Christian Pentzold

The diffusion and appropriation of the Internet in all walks of life has popularized a new mode of peer production. The collaborative generation of knowledge amongst self-directed volunteers was once the exclusive purview of small groups, whether technical elites of hackers, or intellectual elites in academia. Today, millions of people have engaged in the collective production, revision, and dissemination of digital artifacts, such as computer operating systems and applications, encyclopedic articles, or film databases. By agreeing to share the outcomes of their (usually) unpaid labor free of copyright these multitudes challenged the intellectual property system, one of the core principles of the market economy. Peer production since then branched out into unexpected directions including wireless networks, maker shops and hacklabs, online currencies, and biohacking. It has also looped back into the market economy as some firms now pay engineers to produce free software. Other companies attempt to enroll the crowd of users through mechanisms such as open innovation projects and hackathons, or through the launch of ‘sharing economy’ platforms. The Handbook of Peer Production offers in-depth analysis of these emerging hybrid forms, as well as a uniquely comprehensive mapping of the origins and manifestations of peer production, whose principles and forms of cooperation have made inroads in multiple areas of production and sociality. Widening its scope, the Handbook of Peer Production also addresses the conditions which allow peer production to flourish or wither, as well as its consequences for the social order. The volume gathers contributions from a diverse group of recognized experts and concludes with interviews with practitioners of peer production, as well as a reflective piece on the future development of peer production. More about the book can be found here.