Brian Holmes on Tue, 12 Aug 2008 10:14:00 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Analysis Without Analysis. Review of Clay Shirky's "Here Comes Everybody"

Felix Stalder wrote:

> In 2002, Yochai Benkler was the first to argue that production was no 
> longer bound to the old dichotomy between firms and markets.

I am surprised! The notion of "commons based peer production" is
certainly new with Benkler, but networked production is not. Do
neither Benkler or Shirky devote even a footnote to one of the most
famous papers ever to be written about the organization of production,
with an explicit reference to Coase in the title? I'm talking about
Walter Powell's "Neither Market not Hierarchy: Network Forms of
Organization," published way back in 1990.

> For a book that claims to analyse a revolution that "cannot be contained in 
> the institutional structure of society". we get extremely little on 
> politics or power. But, if we are witnessing the largest increase in 
> expressive capabilities in human history, can it really be that the main 
> consequence is an explosion of disjointed volunteer projects? This lack of 
> depth is the result of the single most problematic aspect of the book.

I've not read Powell's text in a long time, but as I recall it has
little to say about the scaling-up of love (wonderful theme by
the way), and an awful lot about networking for power and profit.
Undoubtedly that's because of the early successes of Italian and
Japanese firms in building up informal productive networks where
cooperation is based on reciprocal advantage. So I'd agree with Felix
that there's some shirking of an issue going on. If people wanna
understand networked society, the only way to spot what's really new -
such as massively distributed volunteer collaboration - is to contrast
it to existing formats of production. And politically, I'd say that
analysis without analysis is exactly what we're expected to produce
with Web 2.0...

best, BH

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