Sat 30 Sep 2017 8:29AM

Digital Taylorism: Labour between Passion & Serendipity

DS Danyl Strype Public Seen by 139

CoWorking spaces began with both utopian and pragmatic goals, but like any potentially subversive new trend, its surface appearances (hotdesks, bean bags, pool tables etc) have been used as PR fodder by an increasingly financialized business world. An increasingly precarious gig economy, facilitated by digitization, is being represented as a spontaneous product of workers bringing 'creativity' into workplaces. Sebastian Olma describes this as "Digital Taylorism" in a blog piece published by the Institute of Network Cultures.


Michel Bauwens Fri 20 Apr 2018 9:54AM

dear Mike,

very interesting,

just one remark at first, as I'm in a train with limited connectivity,

you mention the field of 'open coops', but to be honest, I wonder what you mean as I don't think there are many, 99% of coops are not open but competing in the capitalist marketplace and not creating 'commons for others' (which is my definition of open coops)

otherwise I fully agree that the mentality you talk about is something very deep in us,

even in the alternative groups I work most closely with, it is really the default psychological setting to move towards these efficiency methods copied from capitalist enterprise,

yet, there is a serious issue, the process, 'assemblist', 'inclusion-oriented' projects that I know , have for me, unacceptable ineffiency levels, with very little getting down,

the way we have 'solved' this at the p2p-f is to split deliberation, which gives any project a mandate, with hands off leadership by project coordinators, once the project is ongoing; once a mandate is given, it's really up to the project coordinators to make sure the project and the work gets done,

this is important, as these projects are often contracts with third parties, and these contracts need to be carried out



mike_hales Fri 20 Apr 2018 10:03AM


It's a tangle. It's contradictory. It's a struggle. It runs deep. It's right inside. We're sleeping with the enemy. All of the above! Onward!

It's very important to have the organisational literacy that you refer to in the P2PF, to do both things, in a recognised relationship, within an explicit deliberative process. Of course this is not 'professional' ;-) But it is a very skilful practice, and takes some cultivating?


Danyl Strype Sat 12 May 2018 7:03PM


the way we have 'solved' this at the p2p-f is to split deliberation, which gives any project a mandate, with hands off leadership by project coordinators, once the project is ongoing; once a mandate is given, it's really up to the project coordinators to make sure the project and the work gets done,

Ironically, this sounds a lot like Agile development done right (or like the 'forking' practice I described in the thread on FOSS Cooperatives on the Social.coop Loomio group, for others who also straddle both groups). 'Rough consensus and running projects', you might say.

I've recently read some articles by Agile development pioneers (eg https://pragdave.me/blog/2014/03/04/time-to-kill-agile.html ) about how the concept has been debased by "Agile Scrum Master" courses and such-like, which reify Agile principles (http://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html ), and practices like scrum and pair programming, into an almost cult-like, pre-fab Agile(TM) that can be sold to corporate clients. Michael O Church puts it well:

"Waterfall [the pre-existing corporate software model] replicates the social model of a dysfunctional organization with a defined hierarchy. Agile, quite often, replicates the social model of a dysfunctional organization without a well-defined hierarchy ... Ultimately, Agile (as practiced) and Waterfall both are forms of business-driven engineering, and that’s why neither is any good at producing quality software or happy employees."

It's not surprising that later in the article Church describes this form Agile Scrum as "scientific managment" ie Taylorism. Again, as with the Co-Working spaces, timebanks, and cooperatives, I think this is a case of a managerialist virus hijacking the cultural RNA of the Agile pattern language, and the same could happen to other pattern languages like permaculture, or transition, or the commons peer production movements, if we can't come up with an effective cultural retroviral.


Michel Bauwens Fri 20 Apr 2018 10:06AM

yes, I believe that since we started this about 18 months ago, it is really working really well and that it combines, despite the overwork, relational quality with productivity ... I consider 'changing the world' to be a planetary emergency at this stage, so some things do need to get done and advance, it can't be just processual therapy sessions,



mike_hales Fri 20 Apr 2018 10:33AM

'Planetary emergency', yes :-(

It might be good to broadcast more about this practical-organisational mode itself? Although lots of folks are probably doing versions of it - perhaps especially in the OpenSource community? maybe also the Catalan stuff? lots of locations? - it would be great to have access to some 'practice-and-theory' reflection (and even guidance?) on this kind of emerging literacy? Maybe your presentation at the Open2018 conference in London in July can pitch this?! The event will be very technique-oriented and hacker-ist I think. In a good way! Best wishes.


Michel Bauwens Fri 20 Apr 2018 10:23AM

very interesting and cogent analysis, I agree


Michel Bauwens Fri 20 Apr 2018 10:38AM

yes, this would be a very good initiative, a kind of 'pattern language' for open coops (commons-oriented coops)

I've collected a whole bunch at https://www.diigo.com/profile/mbauwens/Pattern-Languages


mike_hales Fri 20 Apr 2018 10:57AM

Pattern language! Yes! Can't wait to see your draft ;-)

In the back of my head for 40 years, I've only just begun to bring this powerful but delicate approach into the front of my head! Applied to 'making the civil economy'. Better late than never. Chris Alexander's original stuff is lovely, poetic, warrants much wider awareness (available here and here)) - even if he's a bit too Goethe-Romantic to be followed all the way by melancholic folks like me!

It's great to have your resource-bank of sources Michel, thank you.


mike_hales Wed 25 Apr 2018 12:20PM


Just read the report on the Catalan Integral coop . . . which sounds a great example: but the organisation is hard to understand without diagrams. There are none in the report.

Alexander wrote that a basic feature of a pattern language is every pattern can be represented in a diagram: 'If it can't be diagrammed, it's not a pattern'. I think this has to be true. I hope some progress is being made with diagramming and pattern language generally, and we may see some commons diagramming here in Loomio? Any starters? I opened a thread on pattern language in the Loomio Development group, with no replies yet. Should we have a thread here on Representations of commons organisation, to include pattern language but also compared with other forms such as wiki? This seems like basic literacy for commoners?


Danyl Strype Sat 28 Apr 2018 2:07PM

Hi @mikeh8 I just help prop up the bar here in the CT Loomio group, I have no formal role, but AFAIK we can all open new threads in this group without needing permission or a formal polling process. If I'm wrong about this, @michelbauwens1 or @staccotroncoso will correct me ;)

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