You must be the change you wish to see in the world
- Mahatma Gandhi
Governments and big business are large in nature and their ability to move quickly is a distinct disadvantage when today’s challenges require rapid, large scale transformation. Government are also heavily influenced by special interests, who are often at the heart of the problem itself. When governments no longer represent the interest of the people, it is time for the people to assert themselves. The open source, collaborative movement is one possible solution proven able to tackle complex global problems.
Open Collaboration / Crowdsourced Solutions
Open Ideo is a open collaborative website that crowdsources solutions to difficult problems. Sponsors advertise challenges in Open Ideo to crowdsource solutions and ideas from all around the world. It then chooses the best idea in an open collaborative process. The video below shows how it works.
Figure 1: The Open Ideo Ebola Challenge
Figure 2: Some example crowdsourced solutions for the Ebola Campaign
Figure 3: Example of Ingienous Design contribution: holistic solution framework and mindmap
Figure 4: Example of Ingienous Designs contributed solution: Holistic solution framework and mindmap
Decarbonet is an European Comission funded research project that investigates the potential of social platforms in battling climate change. Decarbonet considers engaging the public in energy debates and encouraging behaviour change as essential strategies for reducing energy consumption and saving our planet.
Studies show that information and technology alone are NOT sufficient for changing behaviour towards energy consumption, and that what is needed is a mixture of socio-technical interventions to raise awareness and trigger this change in behaviour. Decarbonet researches how to raise awareness collectively by means of social platforms and how to transform it into behaviour change.
DecarboNet falls under the domain of CAPS (Collective Awareness Platforms for Sustainability and Social Innovation),a FP7 and H2020 research funding programme of the European Commission for leveraging the emerging “network effect” by combining open online social media, distributed knowledge creation and data from real environments (“Internet of Things”) in order to create awareness of problems and possible solutions requesting collective efforts, enabling new forms of social innovation.
How Cooperation triumphs over Self-Interest
People who are driven by greed and who are in powerful positions will always game the system to create inequity. It is clear that we must evolve a new system that takes the best that capitalism and socialism offers and leaves the worst behind. When we have always felt that we must choose between capitalism and socialism, we might just ask whether there is a 3rd possibility. We can begin by recognizing that both systems fail for the same reason; lack of authentic and widespread compassion.
Somehow, we have to make compassion attractive. People need to experience increasing their livelihood more effectively by giving, than by directly receiving. Is this possible?
To protect any idea represented in digital form requires artificially encoding it in a sophisticated digital cryptographic system. Indeed, the argument open source advocates make is that we spend (waste) vast amounts of resource trying to protect data. Open source advocates look at the sharing of data as efficient and wealth is to be created in other ways such as providing customization services of freely available data. In other words, modifying the data to suit niche markets. One of the greatest challenges in moving to an open source economic model for the future is this issue of compensation for ideas. If we move to an open source model where idea creators simply put their ideas into the commons, then how do we ensure that these valuable creatives are compensated for the efforts they have made towards developing these ideas? All ideas take some level of effort to produce and refine to a usable form. It appears as a basic human principle that our reward should be in proportion to the effort we put into creating something new. It just doesn’t seem fair that a person who does very little creative work should be equally compensated as a person who does a lot of work. It is the most basic effort / reward principle that all parents naturally teach their children. We have all seen the example of the dysfunction soviet style of communism where there is no incentive system. Without incentives, workers did as little as they could and creativity was severely stiffled. Is “Open Source” simply another word for communism? If not, then what concrete differences exist between the two, especially in regards to compensation for idea creators? How does an open source economy tackle these very real issues of appropriate compensation?
As we become more aware of the flaws of the current economic system, new models are evolving to fill these gaps out of necessity. Larry Chang is one such innovator and has created what may be the ultimate sharing system. He calls it a Net Planetary Value (NPV) system. His website Panacea describes it in detail. Essentially, it is a kind of electronic social, environmental & ethical index which gets rid of currency altogether and, like some evolving collaborative consumption models creates a person’s net worth based on independently verifiable metrics that indicate reputation. Chang has many years of experience in local, resilient community development and local currency and hit upon the idea as the only feasible way to rapidly scale across the globe.
The Peer to Peer Foundation – Imagining an Open Source, Peer-to-Peer World
Michael Bauwens, founder of the P2P Foundation describes the organizations objectives as a clearinghouse for open/free, participatory/p2p and commons-oriented initiatives which aims to be a pluralist network to document, research, and promote peer to peer alternatives. It’s two fundamental aims are:
- ending the destruction of the biosphere by abandoning the dangerous conceptions of pseudo-abundance in the natural world (i.e. based on the assumption that natural resources are infinite)
- promoting free cultural exchange by abandoning the innovation-inhibiting conceptions of pseudo-scarcity in the cultural world (i.e. based on the assumption that the free flow of culture needs to be restricted through excessive copyrights etc…).
These concepts are quite radical and is very challenging to those working within a market paradigm based upon scarcity and open-ended rewards for hard work. For instance, P2P Foundation is seeking alternatives to the long accepted maxim of intellectual property. In our current economic paradigm, citizens who create and develop new ideas by investing substantial amounts of time, money and resources in them naturally seek to protect their assets. In a society of scarcity, it is simply a practical matter because everyone is vying for monetary wealth and there is a significant percentage proven to be unscrupulous. What Bauwens proposes is nothing short of earth shaking because, in essence, he is proposing a system in which we can feel entrusted to share our hard earned ideas with others. Such a system, Bauwens argues is necessary to combat the inequities of the present system.
