Tue 3 Jul 2018 9:36AM

How to do curating - Basic literacy in commoning

M mike_hales Public Seen by 120

Simon Grant posted in the P2PF blog on 'curating' - advocating a skilful practice of distributed curating. It seesm not possible to leave a comment in the blog (tech fault?), so this thread is to pick up the topic here.


mike_hales Tue 3 Jul 2018 9:38AM

@asimong you might want to upload a file of the blogpost here, for convenience of readers?


Simon Grant Tue 3 Jul 2018 9:53AM

sure, thanks Mike @mikeh8

Distributed Curation: the commons handling complexity

A story about a wiki

Let me open by saying this is only a sketch – Michel Bauwens would probably want to elaborate, but I would like to mention only the very barest details here. Back around 2006, Michel started putting his notes about Peer-to-Peer and related ideas on the P2P Foundation wiki, and opened it up to trusted others to contribute as well. Naturally, after more than 12 years of committed input, there are thousands of pages, which have received millions of page views. Like many wikis, this can be seen as an information commons.

Can one person maintain, as well as continue contributing to, such a growing resource? At some point, any such venture can become a full time occupation, and at a later point, simply unfeasible for one person alone. Thus, from time to time, Michel has invited others to help organise and contribute to the pages, and the wiki as a whole. Leaving out personal details, this has not all been sweetness and light. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of wishing to impose one's own personal structure, one's own worldview, on any resource of which one shares control.

Beyond the wiki pages themselves, the wiki (running on software similar to Wikipedia) pages can be given categories, and over the years Michel has written guide pages for many of these categories.

A story about community resources

Again, I will sketch out only the barest details, taken directly from life. The houses in the cohousing community that I live in are marvellously well-insulated, but small, and with little storage space: no lofts, garages or garden sheds. Coming from larger homes in an individualistic society, many of us bring literal baggage along with the habit of keeping collections of things that might be useful some time. The community does share guest rooms, a large dining and living space, a garden tool store, etc., so there are several areas where we don't need to keep our own stuff.

But what about stuff like: books; envelopes; bags; fabrics and materials; glass jars; plastic containers; DIY tools and materials; boxes; camping equipment or any of the many things other people keep in their lofts, garages or garden sheds? We are committed to a low-energy future, where reuse and re-purposing are valued. But there is not enough space for us to keep more than a fraction of what we could potentially reuse. Can we make more of a material commons around these day-to-day resources, even if they look unimportant politically?

How are wikis like stuff we keep? Where are the commons here?

The truth is, in any highly complex system, each of us has at best only a partial and personal understanding of that complexity. We may be experts in our own field (however small) but know little of other people's fields, and have only a vague overview. Or we may be the people with an overview of everything, but the more we devote ourselves to holding the overview in mind, the less mental space we have for all the details. So, are commons simple or complex? While each part of a commons may be simple enough to grasp, my guess is that, when taken together, the sum total of our potential commons is indeed highly complex, and far beyond the scope of what any one person can fully comprehend.

The lack of space in our homes simply serves to highlight the fact that in any case, most of us don't have the time or energy to keep a well organised collection of jars, bottles, tools, equipment, and potentially reusable resources of all kinds. When we delve into the richness of a wiki like the P2P Foundation's, the links in the chain rapidly lead us to areas where we know very little. That's why it is useful! We gather and store information, as we do physical materials, not knowing when something might be useful. But can we find it (the material resource, the information) when we want to?

My proposition is that, first, we grasp that essential truth that this same pattern is increasingly common in our complex world. And, second, we recognise that we can do something very constructive about it. But it needs coordination, trust, and, maybe, something like a ‘commons’ mindset.

The sad version of the ending

Returning to our stories, what might happen next? It's easy to imagine awkward, frustrating futures. The information we stored is no longer up to date. The links lead to 404 pages. The summaries, useful in their time, omit last year's game-changing developments. Visitors don't find them useful, and so they are not motivated to join in the curation. Our information commons initiative, once so promising and useful, gradually loses its value, and sooner or later it is effectively abandoned. We turn back to the monetised sources of information that are controlled by global capital.

