Distributed sharing and collaboration v centralised control

Distributed, grass-roots, mass mobilisation, direct action, collaboration, peer-to-peer, sharing …

Direct action is the only action that works.

Direct action kicked the Rachman Benyon Brothers off the New Era Estate.

Mass mobilisation, does not have to be people on the street, though that can at times be impressive, as we saw with Tahir Square, Gezi Park and more recently in Hong Kong and Hungary.

UK Uncut puts out the word, it spreads person to person, Occupy Starbucks. A day is agreed and across the country Starbucks is occupied, a visual protest against tax dodging.

Confusion, the same confusion when the mainstream media reports on sharing and collaboration and confuses with centralised, corporate owned websites.

Uber is a centralised mechanism, established by venture capitalists to enable unlicensed, unregulated drivers to undercut legitimate taxi drivers. And the Uber workforce is now complaining they are paid a pittance. But did they not realise the consequence of Uber, was to not only drive down fares, but to drive down their earnings, the only beneficiary being Uber?

A sharing site, would be a local car pool. Driver X is going from A to B, he offers room, passengers Y and Z are looking to get a ride from A to B, the site links them up.

We have sites like TaskRabbit where people bid for work, only it is reverse auction, they drive the price down.

I see little difference between Airbnb and booking a hotel through Booking.com or Expedia. The main difference, accommodation in an unregulated sector.

What is being given as example of the new economy, the sharing collaborative economy, is not, what we are being given are examples of Platform Capitalism. Even Avaaz, is an example of Platform Capitalism.

A better example to have given would have been bandcamp. Established to support musicians (though not owned by them), easy to downland, easy to share, musicians can set a fair price, users can pay what they choose, artists do not get ripped off, even get to share the data, no abuse of personal data, no advertising. Contrast with iTunes, Amazon, or even far worse spotify, which are no different in the way they behave than major record labels.

In an article on New Power in Harvard Business Review Jeremy Heimans gives Alpha course as an example of distributed, power. It is anything but, having seen their internal not for public showing material, and participated (if participation is the correct word). It is a highly centralised brainwashing operation. Groups are told they have to use the approved material (which they have to pay for, no open commons here), to get better bums-on-seast reults. Meetings are very closely controlled and monitored to keep people on track, deviation, questioning not tolerated, questions yes, questioning no.

New Power, a meaningless buzz word invented by charlatans. But no doubt its prophets can charge a hefty fee for attending their briefing sessions.

Periodically, I read articles in the mainstream press. They have stumbled upon the collaborative, sharing economy. Not having a clue what it is. They write an article about Platform Capitalism, a mention of Airbnb, Uber, and that is about it.

Harvard article and Ted talk, little more than techno babble for the ignorant, presented by a snake oil salesman.


3 Responses to “Distributed sharing and collaboration v centralised control”

  1. Faz Says:

    Reblogged this on Fazl's Blah.

  2. Melissa Charlesworth Says:

    Hi Keith. Your reply to my Tweet (@citizencee) promoting Jerermy Heiman’s TED talk about “New Power” brought me to your site. I’ve read your article and my impression is that you’re arguing that these large and centrally managed examples of the sharing economy (Uber, airbnb, etc) do not represent the most enlightened way to manage the “value of the crowd.” If so, I largely agree. That being said, I see value in the existence of Uber et al because they are a measure of the change that is taking place in “mainstream” minds. I feel like people are more and more interested in exploring different models of value sharing and the successes and failures of these large experiments provides impetus to discuss the nature of value and to develop more refined ways to share it. So, thanks for your Twitter reply and thanks for building on Jeremy Heiman’s thoughts. I appreciate your perspective.

  3. keithpp Says:

    And what greater service shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving? — Kahil Gibran

    The problem is muddled thinking, the same muddled thinking I see in the mainstream media when they stumble upon the collaborative sharing economy.

    They confuse it with websites financed by venture capitalists.

    The very expression ‘centrally managed examples of the sharing economy’ is an oxymoron, if it is centrally managed, then it is not the sharing economy. Similarly, ‘manage the value of the crowd’, it is not there to be managed.

    It is not managed, it is not centralised, it is distributed. It is people cooperating, collaborating, sharing. If they happen to do that via a centralised, venture capital platform, that is merely incidental, a tool that is being used. The tool is not the distributed system.

    I could use a spade to dig on an organic community owned farm, where we contribute our labour, share the produce, the spade is merely a tool, it could be distributed, shared gardens, the householder provides the garden, I and others the labour, and we share the produce.

    The tool is not the system. The platform is not the system. Mainstream minds can see no further than the tool.

    It is a network approach many interactions, as compared to centralised command. Lateral as opposed to vertical.

    The sharing, collaborative economy maybe better described as the gift economy. Someone does something for free, with no expectation of reward.

    I am writing my thoughts not for a fee.

    Open source software, is a good example, it runs the internet.

    Because no money changes hands, it does not count towards GDP, but that does not mean it has no value, lacks importance. far from it, it is the fastest growing sector of the economy.

    But also in the social-political arena. Podemos is the fastest growing political party in Spain. It grew out of Occupy.

    Occupy Wall Street were the only ones to go to the aid of victims of Hurricane Sandy.

    The concept of paid for childcare, is relatively new. In the past , and in less developed parts of the world (or maybe should say less Westernised), children left with family and friends, people looked out for each other.

    We have seen a privatisation of the commons, physical, culture, intellectual.

    Childhood is appropriated and sold back to children as Disney.

    Music used to be free, travelling minstrels rewarded, now it is strangled by intellectual property rights.

    Venture capital platforms, are a crude attempt to monetise the sharing economy.

    Those who try to monetise the internet usually fail. Its underlying principle was sharing. World Wide Web was designed to facilitate sharing of documents, a global commons of information to which we all contribute, we pay our dues through our contributions.

    The internet is even saving us money. I can book a hotel direct, I can book my flight. I do not need a travel agent, I do not need a tour company, I do not need to buy a package holiday. OK, not sharing, and I may be booking via Booking.com or Expedia. But how do I decide? Millions of people for free, have contributed their thoughts, fake reviews too, to TripAdvisor.

    Again we have network. A musician for example Jewelia makes music, a youtube video, an album, uploads to bandcamp, I can listen on line, I can share, I can download, I can buy, she gets some money, and gets the data. Bandcamp takes a small cut, but only if she makes money. Who needs a record label, centralised control?

    We have become users, producers, sharers.

    Uber is a very bad platform, established by tax dodgers. It provides unregulated car hire to replace regulated taxis, regulated for our safety.

    Sacred Economics
    This Changes Everything
    The Zero Marginal Cost Society

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