The Foundation of a P2P Economy
The following links on the P2P economic paradigm are from the P2P Foundation website:
The P2P Paradigms
- Peer Production via Open and Free Input
- Peer Governance via Participatory Processes
- Peer Property via Commons Output
- Cooperation and Sharing
The Three Aspects of Application in Society
The Peer-Driven Collaborative and Ethical Economy
- Collaborative Economic Practices
- Using New Open Company Formats
- Mutualizing Infrastructures
- with Open Business Models
- through Crowdfunding and P2P Financ
- based on P2P Value Metrics
- enabled through Legal Infrastructure and True P2P Technological Infrastructure
- using Shared Innovation Commons for Open and Distributed Manufacturing
Swarming Masses of People
IOPS is open for anyone wishing to join who shares the goals, values and visionary commitments laid out in the organizational description. We the signers of this open letter from Noam Chomsky, Vandana Shiva, Boaventura de sousa Santos, John Pilger, and 40 other members of the interim decision body of the new International Organization for a Participatory Society, hope that you will circulate, email, and/or republish our letter, and, even more, that you will engage in and publish commentary regarding the organization’s purpose, implications, prospects, etc.
We send this open letter to invite you to please visit the IOPS Site to examine its initial features – including especially and most importantly its Mission and Visionary and Programmatic Commitments. The IOPS commitments emerged from a long process of discussion and debate. We believe they correspond closely to the most prevalent, advanced, and widely accessible political beliefs on which to build an organization for winning a better world. We also hope and even believe that if you read and consider the IOPS commitments, you will likely find that they are congenial to your interests and desires and that they provide reason for great hope that IOPS can become a very important organization in the coming years. If we had to summarize the IOPS commitments, we would note that they emphasize: that IOPS focuses on cultural, kinship, political, economic, international, and ecological aims without a priori prioritizing any of these over the rest; that IOPS advocates and elaborates key aspects of vision for a sustainable and peaceful world without sexism, heterosexism, racism, classism, and authoritarianism and with equity, justice, solidarity, diversity, and, in particular, self-management for all people and that IOPS structurally and programmatically emphasizes planting the seeds of the future in the present, winning immediate gains on behalf of suffering constituencies in ways contributing to winning its long term aims as well, developing a caring and nurturing organization and movement, and welcoming and even fostering constructive dissent and diversity within that organization and movement and based on its commitments.
We think hundreds of thousands of people, in fact, millions of people, will, on reading the commitments, overwhelmingly agree with them. We hope that if you look at the commitments and feel that way, you will join and advocate that others join as well. If you instead have problems with the IOPS commitments, we hope you will make your concerns known so a productive discussion can ensue. On the other hand, we also understand that agreeing with the IOPS commitments will not alone cause those same hundreds of thousands and even millions of people to join IOPS. There are numerous reasons why a person might support the IOPS commitments and even hope that IOPS grows and becomes strong and effective at the grassroots, in every neighborhood, workplace, and social movement, and yet, at the moment, not join.
Our best effort to summarize obstacles people may feel to joining even while they like the IOPS commitments, and to address those obstacles also appears on the IOPS site, in a Why Join IOPS Question and Answer format. Essentially we argue: If not now, when? If not us, who? Asked to provide a succinct summary paragraph for the IOPS site about his involvement, Noam Chomsky wrote: “Hardly a day goes by when we do not hear appeals – often laments – from people deeply concerned about the travails of human existence and the fate of the world, desperately eager to do something about what they rightly perceive to be intolerable and ominous, feeling helpless because each individual effort, however dedicated, seems to merely chip away at a mountain, placing band-aids on a cancer, never reaching to the sources of needless suffering and the threats of much worse. It’s an understandable reaction that all too often leads to despair and resignation. We all know the only answer, driven home by experience and history, and by simple reflection on the realities of the world: join together to construct and clarify long-term visions and goals, along with direct engagement and activism shaped by these guidelines and contributing to a deepening of our understanding of what we hope to achieve…
IOPS strikes the right chords, and if the opportunities it opens are pursued with sufficient energy and participation, diligence, modesty, and desire, it could carry us a long way towards unifying the many initiatives here and around the world and combining them into a powerful and effective force.” And as Cynthia Peters wrote: “You hear it all the time. There is always another urgent crisis. They don’t just come in a steady stream, they seem to multiply geometrically. More draconian policies with life-threatening consequences, more corporate control, more prisons, more bombs, more funerals. With so many immediate fires to put out in our day-to-day organizing work, how can we make time to attend to larger issues, such as long-term strategy, vision, and movement building? IOPS creates the space for us to do the essential work of movement building and envisioning and then seeking a better world. Without these elements, we’ll continue to work in isolation. By enlivening and enriching IOPS with your presence, you will both give solidarity to and receive solidarity from so many others — across the world — in the same situation — up to their necks in the daily fight, and at the same time turning their creativity and energy towards revolutionary social change. That is not just good company. It’s the solid beginnings of another world being possible.” We hope you will join us as we try to make it so.
Go to the Collaborative Consumption page