The False Hope of Benkler's Communal Wealth? An Analysis of What Has Happened to Commons-Based Peer Production and the Current Prospective for Non-Corporate Activity Online
16 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2012
Date Written: July 4, 2012
In his seminal 2006 work 'The Wealth of Networks', Yochai Benkler presents a new era in the production of information, the 'networked information economy', facilitating action by decentralised individual users, and in particular 'commons-based peer production' initiatives which provided a feasible, nonproprietary alternative to information production by corporate (or State) entities. Important and revolutionary features of this new kind of production compared to previous forms were the non-hierarchical decentralised organisation of the initiatives, their 'non-market' nature i.e. the fact that production took place altruistically and communally without remuneration or proprietary rights for participants and the fact that the information produced could be disseminated worldwide for very little cost.
This contribution analyses what has happened to commons-based peer production from an anarchist perspective, and in practice the profit-seeking encroachments made into this type of initiative. The prospective for non-hierarchical participative activity which resists this tendency will be examined.
Keywords: Yochai Benkler, Wealth of Networks, anarchism
JEL Classification: P40, Z00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation