cooperation

semiotic subversion in china

CNN 报道 caonima 草泥马

Tanda Foundation: community funding for culture

Tanda Foundation is an experimental and informal not for profit held and run by its users. We aim to found new ways and means to support creative production, create a community interested in build a public fund via micro-donations and decide our own cultural agenda. The Foundation aims to be an accountable platform of funding for its users, where the process of application, reviewing, voting, and collection of funds is accesible to all its Patrons and Candidates.

The Foundation relies on 2.0 infrastucture to exist with minimal costs and labor. Think in an automatic not-for-profit.

For more information about our Grant 2.0 system, please visit our F.A.Q. section. Also visit the Desk dedicated to the administration, view the Works section and browse the documentation about the mechanisms used to collect funds.

Commons: A rough definition

Last week, I spent a few days at a small but intense workshop where we were looking at a the political dimensions of various forms of commons. The discussions were open and far ranging. I tried to distill some of these into a definition of commons that tries to take its various dimensions into considerations and separates structural from political issues. Far from perfect....

COMMONS, A DEFINITION

A commons is a resource held as joint property by a community. Thus, it is distinct from private property (held by natural or legal persons) or public property (held by the state). Typical for commons is that the management of the resource is oriented towards use-value for its members, rather than towards exchange-value within society at large. The separation between producers and consumers is minimized. Thus, commons are also distinct from other forms of collective ownership (such as co-operatives) that produce for the market.

All commons are social institutions, they depend on a community to create and maintain it. A resource that is freely available to all but not managed in a meaningful way by a self-aware community (e.g., the fish in the open sea) are not a commons. Like in all communities, questions of membership (boundaries) and internal decision-making are subject to ongoing, more or less conflictual, negotiations.

It is these questions that define the political quality of the commons, which can serve as defensive mechanism against market encroachment (e.g., in the case of indigenous commons), as a project of exclusion (e.g., in far-right conceptions of the body national) or as the basis of open cooperation (e.g., in the case of Free and Open Source Software).

Online Collaboration goes legit

David Bollier writes:

It is one thing to talk about the “virtual corporation” and online commons as new organizational forms. It’s quite another to have those forms be legally recognized. Yet in a little-noticed law enacted in June 2008, the State of Vermont has formally conferred “legal personhood” on online communities that wish to form limited-liability partnerships.

[....]

The Vermont law strikes me as an ambitious next stage in the evolution of tech and legal infrastructure that started with free software and Creative Commons. The General Public License (for free software) and CC licenses authorize new forms of sharing and collaboration, and have the force of law. We’ve seen the explosion of new online creativity and collaboration that has resulted. The new Vermont law has the potential to authorize all sorts of interesting new collaborative organizations that would have the full legal standing to “compete” with conventional corporations.


My friend John Clippinger of the Berkman Center has described the virtual corporations law as the first step toward imagining a new type of “cloud law.” He is referring to “cloud computing,” the next generation of computing that will locate software systems in the “cloud” – remote server-farms that are accessible from anywhere, through one’s iPhone, laptop or other portable device. Cloud computing will be sold as a utility – like electricity or phone service – and will enable even more powerful modes of Web 2.0 collaboration. For economic reasons, tech experts regard the Cloud as the virtually inevitable next stage of computing.

Visualization of remix Culture

Giorgos Cheliotis, assistant professor of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore done one of the, if not the, first network analysis and network visualization of a remix community, based on the ccMixter.

He writes:

One of the visualizations, consisting of all uploaded audio tracks that have been remixed and all remixes thereof, is shown below. I was very surprised by the structure, density and connectedness of the resulting network. I was expecting to see a more weakly connected set of “islands of common interest”, as defined by genre, friendships or location. Instead, before we even go into deeper analysis, the figure suggests that the creative reuse of cultural content (such as enabled by licenses like Creative Commons) leads to a very high degree of cross-pollination across authors and across works, forming a dense network of greatly enhanced collaboration and creativity through open sharing and reuse. We have posted a working paper and more cool hi-res visuals on the Participatory Media Lab wiki.

This seems to suggest that cultural -- or at least musical -- styles are becoming ever more fluid as the range of source is becoming ever more wide.

Opentape invites RIAA to play whack-a-mole post-Muxtape

Seems like there is no learning in the music industry. What happens when you kill a centralized service that might not have all the right licenses, but at least an address and presumably someone willing to do business (think Napster)? Well, a decentralized service appears with no address and no business model (think Bittorrent, the protocol, not the company).

