Michel Bauwens from P2P-Foundation recently published an interesting article in the new we_magazine (=>Manifesto) summing up current developments in peer production. After explaining the most important aspects of immaterial peer production he discusses the differences when coming to material production. The first expansion step into the sphere of material production is the opening of the design process.
Although being immaterial itself designing of material good has some limitations compared to purely non-physical good like software of culture. The design process is narrowly links with its physical realisation. While for solely non-physical objects creating and testing are taking place in the same realm, designing and manufacturing fall into two different spaces. However, with the increasing availability of small prototyping machines or even more important using personal fabricators designing, manufacturing and testing can be done by the same people. This holds true for the manufacturing process itself. Thus, for Michel Bauwens shrinking and universalisation of machines is the key developement on the path to material peer production.
Bauwens extends his picture to peer energy and peer financing. He is an adherent of local currencies, which is one of the weird points in his peer conviction. It seems that he wants to reproduce the money system forever while replacing the capitalist production system, which, for me, is completely inconsistent. Using money, which is unavoidable under given capitalist dominance, must include an integrated perspective of replacing money logic with direct societal mediation between the peers — or the holy shit we want to get rid off starts again.
Finally, his optimistic vision reads:
We already have a peer-to-peer technological and media infrastructure, and we have new organizational models based on open collaboration regarding know-ledge, software, and design. We have increasing access to more distributed machinery allowing us to conceive of more localized production of such open designs. We have much lower capital requirements, but when we do need capital for cost-recovery of physical production, we have access to much more distributed capital through mutual credit and social lending. None of these trends is fully realized, but, though they can be conceivably derailed, there is very strong evidence that they are moving and evolving in that direction…