The Journal of Peer Production New perspectives on the implications of peer production for social change Tue, 15 Nov 2016 20:38:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 CfP JoPP special issue #11: CITY – abstracts due 31 January 2017 Tue, 15 Nov 2016 20:28:05 +0000 Read more

Editors: Penny Travlou, Nicholas Anastasopoulos, Panayotis Antoniadis

Call for papers

One of the welfare state’s key jurisdictions was to tend to housing and public space in benevolent ways. However, under the neoliberal dogma, commodification and gentrification threatens both the right to housing and the right to the city while in recent years, cities have become increasingly militarized and surveyed, resembling battlegrounds where freedom and democracy are under attack. At the same time, recent economic, political, and social crises have activated many counter-forces of resistance and creative alternatives for the grassroots production of food, health services, housing, networking infrastructures, and more.

The role of technology has been contradictory as well. On the one hand, the Internet has enabled some of the most remarkable peer production success stories at a global scale, such as Wikipedia and Free and Open Source Software, among many others. On the other hand, it has empowered huge corporations like Facebook and Google to fully observe and manipulate our everyday activities, and oppressive governments to censor and surveil their citizens.

At the city scale, technology offers opportunities for self-organization, like wireless community networks and numerous bottom-up techno-social initiatives, but also animates the top-down narrative of the “smart city” and the commodification of the “sharing economy as a service” provided by globally active platforms such as Airbnb and Uber. In this situation, peer production in space emerges as a vital bottom-up practice reclaiming citizen participation, and inventing new forms of community.

In this context, some core challenges arise:
– If we choose not tο rely on global players to provide peer production support at a local scale, how could different areas of peer production in the city, digital and physical, interact and support each other?
– What types of governance models can adequately support peer production in the city?

To address those challenges one needs to take into consideration the following:
– Lessons learned from the Internet and how they may be incorporated in the context-specific realities of the city.
– Knowledge-transfer methodologies across different localities.
– Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaborations (urban studies, media studies, sociology, architecture, cultural geography, informatics etc.).
– Possible collaborations and synergies between activists that fight for the “right to the city” and those that fight for the “right to the Internet”.
-Knowedge/experience transfer between non-urban settings (i.e. intentional communities, ecocommunities, the Transition movement, etc.) and the urban movements.
– Inquiry into research methods and methodologies to be developed and used for analysing ICT-mediated peer production in urban space.

This special issue aims to explore a wide variety of alternative and innovative peer practices, like urban agriculture, food sustainability, solidarity economy, right to the city movements, cooperative housing, community networks, P2P urbanism tactics, co-design practices and more, that are directly reflected in the production of urban space. We are particularly interested in novel combinations of theory, methodologies, and practices that can contribute to peer production in the city and enable new synergies between projects and communities.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:
– Urban commons and peer production
– Case studies of innovative peer practices approached from different perspectives
– Comparative case studies on patterns of commoning and think-global / act-local methodologies
– The regional dimension: examples from the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia
– Political issues of autonomy, hegemony, labour, gender, geopolitical and post-colonial perspectives
– Alternative forms of education and learning tools for promoting self-organization and community
– Innovative governance tools for peer production in the city
– Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary methodological approaches
– Urban studies and the right to the (hybrid) city
– Open source urbanism/architecture
– Recycling/upcycling vs buying: making, consuming or prosuming the city?

Important dates
Abstract submission: 31 January 2017
Notification to authors: 15 February 2017
Submission of full paper: 15 May 2017
Reviews to authors: 15 July 2017
Revised papers: 15 September 2017
Signals due: 10 October 2017
Issue release: October/November 2017

Submission guidelines
Abstracts of 300-500 words are due by January 31, 2017 and should be sent to <>. All peer reviewed papers will be reviewed according to Journal of Peer Production guidelines. See Full papers and materials are due by May 15, 2017 for review. Peer reviewed papers should be around 8,000 words. We also welcome experimental, alternative contributions, like testimonies, interviews and artistic treatments, whose format will be discussed case by case with the editors.

*This special issue was initiated during the Hybrid City III (Athens) conference and developed further during the IASC Urban Commons (Bologna) and Habitat III (Quito) conferences.

