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Michel Bauwens @ Melbourne Law School

The distribution of everything: new p2p logics in production, governance, and property.

On Tuesday I attended Michel’s talk on the state and future of peer2peer.

It was a clear, focused and compelling proposal for the emergence of a new organisational paradigm – p2p – with the power to destabilise the dominance of corporate capitalism. At the heart of this emergence is the shift from decentralised to distributed networks.

The decentralised network is typified by the architecture of the Internet itself where information needn’t be subjected to hierarchies, rather it may pass through any number of hubs. In contrast, distributed networks short-circuit the route through hubs, enabling direct node-to-node connection. This is of course typified by peer2peer file sharing networks where a user may connect directly with another user and download files directly from their computer without the need of a centralised server (i.e. a hub in the network). In distributed networks, no permission or authority stands between users, rather, interactions are ground-level and consensual.

Some other insights included the global coordination via small groups in p2p networks – which I have also thoerised here and in my phd (see section 5.1.2.5) as ‘contributor groups’ – emergent teaming that arises as a result of stigmergy (ad-hoc collections of users attracted by environmental stimulus which represents a field of shared interest).

In all I thoroughly enjoyed the talk and was very happy to have had the opportunity to further discuss all things p2p over dinner afterwards. For more on peer2peer, see Michel’s incredible resource, The Foundation for P2P Alternatives and its associated blog.

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