In this episode I´m joined by Michel Bauwens, who is the founder of P2P-foundation which works to promote, research and develop different forms of peer to peer practices. He starts out by describing his engagement with civic entrepreneurship, where the P2P-foundation is one example of this kind of relational dynamic. He then explains in detail what peer to peer actually entails, while also placing this trend in a historical context in relation to how people have organized different forms of transaction and value creation. An interesting point here, regarding work, is how we have moved from a division of labour to the distribution of tasks. Peer to peer implies a very different method of organizing and controlling how people engage in a project or in the production of complex social artifacts (such as Wikipedia and Linux). He also points to how peer to peer production is codependent on the conventional and existing system today, mainly capitalism, and how this new form of organizing value creation is emerging from within the old system while at the same time transcending many of the constraints found in the the old paradigm. An important distinction is the idea of “the commons”, and Bauwens points out that peer to peer production is often organized around some kind of communally shared value where the participants contribute so as to uphold and maintain the common asset (couchsurfing is only one example). Another interesting point is how peer to peer can create a space for both cooperation and market-based competition. Further on in our conversation Bauwens describes how it´s possible to upscale the relational dynamics of peer to peer and apply it to larger societal change processes. He is currently engaged in a project in Ecuador and he uses this initiative as a case in point, explaining how Ecuador, through peer to peer practices, is trying to move into an open commons based knowledge society. An interesting point here is how knowledge can be understood as an infinite resource, and with the advent of 3D-printing and local micro production facilities, this could have dramatic effects on how a society sustains itself. We also discuss how innovation often will come from the periphery, and not necessarily from the center stage, so maybe Ecuador can play an important role in global change processes? Another theme we bring up is how to understand peer to peer from an integral perspective, with reference to the work of for instance Ken Wilber and Susan Cook-Greuter. A poignent question here circles around if and how peer to peer presuppose higher stages of consciousness? Towards the last section of the interview Bauwens speaks to his hopes for the future development of peer to peer practice.
Michel Bauwens (bio)
What is an interesting life in the p2p era?, short article by Michel Bauwens
Defining P2P as the relational dynamic of distributed networks, an informative overview of P2P
P2P and Human Evolution: Peer to peer as the premise of a new mode of civilization, an extensive essay by Michel Bauwens