The Ten Best P2P Books of 2010
This year, the crop of books on Peer-to-Peer related themes has been so overwhelming that I find it impossible to limit myself to the classic list of just ten books. (You can see my list from last year here.) I therefore have organized the list as a series of 10 clustered themes. The order of the listing is influenced by the quality of the book (either read by myself, by people I trust, or through general recommendation) and the importance of the broad theme they are addressing.
For more information on each book, click on the (*) sign after each title. Important question, for the comments thread below: what obvious books have I/we missed?
1. The Theory and Practice of the P2P Counter-Economy
Marvin Brown’s book is simply the most important book I have read this year, for its reconceptualisation of how to view the economy, no longer as an economics of property where labour, land and money are seen as commodities themselves, but as an economics of provisioning where those three inputs are seen as subjects (labour and nature), and as ‘commons’. It’s weak on how to get there, but it’s important to know that’s where we need to get. By contrast, the equally important book by Kevin Carson is really all about, how do we get there, and examines in detail the transition to an economy that combines relocalized distributed manufacturing with global open design communities.
1. A. Civilizing the Economy. A new economics of provision. Marvin T. Brown. Cambridge University Press, 2010 (*)
1.B. The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto. By Kevin Carson. (*)
2. The New Forms of globalized P2P Governance and Enterprise
The David Ugarte / Las Indias trilogy consists of a history of respectively enterprise forms, governance forms, and network forms, each culminating in the distributed format era, and which have recently been translated in English. But in this context our primary attention should go to this key book:
2.A. Phyles: Economic Democracy in the Network Century. by David de Ugarte (*)
David de Ugarte and the colleagues at lasindias.net fill in the missing piece of one of the more important ingredients of a new globalized infrastructure of value creation, by highlighting the importance of the concept and practice of the Phyle, a transnational value community linked to enterpreneurial entities that have as primary aim the creation of sustainability of the new value communities.
- From Nations to Networks. by David de Ugarte, Pere Quintana, Enrique Gomez, and Arnau Fuentes. (*)
- The Power of Networks. David de Ugarte. (*)
3.The New Forms of Sharing and Collaboration in the Economy
Shared consumption is just as important as shared production, and both Rachel and Lisa have uncovered the new landscape of shareable use of goods and infrastructures.
3.A. What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers (Fall, HarperCollins), 2010 (*)
3.B. The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing. By Lisa Gansky. Portfolio / Penguin Group, FALL 2010 (*)
3.C. All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons, by Jay Walljasper. New Press, 2010 (*)
Special mention: Jennifer Sertl’s book is indicative for the new attention in business for redesign around communication and cooperation, and new styles of leadership.
- Strategy, Leadership & the Soul: Resilience, Responsiveness and Reflection for a Global Economy. Jennifer Sertl & Koby Huberman.
4.Logics of Natural and Cultural Abundance against the artificial engineering of scarcity
Motto: as we have passed the biological regeneration capacity of the planet, it is imperative to stop creating artificial scarcities, and stop impeding natural and cultural flows where they can occur.
While we are waiting for the more theoretically grounded work in the upcoming book of Roberto Verzola, these two books do the groundwork of popularising this very important idea, that while there are objective ‘scarcities’ in the natural world, most of those we experience are actually manufactured by the existing global system. People go hungry not because there is not enough food, but because of the way, food production is currently organized, while the natural abundance of natural cycles is destroyed through attempted developments like GMO foods, terminator seeds, and cultural, scientific and even commercial innovation is impeded and slowed down through excessive protection of monopolies through patents and IP.
4.A. Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth. By Juliet B. Schor. Penguin, 2010 (*)
4.B. The Economics of Abundance: A Political Economy of Freedom, Equity, and Sustainability. Wolfgang Hoeschele. Gower Publishing, 2010 (*)
5. Protecting our P2P Internet
Rushkoff and Ryan have written very accessible books highlighting the importance of defending the p2p nature of the internet against poltical control and commercial exploitation.
