P2P Reflection

  1. In my own life I’ve experienced peer to peer communities firsthand. In an attempt to learn a new skill I spent the past year learning the 3d modeling software Blender; this software is free and open sources and has a large community of users who share their own models, plug-ins and other resources. Not only did this community promote the open and free exchange of ideas, but so did the rest of the communities I encountered as I learned about the 3d modeling process. In the next stage I took my models and learned how to texture them, I started with Photoshop but soon found a free alternative; Substance Painter is free for students for as long as they remain enrolled. Substance also has a large community of users who freely create, share, and remix models, brushes, and materials for other users to try. In my last step, I decided to take my model one step forward and implement it as a game object. I chose to use my model in a mod for the video game Fallout, and while the company has mods for sale, they also allow and support the free exchange of user created mods. A large community of users create, share, and build upon each other’s mods with no hurdles to jump through and no pay wall.
  2. A particular section stood out to me in the P2P Foundation’s about page; in regards to the increasing number of community run maker-spaces the foundation says:

These movements represent a cultural shift towards new kinds of democratic and economic participation that we believe are sowing the seeds for a more sustainable, egalitarian future.

This is an interesting point, as these common spaces are a relatively new development and are beginning to become more widespread everyday. There is a definite shift, no longer is the average person limited by their own possessions to design and manufacture creative works, now anyone can gain access to power tools, printers, and even lasers or CNC machines in order to pursue a do-it-yourself lifestyle. The collaboration in these spaces promote teamwork in reaching unique goals rather than competition. These spaces disrupt the traditional forms of manufacturing and allow those who may never have private access to such tools to become educated with them and begin creating whatever it is they need. The economy of these spaces are built upon sharing and collaboration rather than selling and profiting.

3.   An alternative to a capitalist economy would be one centered around the free exchange of ideas rather than the pursuit of profit. Instead of huge companies selling furniture, people from the community share their own designs, access to tools through something like a maker-space, and collaborate with each other to reach common goals. In place of supermarkets that ship food from other countries, a communities food supply is based on what they can grow, with surplus traded after the community has been taken care of. The free flow of ideas would allow for vast improvements in design as people came together to collaborate on their projects, even if ideas and plans came from abroad, the manufacture of such things would be kept local. This way ideas can freely be shared but environmental impacts can be minimized as there is little to no transport or mass production.

4. Taming capitalism addresses the negative side affects of capitalism without outright trying to destroy the source. If it is impossible to completely remove capitalism then taming it can be seen as an acceptable alternative. Acts of taming capitalism involves things like the establishment of environmental regulations so companies can’t dump waste into public areas, or the improvement or establishment of public transportation. Eroding capitalism involves the spread of many smaller movements and groups that support p2p ideals. In this way, p2p is gradually accepted into the norm and begins to replace sections of society that capitalism once had a strong hold on. An observable example of a potential act of eroding capitalism is the increase in popularity of maker-spaces and hacker-spaces, creating a public space for the average person to gain experience with, or make use of tools and technology they would otherwise not have access to, allowing them to collaborate and work on projects with a community of like-minded makers. Such spaces are popping up more often every day across the US and the world, this growing community poses a major threat to traditional forms of manufacturing and product design. These two ideas; taming and eroding capitalism, are much more realistic than smashing or escaping it. Capitalism is a longstanding system imbedded in many aspects of modern American life, to attempt to destroy this system would prove to be fruitless. To escape capitalism does not change capitalism at the core, unless the vast majority of people agreed not to participate in capitalistic activities, capitalism would continue to grow. Escape may work for the individual but not for the world at large.