We overfill our small homes with stuff that might come in handy one day. But because we don't really have the proper space to organise the stuff, when we want something we can't find it anyway. And we have less room in our heads, as well as our houses, trying to keep track of all the stuff. No one else can help us quickly, because they all suffer from the same difficulties. And no one has thought to keep those rare whatever-they-are-called things.

Alternatively, the space we use collectively to store our stuff gets fuller and fuller, and everything is harder to find. No one knows where everything is. People start moving other people's stuff just to help them organise some other stuff. Either way, we don't find what we're looking for. So we go and order a new one. More consumption of energy, more resource depletion, worse environment, more climate change ...

Articulating the commons of information and physical materials

So, let's try for more positive narratives.

Anyone who turns up to use our information commons resource is invited to get to know someone here already. Soon we have an idea of what particular knowledge our newcomer has, in which areas. Through personal contact and discussion, and seeing some reliable behaviour, trust develops. We give them the task of revising the most out-of-date resource that is within their area of competence, interest, energy or enthusiasm. They make a good job of it. They get appreciative feedback, which motivates them to take on more, looking after a whole category. The resource, the commons, grows in real value, and more people come. ‘They’ become one of us. Repeat.

My neighbours and I get together to talk over our resources, and soon every kind of stuff has one or two people who volunteer to look after that kind of stuff. Now that I can trustingly pass on my unused books, my DIY materials, my plastic bottles and containers, and all the other ‘junk’ I have accumulated, I have enough space for a really well-organised collection of glass jars. Anyone with spare glass jars gives them to me. I know which ones there is demand for, and I pass the others on for recycling. When anyone has a sudden urge to make jam, I have plenty of jars ready for the occasion. I even keep a few unusual ones just in case, because I have the space. Every now and then, someone is really astonished that just what they need is there!

Let me, finally, try to describe the common pattern here, and contrast it with other possible patterns.

It's different from having one big heap of resources which is everyone's responsibility equally. No one knows which resources or areas they should take responsibility for, and there is anxiety about entrusting other people to look after other areas, because no one is clear how much attention is being given to what, and how much energy is being wasted looking over other people's shoulders.

It's different from a hierarchical control structure, because the people at the ‘top’ are less likely to have the on-the-ground feedback to know what a manageable, coherent collection is. Yes, perhaps it is possible to emulate a good commons with an enlightened hierarchical structure, but how do you know that some agent of global capital isn't going to come right in and completely change the way things are done, imposing a confusing, alien world view, and promptly syphoning off the surplus value?

The common pattern – the pattern I am suggesting for complex commons – could be called “distributed curation”, and the vision is of a commons governed by consensus, and maintained through a culture that promotes the development of trust, along with the development of people to be worthy of that trust. It relies on personal knowledge and trust between people curating neighbouring areas, so that they can gracefully shift their mutual boundaries when times change, or allow a new area to grow between them. It relies on the natural, spontaneous differences in people's interests, as well as the motivation for people to take on responsibility for deepening their own areas of knowledge within a community context, when trusted, encouraged, and given positive feedback and support by the community; and when they see the natural feedback of their actions benefiting other people.

I'm left with the question, how do we get there? My answers are few, and need much elaboration. Yes, we need to get to know each other, but how can we arrange to introduce people who will enjoy getting to know each other? Yes, we need to build up trust, but what kinds of activities can we do so that trust is built most reliably? Yes, we need to identify and negotiate people's different patches of service and responsibility, but just how can we do that? Yes, we need to inspire people with a vision of distributed curation, but what language, and which media, are going to communicate that vision effectively?


mike_hales Tue 3 Jul 2018 9:55AM

Nice one Simon @asimong , it's good to have this available as a thinkpiece, thank you. Curating is central in commoning, so the more clearly we recognise and cultivate the skills and the genres of practice involved (and curate ways of conceptualising the practice, and stories about how it matters) the better. This is basic commoning literacy. I'm glad you're making this explicit in this way.

