Commoning in a hybrid community


Reflecting on some of the discussion about blogging in our class, and reading through the module guide made me aware that we need to actually work together to understand what “working together” is all about. i.e. we need to shirk for it to work. As we only have a limited amount of time together as a face-to-face group, our contact through the WordPress site means that we will actually be developing a hybrid community (Mitchell 1998). How we function in this respect will have a big impact on our learning and consequently our grades. We can turn to Brown et al. (2006) for guidance in turning our community into a goal directed virtual team. While some of what Brown discusses is notrelevant to our circumstances (eg hiring), other aspects are important.

A key aspect is that we all need to introduce ourselves, which is pretty much what has already done. So I shall follow suit.

In 2013 I completed a BA in Social Enterprise at UEL and in February I started an MSC in ICT and Development of which this module is a part. I think this may lead me to adopting a somewhat different approach to other people doing this module. I also currently work Wikimedia UK, the UK based charity that supports Wikipedia. I have been involved with WIkipedia for over ten years. I am particularly excited about taking this module because it will deepen my knowledge of certain key practices that projects like Wikipedia exemplify. One of these is “Commons-based peer production” a term coined by Yochai Benkler (Benkler 2002) to describe activity which fell outside the framework of transaction costs theory which was developed by Chicago School Economist Ronald Coase back in the thirties (Coase 1937).

However, I have also been influenced by Ivan Illich’s ‘vernacular values‘ (Illich 1980):

“We need a simple adjective to name those acts of competence, lust, or concern that we want to defend from measurement or manipulation by Chicago Boys and Socialist Commissars.”

I have gone into great depth about this in an article Wikipedia – A Vernacular Encyclopedia, which draws on the experience of Alexander Bogdanov and Proletkult following the Bolshevik coup on October 1917. I see Bogdanov’s “Techtology” as a precursor of cybernetics and I am interested in how these theoretical approaches can enrich our understanding of Sustainability and the Commons in the twenty first century.

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Benkler Y. (2002) Coase’s Penguin or Linux and The nature of the firm 112 YALE L.J. 369 (2002), PDF.

Brown M.K., Huettner B., and James-Tanny C. (2006) Managing Virtual Teams: Getting the Most from Wikis, Blogs, and Other Collaborative Tools Pleno Texas, Wordware Publishing

Coase R. (1937) ‘The nature of the firm’ Economica, 9 (1937), pp. 386–405

Illich I. (1980) ‘Vernacular Values’ published in CoEvolution Quarterly
Mitchell, W. J. (1999).’The city of bits hypothesis’
High Technology And Low-income Communities: Prospects for the Positive Use of Advanced Information Technology”, Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT Press



3 Responses to “Commoning in a hybrid community”

  1. franzi075 Says:

    Interesting…I was thinking the same today on my way home but in relation to the group work assignment. Very clever Massimo!

  2. sustainabilityandthecommons Says:

    Hi, maybe do elaborate in another post how cybernetic could be of interesst for sustainability and the commons. A synthesis of cybernetic and work like Ivan Illich would be really interesting stuff. Maybe could it be your assignment or even dissertation? Please check some of your links because they do not work.

  3. leutha Says:

    Thanks for that – I had problems with the visual editor. I think the links are correct now.

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