Remix the Commons is a terrific collaborative multimedia project that works hard to document the commons movement and reach out to general public with stylish, intelligent productions. It was one of the partners at the Economics and the Commons Conference (ECC) in Berlin in May 2013. While the rest of the conference was swirling along, Alain Ambrosi, Frédérc Sultan and their associates spent three days in a makeshift studio filming dozens of interviews with participants at the conference. It was a kind of parallel conference within a conference. Now, finally, the fruits of that work are available online. And what a rich body of material it is!
Remix has released fifty new short interviews as part of its ongoing series, “Define the Commons.” Like the previous videos in the series, this batch consists of one- to two-minute interviews with commoners from around the world. Each gives his or her own personal definition of what the commons is. I loved hearing the different voices and ideas. The opening blend of multilingual voices all speaking at once but resolving into a resonant bell is a beautiful metaphor.
The Remix videos series also include some longer roundtable interviews in which commoners focus on a shared theme. One such roundtable was an interview with the Commons Strategies Group, which consists of my colleagues Michel Bauwens, Silke Helfrich and me. Our interview, conducted the day after the conference concluded, focused on several questions: how the 2013 commons conference differed from the previous one in November 2010; what single insight or theme stood out for each of us; our reactions to the strong interest at ECC in using the commons as part of power and political struggles; our predictions for the future of the international commons movement; and our advice for existing and future commoners. Here is the link to our 26-minute video interview.
Another fascinating roundtable interview featured some of key leaders in the open design and hardware movement. The video includes commentary about the challenges facing open hardware by Joe Justice, Team Lead of the Wikispeed project; Smàri McCarthy, Executive Director at the International Modern Media Institute, in Iceland; Jaromil Rojo, Amsterdam-based artist, theorist, free software programmer and activist; and Anna Seravalli who works with Fabriken, a maker-space in Malmö, Sweden; and Chris Watkins, Co-developer of the wiki website Appropedia.org.
Michel Bauwens of the P2P Foundation conducted the half-hour interview. Here are some rough paraphrases of issues that each person addressed:
Joe Justice: In one-week cycles, in which we create new versions of our car, Wikispeed has organically self-funded itself, and has done so since 2006. But we really need inexpensive testing infrastructure for our car, especially to meet regulatory safety standards.
Smari McCarthy: Most people take their infrastructure for granted. and so they remain unaware of power relations that control their lives. Also: How do we prevent the closing of hardware that has been developed in a free and open way, such as the Wikispeed car?
Anna Seravalli: How do we understand the production of skills, relationships and use-value (as opposed to exchange value) in open production? We need to create an open space in which to discuss the future of production.
Watkins: Sustainable and appropriate open technology developers are a relatively small group of people who need to expand outreach and education systems to get more people involved.
Jaromil: Digital restriction management is a big barrier to using open innovation. Google initially prohibited tinkering with Android, for example.