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Synthetic Overview of the Collaborative Economy: Chapter 5: Distributed Access To The Factors Of Production

Synthetic Overview of the Collaborative Economy: Chapter 5: Distributed Access To The Factors Of Production

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Published by P2P_Foundation
The report “Synthetic overview of the collaborative economy“, coproduced by Orange Labs and the P2P Foundation, provides a thorough mapping of the actors involved in this cooperative economy: for the first time, nearly all the dots of the emerging collaborative economy, and their inter-relation, are presented in a single overview.
The report “Synthetic overview of the collaborative economy“, coproduced by Orange Labs and the P2P Foundation, provides a thorough mapping of the actors involved in this cooperative economy: for the first time, nearly all the dots of the emerging collaborative economy, and their inter-relation, are presented in a single overview.

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Published by: P2P_Foundation on Oct 17, 2012
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10/17/2012

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Chapter Five:
Distributed Access To TheFactors Of Production
214
 
Introduction
Immaterial” peer production through open source software and design, which we discussed in theprevious chapter, was made possible through the distributed infrastructure for communication andcollaboration that is the internet. In turn, the web is linked to the miniaturization of the computer as apotentially universally accessible machine for immaterial production.What if a similar evolution were to take place in the field of physical production? For this to occur,one would need a ‘distributionof access to the physical factors of production.The idealized requirements for a distributed mode of manufacturing and making would be:1.Distributed access to machinery2.Distributed access to financial capital3.Distributed access to physical places for collaboration4.The generalized possibility for peer learning5.The availability of appropriate legal forms to allow for entrepreneurship in this new modality6.The availability of the appropriate metrics and accounting system to regulate thecontributions, reciprocity and exchange in this new field7.Access to distributed forms of energy and raw materialsIn all these areas there is already substantial development towards more distributed forms ofoperating. As explained in Part One, while we may still be a long way from a dominance of fullyhorizontalmodes of peer production in the field of physical production, enough progress has beenmade to imagine the beginnings of a ‘diagonaladaptation between contributor communitiesresponsible for cooperative design in shared innovation commons, and makers-entrepreneurs whichcan rely on new distributed infrastructures for physical production.A complete review of all the aspects is beyond the scope of this report, so this chapter reviews thoseaspects of the distributed infrastructure that are relatively more mature: distributed machinery,distributed workplaces, and distributed finance and funding.
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I. The Emergence Of AnInfrastructure For PersonalManufacturing
“Transformational change happens when industries democratize, whenthey’re ripped from the sole domain of companies, governments, and otherinstitutions and handed over to regular folks. The Internet democratized publishing, broadcasting, and communications, and the consequence was amassive increase in the range of both participation and participants ineverything digital — the long tail of bits. Now the same is happening tomanufacturing the long tail of things.
- Chris Anderson, The Long Tail
Scale up from one: Regular people and small manufacturing companiesthat lack investment capital will be able to set up low investment, “startsmall and scale up as it goes” businesses. Thanks to the low-cost Internetvirtual storefronts, and the low cost of small-scale manufacturing for prototypes and custom goods, new companies can get started on a shoestringbudget, yet sell their wares or services to niche, global marketplaces.
- Hod Lipson & Melba Kurman
With distributed manufacturing we mean a broadening of the possibility to manufacture physicalgoods, on a local basis, without the centralization that is required in the present system based on highcapital outlays. If the price of machinery drops, and the organizational tools to coordinatecooperation develop in tandem, it is easy to imagine the development of a much more localizedorganization of production, conducted by players who have relatively limited access to financial andproductive capital. Such possibilities have been increasingly emerging in the last few years, through a
331 http://p2pfoundation.net/Long_Tail332 Lipson, Hod, and Melba Kurman.
Factory @ Home: The Emerging Economy of Personal Fabrication One of a Series of OccasionalPapers in Science and Technology Policy
Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman. Science And Technology (2010).http://web.mae.cornell.edu/lipson/FactoryAtHome.pdf216

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