Alongside curating, the other leg of practice is stewarding - governing how the curated, commoned, valued stuff may legitimately be deployed and mobilised, and what obligations go with that. Not a big deal with jamjars, but quite an issue with water supplies, urban open- pace or Big Data accumulated in the online pseudo-commons of social media. An issue too with a wiki; this is what licensing is about (and why there's a Creative Commons licence tag on the blog page). Very political stuff, stewarding. We need to curate resources for stewarding, among other things. All work in progress!

Although curating in any mode is a challenging, mentally skilful thing to do, how we do the 'distributed' bit is really the difficult part? Being a participant in a distributed practice is hard, relatively unfamiliar, emergent, attentive, empathic, skilful work (emotional as well as cognitive, kinaesthetic as well as narrative), and we can afford to do a whole lot more reflecting (and blogging and wiki-ing; and facilitating and mentoring) on how this talk is walked?

I recognise and respect how significant trust'is for you, as a touchstone. I guess I'm less willing to invoke this kind of abstract quality of experience (we all know it when we feel it? I guess so. But . . .) and I tend to turn to notions that are, I think, a bit tougher: relations of production'and (since we're engaged in a radical, transformative practice) the production of alternative relations of production. This is a different (materialist, practice-oriented) way of engaging with what usually are invoked as 'values'. My main issue with 'solidarity economy' for example, as a framework of activism, is the centrality of 'values' in the rhetoric I feel that RoPs are a much tougher, more actionable, more politicised way of addressing things,

This isn't a place to say moe on this (it's not a simple conceptualisation and has a knock-on effect in a lot of directions) but one day I'll put some concepts and stories into the wik/Loomioi. Work in progress! Thanks for launching this.


Michel Bauwens Wed 4 Jul 2018 1:09PM

I copy stacco for the remark on the inability to comment, which isn't normal ,

Mike: I am not going to London this month, so can't attend our planned meeting,



mike_hales Wed 4 Jul 2018 4:09PM

Sad to learn you'll not be at Open2018 @michelbauwens1 I've work in progress which I'll put into a draft shortly, and hope will seem worth considering . . related to this thread, and other things (eg open cooperativism in the FLOSS platforms domain, and the interesting mission of social.coop). @asimong


Stacco Troncoso Wed 4 Jul 2018 4:37PM

Heya Mike, shoot me an email at stacco@p2pfoundation.net. Cheers.


Michel Bauwens Thu 5 Jul 2018 3:37PM

we can always do a skype ? thai evenings , london afternoons, weekdays, as of the 3rd week of july ?


mike_hales Thu 5 Jul 2018 4:45PM

This sounds like a good idea, thanks. The following will work for me:

Bangkok 18:00 - 21:00
London 12:00 - 15:00
Mon 16th
Weds 18th
Fri 20th

How about you Michel?

I’d send you something to talk around - links or a short draft - latter part of next week?

Best wishes / mike
Skype: mhbrighton


Simon Grant Fri 6 Jul 2018 11:34AM

Hi Mike do please let me know when you decide, as I might be able to participate.


mike_hales Fri 6 Jul 2018 8:00PM

@asimong Some discussions over in social.coop have made me more awake to the differing politics encountered in the 'platforming' movement. Whether they see themselves as commoning, and what it is that they may have an interest in commoning, can vary a great deal.With a view to thinking about strategy in social.coop I wrote the attached. But I think it links with your concern over wikis (a widespread kind of platform adopted in radical movements - or at least, radical tech movements) and with the literacy of curating and stewarding in commoning. So I've brought the piece here. If we do succeed in talking with @michelbauwens1 later this month, I offer this as one thing we can talk around, alongside your wiki blog above.

It's questions, not answers!

