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Scott Karp

You're completely romanticizing the history of unionization. Workers didn't really organize themselves -- they were organized by union leaders who sough their own forms of power. And still it's all about power and hierarchies -- witness the split of the AFL-CIO.

Your eschewing of hierarchies is ideologically quaint but utterly impractical and will more likely lead to nonsensical free-for-alls ("wisdom" of th mob) like "non-threaded, non-siloed discussion non-forums"


Hey Scott, Thanks for the comments. Well, we're both invoking the formation of unions in a way that isn't quite historical. Sure, there was abuse by the bosses, and I've got a problem with that, but without the internal motivation by the masses, it wouldn't have happened. Unions 1.0: power corrupted because information was power, and the union bosses had it (new boss same as the old boss).

Unions 2.0: No dues structure, and the rally point will be ever-changing.

I don't eschew hierarchy; I agree with you that it is important and essential. It's just that I see that it isn't absolute. Hierarchy is relative to some domain, and the more people that people become comfortable with multiple streams of data, the less single sites per domain will serve their needs. We now have the tools to collectively weave a different story every day. You've just done it. I'm just doing it. The avalanche has started. Pretty soon, I predict, grandma will be surfing these chaotic slopes with us.

But I could be wrong.

Michel Bauwens

I find Scott's remarks somewhat disingenuous: on that score nobody ever organized themselves, because there will always be someone making propositions; someone is always going to be 'first'. Of interest is the type of hierarchies: are they flexible, voluntary, based on merit. Or does it institutionalize itself, using authoritarian measures to protect and fixate itself. The early history of unionization was a fight by the disenfranchised against enormous odds, with flexible and voluntary hierarchies that gradually institutionalized themselves. Of interest is if we can find neo-institutional practices that are based on voluntary flexible, and today we should add: "distributed", hierarchies, who can be prevented from detaching themselves from their base through new kinds of techno-social practices, democratic protocals and designs embedded in the software that we are using; and through algorithms as they are used today on the web. While the present algorithms are successfull in drawing out majority opinion in the wisdom of crowds, it is still very crude and tends to reinforce feecback loops of early popularity. In voluntary peer production, as has been explained by Steve Webber in his book The Success of Open Source, we have mostly no wage dependency and so leadership can only be voluntary, and as he outlines is either based on historical intitiative (who created the project in the first place, has a privileged position) and present competency.

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