The Journal of Peer Production - New perspectives on the implications of peer production for social change New perspectives on the implications of peer production for social change
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JoPP Signal:
10/10
Title: In Defense of the Digital Craftsperson
Author/s: James Losey and Sascha D. Meinrath
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Abstract:
The increasingly centralized control of communications technologies is limiting the generative potential of the Internet. From commercially-motivated bandwidth throttling and restrictive data caps, to governments blocking websites and services to enforce political or cultural stability, the shift toward command-and-control networking is creating barriers for end-user innovation (Fuchs 2011a; McChesney 2013; Meinrath et al. 2013). Sennett (2008) describes the craftsman (which we purposefully changed to “craftsperson” for inclusiveness) as someone with the desire and ability to innovate and adapt a medium and create a new form or function. As networking technologies continue to evolve, the Internet-of-Things affords minimal opportunities for Digital Craftspersonship. In addition to proprietary hardware, control is being engineered throughout networking technologies as well (Galloway 2006; Zittrain 2008); from a technical standpoint, networked technologies are systems of hierarchical layers in which the function of any one layer is interdependent with the other layers of the system (Burns 2003, Van Schewick 2010). Changes in network management protocols and agreed-upon networking standards, locked hardware devices, copyright, patents, digital rights management, and restrictions on data access have the potential to severely limit how end-users can engage with contemporary networked technologies (Lessig 2002; Meinrath et al. 2010). By contrast, interoperable networks, unlicensed spectrum, open hardware, and access and portability of data provide the foundation for a far more innovative digital ecosystem. By updating prior theorizing (Burns 2003; Lessig 2002; Benkler 2006; Zittrain 2008), this paper offers a framework for analyzing control along five dimensions of networked technology: networks, devices, applications/services, content, and data. Using this framework, the authors analyze how centralization of control is increasingly hindering innovation, and how open digital platforms offer a far more liberatory alternative that supports future Digital Craftspersons.

Keywords:
Keywords: Internet-of-things, Internet architecture, network commons, DRM, remixing, 21st century ownership, privacy, digital feudalism

JoPP Signal:
10/10
Title: Hacktivism, Infrastructures and Legal Frameworks in Community Networks: the Italian Case of Ninux.org
Author/s: Stefano Crabu, Federica Giovanella, Leonardo Maccari, and Paolo Magaudda
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Abstract:
Community Networks (CN) are an emerging world-wide phenomenon that is receiving growing attention from a number of different disciplines. A CN is an infrastructure for digital communication, an alternative to the mainstream approach of commercial Internet Service Providers (ISPs). It resembles a scaled-down Internet and is used to interconnect a community of people who share particular goals and motivations. By developing a multidisciplinary perspective at the intersection between science and technology studies, law and informatics, this paper analyses the cultural, technical and institutional features of Ninux.org, the most important Italian CN. Ninux.org, based on wireless technology, is made up of more than 320 nodes all over Italy, although mostly concentrated in Rome. This paper provides insights into the political, technical and legal issues of the network, highlighting how tightly interwoven these are, to the extent that they cannot be properly understood in isolation. The paper starts by describing the phenomenon of the CNs; sketching its historical development, the motivations underlying the foundation and use of these networks, their functioning and main legal implications. This introduction is followed by an examination of the specific case of Ninux.org, looking at practices, discourses, and interactions among activists participating in the project. On the basis of this analysis, the paper moves on to consider some technical characteristics and specifications of the network, revealing how the technological infrastructure only partially realises an effective decentralisation and horizontal organisation of the network. We also consider some of the legal constraints imposed by the Italian and European normative frameworks, and the need for Ninux.org to address regulatory issues in the near future. Finally, on the basis of our multi-perspective analysis of this Italian CN, the paper outlines some ways in which the community network could be strengthened, and its participants helped to develop reflexive tools to implement their initial vision of decentralisation.

Keywords:
Wireless community networks, decentralization, Italy, hacktivism, distributed infrastructures

JoPP Signal:
8,5/10
Title: Enmeshed lives? Examining the potentials and the limits in the provision of wireless networks: The case of Réseau Libre.
Author/s: Christina Haralanova and Evan Light
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Abstract:
Mesh networks in urban spaces are on the rise and are increasingly widespread and innovative. Often built by people with an interest in community networks and the distribution of power and control within the Internet, mesh networks make for a fascinating phenomena to research in the ways they bridge the social and the political. This article presents a study of Réseau Libre, an emerging mesh network community in Montréal. Started in 2012 by a group of tech activists, its original goal was to connect peers through an independent, self-funded and decentralized wireless network. By creating an autonomous long-range wireless network outside the scope of government regulation. Réseau Libre's project is inherently political and within the creeping reaches of the surveillance state, seen as increasingly necessary. In this article, we examine the history and organization of Réseau Libre, its organizational limits and physical realities. We analyze the project within its particular political context and provide a number of recommendations oriented around the future success of Réseau Libre and other similar projects around the world.

