Dmytri Kleiner on Tue, 12 Aug 2008 14:39:42 +0200 (CEST)

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

On Mon, 11 Aug 2008 20:40:05 +0200, Felix Stalder <>

> In 2002, Yochai Benkler was the first to argue that production was no 
> longer bound to the old dichotomy between firms and markets. Rather, a 
> third mode of production had emerged which he called "commons-based peer
> production."1 Here, the central mode of coordination was neither command
> (as it is inside the firm) nor price (as it is in the market) but self-
> assigned volunteer contributions to a common pool of resources. This new 
> mode of production, Benkler points out, relies on the dramatic decline in
> transaction costs made possible by the internet.

I know this is tangential to your review. But is this "third mode of
production" a result of low transaction cost, or a result of a common
stock of productive assets? Couldn't societies such as neolithic
primitive communism be shown to have similar properties? Did these
have "low transaction costs" Did commons based cottager communities in
the middle ages?

Also, is either "firm" or "market" a mode of production? My
understanding of mode of production is based upon the productive
relations of factor providers, especially in terms of income
distribution among them. Can't both "firms" and "markets" exist
withing capitalist and socialist modes?

As a free software developer, I also question the idea of
"self-assigned volunteer contributions," the vast majority of
significant free software is developed in the course of fulfilling
responsibility to employers or educational curriculum.

The low transaction costs of reproducing immaterial productive assets
also means that they have low exchange value, and thus whatever
marginal productive yield these assets produce will always be captured
by owners of material assets. Thus owners of material assets will
retain control of the productive process.


Dmytri Kleiner
editing text files since 1981

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