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[ox-en] Peer governance

Hi list!

One of the issues which where even an explicit slot of the P2P
workshop was peer governance. Two aspects I found very interesting.
First there was Athina's contribution. Her key question was: Is the
peer production process the "Revolution for Real"?

During her contribution it became clear that with "Real" she meant the
expectations which leftists nowadays typically associate with a
revolution - which is unfortunately just the anti-thesis of the
capitalist / democratic thesis. Athina put forward that in Free
Projects there is governance, inequality and so on - something we
found out here also. May be the most prominent of these phenomenons is
the maintainership issue.

Athina could probably see that it is just there expectations which are
not met. Nonetheless she was puzzled by the question on *how exactly*
governance in peer production works. Indeed a question which is

In any case this touches very much on the OHA debate we had on [ox-de]
some years ago. Then this debate departed from much the same
expectations as Athina mentioned. Then my personal conclusion was to
put off our blinders and check what is useful for the projects in
these governance phenomenons. Probably something which is still
worthwhile doing.

On another scale the discussion returned after the contribution from
Henrik (who BTW wrote the book "Open Life: The Philosophy of Open
Source" which is available at in a very ideal way
- contains even the sources as OOo files). He presented a technical
model for a direct democracy.

I was quite disappointed because from the title "Return to direct
democracy. Is it possible? Do we want it?" I expected answers like:
No, peer governance is beyond democracy and therefore we don't want it
- being it representative or direct. I argued that

* Peer production often uses trust based systems

  If I have good reasons to trust representatives or even more so
  the real actors then I don't have to vote on them. Trust based
  systems have the big advantage of having little marginal costs.

  If trust based systems work in these cases the quesion then is: When
  do they work? IMHO one of the key aspects is the absence of
  alienation. A few others come also to mind like openness /
  transparency and the option to fork.


* I don't want to have a say in everything which affects me

  Decision making is hard and making a good decision is harder the
  less I know about a certain topic. In fact it reduces my freedom /
  Selbstentfaltung if I have to decide every little detail. So the
  direction into direct democracy is just wrong.

* Decision making is a complex process

  Decision making from a problem / idea to the final implementation is
  a *much* more complex thing than voting. If we a stay for a moment
  with the idea of votes then alone the question what is voted on is
  subject to lots and lots of decisions - which are of course made
  without voting.

  Also if you look at the implementation of a decision it often
  depends much on how much the decision is welcome by those who need
  to implement it. If Free Projects we can see people leave or fork
  when they are too unhappy with a decision. So to me it is more
  useful to look at the whole process of governance processes instead
  on concentrating on single points of voting.

* Do we need states at all?

  I think it is also a good question whether a GPL society needs
  (nation) states at all and if so for what purpose. I'd like to leave
  this question open ;-) .

During the discussion there came up the interesting distinction
between choice communities and destiny communities. Destiny
communities are such which you did not choose to be a member of.
(Nation) states are probably typical examples of such destiny
communities. Sounds like this distinction is important.

When I think about it destiny communities lack the option to fork.
Does this make sense?

In any way it would be interesting to see how much destiny communities
can be reduced and replaced by choice communities. I mean (nation)
states certainly regulate a lots of parts of our lives which is not
God given they have to.

I'll stop here. Anyway IMHO I'm glad that whole topic of governance
came up again and may be my report / thoughts can raise a few replies.
And may be governance is also a good translation of OHA (which is the
abbreviation of "Organisation, Herrschaft, Anarchismus" ==
"organization, domination, anarchism").



Contact: projekt

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