Sub-theme 10. Local institution building and radical futures for the commons
Incubating Global-to-Local Commons
According to Intellectual Property scholar Yochai Benkler, Commons-based Peer Production (CBPP), or Peer Production (PP) for short, is “…the most significant organizational innovation that has emerged from Internet-mediated social practice” and involves three components: (1) Ideas or problems are conceptualized and executed often by different parties; (2) collaborators work[ing] together driven by diverse motivations, including non-monetary ones; and (3) governance and management of Peer Production-based projects [that] are separated from “property and contract” (Benkler, 2016). In earlier work, Benkler noted that Open Source Software (OSS) was the “quintessential instance” of CBPP (Benkler, 2005). In IASC terms, PP projects are a form of Digital or Knowledge Commons. They are Internet-based common property regimes (Schweik and English, 2012).
One question that arises in PP settings is how nascent projects evolve and become sustainable. For years, in OSS settings, nonprofit organizations, often called foundations, emerged in part to incubate and mentor emerging OSS projects toward sustainability. Some foundations play a role in day-to-day operations of OSS projects, while many solely promote the free software movement (Canovas, 2020).
In this panel, members of the PP practitioner and researcher community will discuss the characteristics of OSS foundations as incubators, including which factors contribute to evolving OSS projects from nacency toward sustainability. Panelists will share case analyses and research on what makes a successful OSS project, including the topics “how experienced members of commons guide new projects and gatekeep access,” and “open-source software foundation incubator program policy impact on the production of public goods.”
1. Decolonizing fisheries management through glocal academic-policy interfacing with knowledge production
Duke University, USA
Fish as food is a hot topic in academic and policy making circles today. Yet millions of people around the world have relied on fish as food every day for thousands of years. Why is there such a gap between daily practice and academic and policy-making? I argue that answers to these questions require understanding where most attention to the governance of fish has been in the past 50 years. Our research shows that most attention to the governance of fish has come from policy makers interested in solving problems related to open access in contexts mostly based in the needs and political reality of the northern hemisphere. Most research and policy on food has focused on land-based contexts and less so on marginalized populations dependent on aquatic resources particularly in the Global South. There is an urgency to develop policies aimed at these populations given that they produce most of the fish for human consumption, and act as local and regional drivers of poverty prevention, internal migration, and (un)sustainable resource use. To provide a global perspective on research and policy action aimed at closing the forementioned gap, I will draw on the Illuminating Hidden Harvests (IHH) research initiative, an large-scale effort that brought together more than 800 collaborators and that synthesizes findings from more than 2,000 fisheries in 58 countries around the word, regarding food and nutrition security, poverty, resource use, and governance. I invite you to reflect how such large initiatives can contribute towards building a non-colonialist sustainability science, how they can incentivize policy action, and mobilize the co-production of knowledge.
2. The Impossibility of a Planet
Critical Media Lab Basel, Switzerland
As earthlings, we must understand ourselves as part of a planetary commons. There are modes of thought, experience, and media that provide registers of access to the material fact of kinds of planetarity (Spivak). Prime examples include those much-discussed photographs of the “whole Earth”—1968’s “Earthrise” and 1972’s “Blue Marble” images—that were thought to have the potential to precipitate a worldwide, common planetary consciousness.
Some practitioners are acutely aware of the common planet on which we all live; they are compelled or choose planetary magnitudes as their main frame of reference. In the natural sciences, researchers sample and interpolate data from all over the globe and those who derive large-scale models of planet-wide systems. In macroeconomics and geopolitics, there are those who template and influence things like currencies and markets, international conflict and policies. In the humanities and social sciences, studies of transnational cultures, globalization and migration hold perspectives that includes the entirety of planet Earth as a research subject or context. “The Anthropocene,” “technosphere,” and “planetarity” are characterizations attempting to name such global knowledge practices and orientations.
“The Impossibility of a Planet” is a textual and multimedia artistic research project that intertwines discussions with people who have taken active roles in researching planetarity commons. It socializes the active processes that are now helping to reform the imaginaries and realities that come along with the continually resurgent idea of a planet-wide commons. We propose a presentation of the ongoing project, as well as recorded interviews and activated, participatory discussions session with reflexive media prompts.
3. A Local-to-Global Knowledge Commons on the Commons: The Commonsverse Federated Wiki
1University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA, 2Schumacher Center for a New Economics, USA, 3The Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, UK
As IASC participants understand, innovations in commons and commoning are occurring in localities all over the world in a variety of thematic areas. But how can these cases of commons innovations be more easily shared with others across the globe? In this talk, we describe our efforts to build an online “knowledge commons on commons” that we call the “Commonsverse Federated Wiki System” to do just that.
Audience members will undoubtedly be familiar with the “Wiki” platform that became most famous through the emergence of Wikipedia. In a standard Wiki, one or more topic editors interact with a single wiki-page instance that resides on a single (or replicated) wiki host server. People will be less familiar with Wiki’s next-generation cousin, called a “Federated Wiki,” where individual users or organizations can build and operate their own Federated Wiki website, but duplicate content or posts from (hypothetically) countless of other Federated Wiki sites in a drag-and-drop fashion.
In this presentation, we will explain the Federated Wiki concept and then showcase its utility in practice by demoing the interaction between three Federated Wiki nodes: (1) a global-scale information node we call “Commonsverse”; (2) a regional Federated Wiki node with commoning cases from around the state of Massachusetts in the USA (MA.Commonsverse); and (3) a local-organizational-scale node called Future Natures out of the United Kingdom (FN.Commonsverse). A goal for this talk is to entice others interested in communicating commons innovations into joining our growing network.
4. Mitigating Multipolar Traps in the Supply Chain
1MakerNet, USA, 2Internet of Production Alliance, USA, 3Internet of Production Alliance, UK
One of the current global problems we collectively face is that we are living in a society built on adversarial dynamics that force overly-individualized focus and opposed to collective global action, via centralized incentivisation structures, like capitalism. Not only does a centralized incentivisation structure not solve the root cause of the global issues we confront today – it also creates scenarios in which individuals are locally incentivised to compete directly against global well–being. This contradictory inceptive model results in “multipolar traps,” that force artificially manufactured scarcity and unnecessary competition. Within any bound system where there may be intense competition over shared resources, a collective decision needs to be made in order to avoid these traps. In this presentation, the multipolar traps within the supply chain and how they can be mitigated through decentralized and distributed systems will be discussed.
Any systems that are assumed to make coordinated efforts, but that operate in isolation, will have individuals choose personal over community gains. These systems are adversarial by default. The supply chain is an adversarial system fraught with multipolar traps; it is optimized for efficiency, not resilience. It is optimized for profit, not human and environmental wellbeing. It has split the world into people who make things they cannot afford to buy, and people who buy things they don’t know how to make. Which is a great way for a few people to make a large amount of money, but a terrible way to ensure the survival and wellbeing of people in general. The Internet of Production Alliance brings together people and organizations who believe in a future of production defined by decentralized manufacturing and shared knowledge that solves for the problematic nature of centralized incentivisation in global manufacturing. By reconfiguring these problematic systems from scratch, we can create a sustainable system that is globally networked and locally executed.