Blog Archives

Blockchain technology: a new (r)evolution in the digital economy


By Primavera De Filippi, researcher, Centre d’Études et de Recherches de Science Administrative, CNRS-Université Paris II.

Remember the world, back in the 90’s? Before the Internet had invaded pretty much every aspect of our lives? It was back then quite difficult — if not impossible — to foresee that one day, not too far away, people would be able to communicate directly with one another, that they would be able to broadcast themselves to the world and interact in a peer-to-peer fashion, bypassing most of the intermediaries of that time.

This marked the beginning of a new paradigm shift in the way people communicate — the beginning of a digital revolution characterised by a process of decentralization and disintermediation. With the Internet, traditional media operators, such as publishers and broadcasters, have been progressively displaced by a more distributed network of players, relying on emerging information and communication technologies in order to provide new opportunities for people to receive and impart information.

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Posted in Open Thoughts 2014

Dividing the Wealth – Do peer networks like Airbnb distribute value fairly?


By Robin Chase, author of Peers Inc; co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar1.

The ideal of capitalism I perceived as a child seems a far cry from what I understand today. American capitalism has moved from an industrial path that grew a middle class to one that seems to be increasingly taking the ugliest, most extractive form, reversing those gains.

In economist Thomas Piketty’s 2014 bestselling Capital in the 21st Century, his analysis found that the top 10 percent of Americans in 2010 owned 70 percent of the capital, trending toward the extreme capital inequality last observed in 1910 monarchical Europe. In the fall 2014 issue of the Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Pavlina R. Tcherneva, an economist at Bard College, updated Piketty’s data through 2012 and looked at which groups got the benefits of economic expansion.

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Posted in Open Thoughts 2014

The Shift from Open Platforms to Digital Commons


By David Bollier, author, blogger and consultant.

From open access platforms to managed digital commons: that is one of the chief challenges that network-based peer production must meet if we are going to unleash the enormous value that distributed, autonomous production can create.

The open platform delusion
We are accustomed to regarding open platforms as synonymous with greater freedom and innovation. But as we have seen with the rise of Google, Facebook and other tech giants, open platforms that are dominated by large corporations are only “free” within the boundaries of market norms and the given business models. Yes, open platforms provide many valuable services at no (monetary) cost to users. But when some good or service is offered for at no cost, it really means that the user is the product. In this case, our personal data, attention, social attitudes lifestyle behavior, and even our digital identities, are the commodity that platform owners are seeking to “own.”

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Posted in Open Thoughts 2014

The citizen producer at the epicenter of the P2P revolution


By Albert Cañigueral, founder of ConsumoColaborativo and OuiShare Connector in Barcelona (Spain).

Platforms are eating the world

Never before in human history has been as simple as today to coordinate peers at a massive scale. Jeremy Heimans calls it the “new power” and we see new power all around us. Wikipedia is a prime example of this.

The same basic capabilities are applied to the co-creation and exchange of, not only information, but goods, services, money, value, etc. Sharing economy, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, p2p economy, etc. you can pick your favorite term to describe this scenario where people are empowered to get directly what they need from each other. Traditional businesses are being disrupted by coordinated collaboration among the people formerly known as “customers”. The genie is clearly out of the bottle and won’t be put back anytime soon.

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Posted in Open Thoughts 2014

How Bitcoin can decentralize society


By Luis Iván Cuende, hacker, co-founder of Stampery

Once upon a time there was a problem. A mathematical problem. A problem that nobody ever solved before: The Byzantine Generals’ Problem. It is about the capacity of systems to continue correctly working if some of the components of the system fail or don’t act as they should when reaching consensus.

So, if a computer system can keep a common consensus without having central points of failure, it means it solved the problem. And that means you could create decentralized databases, decentralized apps and decentralized social networks that are on the same page, for example.

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Posted in Open Thoughts 2014
About the Question
How many peers does it take to change a light bulb?

Systems like Linux and websites like Wikipedia are paradigmatic of a particular way of open collaboration known as peer production. Peer producers choose their tasks freely and coordinate their work using open digital platforms. They share the fruits of their labour as part of a global commons, and everyone works according to their abilities and benefits according to their needs.

Is this an emerging form of communism? Or the future of liberal capitalism? Or is it simply a new mode of production? In this blog we want to explore both the benefits and the downsides of such way of working.

UOC/IN3 degrees