“At the moment of the demise of the New Economy, a new cycle started with new projects and new ideas. In London in the year 2000, and in Athens independently from London, two years later, movements started to build wireless community networks. Using a license exempt part of the electromagnetic spectrum and Wifi – Wireless Local Area Networks — network enthusiasts built their own networks. Based on the property of the Internet protocols that allow creativity at the edges, they could create networks of their own. Athens Wireless Metropolitan Network was initially started mainly by technology experts. They knew about other initiatives, such as Seattle Wireless, but developed their own “technological style”. Using the urban topology of Athens with its hills and cooperation with radio amateurs, they could create a network that covered a vast area, the Attica peninsula and beyond. The social model was based on the liberal utopia of individual ownership. Each node was built and maintained by its users, all the nodes together formed – and continue to do so – a network commons. The particular idea of AWMN was that it did not offer Internet access. Some nodes were connected to… Continue reading »
At the upcoming COP Summit in Paris (the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), no one expects the world’s governments to make serious headway against global climate change. Neoliberal-obsessed governments are more concerned with propping up collapsing capitalist structures than in reducing carbon emissions (which have doubled over the past generation). Corporations are more intent on preserving their market share and investors in preserving their net worth than in entertaining an environmentally benign economic paradigm shift. We can be sure, following COP21, however, that world leaders will declare the event a success and let loose their own copious emissions of PR blather.
Let’s face it – we’re more or less on our own. The impetus for change has to come from the bottom and the local. Which brings me to the inspirational work of POC21 – Proof of Concept 21 – which stands for “a proof of concept that the future we need can be built with our own hands.” For five weeks – August 15 to September 20 – more than 100 makers, designers, engineers, scientists and geeks converged on Château de Millemont, an ancient… Continue reading »
The coming together of commons-oriented projects seems to be intensifying. Even as the Le Temps des Communes festival in dozens of Francophone cities convenes thousands of commoners, an organizing meeting for a Chicago Chamber of Commons in planned for Saturday, October 10. (You can register for the event here.)
This idea has been kicking around for a while – see this 2013 blog post – but it seems that the folks in Chicago are serious about making it work. They want to foster deeper collaboration among the many groups focused on shared ownership, the collaborative economy, co-operatives and other mutual-benefit initiatives. The organizers say they want to “connect social entrepreneurs, L3C’s, B-Corps and other enterprises focused on triple bottom line, sharing-economy approaches to commerce and community development.” People involved with economic transformation, environmental protection, community life and culture are also invited.
The day will start with a consensus workshop that will try to come up with a shared definition of the commons. This will be followed with discussions for startup plans for a Chicago Commons, which organizers hope will be the first of many Chambers of Commons across the… Continue reading »
The latest entry in a special project in which business and labor leaders, social scientists, technology visionaries, activists, and journalists weigh in on the most consequential changes in the workplace.
The culture surrounding the Internet has a way of changing the meanings of common words. “Democratizing” now means that more people can book air travel or buy stocks online, rather than the older connotations of jury trials or ballot boxes. “Disruption” is suddenly an unabashedly good thing—referring not to the cataclysmic layoffs and displacement that occur when one industry undermines another, but only to the happy story of a David beating a Goliath. Then there is “sharing.” We used to share common resources with the people in our communities. Now sharing is the word we use for paying a tech start-up to connect us with people who, in turn, we can pay for using their house, car, or Legos.
The so-called sharing economy was barely born before many people began to recognize its slogans about trust and relationships as a rent-seeking ruse. But this ruse is… Continue reading »
Two years ago when he was 14, my son Matthew grew six inches. Last year he only grew two inches, and this year he has only grown half an inch. Should I be worried?
Of course not. At a certain stage of maturity, quantifiable physical growth slows and stops, and a new mode of development takes over.
Imagine that I did not understand that, and fed Matthew growth hormones in a desperate attempt to keep him growing taller. And imagine that this effort was harming his health and depleting my resources. “I have to find a way to make his growth sustainable,” I would say. “Maybe I can use herbal hormones.”
Our civilization is at a similar transition point in the nature of its development. For thousands of years we have grown — in population, in energy consumption, in land under cultivation, in bits of data, in economic output. Today we are beginning to realize that this kind of growth is no longer possible, nor even desirable; that it can be maintained only at greater and greater cost to human beings and the planet.
Great news from Robin Hood Coop. Needless to say, we’re very excited about continuing with our part of the CIC/Commons Transition project, and we’d like to thank the board at Robin Hood for having chosen it. This press release was originally published on the Robin Hood Coop blog. You can read the full text of our proposal here, or through the links below.
Robin Hood Coop is proud to announce its first round of funding for commons producing projects. The coop supports Casa Nuvem in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with 5000 euros, the P2P Foundation’s project with the Catalan Integral Cooperative and Commons Transition in Spain with 4000 euros, and the Radio Schizoanalytique and the Steki in Northern Greece with 6000 euros.
Robin Hood Asset Management Coop was founded in 2012 as an investment bank for the precariat. The goal of the coop is to build new economic space by giving its members access to investment banking (just 60€ is enough) and by allocating a part of the profits to building the commons through sponsoring projects.
There’s a growing majority of business owners in the US who would rather cheat that compete (despite what you might be thinking, it wasn’t always this way in the US).
Business owners willing to bribe a politician in order to protect their company from competition.
Most recently, we’ve seen Michigan, Texas, New Jersey, Maryland, New Mexico, and Iowa block Tesla Motors, the electric car company, from selling directly to customers in the state.
In New Jersey’s case, the Republican governor, Chris Christie, claimed he was taking this action in order to protect consumers from the perils of direct sales. The result was legislation that dictated that all cars must be sold through dealer networks.
“This administration does not find it appropriate to unilaterally change the way cars are sold in New Jersey without legislation…” New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie’s spokesman.
It was obvious why New Jersey did this.
Tesla is building a revolutionary product.
It’s not revolutionary because it is a well designed and reliable car (it’s has topped the ratings on Consumer Reports in the past).