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Peer production and work Thu, 04 Jun 2015 23:51:16 +0000 Read more

Editors: Mathieu O’Neil (University of Canberra), Stefano Zacchiroli (University Paris Diderot)

The rise in the usage and delivery capacity of the Internet in the 1990s has led to the development of massively distributed online projects where self-governing volunteers collaboratively produce public goods. Notable examples include Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) projects such as Debian and GNOME, as well as the Wikipedia encyclopedia. These distributed practices have been characterised as peer production, crowdsourcing, mass customization, social production, co-configurative work, playbour, user-generated content, wikinomics, open innovation, participatory culture, produsage, and the wisdom of the crowd, amongst other terms. In peer production, labour is communal and outputs are orientated towards the further expansion of the commons, an ecology of production that aims to defy and resist the hierarchies and rules of ownership that drive productive models within capitalism (Moore, 2011); while the commons, recursively, are the chief resource in this mode of production (Söderberg & O’Neil, 2014).

Peer projects are ‘ethical’ as participation is primarily motivated by self-fulfillment and validated by a community of peers, rather than by earning wages. Their governance is ‘modular’, understood in a design sense (decomposable blocks sharing a common interface), but also in political-economy terms: participants oppose restricted ownership and control by individually socializing their works into commons. Conflicting interpretations of their societal impact have been articulated (O’Neil, 2015). Skeptics view the abjuration of exclusive property rights over the goods they produce as irrelevant, and ethical-modular projects as increasing worker exploitation: participants’ passionate labour occurs at the expense of less fortunate others, who do not have the disposable income, cultural capital, or family support to engage in unpaid labour (Moore & Taylor, 2009; Huws, 2013). In contrast, reformists, often hailing from a management perspective, suggest that the co-optation of communal labour by firms will improve business practices and society (Arvidsson, 2008; Demil et al., 2015). Finally activists celebrate the abjuration of exclusive property rights, and present ethical-modular projects as key actors in a historical process leading to the supersession of capitalism and hierarchy (Kostakis & Bauwens, 2014).

This last perspective raises a central challenge, which is the avoidance of purely utopian thinking. In other words, how can commons-based peer production reach deeply into daily life? How can ‘already existing non-capitalist economic processes’ be strengthened, ‘new non-capitalist enterprises’ be built, and ‘communal subjects’ be established (Gibson-Graham, 2003: 157)? An increasingly large free public goods and services sector could well cohabit in a plural economy with employment in cooperatives, paid independent work, and the wage-earning of the commercial sector. However analysis of peer production typically eschews mundane considerations such as living wages, benefits, job security, working conditions, work-induced medical conditions, and debates on labour organization. How can peer production operate as a sustainable practice enabling people to live, if labour and work issues are not formally addressed?

To advance this agenda, the tenth issue of the Journal of Peer Production, titled Peer Production and Work, calls for papers in two linked areas:

Peer production in a paid work society

Nowadays firms attempt to monetize crowdsourced labour. The paradigmatic example is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk labourers (popularly known as ‘Turkers’, ‘cloud workers’ or ‘click workers’) who accomplish micro-tasks such as tagging and labeling images, transcribing audio or video recordings, and categorizing products. This extreme modularization of work results in their status being that of independent contractors rather than employees with rights, necessitating novel means of protection and redress (Irani & Silberman, 2013). The so-called ‘sharing economy’ also uses peer production methods, such as the self-selection of modular and granular tasks, to extract ever-more value from the labour of volunteer ‘prosumers’ (Frayssé & O’Neil, 2015). Capitalist firms are also increasingly engaging with ethical-modular organizations, in some cases paying wages to participants. Such labour is thus both ‘alienated’, or sold, and ‘communal’, as workers freely cooperate to produce commons. Do traditional categories such as exploitation and alienation still apply?

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

– Peer production and the global political economy
– Peer production and the rise of precarious work
– Peer workers and possibilities for worker organisation
– Does the autonomy of peer workers cause conflict in firms, and how is it resolved?
– What strategies do firms adopt to co-opt peer production (e.g., ‘hackhathons’)?
– Do tensions around property rights emerge?
– Subjectivity in peer production
– Peer production and intellectual property, coded work

Paid work in peer production projects

How does paid labour affect ethical P2P projects? Mansell and Berdou (2010) argue that firms supporting the work of programmers who contribute to volunteer projects, to the commons, will not affect the ‘cooperative spirit’ of projects; nor can this support prevent the results of labour from being socialized into commons. Is this always the case?Topics may include, but are not limited to:

– How do peer projects deal with the presence of paid or waged labour?
– Is this topic discussed within peer production projects? In what way?
– What benefits do paid or waged workers enjoy in peer projects?
– How does paid labour affect peer production projects?


