Commons-based peer production

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Also known as long-tail production, term coined by Yochai Benkler. The distinction between commons-based peer production and just peer production is the co-ownership or communal stewardship of resources and platform.


A mode of production that is open (access to participation), transparent (access to information), decentralized (allocation of resources) and horizontal (autonomy), involving many actors who use p2p communications (e.g. the Internet) to coordinate. These actors are both independent and interdependent. They may freely share material resources and the platform (infrastructure), their knowledge, and collaborative effort to provide solutions to problems.


The central question of commons-based production is this: if the ownership / stewardship of commons assets are in the hands of a large community, how are the fruits of value-added production and service (due to a skilled or inventive minority group) to be distributed amongst that community?

One solution is by direct accounting: what is harvested from the commons (before value-added processing) shall be shared evenly amongst stakehholders.

In Practice

Sensorica expands this model by adding a contribution accounting system, which allows for an equitable redistribution of economic gains, based on everyone's contribution. This mode of production is powered in large part by a variety of intrinsic motivations (such as contributing to the wealth and welfare of the commons), but also by the desire to be remunerated.

This production system may benefit in many cases (particularly with regard to non-physical commons such as knowledge and cultural reservoirs) by scaling up to a large ecosystem of diverse membership. It is important that this remain a community such that exploitation and competition do not become overriding forces. Open source development and licensing enables higher-order currencies like reputation to act as a strong binding principle of self-organization.


See definition on p2p Foundation

See Wikipedia definition