Seeking investigations into societal transition, into the journal’s editorial transition, as well as idiosyncratic understandings of scientific and political transitions.
Issue editors: Mathieu O’Neil (University of Canberra), Panayotis Antoniadis (Nethood)
/// Peer production and our crises
Peer producers are people who create and manage common-pool resources together. It sometimes seems as if “peer production” and “digital commons” can be used interchangeably. Digital commons such as free and open source software and Wikipedia are non-rivalrous (they can be reproduced at little or no cost) and non-excludable (no-one can prevent others from using them, through property rights for example). So, practically speaking, proprietary objects could be produced by equal “peers”. We argue that peer production has a normative dimension so that what chiefly characterizes this mode of production is that “the output is orientated towards the further expansion of the commons; while the commons, recursively, is the chief resource in this mode of production” (Söderberg & O’Neil, 2014, p. 2). The Journal of Peer Production has tracked the evolution of peer production from open knowledge to open design and manufacturing. It approaches its ten-year anniversary in the time of the global pandemic, and of the continuing environmental crisis. The impacts of Covid-19 are profound, but will not last forever, though local infection pools may subsist in poorer countries for much longer than in the Global North. In contrast, the environmental crisis is here to stay.
/// The role of the Journal of Peer Production
Significant social change is required to stave off climate destruction, and principles such as cooperation and trust, transparency in production, collective democratic decision-making, etc., can usefully contribute to necessary processes of “relocalization” and “degrowth”.* What should be done to develop the digital and physical commons? What role should the Journal of Peer Production play in this development? And what shape should it take? It is clear that in addition to maintaining its uniquely transparent curation and dissemination of academic research, the Journal of Peer Production needs to expand its work in several ways:
Should it feature more practical advice to develop commons, such as toolkits and how-to guides? Should it comprise policy proposals to help grow the infrastructure which supports the commons? In other words, should it combine research and action?
The answer is “yes” in all three cases. To this end we seek creative, practical and policy-oriented ideas to help invent a new type of scientific journal that both fulfills strict academic criteria, and brings research work closer to practice. Our next issue, JOPP #15 will thus be a “TRANSITION” issue featuring, in addition to peer-reviewed research, experimental formats and “meta” articles.
/// JOPP #15 TRANSITION – Call for Papers
We seek investigations into societal transition (how can we move towards a society where contributions to the commons are valued and recognised?), into the journal’s editorial transition (how should the Journal of Peer Production change to assist this societal transition), as well as idiosyncratic understandings of scientific and political transitions.
We invite submissions of peer-reviewed academic papers from multiple fields on how “things can change”. What are the sociological and historical conditions for transition to occur? For example: what is the impact of manifestos? When is innovation socialised? How can allies be enrolled? etc. Editorial guidelines for peer-reviewed articles: max 8,000 words; peer-reviewed in accordance with the JOPP peer review process.
For this TRANSITION issue, academic papers must be complemented by a shorter piece in which the contents of the academic paper are transformed into a different format. The nature of this transformation is up to the authors. We can suggest the following: policy guidelines; practical toolkits; comic-books; etc. Other authors may be enlisted to assist in the article’s transition. Editorial guidelines for complementary pieces: max 2,000 words; reviewed by the editors.
/// JOPP #15 TRANSITION – Non peer-reviewed articles
We also invite submissions of non-peer reviewed academic papers dealing with transition. These will be reviewed by the editors.
A-Follow-up papers Papers “following-up” on previous issues of JOPP, or on specific articles by the authors or others. What has changed since this article was published?
B-Policy and strategic papers Papers bringing together academics and policy makers. Strategies for connecting to actors in government and/or civil society.
C-Meta papers Papers on the question of impactful academic publishing: how can academics pursue a career and have social impact at the same time? Papers on the transition of research fields: how do research fields evolve to better meet their aims? Rewriting influential papers, or a chapter of a classic book, or revisiting one’s own past paper: what has changed?
Editorial guidelines for A, B, and C: max 4,000 words.
Please send your abstracts and papers to the issue editors at the following address: email@example.com
/// JOPP #15 TRANSITION: Timeline
CFP released 01 July 2020
EOI peer-reviewed articles deadline (500-words max. extended abstract + 100-words max. complementary paper abstract) 30 July 2020
EOI non peer-reviewed articles deadline (250-words max. abstract) 30 July 2020
Authors advised 30 August 2020
First submission sent out for review 30 November 2020
*The following is an excerpt from the final chapter of the forthcoming Handbook of Peer Production (Wiley, 2021), “Be Your Own Peer! Principles and Policies for the Commons” (O’Neil, Toupin, Pentzold):
The governance of peer produced projects, one of the central aspects of the studies of peer production, aspires to the self-regulation of participants in autonomous collectives. This governance raises the broader issue of political sovereignty. The appeal of self-governance for peer production participants can perhaps be explained by the amount of strategic control most citizens in liberal democracies have over their lives and environment. This control has been drastically reduced by unaccountable global actors – e.g. financial markets, extractive industrial interests, supranational trade agreements, and the list goes on – who influence and constrain the policy options of notionally democratic nation-states. In the early 2020s, racist nativism and authoritarianism are being embraced by some people in reaction to the failures of export-oriented, deregulated, and globalized neoliberalism. A way out of this political crisis is linked to a solution to the environmental crisis: we must head toward more democracy by relocalizing or deglobalizing, and towards more sustainability by degrowing, our economies.
As engaged researchers, we believe the Handbook of Peer Production needs to offer a response, however modest, to these political and ecological challenges. Addressing the macro-economic aspects of “deglobalization” would lead us far away from peer production, towards issues which would probably require a Handbook of their own. Accordingly, we focus here on relocalization as it relates to degrowth (décroissance), the downscaling of over-production and over-consumption (Kallis, 2019; Latouche, 2006). In a nutshell: unlimited growth and consumption are not sustainable, so we need more access to free public services, a shorter work week, and a turn towards climate-friendly industries. In this context, Stefania Barca (2019) suggests that the one question that matters is that posed by self-governing workers: “should surplus value be reinvested in production, or not”? Yet since only a handful of firms and industrial sectors are run following so-called “holacratic” (i.e., communal or participatory) principles, degrowth must – in a first stage at least – be deployed in a piecemeal, hybrid manner.
In the context of discussing the cooperative sector, Gibson-Graham (2003) suggest that if we perceive economic relations as already plural, then the revolutionary “project of replacement” can be modified into one of “strengthening already existing non-capitalist economic processes and building new non-capitalist enterprises,” of establishing “communal subjects” (p. 157). Several chapters in the Handbook of Peer Production […] have discussed ways in which this “strengthening” has begun to occur at the municipal level. However, as noted by Adrian Smith (2014) in his account of London’s early-1980s Technology Networks (community-based workshops which provided open access to shared machine tools, technical advice, and prototyping services), a “key lesson from this history is that “radical aspirations invested in workshops, such as democratizing technology, will need to connect to wider social mobilizations capable of bringing about reinforcing political, economic and institutional change” (Smith, 2014, online). In other words, the ecology around peer production must be nurtured. Further, adopting strictly local settings leaves the public policy terrain open to neoliberal and/or reactionary perspectives.
Barca, S. (2019) The labor(s) of degrowth. Capitalism Nature Socialism, 30(2), 207–216.