300-500 word-abstract due: 30 July 2015
Notification to authors: 30 August 2015
Submission of full paper: 31 December 2015
Reviews to authors: 15 February 2016
Revised papers: 30 April 2016
Signals due: 30 May 2016
Issue release: June/July 2016

Submission guidelines

Submission abstracts of 300-500 words are due by July 30, 2015 and should be sent to <>. All peer reviewed papers will be reviewed according to Journal of Peer Production guidelines. See
Full papers and materials are due by December 31, 2015 for review.
Peer reviewed​ papers should be around 8,000 words; personal testimonies or ‘tales of toil’ in the Processed World tradition should be up to 4,000 words.


Arvidsson, A. (2008). The ethical economy of consumer coproduction. Journal of Macromarketing, 8, 326-338.

Demil, B., Lecoq. X. & Warnier, E. (2015). The capabilities of bazaar governance: Investigating the advantage of business models based on open communities. Journal of Organizational Change Management, in press.

Frayssé, O. & O’Neil, M. (2015) Digital labour and prosumer capitalism: The US matrix. Basingstoke: Palgrave, in press.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. (2003). Enabling ethical economies: Cooperativism and class. Critical Sociology, 29, 123-164.

Huws, U. (2013). The underpinnings of class in the digital age: Living, labour and value. Socialist Register, 50, 80-107.

Irani, L. & Silberman, M. (2013). Turkopticon: Interrupting worker invisibility in Amazon Mechanical Turk. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

Kostakis, V. & Bauwens, M. (2014) Network society and future scenarios for a collaborative economy. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Mansell, R. & Berdou, E. (2010). Political economy, the internet and FL/OSS development. In Hunsinger, J., Allen, M. & Klastrup, L. (Eds.) International handbook of Internet research (pp. 341-362). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Springer.

Moore, P. (2011). Subjectivity in the Ecologies of P2P Production. The Journal of Fibreculture FCJ-119. Online.

Moore, P. & Taylor, P. A. (2009). Exploitation of the self in community-based software production: Workers’ freedoms or firm foundations? Capital & Class, 99-117.

O’Neil, M. (2015). Labour out of control: The political economy of capitalist and ethical organizations. Organization Studies, 1-21.

Söderberg, J. & O’Neil, M. (2014). Introduction. Book of Peer Production (pp. 2-3). Göteborg: NSU Press.

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Announcing En Defensa del Software Libre Nr. 2 Sat, 21 Mar 2015 21:01:50 +0000 Read more

Two articles from the Journal of Peer Production have been translated and published in En Defensa del Software Libre Nr. 2, available in hardcopy as well as in epub for ebook readers and in pdf for self-printing.

This issue is dedicated to peer production, or how free software’s mode of production can apply to production of material goods, by discussing the divide between cultural and material goods (or immaterial vs. material, non-rival vs. rival, etc.) that’s hegemonic in free culture.

En Defensa del Software Libre is a journal on Free Software and Culture theory.


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Alternative Internets Mon, 08 Dec 2014 21:08:20 +0000 Read more

Editors: Félix Tréguer (ISCC-CNRS), Panayotis Antoniadis (NetHood), Johan Söderberg (Göteborgs Universitet)

States are attempting to consolidate their control over the Internet, turning it into an instrument for minute surveillance, whilst a handful of tech-corporations seek to use it as a means to manipulate human behaviour toward their own objectives and siphon off the wealth from local and national markets. In response, alternative technologies have arisen, aiming to restore the Internet’s initial values of net neutrality, distributed control, freedom of speech, and self-organization. Community networks, offline networks, darknets, peer-to-peer systems, encryption, anonymization overlays, digital currencies, and distributed online social networks appear today as examples of alternative technologies aiming at emancipation, redistribution, and maximal autonomy. However, these tools are as ambiguous as the contradictory values and claims that have been invested in them. We can therefore expect alternative infrastructures to be appropriated for ends deemed illegitimate, such as tax evasion or arms trading, thus renewing the calls for restoring “law and order” on the Internet.

