Belgium. We are a small tiny country. A small strip of rather bad highway on your way to Germany. A restaurant stop halfway between Paris and Amsterdam. We have sprouts, waffles, crazy politicians, mussels, and more beer than is technically good for us, chocolate and a little bronze three year old peeing in public.
We have Kim Clijsters, Jean Claude Van Dame and Jacques Brel . We have a king . We have Brussels and the European Parliament. On your map, we’re that snotty spot just at the right side of London.
But… now we have Michel Bauwens. At 53 years old, he is a Peer-to-Peer thinker and an active writer, researcher and conference speaker on the subject of technology, culture and business innovation. He is notoriously listed at #82, on the Post-Growth Institute (En)Rich list, http://enrichlist.org/the-list/, a competitor list to Forbes’ richest people, celebrating a wealth of inspirational individuals whose contributions enrich paths to sustainable futures.
Bauwens believes in WiKi economy, based on Peer Production, as an emerging add-on to the existing capitalist structure: “Peer to Peer is mostly known to technologically-oriented people as P2P, the decentralized form of putting computers together for different kind of cooperative endeavors, such as file sharing and music distribution. But this is only a small example of what P2P is: it’s in fact a template of human relationships, a “relational dynamic” which is springing up throughout the social fields. There are three partners in this emerging model” says Bauwens: “a community of contributors that create a commons of knowledge, software or design; an entrepreneurial coalition that creates market value on top of that commons; and a set of “for-benefit institutions” that manage how this co-operation takes place.”
From musicians that crowd fund their album, before peer distributing it; to entrepreneurs that wiki-build a viable car with mostly 3D printed parts… the crowd sourced peer production thinking is interesting. It allows pockets of smart, connected people to reach out, move fast, and create wealth and added value with limited investments. It runs often on free software, engaged communities and free thinkers. It preaches an open internet, and an open mind. It brings a guerilla version of the mastodont economy.
Bauwens visions start like a bad day, and can turn on a dime. Roller skate, jet ski economy that allows to rove between the bulky ocean liners. The Occupy movement shows that Bauwens’ vision on peer to peer economy can easily migrate to other areas: politics, healthcare, space exploration… the sky really is the limit.
Social Media and Social Collaboration are the backbone to Bauwens’ new society. Small successes of crowdsourcing, co-creation, crowd funding, crowd distribution, and crowd politics are emerging at increasing speed, from the Black Eyed Peas, over the Occupy Wallstreet movement and the Arab Spring to Sonic Angels and online gamer communities solving multiple sequence alignment problems within disease associated genes.
Clearly, small highly connected pockets of people can move ideas and initiatives quickly, using the power of social connectivity. Linked to hardware shops and hybrid entrepreneurs that real-life the virtual thinking, the butterfly effect of online thinking will soon result in real hardware that can be bought for real cash. This will do much more than just ripple the traditional economy…
Bauwens’ 82nd place on the list, is just the beginning…