Blog Archives

Blockchain technology: a new (r)evolution in the digital economy


By Primavera De Filippi, researcher, Centre d’Études et de Recherches de Science Administrative, CNRS-Université Paris II.

Remember the world, back in the 90’s? Before the Internet had invaded pretty much every aspect of our lives? It was back then quite difficult — if not impossible — to foresee that one day, not too far away, people would be able to communicate directly with one another, that they would be able to broadcast themselves to the world and interact in a peer-to-peer fashion, bypassing most of the intermediaries of that time.

This marked the beginning of a new paradigm shift in the way people communicate — the beginning of a digital revolution characterised by a process of decentralization and disintermediation. With the Internet, traditional media operators, such as publishers and broadcasters, have been progressively displaced by a more distributed network of players, relying on emerging information and communication technologies in order to provide new opportunities for people to receive and impart information.

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Posted in Open Thoughts 2014

The Shift from Open Platforms to Digital Commons


By David Bollier, author, blogger and consultant.

From open access platforms to managed digital commons: that is one of the chief challenges that network-based peer production must meet if we are going to unleash the enormous value that distributed, autonomous production can create.

The open platform delusion
We are accustomed to regarding open platforms as synonymous with greater freedom and innovation. But as we have seen with the rise of Google, Facebook and other tech giants, open platforms that are dominated by large corporations are only “free” within the boundaries of market norms and the given business models. Yes, open platforms provide many valuable services at no (monetary) cost to users. But when some good or service is offered for at no cost, it really means that the user is the product. In this case, our personal data, attention, social attitudes lifestyle behavior, and even our digital identities, are the commodity that platform owners are seeking to “own.”

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Posted in Open Thoughts 2014

How Bitcoin can decentralize society


By Luis Iván Cuende, hacker, co-founder of Stampery

Once upon a time there was a problem. A mathematical problem. A problem that nobody ever solved before: The Byzantine Generals’ Problem. It is about the capacity of systems to continue correctly working if some of the components of the system fail or don’t act as they should when reaching consensus.

So, if a computer system can keep a common consensus without having central points of failure, it means it solved the problem. And that means you could create decentralized databases, decentralized apps and decentralized social networks that are on the same page, for example.

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Posted in Open Thoughts 2014
About the Question
How many peers does it take to change a light bulb?

Systems like Linux and websites like Wikipedia are paradigmatic of a particular way of open collaboration known as peer production. Peer producers choose their tasks freely and coordinate their work using open digital platforms. They share the fruits of their labour as part of a global commons, and everyone works according to their abilities and benefits according to their needs.

Is this an emerging form of communism? Or the future of liberal capitalism? Or is it simply a new mode of production? In this blog we want to explore both the benefits and the downsides of such way of working.

UOC/IN3 degrees