fredag 30 mars 2012
onsdag 28 mars 2012
lördag 24 mars 2012
söndag 18 mars 2012
torsdag 15 mars 2012
Cities of sharing and the growth of postconsumerist cultures
Against a backdrop of fatigue of consumerist culture, privatized public spaces, coupled with the economical and ecological crises, different forms of citizen-initiated sharing schemes have appeared. Rather than just mass-consuming goods, citizens create common-pool resources and systems of sharing tools, vehicles, gardens, working spaces, clothing, books etc. These schemes can be organized in a variety of ways, sometimes appropriating and changing the use of private/public space and creating new hybrid spaces. Reasons for engaging in such schemes may vary and can be politically, ecologically, socially and/or economically motivated.
Our aim is to explore how and why sharing and co-creation schemes appear and function, and reflect on their wider implications for social, economic and spatial (re)organization. We suggest that sharing schemes can be theorized in terms of commons-based peer economy (Benkler, 2006) and as urban commons (Ostrom, 1990, Blomley, 2004). According to Benkler, commons-based peer production (in the digital realm) is the harbinger of a larger societal transformation, away from twentieth-century industrial and proprietary forms of production towards collaborative and commons-based forms of production. Benkler argues that this mode of production – now operating on non-rival (endlessly reproducible) digital goods such as text, music and film – is potentially applicable also to rival goods such as food and other basic utilities. We explore to what extent theories of peer economies and Ostromian notions of self-organized forms of governing can be used or developed for understanding contemporary sharing schemes of food, spaces, means of transport and other utilities.
Networking through crises
The “triple crisis” (economy, ecology, energy) creates anxiety about the future. For some, this triggers a decision to change and “crisis-proof” their lifestyle. The initial step is nowadays to use the Internet to search for information and seek out and associate oneself with topical social networks - online and offline.
In articulating alternatives in a time of crisis, most political activism is conducted against, but still within the framework of the current political and economic system, i.e. most activism aims at (more or less radically) reforming the current system. We are however mainly interested in persons who don’t bother (any longer) to articulate their critique by protesting against, but who instead explore alternatives by practical action.
We are specifically interested in the intimate interplay between the use of ICT and the practical transition to “crisis-proof” or “resilient” lifestyles. Such a move is difficult as it can involve disassociating oneself from mainstream values and mainstream society both mentally – creating a revised world view - and practically – creating a new life. Online and offline networks are crucial in supporting this process.
Our focus is on two social movements that represent different responses, but that both engage in practical preparations for facing current and future crises: 1) the collectively oriented “inclusive” Transition Town movement and 2) the more individually oriented “exclusive” network of “neosurvivalists”.
Our theoretical starting points are 1) “alternative computing” (Stallman 2002, Lievrouw 2011), i.e. using technological infrastructures for social change, 2) Social movements theory (Tilly 2009, della Porta and Diani 2006), especially concerning the role of ICT in social change (Diani 2001, Bennett and Segerberg 2011, Earl & Kimport 2011) and 3) literature about social capital (Putnam 1993, Putnam 2000) and (online and offline) communities (Nisbet 1953, Asplund 1991, Rheingold 1994, Oldenburg 1997, Pargman 2000, Bauman 2001).
måndag 12 mars 2012
Addition (end of April). I just started reading an article, "Networking in the long emergency", where the abstract reads: "We explore responses to a scenario in which the severity of a permanent energy crisis fundamnetally limits our ability to maintain the current-day Internet architecture [...] In light of this, we propose a concrete research agenda to address the networking needs of an energy-deprived society." The article was presented at "Workshop on Green Networking 2011".
onsdag 7 mars 2012
söndag 4 mars 2012
Most of us take for granted that the future can be extrapolated from the present and the recent past, and, that the future is based on a narrative of expanding borders and scientific progress, growing economic prosperity and human wellbeing. The place of the Internet in the world of tomorrow is by default taken to be ”it’s current role +1”.
Some take this notion to the extreme and propose that we will soon (within a few decades) colonize the asteroids, create computers that are smarter than humans, be able to download our minds into silicon and live forever, or alternatively to repair our bodies and have them last for a thousand years or longer (Kurzweil 2005, de Gray and Rae 2007, More 2010). These ideas seem hyperbolic and strange to most of us, but the less outlandish notion of scientific and economic progress in small incremental steps forever, or at least for a (very) long time into the foreseeable future is on the other hand part the ”operating system” of modern societies. A world of possibilities is a world where 3G (2001) mobile phone services are followed by 4G systems (2011-2013) and ubiquitous information services, and then by 5G systems (≈ 2020) and more advanced services, and presumably later by 6G systems and 7G systems. The recent financial crisis, with its economic fallout still being felt in many rich (or ”indebted”) countries, is interpreted as a temporary setback in a world economy slated to again pick up speed within the next few years.
This narrative of endless possibilities can be contrasted with a competing narrative of humanity now facing non-negotiable limitations. According to the competing and equally grand narrative, humanity now finds itself at a breaking point, facing several concurrent crises (climate, environment, economy, energy, resources, food, water), together demanding totally new ways of thinking about the future (Meadows, Randers and Meadows 2004, Jackson 2009, Rubin 2009, Greer 2009, Heinberg & Lerch 2010, Fallon & Douthwaite 2011). From now on, technological change will not only switch gears, but will more importantly change direction. Technology and other societal structures will ”collapse” in the sense that societal and technological complexity will decrease over time (Tainter 1988, Diamond 2005). This will primarily be an effect of 1) energy (fossil fuels) becoming more scarce/expensive in combination with 2) financial and economic problems mounting in a no-growth or shrinking world economy. These two forces, acting together and strengthening each other, will lead to a breakdown in the assessments of risks and concomitant rising costs of acquiring capital and servicing debt, fluctuations in price, and the cost of production and transportation steadily increasing over time, exerting stress on the modern globalized high-tech, high-energy regime. In many areas (for example food, energy provisioning, low-tech), complex supply chains and just-in-time delivery will be replaced by simpler, less complex and more energy-stingy national, regional or local solutions.
So what if the place of the Internet in tomorrow’s world is not to be found in today’s high-tech, high-energy, high-maintenance and highly specialized research laboratories, or even in today’s ubiquitous access to connectivity and computing resources? What if previews of tomorrow’s widespread use of computers and the Internet instead are more fruitfully to be searched for among the young, the poor and the marginalized and in less affluent environments such as low-income communities (Dillahunt et. al. 2009), among homeless young American’s use of personal digital technologies (Woelfer and Hendry 2010, Woelfer and Hendry 2011), or among the poorest Internet users in Mexico (Wang and Brown 2011, Contreras Montero 2012)?
This paper sketches out what a world of limitations could mean in a context of access and use of computing resources. The purpose is not to predict the future, but rather to question taken-for-granted “truths” and to open up new vistas of thought as well as to outline under-researched areas that are of relevance to a post-collapse computing paradigm.