What does anyone else think of this angle on "the uses of platforms"? @michelekipiel @mattnoyes @richarddbartlett


Simon Grant Fri 6 Jul 2018 9:35PM

Very interesting @mikeh8 , thanks! Maybe time to bring in Denis Postle and his Psycommons (on P2PF; his blog) and my intrapersonal commons

This is getting really interesting. Let's talk with Michel if we can, for sure, but also more with each other!


mike_hales Fri 6 Jul 2018 9:44PM

I was recently 'talking' with Dennis Postle. He seems to have cooled off a bit on psycommons. For him, it was basically an anti-professioanlism thing, and an assertion that most people manage to be sane without professional intervention. I'm not sure how 'sane' that is, myself ;-) Will check out your interpersonal commons. My own way of framing this is 'emotional institutions' and emotional landscape; and the commons of liberated non-Othering 'self' that the dhamma is aiming at. No use being post-capitalist, if we don't get to be post-greed and post-hatred and post-stupidity as well? Raising the stakes rather!

Off-topic? I don't think so, this is basic literacy in creating a world that is a commons of commons. But quite a step from wikis!


Simon Grant Fri 6 Jul 2018 9:53PM

@mikeh8 I'm thinking "it takes a village to raise a child" and similarly "it takes a village to manage a commons". A person (including a child) is a commons (intrapersonal). Distributed curation of each other. Do I make sense to you?


Bob Haugen Fri 6 Jul 2018 11:51PM

@mikeh8 nice analysis. I miss the ecosystemic dimension: P2PF has been focusing a lot lately on carrying capacity or biophysical limits of bioregions. You might consider adding it.


mike_hales Fri 6 Jul 2018 11:57PM

@asimong Going along with the spirit of this, I would say that the grandchildren are a commons - material, cultural and emotional. The work is stewarding as well as curating - the tougher half of the job, maybe?


mike_hales Sat 7 Jul 2018 12:01AM

Please note: I updated the "Platforms in a pluriverse" piece with a reference to Bollier on "pluriverse".


Simon Grant Sat 7 Jul 2018 6:22AM

@mikeh8 I wonder how you distinguish curation from stewardship? I haven't personally made that distinction yet. I don't think that any attempted distinction between caring for the needs of something and caring for the resources inherent in something would make much sense to me. Though with grandchildren, their potential contribution to the world is much less knowable, so maybe there we are left with simply loving them as themselves, as that's all we can do? No doubt we have all noticed a parental tendency (conscious, or more often not) to try to have their children live out their unlived lives, thereby treating them as a kind of resource, perhaps with some similarities to the "human resources" attitude. So I'm guessing (wildly) that your mention of grandchildren hooks in that perspective?


mike_hales Sat 7 Jul 2018 8:41AM

Our relationship with our grandchildren is different than with our kids - we can be more selflessly generous and less possessive or anxious toward them. But whatever the psychology may be, the historical perspective starts to be present with grandchildren, we're aware of how much the world changes, how long the journey is, how much freedom a person has, how much learning each person has to do in their own skin.

I think a distinction between curating and stewarding (note: both transitive verbs, no abstract nouns) is simple. Curating is cultivating the resource base: deciding what's good or necessary and why, getting additional stuff made and added, hunting things down, deciding what's not valuable, assessing tradition in relation to present-day consciousness. Generally becoming attuned to the nature of its resource 'suchness' and our own relationship with that; and cultivating both with an aesthetic sense. Whereas stewarding is about the economic life of the resource: who can use it, under what terms, under what obligations, for what purpose, in what way does it need defending, avoiding depleting or polluting, enforcing sanctions for improper use. Generally what we tend to call governance. Stewarding is 'political' rather than aesthetic. I see curating and stewarding as two legs that commoning walks on.

Connecting the two topics, IMHO we can see the 'suchness' in grandchildren more easily than we can in our direct offspring. Of course, the village can have that orientation toward all children (some of the members do in fact bring grandparent experience). But depending on how the particular commons ('culture') works, parents may exercise ownership over kids and treat them as investments.


mike_hales Sat 7 Jul 2018 10:47AM

@michelbauwens1 could you provide links for P2PF current focus on carrying capacity or biophysical limits of bioregions?

Pointing out that this is absent from my sketch above of "platforms in a pluriverse"@bobhaugen mentioned J.B. Quiligan and Paul B. Hartzog http://globalcommonstrust.org/?page_id=22
Hartzog has biog notes in P2PF wiki but Quiligan is absent.