Can we learn from the past and avoid the transformation of the utopian promises of these technologies into a dystopian future as, arguably, is happening to the promises of the early Internet?

In order to address such concerns, this special JoPP issue seeks to document and critically assess past and ongoing efforts to alter the commercial development process of mainstream Internet technologies in order to build viable alternatives. What are the futures awaiting these alternatives, which contradictions and ambiguities will they undergo, and which steps can be taken today to avoid failures and disappointments?

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

•Technical, social, political, economic and legal hurdles faced by alternative projects.
•The evolution of utopian imaginaries when mediated through socio-technical artifacts and the conflicting interests of multiple stakeholders.
•The strategic trade-off between “voice and exit”: going off-grid, developing offline and online alternative networks, or engaging in the public sphere on mainstream platforms.
•The politics of self-organization: actors, local and global institutions, trust, design, regulation, ambiguities. What is an “alternative” imagined to be, how is it concretely realised?
•Lessons learned from the history of the Internet and other communcation networks.
•Utopias, dystopias, and pragmatic imaginaries of the future Internet and its role in society.
•How market or state actors develop their own visions of alternative Internets to foster business interests (e.g. the proposition for a tiered Internet by dominant telecom operators) or facilitate social control (e.g. Iran’s “halalnet”).
•Hijackings and détournements of existing infrastructures to serve purposes other than those first intended.
•The environmental challenges raised by communications technologies and possible responses for ensuring their sustainability and resilience in the face of the mounting ecological crisis.

Submission abstracts of 300-500 words are due by February 8, 2015 and should be sent to All peer reviewed papers will be reviewed according to Journal of Peer Production guidelines. Full papers and materials (peer reviewed​ papers around 8,000 words; testimonies, self-portraits and experimental formats up to 4,000 words) are due by June 31st, 2015 for review.

While the issue will be mainly comprised of academic papers, we also welcome 1-page poster-like “visual”, more or less artistic, submissions, without format restrictions, on stories from the past (alternatives to the current Internet that didn’t survive), today’s alternative technologies, real-life experiences and case studies, as well as future imaginaries. These contributions which could range from diagrams and cognitive maps to paintings, photos, installations, even poems, will be included as an appendix to the main volume. The deadline for submission is June 30st, 2015.

This special issue originated in the AlterNet seminar (London, 15-16 September 2014). For more information and inspiration, you may refer to the website.

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Feminism and (Un)Hacking Thu, 17 Jul 2014 00:31:52 +0000 Read more

Editors: Shaowen Bardzell, Lilly Nguyen, Sophie Toupin

There has been a recent growth in interest in feminist approaches to practices like hacking, tinkering, geeking and making. What started off as an interest in furthering representations of women in the technical fields of computer science and engineering, often along the lines of liberal feminism, has now grown into social, cultural, and political analyses of gendered modes of social reproduction, expertise, and work, among others. Practices of hacking, tinkering, geeking, and making have been criticized for their overtly masculinist approaches, often anchored in the Euro-American techno-centers of Silicon Valley and Cambridge that have created a culture of entrepreneurial heroism and a certain understanding of technopolitical liberation, or around the German Chaos Computer Club (CCC).

With this special issue of the Journal of Peer Production, we hope to delve more deeply into these critiques to imagine new forms of feminist technical praxis that redefine these practices and/or open up new ones. How can we problematize hacking, tinkering, geeking and making through feminist theories and epistemologies? How do these practices, in fact, change when we begin to consider them through a feminist prism? Can we envision new horizons of practice and possibility through a feminist critique?

In this call, we understand feminist perspectives to be pluralistic, including intersectional, trans, genderqueer, and race-sensitive viewpoints that are committed to the central principles of feminism–agency, fulfillment, empowerment, diversity, and social justice. We refer to the term hacking with a full understanding of its histories and limitations. That said, we use it provisionally to provoke, stimulate, and reimagine new possibilities for technical feminist practice. Hacking, as a form of subjectivity and a mode of techno-political engagement, has recently emerged as a site of intense debate, being equally lauded as a political ethos of freedom and slandered as an elitist form of expertise. These fervid economic and political ideals have been challenged and at times come under attack because they not only displace women and genderqueer within these technological communities but, more importantly, because they displace gendered forms of reflection and engagement.

