Also in re-public, Paul Hartzog on the politics of a networked, peer-to-peer society:
Panarchy is the emerging system of sociopolitical activity that we might refer to as the “wiki-fication” of society. By “wikification,” I refer to the rise of mass participation systems, that include 1) software production, or “open source,” 2) knowledge production, e.g. wikipedia, or 3) group/identity production, e.g. communities. Mass participation is enabled by the recent spread of connective network technologies, from cell phones to the Internet. Panarchy emerges when these connective technologies, which lower the threshold for collective action, enable cooperative peer-to-peer production – of knowledge, of tools, of power.
Network technologies, because they increase human connectivity, increase both the speed and frequency of human interaction. But more connectivity also means more complexity, and therefore more unpredictability. As small events cascade into large ones, power becomes distributed throughout the system, at once everywhere and nowhere. The outcome of all of this is nothing less than the transformation of civilization. Where the current system is hierarchical, centralized, and differentiated, the new system is anarchical, diffuse, and overlapping. Where the current system marginalizes and represses difference, the new system generates difference in order to create, explore, and adapt to future possibilities and uncertainties. Where the current system reduces human labour to proprietary economic production, the new system consists of many modes of human labour and the production of open commons. And finally, where the current system institutionalizes static structures, the new system exhibits complex dynamics – it is a field whose elements and relations are continuously coalescing and dissolving, the whole field of which is called panarchy.