Keywords:
Mesh networks, surveillance, community networks, network security, Internet alternatives.

JoPP Signal:
15/15
Title: Going off-the-cloud: The role of art in the development of a user-owned & controlled connected world
Author/s: Daphne Dragone and Dimitris Charitos
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Abstract:
During the last 15 years, while everyday life is being increasingly datafied, an emerging scene of network practitioners from different fields has been actively involved in building alternative networks of communication and file-sharing. Among the practitioners of this DIY networking scene, a growing number of artists has been playing a crucial role in offering alternatives and critical perspectives. The aim of this paper is to present and discuss these particular initiatives in relation to the needs of the different time-periods that they emerged in.

Keywords:
DIY networking, art, community networks, ad hoc networks, offline sharing, network commons

JoPP Signal:
9/10
Title: Gesturing Towards “Anti-Colonial Hacking” and its Infrastructure
Author/s: Sophie Toupin
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Abstract:
In the 1980s, freedom fighters and hackers from South Africa built an autonomous encrypted communication network that allowed activists infiltrated on the ground to communicate with the senior leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) based in Lusaka, Zambia via London. The encrypted communication network was set up as part of Operation Vula to attempt to launch a people's war and ultimately liberate a people's from apartheid. This article speaks to the history of technology in its attempts to further document and elucidate the encrypted communication network. To accomplish this, it draws both on previously available sources and also personal accounts obtained through interviews with some of the core individuals involved in the network's functioning. It also aims at expanding our understanding of highly intentional, politically-motivated practices of hacking, and the socio-technical infrastructures needed for such practices to exist.

Keywords:
Anti-colonial hacking, Phreaking, Cryptography, Anti-Apartheid, South Africa, Infrastructure.

JoPP Signal:
12/15
Title: The Interplay Between Decentralization and Privacy: The Case of Blockchain Technologies
Author/s: Primavera De Filippi
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Abstract:
This paper analyses the case of Bitcoin and other blockchain-based networks, as an example of decentralized infrastructures which suffers from radical transparency. While they provide a series of privacy benefits to end-users, the characteristics of these networks present both advantages and risks to the privacy of end-users. On the one hand, the pseudonymous nature of many blockchain-based networks allows for people to transact on a peer-to-peer basis, without disclosing their identity to anyone. On the other hand, the transparency inherent to these networks is such that anyone can retrieve the history of all transactions performed on a blockchain and rely on big data analytics in order to retrieve potentially sensitive information. The paper concludes that, in spite of the apparent dichotomy between transparency and privacy, there is no real conflict between the two. With the use of advanced cryptographic techniques, it is only a matter of time before people identify news ways to preserve individual privacy in decentralized architectures.

Keywords:
blockchain technology, decentralization, privacy, transparency, cryptography.

JoPP Signal:
14,5/15
Title: Finding an Alternate Route: Towards Open, Eco-cyclical, and Distributed Production
Author/s: Stephen Quilley, Jason Hawreliak, Kaitlin Kish
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Abstract:
Open source networks have the potential to radically disrupt activities and domains that have traditionally been under the purview of governmental and corporate entities. Traditional manufacturing, for instance, has often relied on large scale institutions for capital, distribution, and bureaucratic/services support. However, with the proliferation of open source networks, small, independent actors can collaborate with one another bypassing larger institutions. Such ‘off-grid’ activity may potentially bring with it a range of economic, environmental, and psychological benefits. This paper explores the logic and potential impact of distributed, open architecture, and community-based fabrication. We focus in particular on (i.) problems of meaning, motivation and behavioural change and (ii) alternative modes for the provision of public goods. To unravel the connections between political economy, technology, and problems of meaning and behaviour, we propose the concept of the “reMaker society,” which centres on micro-manufacturing practices and localized distribution networks. In particular, we explore the possibility of DIY production to shift markers of social prestige and psychological self-worth from passive consumption to active and collaborative making, drawing on the organization Open Source Ecology as an exemplar.

Keywords:
reMaker society, distributive economy, consumption, open source networks, immortality project