Drawing on a growing community of feminist scholarship and practices, we hope to build on this momentum to invite submissions that reconceptualize the relationship between feminism and hacking. We aim to highlight feminist hackers, makers and geeks not only as new communities of experts, but as new modes of engagement and novel theoretical developments. In turn, with this special issue, we hope to challenge both concepts of feminism and hacking to ask several questions. How can feminist approaches to hacking open up new possibilities for technopolitics? Historically, hacking discourses center on political and labor aesthetics of creation, disruption, and transgression. How can feminist theories of political economy push technopolitical imaginaries towards alternate ideals of reproduction, care, and maintenance? Conversely, we also ask how notions of hacking can open up new possibilities for feminist epistemologies and modes of engagement?

We seek scholarly articles and commentaries that address any of the following themes and beyond. We are also interested in portraits, understood broadly, of feminist hackers, makers and geeks that help us better understand feminist hacker, maker and geek culture. We also solicit experimental formats such as photo essays or other media that address the special issue themes.

· What is distinctive about feminist hacking or hackers? How does feminist hacking practices help create a distinct feminist hacking culture?
· Why are feminist hacking practices emerging? Which constellation of factors help the emergence of such practices?
· What do we know about the feminist hacker spectrum? i.e. what are the differences among feminist hacking practices and how can we make sense of these distinctions?
· What tensions in hacking and/or in hacker practices and culture(s) come to the fore when feminist, anti-patriarchal, anti-racist, anti-capitalist and/or anti-oppression perspectives are taken?
· What does feminist hacker ethic(s) entail?
· What kind of social imaginaries are emerging with feminist hacking and hackers?
· What kinds of hacking are taking place beyond the Euro-American tradition?

Submission abstracts of 300-500 words due by September 8, 2014, and should be sent to

All peer reviewed papers will be reviewed according to Journal of Peer Production guidelines.

Full papers and materials (peer reviewed​ papers around 8,000 words; testimonies, self-portraits and experimental formats up to 4,000 words) are due by January 31st, 2015 for review.

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Peer production, disruption and the law Mon, 16 Sep 2013 09:05:41 +0000 Read more

Editors: Steve Collins, Macquarie University and Angela Daly, Swinburne University of Technology

The disruption caused by new technologies and non-conventional methods of organisation have posed challenges for the law, confronting regulators with the need to balance justice with powerful interests. Experience from the “disruptions” of the late 20th century has shown that the response from incumbent industries can lead to a period of intense litigation and lobbying for laws that will maintain the status quo. For example, following its “Napster moment”, the music industry fought to maintain its grip on distribution channels through increased copyright enforcement and the longer copyright terms it managed to extract from the legislative process. The newspaper industry has similarly seen its historical revenue stream of classified ads disrupted by more efficient online listings, and responded to its own failure to capitalise on online advertising by launching legal campaigns against Google News in various European countries.

Though the law as it stands may not be well-equipped to deal with disruptive episodes, the technological innovations of the last twenty years have created an environment that generates disruption. The Internet, the Web and networked personal computers have converged into the ubiquitous post-PC media device, leaving twentieth century paradigms of production, consumption and distribution under considerable threat. The latest technology to be added to this group of disruptive innovations may be 3D-printing, which in recent times has become increasingly available and accessible to users in developed economies, whilst the manufacturing capacity of 3D-printers has dramatically grown. Although current offerings on the market are far from a Star Trek-like “replicator”, the spectre of disruption has once again arrived, with the prospect of 3D-printed guns inspiring a moral panic and raising questions of gun control, regulation, jurisdiction and effective control. In addition, 3D-printing raises a number of issues regarding intellectual property, going far beyond the copyright problems that file-sharing brought about due to its production of physical objects.

This special issue of the Journal of Peer Production calls for papers that deal with the intersection of peer production, disruptive technologies and the law. Potential topics include, but are not restricted to:

– The threat posed by peer production to legacy industries

– The regulation of disruptive technologies through the rule of law or embedded rights management

– Lobbying strategies of incumbent players to stymie disruptive technologies

– Emergent economies or practices as a result of disruptive technologies

– Extra-legal norm formation in peer production communities around disruptive technologies

– Historical perspectives on the legal status of collaborative projects

– Critical legal approaches to technology, disruption and peer production

– The role and ability of the law (which differs across jurisdictions) in regulating autonomous production

– The resilience of law in the face of social and technological change

– The theories and assumptions which continue to underpin laws rendered obsolete by social and technological change

500-word abstracts are due by 15th November 2013 and should be sent to Accepted submissions will be notified during December 2013 and full papers (approximately between 4,000 and 10,000 words) are due by 12th May 2014. All article submissions are peer reviewed according to JoPP review policies.

