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Journal of Peer Production

Work and Peer Production
Editors: Phoebe Moore (Middlesex University London), 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 e xpansion 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 w orker 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 no n-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 r eview.
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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FIRST CALL FOR PAPERS for a special journal issue on the theme:


The open-science economy (OSE) is a rapidly growing sector of the global knowledge economy utilizing open-source models and its multiple applications (e.g. open access, open archiving, open publishing, open repositories) in distributed knowledge and learning systems. This rich-text, highly interactive, user-generated OSE has seen linear models of knowledge production give way to more diffuse, open-ended, decentralized, and serendipitous knowledge processes based on open innovation and technology.

These peer-to-peer distributed knowledge systems rival the scope and quality of traditional proprietary products through the diffusion speed and global access of open-source projects, especially in both software and open-source biology. OSE encourages innovation-smart processes based on the radical non-propertarian sharing of content, cloud data computing, and the leveraging of cross-border international exchanges and collaborations.

Furthermore, it encourages a culture of distributed, collaborative, decentralized model of research that is genuinely participatory, involving the wider public and amateur scientists along with experts in the social mode of open knowledge production. OSE provides an alternative to the intellectual property approach to dealing with difficult problems in the allocation of resources for the production and distribution of knowledge and information. Increasingly, portal-based knowledge environments and global science gateways support collaborative science.

Open-source informatics enables knowledge grids that interconnect science communities, databases, and new computational tools. Open science is seen as a means for revitalizing public institutions and for developing scientific creativity and innovation at a global level through international collaboration. This special issue explores the concept of “open science economy”, its dimensions and its significance.

Please send expressions of interest including a title and abstract to:
Professor Michael A. Peters at


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Queen Mary College


\\\\///\\ Counter/Mapping QMary ////

////////////////\\\////////The university and border technologies

To begin by asking ‘what is the university’ requires an investigation of the function of the university not only as a knowledge factory but also as a border. Our investigation of what the university produces as knowledge, hierarchies and power exposes the border/s that operate in, on and around the university. That ‘the university is a border’ is made possible by the operation of a filter mechanism. The counting of bodies, money in and money out, who can and can not enter, what are we when we leave, the limits of what is and is not knowledge and the complicity with national and global border regimes – who and what is stopped at the border?

A group of students, staff and researchers at Queen Mary University have set out to map the ways in which migration, border technologies, surveillance and monetary flows intersect with the university as our place of work and study. Joining us in the project are the <Counter-Cartographies Collective from the University of North Carolina>, who will help to explore the dynamics and possibilities of mapping as method and action.

From Thursday 13 May – Monday 24 May we will gather to discuss, research and take action to produce a counter map of Queen Mary University. As part of our practice we will be facilitating <three public workshops> to expand the participation and possibilities of the project. These workshops as well as the counter mapping production process are open to all who are interested and are free to attend – please see below for the programme and contact details. The venue for all events will be room 4.08 in the Francis Bancroft Building of Queen Mary Campus and is accessible.

//////Thursday 13 May, 2pm
\\\\\\\\\\Imaginaries of the university

<Opening event of the Counter/Mapping QMary project>

The Counter-Cartographies Collective will present their work on the neo-liberal university and discuss their maps, methodologies and actions. This session will address our imaginaries of the university – current and potential – and will conclude with a drift around QM campus.

\\\\\\\\Thursday 20 May, 2pm
//////////How to make a counter-map

<Workshop: mapping as method, practice and action>

The Counter-Cartographies Collective will facilitate a workshop on radical collaborative mapping skills using available open source mapping software and web-based data-mining techniques. Free and open to all, email us to register.

///////Monday 24 May, 4pm  
\\\\\\\\\\\The politics and potential of counter-mapping

<Presentation and open discussion>

In this event, Counter/Mapping QMary project will present their map of Queen Mary. This presentation will be followed by an open discussion of the methods and politics of mapping the university as a site of migration, education and labour struggles. Invited interlocutors: The Students not Suspects Campaign (Goldsmiths), No Cuts at Queen Mary Campaign, Jane Wills, David Pinder, Ishani Chandrasekara, Miguel Mellino, John Hutnyk, Alberto Toscano

Counter/Mapping QMary
Facebook: countermapping qmary

\\\The Counter///Mapping QMary Project is generously supported by the School of Business and Management and the Geography Department at Queen Mary University.


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