Michel Bauwens Sat 7 Jul 2018 7:18PM

couldn't access your document Mike,

but noted the pluriverse

just to add then that the existing p2p wiki is not npov, but a pluralistic perspectopedia, based on 'opportunistic updating', i.e. so far articles are created not by original writing but by excerpting pluralistic excerpts that bring various visions to bear on a topic,



Michel Bauwens Sat 7 Jul 2018 7:22PM

dear Mike

there are two places to find info on biophysical accountability,

i.e.here on the general topic https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Category:Thermodynamic_Efficiencies (with also https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Category:Sustainable_Manufacturing)

and https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Category:P2P_Accounting for the accounting systems specifically

I also recommend checking out https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Category:Mutual_Coordination


Michel Bauwens Sat 7 Jul 2018 7:24PM

and as for James Quilligan

he is all over our wiki, as he should be, i.e .about a dozen titles and several dozen text mentions,

see https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/index.php?search=Quilligan&title=Special%3ASearch&fulltext=1


Michel Bauwens Sat 7 Jul 2018 7:36PM

bring him on


Michel Bauwens Sat 7 Jul 2018 7:42PM

curation is something you do yourself, stewardship is what supports others to do the curation ?

as for grandchildren you are probably familiar with john heron's take on the evolution of hierarchy, autonomy , cooperation

and this is pertinent as well: https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Evolution_of_Childhood_and_Parenting_Practices


Michel Bauwens Thu 12 Jul 2018 8:39AM

that message was never sent, it stayed in draft mode, really sorry

it has to be starting at 9 pm for me, I'm rarely there before ..

so we need another day and time, sorry for that


Stacco Troncoso Wed 4 Jul 2018 4:38PM

Apart from sorting out whatever happened with the comment, I'm very happy to see discussions on P2PF content taking place on Loomio, which is a much better medium. Would you like me to link to this discussion at the end of the post? (Or @asimong can do it too)


Simon Grant Wed 4 Jul 2018 5:38PM

Done, thanks for the prompt, Stacco @staccotroncoso


Simon Grant Thu 12 Jul 2018 5:45AM

With respect to both @mikeh8 and @michelbauwens1 I'd like to try bottoming out the distinction between (the overlapping concepts of) curation and stewardship, and I'm trying to move on from my earlier statement that I hadn't yet made a distinction.

It makes sense to me, along with Michel, that curation is in effect a relationship between a person and some resource, often in our discussions (though not always) an information resource. A phrase that is often repeated in definitions of curation is "select, organize, and look after" collections of items. This fits well the two examples in my P2PF post, so I'm happy with the word and its meaning here. Especially in the context of the P2PF wiki, the task of writing and maintaining category pages seems to me to fit well into the definition of curation. If you have an introductory page on some concept, not only will you be looking around carefully for which pages give detail to the concept, but also you may be helping to keep those particular selected pages up to date.

Stewardship seems to me to differ from curation partly in being a wider concept, but perhaps more precisely in that while stewardship definitely includes "looking after" or taking care of something, to me there is no implication of selection. So one can "steward" a process of "curating": the curation would be of the data, and stewardship would be of the processes around that data. Wikipedia gives "Stewardship is now generally recognized as the acceptance or assignment of responsibility to shepherd and safeguard the valuables of others."

We probably see ourselves as stewards of the natural world, in the sense of looking after it, including all its natural diversity, and trying not to interfere in destructive ways. We can curate a collection in a museum of dead specimens, but the concept of curation doesn't quite fit looking after living things, because the 'selection' part of curation might imply that we simply ignore, discard or even throw away the items (species or individuals) that are not of value to us.

The process of curation by people is also alive, so we steward that process rather than curate it. Back in relation to my blog post, we can take up the responsibility of stewardship of the culture, or the economy, of distributed curation.

Another nice aspect of the concept of stewardship distinguishes it from ownership and (more autocratic forms of) management. As a steward of the natural environment, I make no claim to own it; nor do I presume that I (personally) have the authority or capacity to take a controlling managerial position with it.

It might be an idea to elaborate this in respect to commons thinking. Does either of you (or anyone else) know of any writing about this? I can imagine an outline easily enough. It might help people understand more about commons processes and how we relate to them personally.