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Shared Machine Shops: Beyond Local Prototyping and Manufacturing Tue, 13 Aug 2013 03:36:36 +0000 Read more

Editors: Maxigas (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya), Peter Troxler (International Fab Lab Association, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences)

In the last years we have witnessed an incredible proliferation of shared machine shops in a confusing number of genres: hackerspaces, makerspaces, Fab Labs and their more commercial counterparts such as TechShops, co-working spaces, accelerators and incubators.

These are currently “fringe phenomena” because they play a minor role in the production of wealth, knowledge, political consensus and the social organisation of life. Interestingly, however, they also experience the same core transformations as contemporary capitalism. That is, for the individual: the convergence of work, labour and other aspects of life. On a systemic level: the rapid development of algorithmically driven technical systems and their intensifying role in social organisation. Finally, as a corollary: the practical and legitimation crisis of modern institutions, echoed by renewed attempts at self-organisation.

Arguably, hackers occupied such an ambiguous position since the beginning of hackerdom, but shared machine shops represent a new configuration. They appear as embodied communities organised in research and production units of physical and logical goods; they even appear to escape the subcultural ghetto as educational institutions, museums, and libraries start to integrate them into their ambit. They are eminent laboratories in both their practices and products: as experimental forms of social institutions, and as the developers of technological prototypes projecting new visions of the future. Industry actors, state authorities and policy makers have recognised such milieus as prolific grounds for recruitment and new organisational models, which in itself warrants critical attention.

Inspired by all these developments, we dedicate the next special issue of the Journal of Peer Production to Fab Labs and similar places.

Some of the questions we are interested in exploring:

* What are the historical conditions and concrete genealogies which enabled the emergence of shared machine shops? (Can we talk about the renewed relevance of craftsmanship?)

* Are rapid prototyping practices changing the relationships to technology, research and development, and innovation? (Are shared machine shops democratising knowledge and production or rather building a new maker elite?)

* How do technologies cultivated in shared machine shops such as personal fabrication intervene in urban and rural geographies? (Is the time ripe for “global villages” or we have to adapt to “smart cities”?)

* What new and old anthropologies and ethics are articulated in shared machine shops? (Who is the “New Man” of Peer Production?)

* Finally, how do shared machine shops interface with the political economy of contemporary capitalism and the military-industrial complex? (If the means of production are in the hands of the workers, is that free labour, a new form of outsourcing, or the germ for a next revolution?)

Beyond local prototyping and manufacturing capability, what is the contribution of shared machine shops to critical practices of technology appropriation, to products, services and consumption patterns, to urban and rural geographies, and to practical political economy and ethics?

Contributions are welcome from scholars and practitioners alike. Collaborative efforts are encouraged. We are mainly expecting academic papers on the one hand, and commented project documentations or narrative vignettes on the other hand, but anything that can be presented on a website could work. However, submitters are advised to keep in mind that the content should address questions of consequence to practitioners, based on realities on the ground, while at the same time they should be reflexive and consider their wider intellectual context.

Submission proposals of up to 500 words due by October 15, 2013, and should be sent to
Submissions will be notified by October 30th, 2013, and full papers and materials (research papers around 8,000 words, testimonies and documents around 3,000 words) are due by January 31st, 2014, for review.

Final submission deadline is June 1st, 2014.

The special issue is due to appear in early July 2014.

Research papers are peer reviewed according to JoPP review policies.

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Value and Currency in Peer Production Tue, 04 Dec 2012 12:40:24 +0000 Read more

Edited by: Nathaniel Tkacz, Nicolás Mendoza and Francesca Musiani.

Peer production has often been described as a ‘third mode of production’, irreducible to State or market imperatives. The creation and organisation of peer projects takes place without ‘managerial commands or price signals’, without recourse to bureaucratic apparatuses or the logic of competitive markets. Instead, and mimicking the technical architectures upon which many peer projects are based, production is described as non-hierarchical and decentralised. Group dynamics are equally flattened out — and such flattening is captured, of course, in the very notion of the ‘peer’. This issue of the Journal of Peer Production (JoPP) seeks to scrutinise and advance these earlier understandings of peer production through the exploration of value and currency.

