Congratulations to my colleagues at the Peer to Peer Foundation, and especially founder Michel Bauwens, for winning the 2016 Golden Nica for Digital Communities from Prix Arts Electronica! This is a great and well-deserved honor. There were a total of 3,159 entries from 84 countries for this venerable prize this year.
In the prize citation, the jury wrote:
“The P2P Foundation is a new generation of communities that help to build communities. It is dedicated to advocacy and research of peer to peer dynamics in society. Established ten years ago, it evolved into one of the main drivers of the ‘commons transition’.
“As a decentralized and self-organized non-profit organization, the P2P Foundation analyzes, documents and promotes peer-to-peer strategies that seem to be well-suited to facing the challenges and problems of our times in ways that display great future promise. The focus is on three key traits: sustainability, openness and solidarity. Since its inception, the community of the P2P Foundation has input over 30,000 entries that document the history and development of the peer-to-peer movement. The P2P Foundation Wiki has been accessed more than 27 million times, and is thus the platform that has assembled the world’s most massive collection of knowledge about P2P.”
A shout-out to the P2P Foundation core team, consisting of James Burke, Bill Niaros, Vasilis Kostakis, Ann Marie Utratel and Stacco Troncoso, and of course, Michel – my dear friend and colleague on the Commons Strategies Group. Michel, it is so heartening to see your years of toil, tenacity and leadership in building this global community receive this recognition.
What exactly is the P2P Foundation, the uninitiated may ask? I consider it an invaluable resource of archived information about the history of peer production and related topics. It is a robust forum for debate about frontier issues affecting digital spaces, and a frontline news/blogging source that rapidly shares new developments and knowledge. It is a relentless instigator of new collaborations, conversations and actions ultimately directed at system-change.
The site has made visible and helped explain the work of many communities and movements engaged in the co-creation of culture and knowledge. These include the free and open source software world, free culture and open design and hardware, the sharing economy, and co-workers in hacker/makerspaces and Fab Labs. What these movements share is a desire to develop new kinds of democratic and economic participation and to build a more ecologically mindful, egalitarian future.
Here is the P2P Foundation’s official self-description:
The P2P Foundation was conceived ten years ago to help people, organizations and governments transition towards commons-based approaches to society through co-creating an open knowledge commons and a resilient, sustainable human network. Between the paradigms of the network and the organization, the P2P Foundation exists as an “organized network” which can facilitate the creation of networks, yet without directing them. The P2P Foundation consists of a foundation registered in the Netherlands with three operational hubs dedicated to organizing, advocacy, research and creating a knowledge commons; a network of activists and researchers working at different levels of engagement, a small core team for strategy and sustainability, and countless members engaging with and contributing to our information commons. The P2P Foundation work was begun and to a large extent is still led by founder Michel Bauwens through outreach, lecturing, writing, publishing and online documentation. The P2P Foundation is the umbrella organization under which Commons Transition and the P2P Lab operate interdependently.
The P2P Foundation is a digital community creating an information-commons ecosystem for the growing P2P/Commons movement. This movement is concerned with the digital and the tangible, material, human worlds, including questions of their freedoms and restrictions, scarcities and abundances. Our community is a decentralized, self-organized movement whose interests include the political environment surrounding the networked society; the material, social and cultural realities of the sharing and collaborative economies and of alternative and crypto currencies; sustainability and “pro-sumer” practices countering planned obsolescence and artificial scarcity; and reclaiming democracy. In short the “peer to peer” world unites people in a cultural shift towards a more humane, fair, sustainable future.
Our primary aim is to be an incubator and catalyst for the emerging ecosystem, focusing on the “missing pieces,” and the interconnectedness that can lead to a wider movement. P2P, in practice, is often invisible to those involved, for a variety of cultural reasons. We want to reveal its presence in discrete movements in order to unite them in their common ethos. To do this, a common initiative is required which gathers information, connects and mutually informs people, strives for integrative insights contributed by many sub-fields, organizes events for reflection and action, and educates people about critical and creative tools for “world-making.”
To my noble, resourceful friends and colleagues at the P2P Foundation: You do this, and much more besides!