Michel Bauwens Thu 12 Jul 2018 8:16AM

it's a very useful distinction, but they are also polarities and sometimes a person or group needs to do both,

also polarity , because many stewards would actually intervene when the eco=system itself is actually at risk (think about invasive species, which many ecological stewards feel strongly towards, eventhough they are not positive curating per se

so negative curation, in the sense of protecting the integrity of the eco-system, seems part of stewardship, certainly is part of the work of open source maintainers and knowledge editors

I'm a curator when I select myself, but a steward concerning the open contributions of others,

never forget that some people and forces actually want to destroy your commons, for all sorts of reasons

this is why un-moderated lists, where everything goes, don't survive



mike_hales Thu 12 Jul 2018 8:38AM

I absolutely didn't mean to suggest that different people necessarily do the two things, which are functions not roles. It's a dialectic,walking on two legs. Some kind of social division of labour (based in skill, personaility, institutional location, etc) is likely to offer itself, in principle all persons have an orientation to both functions.

Definitely, negative curating is a core part of stewarding

some people and forces actually want to destroy your commons

But the skills and temperament may mean that some folks pick up more on one than the other. They must be integrated in the collective.


mike_hales Thu 12 Jul 2018 8:54AM

Three notes in response to simon . . . First, I'm intentionally using the active transitive verb forms curating*ing* and steward*ing* not the abstract nounds curation and stewardship or the roles curator and steward. The former bcos it's abstract and I'm seeking descriptions in terms of material practices and use-values, the latter bcos it's a function-based dialectical conceptualisation that's needed, which shouldn't be ossified in a role structures.

Second, the distinction in a sentence: curating is oriented inwardly, to loving/nurturing/cultivating the material stuff of the commons, the resource base; stewarding is oriented outwardly, to disciplining the traffic between the commons and the practices of the rest of the economic pluriverse, including the lives of individual commoners and the various usages they might attempt.

Third . . no I'm not aware of literature on this, but have my antennae out. I'd be surprised if the Bollier/Helfrich oevre doesn't pick up on this, but don't know where. @michelbauwens1 do you?


Michel Bauwens Thu 12 Jul 2018 8:58AM

I don't mike,

but I have a request to you or simon, when you feel satistied about the dialogue, an article on the curating/stewarding distintion would be very helpful for our wiki and blog,



Greg Cassel Thu 12 Jul 2018 11:36AM

I can't participate properly here (i.e. closely following the whole discussion), sorry; however I generally agree with the distinction you make @asimong between stewarding and curating.

FYI I have a work-in-progress formal definition for the verb steward, and just added one for curate, in MOT:

*steward: *

To steward is to persistently and comprehensively support one or more specific agents or resources.


To curate is to select, organize and steward resources, or copies of resources, of a specific type.

^ The new entry for curate is based mainly on the discussion here (thanks!) However, I have (for now at least) directly included the concept of stewardship i the entry for curation.

My definition for stewardship is rather strict/specialized, to distinguish it clearly from the concept of support.

Of course, my terminology is highly debatable. Questions and comments welcome, and thanks in advance for any further discussion here!


Simon Grant Thu 12 Jul 2018 9:23AM

Great stuff, thank you both @michelbauwens1 and @mikeh8 for your comments here. I'll take this one step further, see if you follow me.

Michel, your analogy with invasive species provokes useful thinking, thank you. And naturally I would agree that stewarding of an ecosystem can involve curation in the negative sense of deselection of invasive species that threaten to disrupt or destroy the ecosystem commons. What I'd like to expand on is your comment "some people and forces actually want to destroy your commons, for all sorts of reasons".

Let me rephrase that to something that I can readily agree with. Some people sometimes (and may be a persistent and frequent habit) display behaviour patterns that violate commons values and tend to destroy commons value. What I'm longing for is the kind of attitude, which comes up often in spiritual traditions, that does not identify any individual him or herself as a member of an invasive species, but considers that it is their behaviour that is invasive or destructive. We are looking, if you like, at memes, rather than genes, in human culture.