In sociological and economic thought, the historical distinction between ‘values’ and ‘value’ split the non- or at least less-easily-calculable with the seemingly cold and objective world of calculation and universal commensurability. This ‘old settlement’, which never really held, nevertheless helped demarcate the economic from the social. But the intensification and extension of computational procedures, which is manifested most clearly in the rise of big data, has lead to a proliferation of bottom-up procedures to formalise (social) values, rendering them easily calculable and lending order to the decentralised world of peers, but without necessarily replicating capitalistic calculations of value. Order in this sense is iterative, recursive and topological. In place of managerial commands and bureaucratic hierarchies we have Karma points and the long-tail logic of networks.

Practices of valuation and expressions of worth are rife in peer production. Wikipedia contributors, for example, have long awarded each other ‘barnstars’ for valued service in a range of areas, and the site has long explored ways of rating article quality. These valuing procedures formally began, perhaps, with ‘progressive grading schemes’ (see Tkacz, 2007) and have now evolved into more sophisticated ‘rate this page’ metrics, embedded in the bottom of article pages. On a more mundane level, formal procedures are necessarily in place to determine the inclusion-worthiness of individual contributions. Quality control, in other words, rests on a theory of worth. Even meritocracies must define what constitutes merit.

The flip-side of this issue is currency: the marriage of cryptography and the dynamics of open-source have now produced a working distributed currency system. The third mode of production has produced a new market architecture, an awkward alliance between the commons and the private market, in joint antagonism with the State. Bitcoin, as the most notable example, can be understood as a new technics of exchange inspired by the animal spirits of crypto-libertarianism. Whether or not there is a place for currency — and therefore exchange and (economic) value — in the utopian visions of commons-oriented thought is contested. Meanwhile, hybrid forms like Bitcoin are developing unhindered by their constitutional paradoxes. Capitalism, after all, equally thrives atop what David Graeber has called a ‘baseline’ or ‘everyday’ communism. Parasites abound, and the relation between the parasite and the common requires further consideration (see Pasquinelli, 2008).

Current developments of digital currencies are also pervaded by a number of tensions and matters of concern that revolve around the act of creation. ‘Let there be money, and there was money’, but who or what has issued this money? What is the source of the collective agreement to concede value? Is it a commodity-object (like gold), an entity (like the State in the case of fiat), or a particular ethos (as in Karma)? What forms of control are coded into currency systems and who is guiding processes of (re)design? Who plays the role of guarantor when a currency is decentralized? How is the ‘price’ and worth of the currency established once it is out in the world? And, how do experimental currencies sit in relation to the debit-credit duality (e.g. Bitcoin has been said to be debit money, while Ripple has been said to be credit money)?

Finally, the question of trust factors into experimental currencies on multiple levels. Digital currency systems exist because advancements in public key cryptography have developed ways to verify the legitimacy of a morsel of digital information. In this sense, trust takes on a technical quality, whose authority lies with the science of mathematics. That is, we trust that the science behind the crypto-currency will hold in adversarial conditions. But we also trust that currency designers are benevolent and we trust in their expertise and coding competence. How is trust secured in these conditions, how is it perceived, and how do such perceptions feed back into the value and uses of the currency? Bitcoin, it seems, has garnered enough trust to create a working system of exchange, while the Canadian Mint’s proposal for a similar system seems to have failed (on the level of trust) over concerns of increased state surveillance.

This issue of The Journal of Peer Production invites contributions on the themes of value and currency as they relate to peer production. Topics might include but are not limited to:

  • Local, alternative and crypto-currencies;
  • Decentralised currencies;
  • Non-coercive taxation systems and/or experiments/experiences;
  • Analog/pre-digital (or historical) networks for distributed value exchange;
  • Currency and design;
  • Currencies and the commons;
  • Life after fiat (the becoming-uncertain of taxes);
  • What does/should peer production value?;
  • Re-thinking the constitution of value;
  • Theories of non-monetary value and worth;
  • The relationship between valuing practices and project hierarchies;
  • Value, values and peers;
  • Forms of belief in peer production;
  • Automated systems of ranking and distributing value;
  • Theories of exchange, gift and voluntarism;
  • Trust and anonymity in the building of value;
  • Intermediation and ‘guarantees’ in P2P exchanges.

