Utopian design: Why the vision of William Morris is now within reach

#1
https://aeon.co/essays/why-the-utopian-v...thin-reach

EXCERPT: . . . When *News from Nowhere* was first published, it had many of the trappings of a classic utopia, including that it appeared practically unattainable. But today we have different technological potential: the idea of commons-based production need not be a mere pipe dream. The ‘commons’ is a social system that refers to resources managed and shared according to the rules and the norms defined by the productive community.

[...] As recently as two decades ago, most people would have thought it absurd to countenance a free and open encyclopaedia, produced by a community of dispersed enthusiasts primarily driven by other motives than profit-maximisation, and the idea that this might displace the corporate-organised Encyclopaedia Britannica and Microsoft Encarta would have seemed preposterous. Similarly, very few people would have thought it possible that the top 500 supercomputers and the majority of websites would run on software produced in the same way, or that non-coercive cooperation using globally shared resources could produce artifacts as effectively as those produced by industrial capitalism, but more sustainably. It would have been unimaginable that such things should have been created through processes that were far more pleasant than the work conditions that typically result in such products.

Commons-based production goes against many of the assumptions of mainstream, standard-textbook economists. Individuals primarily motivated by their interest to maximise profit, competition and private property are the Holy Grail of innovation and progress – more than that: of freedom and liberty themselves. One should never forget these two everlasting ‘truths’ if one wants to understand the economy and the world, we are told. These are the two premises of the free-market economics that have dominated the discourse until today.

Wikipedians and hackers want to create something useful for themselves, not for the market or for short-term profit

So, is GNU/Linux, the free and open-source software that drives those 500 supercomputers, an exception that proves the rule? What about the Apache HTTP Server, the leading software in the web-server market, or Wikipedia? The legal scholar Yochai Benkler at Harvard University was one of the first to observe that such commons-based projects are by now too common to be considered anomalies. Already a decade ago (when smartphones were a novelty), Benkler argued in The Wealth of Networks (2006) that a new mode of production was emerging that would shape how we produce and consume information. He called this mode ‘commons-based peer production’ and claimed that it can deliver better artifacts while promoting another aspect of human nature: social cooperation. Digitisation does not change the human person (in this respect), it just allows her to develop in ways that had previously been blocked, whether by chance or design....

MORE: https://aeon.co/essays/why-the-utopian-v...thin-reach
Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Engineers reveal AI vision system that mimics how humans visualize & identify objects C C 0 116 Dec 22, 2018 06:58 AM
Last Post: C C
  Top 10 urban design stories of 2015 + 10 Green design predictions for 2016 C C 0 457 Dec 31, 2015 04:35 AM
Last Post: C C



Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)