I. Defining P2P
Peer to peer is a form of relationality between human beings whereby people can connect to eachother without permission, and aggregate around the creation of common value. In humananthropology, and in particular according to the relational grammar of Alan Page Fiske
,it isconsidered one of the four basic human ways to relate to each other. In peer to peer, individuals'exchange' with a totality, without direct reciprocation. Though peer to peer has been documentedacross all cultures and in each stage of human evolution, the available of a global peer to peerinfrastructure of communication and cooperation has greatly extended its scope and scale, from thehyper-local to the global. Linked to this capacity of global cooperation around shared objects ofcreation is the concept and practice of a commons. A commons is a shared resource that is eitherinherited from nature (and Elinor Ostrom, Nobel Laureate in economics, has documented therationale and governance of such natural resource commons), or created by human beings, either inthe 'immaterial fields' of knowledge and culture (this includes for instance free and open sourcesoftware and shared designs), or by holding productive human capital (machinery and the means ofproduction) in common stock. The commons is not exclusively defined by non-ownership andaccess, but by some form of common governance. Ostrom’s contributions were to show that it wasthe governance of the commons which protected them from the ‘tragedy of the commons
’that canbefall open access resources that lack that governance.The increased ability to generate peer to peer relationships has led to the emergence of what prof.Yochai Benkler calls 'commons-based peer production', in which
“the creative energy of large numbers of people is coordinated (usually withthe aid of the internet) into large, meaningful projects, largely withouttraditional hierarchical organization or financial compensation.”
However, this definition needs to be amended for two main reasons. First, communities ofcontributors need not be large, there are many small-scale projects. Second, the lack of financialcompensation is not vital, there are now many commons with strong corporate participation in themajority of commons-contributors are employees of firms.
230 Fiske, Alan Page. Structures of Social Life: The Four Elementary Forms of Human Relations: Communal Sharing, AuthorityRanking, Equality Matching, Market Pricing. Free Press, 1991.231 Garreth Harding, in a classic and often quoted essay, had argued that the Commons inevitably leads to the abuse of commonresources. The essay is located athttp :// dieoff .org / page 95.htm. The author himself "has criticized misinterpretations of his work
with the lament that "The title of my 1968 paper should have been The Tragedy of the Unmanaged Commons” (cited here athttp://geolib.pair.com/essays/sullivan.dan/royallib.html).232 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peer_production158