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[jox] Draft editorial

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Hi all

Following is a draft for the first issue editorial. Any suggestions welcome. I realise there are no article author names, let me know if that is a problem (me and Nate would appear twice). If anyone wants to sign this editorial let me know, otherwise I will put CSPP.




June 2011

Peer production means that people work together collaboratively and transparently to achieve a collective good. Their shared effort depends on the creation of common institutions and rules. One of the aims of Critical Studies in Peer Production is to challenge the current self-reinforcing paradigm where academic journals that reject more attract more, so that avoiding faults becomes more important than new ideas (Whitworth and Friedman, 2009). Through mechanisms such as the discussion of journal policy on publicly archived lists, community vetting of proposals, signaling of published articles by referees, and systematic publication of referee reports, Critical Studies in Peer Production aims to make the peer review process more rewarding for participants, whilst guaranteeing the scientific excellence of the journal. The process is not set in stone and it is not perfect; but it is a start, and it has one great advantage over the dominant model: it is free.
The Research section of this inaugural issue of CSPP examines two emblematic examples of commons-based and oriented peer production, Swedish file-sharing and Wikipedia. Never before has a technologically-advanced country become equated with a practice which directly contradicts central aspects of capitalist regulation. Never before have so many people collaborated across borders to produce a free knowledge repository. The question is, what is the political import of these projects? The papers argue that the activities of participants in peer production projects represent a kind of infra-politics or 'subactivism' which eschews traditional formats and mobilisations: in one case individualism is being re-articulated to the state, in the other a holistic critique rejects separated expertise and justice. The papers also embrace a common methodological stance, tracking the actions, justifications and legitimations of participants.

The question of the political impacts of peer production, of 'peer activism' is pursued in the Debate section where authors argue in favour of various alternatives to domination: from Hegelian Marxism, to Actor-Network Theory, to Post-Critical Sociology, what is the most productive means of mapping and contesting power, particularly in anti-authoritarian projects? Such debates can be hotly contested, but at least we are attempting to be genuinely agonistic, by engaging in critical debate where both parties fully recognise, understand and question each other's position’

Finally this inaugural issue of Critical Studies in Peer Production concludes with self-critical Reports by the organisers of two conferences which took place in 2010, Critical Point of View and the 3rd Free Culture Research Conference. Too often academic conferences end up only as another notch on a publication list; not enough time is spent assessing, and documenting, what has been learnt in theoretical and organisational terms. Were goals met? What could we have done differently? These questions are important, and we offer our sincere thanks to the respondents for taking this reflective exercise seriously. We also wish to thank all those  – whether authors, programmers, reviewers or participants in our debates - who helped make this project a reality.

Whitworth, B. & R. Friedman (2009) "Reinventing academic publishing online. Part I: Rigor, relevance and practice", First Monday 14(8).


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