Just What is p2p?

P2P refers to peer-to-peer or person-to-person. In the context of Cooperation2015, it signifies a larger movement or body of thought that we now possess the understanding and technology to reshape our world into a more sustainable, human-oriented set of societies. In this article, I will attempt to list some basics that help define p2p. Here is an interview with Michel Bauwens introducing the concept of p2p.

Here are some primary principles of p2p (abstracted from Characteristics of P2P):

  • Knowledge is open and shared
  • P2P assumes equipotency; every participant has something to offer based solely on their decision to participate.  The value of their participation is subject to communal validation.
  • If there are formal rules, they have to be accepted by the community and they are ad hoc for particular projects.
  • P2P is de-institutionalized; knowledge/activity flows from person to person as opposed to via institutions or organizations. [NOTE: it could be argued that P2P is just another form of institution.  While P2P processes are not entirely structureless, they tend to be flexible structures with internally-generated rules.]
  • P2P is de-commodified; with ‘commons-based peer production’ or P2P-based knowledge exchange more generally, the production does not result in commodities sold to consumers, but in use value made for users.  In other words, the knowledge is free and freely shared, while the service of that knowledge may incur charges.  For example, free and open source sofware may be freely used, but it you need help in installing or customizing it, someone may charge to you for that service.

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