So, here we are again. Ars Technica writes:

The RIAA's unending game of cat-and-mouse with unlicensed music distribution sites has taken an abrupt turn with the introduction of Opentape, a purportedly unrelated open-source clone of Muxtape that the RIAA got shut down last week. Opentape's appearance demonstrates that the RIAA has opened a much larger can of worms than it may have expected when it convinced Muxtape's owners to take the site offline.

....

Whether Opentape truly has anything to do with Muxtape, the RIAA now has a whole new set of headaches. By striking down a centralized, streaming-only music discovery service like Muxtape, the RIAA has apparently inspired the release of a simple, decentralized software package for easily streaming and sharing music from any host and URL across the globe, with nary an affiliate link for a legitimate music shop in sight.

How to Participate in the Linux Community

The Linux Foundation has released a document called "How to Participate in the Linux Community". This gives a detailed picture of the practicalities of radically distributed development, its scale and the methods which evolved to handle that. See also this article on ZDNet.

1.2: WHAT THIS DOCUMENT IS ABOUT

The Linux kernel, at over 6 million lines of code and well over 1000 active contributors, is one of the largest and most active free software projects in existence. Since its humble beginning in 1991, this kernel has evolved into a best-of-breed operating system component which runs on pocket-sized digital music players, desktop PCs, the largest supercomputers in existence, and all types of systems in between. It is a robust, efficient, and scalable solution for almost any situation.

With the growth of Linux has come an increase in the number of developers (and companies) wishing to participate in its development. Hardware vendors want to ensure that Linux supports their products well, making those products attractive to Linux users. Embedded systems vendors, who use Linux as a component in an integrated product, want Linux to be as capable and well-suited to the task at hand as possible. Distributors and other software vendors who base their products on Linux have a clear interest in the capabilities, performance, and reliability of the Linux kernel. And end users, too, will often wish to change Linux to make it better suit their needs.


From Youtube to the Cinema

Before the Euro2008, Detlev Buck, a well-known German director, issued a call on Youtube to send in fan movies, hundreds of people responded, and now he has edited it down to 50 minutes which will be shown in selected cinemas in Germany. The whole thing is entirely non-commercial, the entry fee is €2,30 (which is less than one third of the normal price) and the proceeds will be donated to charitable orgs. It probably will also be posted to Youtube later on.

Which begs the question: is editing the new directing? In the age of information overload and remixing, the likely answer is yes.

Update: The film has been released on youtube.

Stephen Wright, Digging in the Epistemic Commons

This is an older text, from 2005, but it's still one of the best on the issue of the paradoxical relationship between the attempts to privatize knowledge and its inherent tendency to be social, because it's based on a shared language.

The gentrye are all round, on each side they are found,
Theire wisdom’s so profound, to cheat us of our ground
Stand up now, Diggers all.

The Diggers’ Song, Gerrard Winstanley & Leon Rosselson

Using the ideas of Gabriel Tarde, Ludwig Wittgenstein and George Herbert Mead, writer and critic Stephan Wright reflects on the question of how, in a capitalist knowledge economy, to prevent intellectual property from being commodified and knowledge from becoming increasingly privatized.

Source: http://www.skor.nl/article-3090-en.html

Bourgeois anarchism and authoritarian democracies (First Monday, 07.2008)

First Monday published my paper in its current edition. Below is the abstract, the full text is here

Digital communication is profoundly affecting the constitution of (civil) society by drastically lowering the costs to speak across time and space with individuals and groups of any size, and by producing abundant records of all activities conducted through these media. This is accelerating two contradictory trends. On the one hand, a new breed of social organizations based on principles of weak cooperation and peer production is sharply expanding the scope of what can be achieved by civil society. These are voluntary organizations, with flat hierarchies and trust-based principles. They are focused on producing commons-based resources rather than individual property. In general, they are transformative, not revolutionary, in character. This phenomenon is termed "bourgeois anarchism." On the other hand, the liberal state - in a crisis of legitimacy and under pressure from such new organizations, both peaceful (civil society) and violent (terrorism) - is reorganizing itself around an increasingly authoritarian core, expanding surveillance into the capillary system of society, overriding civil liberties and reducing democratic oversight in exchange for the promise of security. This phenomenon is termed "authoritarian democracy."

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This article was first published in Italian, in the journal Millepiani. An earlier version was delivered as a talk (view stream presentation at Ars Electronica, 2007, and published in their catalogue under the title "Our new public life".

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