And here's an article of faith: for any invasive or destructive behaviour pattern, there is a potential commons-based remedy. Given that article of faith, we can move from an attitude of rejection / expulsion / punishment to an attitude that leads us to search for what that remedy might be -- or better still, what the preventative measure might be to avoid the problem behaviour appearing in the first place; and then on to restorative approaches to justice, education, re-enculturation.

Please don't mistake what I'm saying here as starry-eyed idealism. I'm highly aware of the enormous political as well as cultural obstacles. But as far as is feasible and practical, (recognising that is isn't always,) I would like to live in a prefigurative society that adopts that article of faith as a guiding light.

It's partly to enable restorative approaches to invasive behaviour patterns that I am so clear in my own mind about the importance of the kind of personal knowledge that comes easiest through face-to-face interaction. Here we are again with the issues of intrapersonal and interpersonal commons, connecting with Denis Postle's work.

I'll be happy to write or co-write that article in due course, Michel!

Mike -- let's have an argument offline about spirituality and faith! :slight_smile:


Michel Bauwens Thu 12 Jul 2018 10:07AM

dear Simon,

I agree with your take and with the potential with commons remedies,

but let me give you an example,

yesterday I met Simon Edhouse of bittunes, a system that uses bitcoin to create very inclusive music markets based on a open source foundation

he's supported by VC funder David Orban who funds network infrastructures

the first thing he said is: careful with security as the first thing the majors (music) will do is plant copyrighted music files in order to be able to sue you,

in this case, it doesn't really matter whether these people are evil or not, they could be really nice family people, they are just get paid to put other people in jail and destroy their projects in businesses

what matters is, do you have the defensive measures in place or not,

personally, I like Chinese ducks, yet 99% of the environmentalists in the flanders want to eradicate them as they are pushing out all the other ducks

this of course is a difficult decision about live beings

in our world it is simpler, we just want to avoid certain behaviours



Simon Grant Thu 12 Jul 2018 10:34AM

Indeed, established interests will always seek ways to attack initiatives that seem threatening to their existence or (more exactly in a capitalist society) profitability. I don't want to ignore or minimise that at all. And as our society continues to spiral down into increasing inequality (seemingly unavoidable according to the likes of Piketty, until some pretty radical changes are made) there will always be people who succumb to financial incentives to do the ugly will of those in power (a bit like prostitution). When I talk about prefigurative, like some of the discussion about Occupy, I guess, I mean a restorative system within the group of people who are "signed up" to commons values. I hope that within a commons "ecosystem", there will be enough commons power to overcome the invasive behaviour patterns within the commoners themselves. I completely agree that we as commoners need to defend ourselves against hostile outsiders, including those who try to sneak inside under false pretences. Thus, back to the vital nature of face-to-face in depth knowledge and trust.

Perhaps more significant, in our culture, is that we aspiring commoners are bound on occasion to feel pressure to act against the commons. It is that temptation that needs to be addressed; those behaviours that need to be called out quickly, and restorative processes implemented.

I am under no illusion: restorative practices practiced only by self-identifying commoners cannot hope at this stage to be restorative to a large majority of people who have not yet arrived at any commitment to "secede from the broadcast". I guess that is where politics is (and here's to hoping that your political ambitions come to fruition, Michel!) but not where I am personally at present.


Michel Bauwens Fri 13 Jul 2018 2:22PM

I think there are 2 polarities here,

one is the creation of high trust environments, the Enspiral way and also now the p2p foundation way, i.e. the functioning of our core group

second is the open source or trustless methodologies,

we try to the second, but though nearly everyday people are registering, there are not contributing,

using yes (65 million or so views to date),

to be honest, I have given up , I've reached the limits of what I can do


Greg Cassel Fri 13 Jul 2018 7:14PM

Thank you @michelbauwens1 for all you do! I hope you don't see it as failure that you can't curate an entire world of p2p information by yourself. We're all limited by the tools we use, and we do indeed need many more people to be contributing (and to be sufficiently motivated to contribute). We'll get there.