Submission proposals of under 500 words due by 28 January 2013 and should be sent to n.tkacz (at) Accepted submissions will be notified during February and full papers (approximately between 4,000 and 10,000 words) are due by 22 July 2013. All article submissions are peer reviewed according to JoPP review policies.

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The Critical Power of Free Software: from Intellectual Property to Epistemologies? Thu, 21 Jun 2012 11:45:52 +0000 Read more

Edited by: Maurizio Teli and Vincenzo D’Andrea

From the perspective of social organization, Free Software can be conceived as a form of critique by adaptability and modifiability, as pointed out by anthropologist Christopher Kelty [Two Bits, 2008], standing outside institutionalized forms of power and providing working alternatives as critical tools. Starting from this kind of understanding, Free Software has been interpreted as a form of critique toward consolidated and contemporary capitalistic forms, such as the extension of Intellectual Property over any kind of common pool resources, or the forms of organization of labour of distributed developers.

Nevertheless, the increasing adoption of Free Software by multi-national corporations points to increasing domestication of free software practices by contemporary global capitalism and to the expansion of hierarchical forms of social organization. This is particularly apparent in the form of the Open Source dialect, through the extensive overlapping of open source discourse with capitalistic discourses, such as that on legitimate hybrid business models, combining open source and proprietary licensing.

Such perspective requires that the critical power of Free Software be brought under scrutiny, moving from the undermining of the discourses of Intellectual Property, organization of work or hierarchy, to the understanding of the epistemological implications for computer science and software engineering. From this point of view, arguments that see the epistemology of computing as the locus of production and reproduction of long-standing inequalities in power relationships, are suggesting new areas of enquiry. Is Free Software a form of critique of the epistemological basis of computing? Is it possible to connect its critique of Intellectual Property and organizational forms to the critique of software development premises as a professional and research practice?
Those are the questions this special issue is trying to answer. To promote an interdisciplinary debate, we encourage submissions of theoretical and empirical papers authored both by social scientists, in a broad sense, and by computer scientists (joint papers are most welcome). We expect the authors to envision the potential for Free Software of being a form of cultural, practical, and material critique.

Call: 500-word abstract

Important Dates:

August 31st, 2012: Abstract Submission (max 500 words)
September 15, 2012: Abstract Evaluation and Communication
December 15th, 2012: Full Paper Submission
February 15th, 2013: First Review Completion
May 15th, 2013: Final Submission
June 2013: Signalling and Publication


Through contact form or straight to the editors, via email at and

The Journal of Peer Production (JoPP) is a new open access, online journal that focuses on the implications of peer production for social change.

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Expanding the frontiers of hacking Wed, 01 Jun 2011 14:00:08 +0000 Read more

Deadline: July 20, 2011
Bio-punks, open hardware, and hackerspaces
Edited by: Johan Söderberg and Alessandro Delfanti

Call: 500-word abstract

Both theoretical and empirical contributions accepted

During the past two decades, hacking has c

hiefly been associated with software development. This is now changing as new walks of life are being explored with a hacker mindset, thus bringing back to memory the origin of hacking in hardware development. Now as then, the hacker is characterised by an active approach to technology, undaunted by hierarchies and established knowledge, and finally a commitment to sharing information freely. In this special issue of Critical Studies in Peer Production, we will investigate how these ideas and practices are spreading. Two cases which have caught much attention in recent years are open hardware development and garage biology. The creation of hacker/maker-spaces in many cities around the world has provided an infrastructure facilitating this development. We are looking for both empirical and theoretical contributions which critically engage with this new phenomenon. Every kind of activity which relates to hacking is potentially of interest. Some theoretical questions which might be discussed in the light of this development include, but are not restricted to, the politics of hacking, the role of lay expertise, how the line between the community and markets is negotiated, how development projects are managed, and the legal implications of these practices. We welcome contributions from all the social sciences, including science & technology studies, design and art-practices, anthropology, legal studies, etc.

Interested authors should submit an abstract of no more than 500 words by July 20, 2011. Authors of accepted papers will be notified by July 31. All papers will be subject to peer review before being published.

Abstracts should be sent to

Critical Studies in Peer Production (CSPP) is a new open access, online journal that focuses on the implications of peer production for social change.

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