)
To give something back to the community
To learn something or expand their skills
To increase their reputation or community standing
Because sharers might get preferred treatment
Shared goods and the necessary means of production are either:
Granted property (private property shared by the owners)
Common property (permanent part of the commons—nobody has the right to take them out)
Note: How can we safeguard the status of common property within the current legal framework? -> Requires a “legal hack” similar to the GPL.
How things become common property:
Cost recovery: sharers may ask for voluntary suggested contributions, as long as there are still uncovered costs (money that has been spent to buy or maintain the goods).
Donations: people donate goods or money to buy goods to the commons.
Collections: projects collect money in order to buy common property (distributed donations).
Common property (goods that are partially and totally community-owned) are still maintained by the initial sharers, but they can't be sold/re-privatized—if the initial sharers choose not to maintain them any more, they “float” to somebody else within the Network.
Common property is always transitive: goods produced using them are common property, too.
Costs only arise when something must be bought since it isn't available in the Network. Ideally, costs should become lower over time, as more and more goods and tools are produced and freely distributed in the Commons Network.
How to deal with conflicting demands for the same good?
Maintainers decide, but “try to be fair.” Recommendations:
Projects may produce first for themselves and second for others (“Share what you can”, i.e. what you don't need for yourself), therefore they might prefer people who have contributed time or money to the project.
People with an urgent need should get priority.
Otherwise, people who are sharers (active participants of the network, including their children and old or ill ex-sharers) might get priority.
Otherwise, try to satisfy requests in order of arrival (“first come, first serve”).
Suitable for decentralized production.
Low barriers of entry—affordable means of production.
Produced goods are relevant for many people.
People are able to handle the necessary tasks.
People like to handle the necessary tasks.
Internet access & telephony
Child & elder care
Family of usage agreements for shared goods and common property.
Decentralized software infrastructure for
sharing and finding goods
founding, joining and running projects
collecting and coordinating people's wishes about what to do and what to get
Hypothesis: people like to do things that are useful for others and to be part of an active community.
-> Create suitable infrastructure (for sharing designs, for sharing goods, for organizing shared production, for spontaneous cooperation and stigmergic interaction), and production will follow.