BTW I don't perceive any stark duality between a high trust environment such as Enspiral's (which I'm familiar with) and open source or 'trustless' methodologies. IMO all communities need filters and "immunity systems", sometimes creating different contribution roles and even different levels of contributor. Personally I'm still working to develop p2p community media network governance which (hopefully) creates sufficient motivation & responsibility to ensure sustainable constructive activity of all important types, including content curation.


Michel Bauwens Sun 15 Jul 2018 1:17PM

I think we need both, and depending on context, one or the other is more important, so we have a larger trustless world for scaled up interactions, and smaller one's that provide for deeper human needs,



mike_hales Thu 12 Jul 2018 9:09PM

@asimong @michelbauwens1 I’m going to take a break from this thread, have other things to juggle. So state of play . . .
- I’m looking forward to co-authoring a piece on curating and stewarding.
- Clearly the discussion tips over into ‘ethics’, with stewarding having to deal with malicious actions, foolish weakness, stupidity, prejudice, lack of care and attention, etc etc. I’m quite reluctant to settle for a discussion that rests in abstractions like ‘values’ or in ethical schemes, and would want to take things forward in terms that are more descriptive of actual cultivatable, demonstrable forms of practice. This definitely goes over into practice and skill ‘in-here’, in the heart-body-mind (the intrapersonal); and thence into the interpersonal (as one of the main things that the in-here is constantly responding to).
- I regard intrapersonal commons as central in liberation, and in building a society of caring-curating commons. But I’m not sure that Denis Postle is the person to go with here, just because he happens to have coined the term ‘psycommons’. I think he thinks that more people are saner and less in need of ‘work’ than I do! Yes I’m a pessimist (of an optimistic kind). Also, I’m very far from convinced that co-counselling (the go-to solution for Denis) is the obvious ‘answer’ to problems of unwholesome emotions in (or against) commoning.
- This is complicated stuff, hard to find language for, hard to ground-out (because these things typically are so abstracted and over-generalised), not easy to agree across temperaments. I would be glad to see how far we can get with writing about stewarding and curating, as broad, dialectically-intertwined modes of practice, before we also have to write another article about handling the negative character of species humans, selves included. This is difficult water: roots of behaviour, ethics, spirituality, faith, justice. I’d like to get something simpler written before diving in there.
- Regarding the latter, though, I need a better understanding of what Simon is meaning by restorative. I use the term myself and regard it as very significant, but I sense that the two usages may differ somewhat. At root, I understand restorative practices to be grounded in enabling skilful action ‘in-here’, in the face of one’s own greed, hatred, delusion, incontinence, inattention, etc etc; and I regard these as matters of practical skill (cultivateable and demonstrable, experienceable qualities of the heart), rather than abstract ‘values’. This is grounded broadly in dhamma thought. Secular dhamma. I guess, where Simon said “for any invasive or destructive behaviour pattern, there is a potential commons-based remedy”, I would say that there’s a commons-building remedy. We may mean the same thing. I certainly would be thinking here of transformed relations of production of the heart-mind (the in-here forces of motivation and desiring), held as a commons.
- I acknowledge Simon and Michel’s strong inclination to face-to-face interaction as a foundation for ethical relationship, well-judged response, trust and well-founded communication and collaboration. I do recognise its importance and accept that some things are impossible without direct experience of others sharing parts of the practice, but I also want to note that the strength of this as a need varies substantially between folks with different temperaments. (This is usually expressed as introversion/extraversion, though these are flaky notions and I wouldn’t want to boost that classification.) I don’t regard face-to-face as bedrock or an unquestioned norm, just as a significant preference of many, to be kindly accommodated as part of diversity. This is a melancholic speaking. We’re all human. Some people are intensely oral/aural, other are really happy on the page. One of the people I’ve trusted most in my life is someone I never met. Yes, a pluriverse.

Simon, I think we may meet at Open2018? Not long now. Let’s pick things up there (face to face) after sleeping on this a while?


Michel Bauwens Fri 13 Jul 2018 5:45AM

thanks for this recap,

I hope I can one day write something about my own perspective on curating and stewarding, after 10 years of practice at the p2p foundation and 30 years overall,