5.A. Program or be Programmed: Ten Commands for the Digital Age. Douglas Rushkoff. (*)
5.B. A History of the Internet and the Digital Future. Johnny Ryan. Reaktion Press, 2010 (*)
5.C. Internet Architecture and Innovation. Barbara van Schewick. MIT Press, 2010 (*)
6.The emergence of a P2P Left
People on the left are critiquing the embeddedness of much of free software and free cultural practice to the dominant modalities of capital accumulation, but doing so by offering constructive alternatives that makes use of the new technological affordances as weapons in the struggle.
6.A. The Telekommunist Manifesto. Dmytri Kleiner. Institute for Network Cultures, 2010
6.B. Wikiworld: Political Economy of Digital Literacy, and the Road from Social to Socialist Media. Juha Suoranta and Tere Vadén.
Special mention go to 2 new studies of digital activism, and Joss Hands’ book will likely be a candidate for our list next year:
- @ Is For Activism. Joss Hands. Pluto Press, 2011
- Digital Activism Decoded, Ed. by Mary Joyce. Idebate Press, 2010
7.The work of the scholars
Both the books of Marcus Boon and of Lewis Hyde, which I have yet to read, has been widely hailed not just for its scholarly but also for its literary qualities.
7.A. Common as Air. Revolution, Art, and Ownership. Lewis Hyde. 2010
7.B. In Praise of Copying. Marcus Boon. 2010
A special mention must go to non-monographical essay collections that benefited from excellent editors, such as the following two books. The book on A2K has an absolutely amazing collection of essays on the movement for free access to knowledge, while master editor Daniel Araya has collated the best essays on peer to peer learning.
- Education in the Creative Economy: Knowledge and Learning in the Age of Innovation. Edited by Daniel Araya & Michael A. Peters. Peter Lang, 2010 (*)
- Access to Knowledge in the Age of Intellectual Property. Gaelle Krikorian and Amy Kapczynski (eds.). Zone Books, 2010
8.The spirituality of P2P
The struggle against spiritual authoritarianism and exploitation is an important part of the p2p sensibility, and Jeff Meyerhoff’s work, though written before, has only found a publisher this year. It’s a brilliant deconstruction of the major faults in the integral theory of Ken Wilber and its authoritarian aspects. Bill Gibson reminds us of the importance of de-hierachising and peering in our relation with nature and its beings, and of the importance of a renewed understanding of the sacred, including by the secularly inclined.
8.A. Bald Ambition: Critique of Ken Wilber’s Theory of Everything. Jeff Meyerhoff. Inside the Curtain Press, 2010
8.B. A Reenchanted World: The Quest for a New Kinship with Nature. James William Gibson (*)
Special mention: should have been on our list, but we have received no confirmation that it has actually been published yet. But, given his previous book, Ascent of Humanity, it should be a really important publication.
- Sacred Economics. Charles Eisenstein.
9.Emergent P2P and Commons Urbanism
If 2009 was the year of emergence for open manufacturing, then 2010 was the year for the emergence of a robust community around the notion of p2p urbanism. While we are waiting for the official publication of the book of readings by Nikos Salingaros, here are two treatments, one on Vancouver, and the other a very practical guide to the sustainable life in cities.
9.A. Common Ground in a Liquid City: Essays in Defense of an Urban Future. Matt Hern. AK Press, 2009.
9.B. Towards Radical Urban Resilience: Toolbox for Sustainable City Living. Scott Kellog
10.Other Important Books
Joseph Hanlon show the benefits of welfare state politics in Latin America and the global South, instead of the current model of neoliberal corporate welfare and bailouts for the speculators. Shirky’s essays are always stimulating for the neurons, even if they are rarely grounded in a structural understanding of society.
10.A. Just Give Money to the Poor: The Development Revolution from the Global South. Joseph Hanlon, Armando Barrientos and David Hulme.
10.B. Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age. Clay Shirky. The Penguin Press, 2010
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