3. Peer Production and Sharing

From Yochai Benkler - Wealth of Networks
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Chapter 2 | Chapter 4



It is not intuitive that thousands of volunteers could beat big companies. Yet they do.

Coase argues that corporations exist because the transaction costs of using the market are too high. Yet GNU/Linux, Apache, Perl and others use neither markets nor hierarchies.

I call this commons-based peer production. Commons (as opposed to property) because no one person controls how the resource is used, they are either open to the public or a defined group. Peer production because it is done through self-selected, decentralized individual action.

Examples: Free software, NASA Clickworkers, Wikipedia, Second Life.

Relevance and accredditation technology can ensure the results are good: Open Directory Project, Slashdot (karma).

Distribution tech too: Project Gutenberg.

Sharing tech: SETI@Home, Napster


Sources cited in the chapter

Other relevant readings

Case Studies

Supporting examples

Amazon Mechanical Turk
Could be considered micro-outsourcing, allows API access to human effort. Also see Turkwatch for an overview of recent MTurk projects


Indeterminate Examples (in progress)

UCB iSchool research project, a generalization of ClickWorkers by utilizing a few seconds of web surfer's abilities to collaboratively solve large problems, without leaving the page. Currently focusing on Wikipedia image tagging and Project Gutenberg.

Key Concepts