Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Communities - The Engine of Transformation

Michel Bauwens of the P2P Foundation argues in his blog of 12 July 2011 ( ) that all three main organs of society (civil, private and state) are profoundly challenged by the SoMe driven networked society into which we have moved. Some examples from the post:

"civil society is the locus of the shared abundance of value creation, and the place for the continual dialogue regarding the necessities of common life"

"we participate in the value creation, either as free voluntary contributors, or as members of a new type of private sector organisation,"

"Under conditions of peer production, design and innovation moves to commons-based communitiies, which lack the incentive for unsustainable design; products are inherently designed for sustainability, and the production process itself is designed for openness and distribution."

"communities should create new entrepreneurial forms.......and themselves should create mission-oriented, community supportive, sustainability-oriented corporate forms, that operate in the marketplace but do not themselves reproduce capitalism."

What I understand Michel to be saying is that in the new networked world, community is fundamental to every aspect of our lives. The post talks about the characteristics he believes each of the traditional sectors of society will have as the new order develops.

I would raise a different suggestion - that in our emerging new world, fuelled by wirearchies and the proliferation of tools and platfoprms all opearting from the "let's get connected" assumption, the traditional societal sectors will become blurred and in the end will be a sub-set of a re-emergence of community - but in a much less structured more fluid, more instant form than we have so far known.

I have been struck by the Arab Spring, in which a new sense of community was born almost overnight at national level.  I was struck by the assertion of a young Ghanaian delegate at e-Learning Africa in May that the power of SoMe will ensure that universities, reluctant to engage in Open Educational Resources (OER), will be forced to open themselves and become transparent. In UK this very day, the outrage felt by ordinary people and gathered together partly at least through the SoMe has resulted in the Murdoch empire's being forced to revise its business plan for media domination.  There are many more large and small examples that could be quoted.

Maybe one that should be highlighted to end this post is that of the organisation that refused to open the SoMe to its employees - and found itself with a virtual community of those same employees empowering themsleves to do their work - but outside of the organisations' direct sphere of influence.  There was only one solution - to embrace the change and develop the new sense of community to the benefit of business and the individual.

The sooner our enterprises cease to resist a change that has happened in global society, and begin to draw upon the strength of social learning, the sooner our world will become more integrated and mutually supportive

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